Monday, June 25, 2007

Hangin’ Out in the UK

I left Trinidad for the UK on the 26th of February, a week after Carnival. Twum had come to visit for the Carnival week, and it was nice to see him and spend time with him. I also took part in the Trinidad Carnival, so that was good. I had planned to stay in the UK for about two weeks, getting my Ugandan and South African visas, and making contact with various organizations in both countries. This, did not happen. The organizations in Uganda and South Africa either did not respond, or did not have space for me as they had accepted their quota of interns for the time being, or were working on rape and not domestic violence, etc. In the waiting, I applied for some scholarships to fund my masters program in the fall (I’m still waiting…pray for me), and I baked up a storm! I think I may have made close to five or six pounds of pound cake. I made some chocolate cake and the cheese pound cake. I reconnected with some old friends (Michael Awuye, James Lawson and Victoria Hazel from Morning Star, primary school days, and Elizabeth Yankah from Gey Hey), and also met Kathy’s boyfriend and his friends. We had quite a ball, cooking up a storm and going out to the movies, shopping, and visiting other friends. I also made some new friends.

I also got close to Annabelle, and spent a lot of time with her. One very memorable incident while I was in the UK was on 10th March, when Annabelle and I decided to attend the annual bash to celebrate Ghana’s independence, which was 6th March. (On 6th March we went to Baba’s Foundation to get some food to commemorate the day. I got banku of course! LOL!). This year’s party was huge because Ghana was celebrating 50 years of independence. When we got to the place it was being held, the line was ridiculous. I didn’t have a ticket, and I had to buy one from a lady who was tired of waiting. Annabelle and I stood in line for forever, and then we heard they were allowing people in behind the building, so we went to the back to see what our chances were. They were next to nil. A throng of partygoers, dressed up to the nines in various kente and local cloth combinations, shoulders bare in defiance of the cold weather, were pushing and shoving at this ‘magical’ door. Annabelle and I plunged into this crowd, thinking that we could finally get in. Hahaha! We were shoved and pushed, and I got separated from Annabelle because I got fed up and left the crowd, as people were pushing back and forth, causing this kind of wave effect where you can’t control your body anymore. I did not want to be crushed to death because of this party, thank you very much. ( I know, I know…crushed to death is a little bit much, but I felt I could get badly hurt over there.) I had to call Kathy to get Annabelle’s number, and it turned out that she had also gone out of the crowd to the front of the building, looking for me, while I had exited and stood still at the back of the building. Finally, the police came around in their trucks, announcing on their PA system that the building was closed and no one else would be allowed to enter. I had already sold my ticket by then, and Annabelle also sold hers. We walked down the road, found a bus, and begun the long ride home. We got home around 4am, exhausted, but with nothing to show for it. LOL! Okay, I got something to show for it…a man was selling roti next to the party venue, so to forget my troubles, I bought some roti and munched on it happily. He didn’t have any Sorrel Shandy though, pity. 

When I finally got in touch with two organizations who were willing to have me over, I finalized my ticket, got my Ugandan visa, and got ready to leave. I got to the airport the Sunday I was supposed to arrive, and they said my bags were too heavy and I had to redistribute. I had my trusty jute bag that I had bought in Ajmer, India. I did the redistribution, and went back in line, only to be told that the plane was full. What???!!!! They realized that it was their mistake and booked me on a flight on Tuesday. The Victoria line decided to break down that day, so that a lot of underground stations in Central London had to close. I couldn’t get through. I went to wait for a bus, but because everyone else was also stranded, there was major traffic on the road and the buses were not coming. I finally queued up for a taxi, and Annabelle came to meet me there. We somehow found a way to get to Heathrow, as the stations finally opened up after fixing the problem. It was way too late by then. I called the Emirates Airline and explained the situation to them. They said they would reschedule me for the next day. Annabelle and I went on to the airport to get the change confirmed and to get a new sticker to verify it, and then we took a bus back to East Croydon. The next day, I took that same bus and got to Heathrow safely, checked in, and flew to Uganda, via Dubai. Dubai is lovely, by the way!

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