My Photo
Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Reposting an episode from my travels to the Zanzibar. Here a small snippet.

By Susan Abraham

The next day, Mrs. Periammah Lewis and I continued our travels into the Zanzibar.

We were accompanied by one Valentino Rudolph The Third. Valentino was a heavy barrelled Tanzanian, who acted as Mrs. Lewis's son, Alagappan's driver in Dar-El-Salaam. Overnight, he had received his promotion papers for self-proclaimed butler and high-alert bodyguard.

Of course, welcome and goodbye hugs were out of the question.

Pardon Valentino for being rude but he was so short that had he dared attempt an embrace into Mrs. Lewis's Himalayan chest which possessed two shaky, unconquerable Everests (it was whispered that her long-dead husband had been frigid) he would have been forever suffocated and buried in burning flesh.

The Everests drooped from an ocean of fiery, frustrated wrinkles. And God knows, what would have happened to his bulbous nose had his face hit the peaks.

What had to be urgently remembered was that the Tanzanian police prowled the city like leopards. Both would have been arrested for a supposedly lewd sexual act. Please, I dare not say and can only plead that you visualise the tragedy that may have been!

What if they could not have been separated? They may have had to live like Siamese twins.

To this day, Mrs. Lewis's Everests remain unconquered.

"Take Mummy, take him and go," smiled Alagappan with relief. I suspected he wanted to get rid of us. Alaggapan was in a good mood. The swelling in his right eye had gone. The criminal Botswana born-n-bred mosquito, having escaped trial and extradiction rights, had been condemned to eternal damnation in the family dustbin. "Rot in hell," shouted Mrs. Lewis.

I wondered that she didn't give it a hug on her restless, scorching chest for a similiar effect.

I could you tell you many stories on the exotic Zanzibar and I will later. But perhaps today, one small scene.

It was a hot afternoon at 2. Mrs. Periammah Lewis, Valentino Rudolph the Third and I sat in a restaurant that resembled a thatched straw hut, close to the idyllic icing beach.

The restaurant had a curvy bar next to it. It was called The Tequila Kiss-Me-Quick Shack.

A song involving powerful African drumbeats, blared loudly. Voluptous sweet young things holidaying from Europe, sat in dangerous bikinis on bar stools. They sipped potions with fancy names like You Are a Coconut Head.

Hopeful suitors with toothpaste grins clamoured the bar like an army of red ants. Palm trees swayed on the beach next to us a little snobbishly as the wind blew lustily. Mrs. Lewis, reluctant to spend US$ 2 dollars on an orange crush, had dismissed Sharuk, our guide, for the day.

Earlier, Sharuk had taken us on a tour. I chose to take my photograph of Sharuk next to a stall selling plastic wildlife and Zanzibar spices, batteries and smuggled cigarettes.

An old man with a snowy snakish beard and white cap guarded his rackety stall. It was in shambles. He looked po-faced like a museum statue. He cheated tourists as often as he could.

On his parasol was a banner that advertised his stall. It spelt the words, Made-In-London in big, bright red letters. Everywhere on the legs of his rackety table was also painted the words, Made-In-London. The old man was surrounded by about 50 Made-In-London labels. It soon became clear that the old man himself looked like he could have been manufactured in London, back in the Dickensen era.

I thought that would be the ideal place to take a photograph of Sharuk. Sharuk exchanged a foreign dialect with the old man. We put on solemn expressions. The old man nodded his head but looked suspicious. First, we had to purchase something. I bought a few camera batteries.

Sharuk put his hand around the old man and grinned. Perhaps he too would look to the folks back home that he was a Made-In-London import. Sharuk's ambition was to be a Hollywood actor.

Then Sharuk laughed. And I laughed. And then we laughed and laughed. Until I couldn't take any more pictures. The old man's face transformed itself into a vengeful volcano. Suddenly the dragon, he pummelled a fist threateningly and shouted at us. Sharouk said he screamed out unmentionables. "Time to get out of here," shouted Sharuk. We didn't take the risk of saying thank-you. Still laughing, we ran and ran.

Now, I felt wistful, like a young lady dining somewhere in the Carribbean. I wanted to get up and dance. A powerful romantic flavour lingered in The Tequila Kiss-Me-Quick shack. Other islands would continue to have that same aromatic feel as I found out, from visiting the South Seas.

I tasted a vanilla ice-cream called Tutti-Frutti. Mrs. Lewis never ate at any outside restaurant anywhere in the world for fear that the food would be contaminated. She only ever supped at respectable Indian thosai shops. Now she and Valentino had themselves cups of tea. Valentino tried not to look at Mrs. Lewis's chest. Mrs. Lewis tried not to look at Valentino's bulbous nose.

Suddenly, a tiny African boy riding a Vespa like the Grand Prix, scootered into the shack, gatecrashing the idyllic scene.

There were two other boys hollering on the Vespa with him. They had heard rumours that the police were coming. "POLICIA, POLICIA," they shouted. "POLICIA!"

Of course, we knew nothing. The bartender looked nervous.
Waiters dropped their plates.
The hopeful suitors fled like cowards.
The girls looked surprised.
There was a lot of noise. The boys looked worried. What was their dark secret, I wondered engagingly. "No need to be a busybody," snorted Mrs. Lewis. A wildlife image immediately shot to mind.

The boys said they would help to guard the fort. They careened around. for warning signs. They heard sounds getting louder and louder but couldn't see anything. They manouvered the Vespa into the bar one more time. "POLICIA, POLICA," they shouted, vainly. They added honks and toots to heightens suspense.
It was too late.
Everyone shivered and waited.

No-one moved.
After what seemed an age, we heard the clopping of hoofs.
A puzzled farmer with a donkey on his cart ambled into The Tequila Kiss-Me-Quick shack.
It was a case of mistaken identity.The three African boys, on their Vespa, decided that a vanishing act would be smarter than an apology.

They fled.