Look gents, I’m a little drunk and shaken and this will not be my most polished post. I’ve got to tell you about what happened this afternoon.
I was riding back from work and noticed a crowd gathered on the main road, all staring up the little street I usually take home. One guy was filming with his phone. Being an experienced third worlder I knew I should turn around and head briskly in the opposite direction, but being a nosy retard I instead walked my bike over to see what everyone was looking at. A fight, I wondered? A festival? I heard some fireworks go off and thought, oh, must be some religious ceremony.
Then I saw a truck loaded with police roaring towards the epicenter of attention and your fucktarded narrator finally realized, oh, those weren’t fireworks.
I wheeled my bike away from the scene and there were streams of police, army and plain-clothes people with rifles arriving in the area from all directions, and more gunshots, I think AKs on semi-auto (they can’t afford auto here, those bullets cost money. I would not be surprised if entire wars had been averted because of the outrageous cost of AK ammo. But I digress). I noticed all the shops had put down their shutters and were bringing in everything from the street.
I asked a café just closing up if I could go in. They said yes. I asked if I could wheel in my bike. They said yes. Some of the waitresses were quite attractive and I wished that I could have appeared more nonchalant, but I was not nonchalant. They looked slightly embarrassed as people here pride themselves on being more civil than other Africans, and the mess outside was not a good look.
I thought about heading home another way but I realized that to do that I would have to continue down the main street and ride past the presidential palace. That could very well be a frying-pan-to-fire situation so I decided to stay put.
So we sat there and watched further truckloads of police and army arrive, and there were more gunshots.
What an odd mix of feelings.
On one hand there was the slight fear that I might get cleaned up by a stray bullet. On the other hand there was curiosity – what the fuck was happening? Was the government being overthrown? On the other hand (I have a Shiva-load of hands) we were excited. I share just a little of that feminine arousal at drama. It needs to be a lot, but. You had a fight with your friend and she’s a total bitch? Don’t care. War going on out the window? Now I’m getting wet.
I couldn’t figure out where the action was. Up that little street there was . . . that ground coffee place? The little electronics shop? Their goods are ridiculously overpriced because they’re all smuggled but not so bad that they’d cause a revolution. The ministry for local government? Hardly a major target. The bank? Wrong direction. And the presidential compound was the other way again. The gelati place? Seriously, maybe someone was robbing it or something. “Hand over all your cash, you Italian arsehole! And pistachio-Belgian chocolate-wild berry in a waffle cone!”
I tried to call colleagues to warn them to stay in but the mobile phone network was down, presumably overloaded by everyone else doing the same thing. I finally got through to my boss and he said yes, something was happening, stay in and it will blow over soon.
The gunshots ended, many more soldiers arrived and it became clear that whatever it was would, indeed, soon be over. There are just not enough people in this city to overcome such massive state force. Most of the rebellious-aged have already pissed off to Uganda or Saudi Arabia or anywhere at all, and are busy importing canned beans from Italy rather than rebelling. Hence the fucktarded government here is utterly unchallenged. Remember those people I saw gawking at the trouble? There were probably more of them than there were actual troublemakers. Whoever they were.
Sure enough, normal foot and vehicle traffic was soon moving on the street. The café opened up and the nice ladies said, “Finish.” My boss rang a minute later to say that it was all done – he’d heard from our business manager, a well-connected local. I stayed and ordered a macchiato, drank it quickly and left the change. I said ‘thank you’ to the girls as I left and they all giggled.
Macchiato is good here, by the way. Even if you’re a black coffee fella I’d suggest you give it a go.
Outside the door a bloke tried to tell me something but I couldn’t figure out his limited English. I looked around and realized that our side of the street was empty except for cops but the other side was flowing freely with pedestrians and remaining rubber neckers. He was telling me to cross to the other side. All the cops were gathered around one building near me but I couldn’t figure out why. I suppose he was plain-clothes intelligence.
I went home, nervously watching out for fresh outbreaks of trouble all the short way. Got in and saw a delayed message from the boss: protests around the Grand Mosque, stay in. The Mosque? That was off in yet another direction. I suppose the trouble was more widespread than I thought. It’s Friday – maybe the imam had stirred up trouble. If so, he’ll now be cooling his heels in a bare cell. Or grave.
Of course there was nothing in the local news about it. Even Chinese media sometimes mention crime and disruption, albeit with the CCP’s slant on it. Heh. But here, nothing but new fistula centers and endless, lame dramas about the independence struggle.
I decided to skip the gym. Squats are important, but not worth getting shot for. OR ARE THEY? Nah, leg day can wait ‘til tomorrow.
I religiously visit the café over the road after work for a quiet coffee as I watch the evening settle over my neighbourhood. Today I went there and drank beer instead. The cute waitress with the scarred face raised her painted-on eyebrows and gave me a knowing smile.
There was an uncanny comradery in the air. People were especially friendly. The cute waitress shook my hand. I waved to some Chinamen outside and they waved back. And I understood.
Look, the government here is as bad as a government can be without actually being malicious. They’re not trying to wipe out entire groups of people. They’re not trying to institute communist redistribution at any human cost. They’re not even a Nigerian-style kleptocracy. They’re trying to govern in good faith and are just too uneducated, stubborn and close-minded to do anything except make things worse. If they all took a year-long sabbatical at the beach I expect things would improve considerably, or at least stabilize. It seems that the president, in particular, suffers from having no one close to him who can whisper in his ear, ‘Look mate, your idea is breathtakingly stupid. I’ve seen you do some dumb things, but even compared to those this is a real stinker. Don’t do it.’
But there is something worse than incompetent, authoritarian government:
Witness Libya and Iraq. Makes you wanna dig up Gaddafi and Saddam, doesn’t it. Also Bashar in Syria and others.
The fact that there is no rivalry to the government here makes the situation safe. They are shit, but they are better than every man and his dog doing whatever he wants kind of shit. And if they were overthrown, the new mob would be even worse. This seems to be an iron law of nature. The Law of Increasing Shitropy. Where’s my Nobel.
I stumbled back across the street to go home and I stupidly forgot which way they drive in this country, looked the wrong way and almost went under a Hilux.