Chapter 3 – Friends And Flashbacks

Chris Blok

Hey diary. After a long conversation with Serena last night I slept for about seven hours. We caught up on loads of things like high school and if we were in touch with any of the people we were in school with. Since we went to an international school there isn’t a place in this world where there isn’t someone we don’t know. Comes in handy because, were I ever to go on that world trip I want to take, I would definitely make use of that.  In that sense facebook is a great tool to somewhat keep track of all these old classmates. We even went through some of our yearbooks. Gosh how familiar that world still is and yet it’s as if we were looking at a different life, a different world.

Anyhow. After I woke up, I made sure to see that Serena was still asleep. There was a lot I had to do. First I went on my morning jog around the neighbourhood. It’s always so surreal when I am back home and do my jog. People all seem to know whom I am even though I am barely home and barely communicate with the surrounding people. On my parents’ farm there is not a single farmworker whose name I know. But we all greet each other cheerfully as I walk to the gate and start running. We used to be so remote but now as I was running I saw there are more and more buildings popping up. Lusaka has this air of being quiet and busy at the same time. The way these buildings are popping up really symbolises that.

After the 5km jog I came home and asked ba Agnes (the maid) to prepare me some heavy porridge made from breakfast roller meal (pounded maize). Oh my how I have missed that treat! Serena still seemed to be fast asleep and I didn’t want to wake her because there was still a lot to do. My father and I share a deep love for cars and he has a guy employed whose only task is to make sure the cars are in order.  His name is Mr. Phiri. He’s a kind man that always wears a kisoti (headgear) and a big white smile. He and I have been working on the tomcar I bought. This car is a great beast for the bushtracks. But it’s not really allowed to be on the road so we were doing some modifications.

We managed to put a bigger engine on the tm4. Normally the maximum speed would be 88km per hour but with this modified engine we can reach a maximum speed of 180km per hour. Since Serena and I are planning some trips I want to do some general checkups on this car to make sure we’ll be comfortable. The only problem is that the car does not have much space so I hope Serena is not planning on taking too much luggage with her. Normally the car comes sons doors, but we put in some doors. I could have put a canvas roof but I prefer solid doors. On the roof we’ve also attached some racks in case of wanting to put some katundu (luggage) on top. The seats have also been made more comfortable with thicker filling and I’ve put in some nice tools like a simple audio system and a charger for my phone. Also we’ve put in a navigation system although not the whole of Zambia is put on the map.

tom

Serena was up by the time I came back. I briefly told her what I had been up to and then went to take a quick shower. After the shower we decided to take the car for a spin. I knew traffic would be terrible, but then again it always is in Lusaka these days and I think it was time Serena could have a closer look at how much Lusaka has changed. In secondary  there were about five malls that one could go to. There were Castle and Embassy, there was the one in Kabulonga, there was Manda Hill and Arcades. Now there is Makeni mall, Cross Roads, Down Town and Levy Mwanawasa Mall as well. Manda Hill itself has also changed quite a bit since there is an upstairs area as well now. Street kids come there just to play on the escalators. They never knew what those stairs were. The only place that had an escalator before Manda Hill was the international airport as far as I know haha.  Serena was shocked to see how busy traffic was and how much things have changed. The carousel building near the Kafue roundabout was once a skeleton of a building not having reached completion. Now that building is almost done. There are so many other buildings that have arisen that I’ve even lost count. The face of the city has become a lot more modern and yet the buildings that have come up have contributed to the pretty site Lusaka offers in my opinion. We drove by the mosques and the temples. I found the new mosque a lot less pretty and it is stationed rather unfortunately near Addis Ababa road smack dab in the middle of a suburb. This really contributes to heavy  traffic on a Friday.

Since the both of us like spicy chicken, we sat down at Galito’s chicken for lunch. As I dabbed my chicken in the many different flavoured sauces on offer, we went over our travel plans. We are going to drive down to South Luangwa National Park. They are arguably the best park to visit in the whole of Africa. Also we would go down to lower Zambezi and push on through to lake Kariba. I was also thinking of seeing some natural springs if time permits in the Kafue National Park. If Serena wants we can also drive down to some of my parent’s other farms to see how things are going on there. But that’s more up to her.

After lunch we decided to get brave and get back and become a part of the busy traffic once more. Where everyone was headed away from town just before lunch, now everyone is headed towards town to get back to work. As we walked to the car at Manda Hill, we were approached by two different kaponyas (street vendors) selling their merchandise. Haha some things will never change!  They typically sell the Zambian football shirt which is selling well since the team has been performing well recently. Or they will sell hats with Zambia written on it.  Others only sell scratch cards for phone credit from all the providers. The scratch cards are popularly called talk time.

We drove to our old school called The International School of Lusaka. The friendly lady at the administration desk beamed when she found out that we are old students. I looked at the trophies and was proud to see that my name was still on a number of them.  I wasn’t much of the studious type so I prided myself in theatre and sports. I once even set the record for high jump.  Unfortunately that got beaten the same year I left the school.  We walked through buildings where we were taught and I could picture a young Chris absentmindedly staring outside the window in some classes and happily participating in others. Nostalgia….  What a sad feeling. Serena was happy and chatty and reminded me of details so minute I wondered how she managed to keep them stored. We went to the Theatre hall where Serena got quite a bit emotional as this place meant a lot to both of us. In a way this is the building where we got shaped the most I guess. We walked by the sports fields and the covered area. Gosh I remember walking here with my parents for the first time. We met some of the workers of the school. These are men and women keep the place tidy and generally people forget they are there. So weird because they are a happy part of my memory and some of them were still here. We were so happy to have a small chat with them.

After the emotional and physical tour of our small world called ISL, we decided to head back home. I bought some wines to enjoy during dinner with my parents and Serena bought some of the crisps and biscuits she told me she enjoyed eating when she still used to live here. The car drew quite some attention as it is virtually unknown. Luckily we passed Kafue Roundabout before 5pm so we were not stuck in the evening traffic. At home there was a power cut, they call it power sharing.  ZESCO (the electricity company) generates all the electricity themselves and a lot is used up by the mines. Due to this, the general public suffers and outskirts like where our farm is situated are always in trouble. Families try to make life easier with inverters and generators and using gas stoves but of course this does not solve everything. Luckily we were met by the luscious scent of braai meat on the barbeque. The barbeque is home made from an oil barrel cut in half and put on wheels. We sat under the evening sky and I was content on counting the stars and being with my family and best friend Serena. This is going to be a great holiday.

————————————————————————————————-

Serena Shirazi

I think when I last wrote, I was talking about how different Zambia looked. Well that was on the road to the farmhouse that Chris’ family owns. Once we got there, Chris and I freshened up, had some dinner with his loving family, and got talking. It’s funny how you can talk to your best friend without feeling awkward at all, even though 8 years have passed in between. We talked for ages about school – how things were back then – the classmates we missed – the teachers who seemed to hate us. Chris told me about his crushes (the ones he had not revealed to me before – can you believe that?). Boy did we laugh about that! We even discussed how shocking it was that some of our classmates were already married, some had kids even! It was definitely scary in a way. We were just living life like we would never have to worry about such things.

Interestingly, we started talking about our Theatre Arts classes! It so happens that WHENEVER we have a discussion about school, we end up talking about that. The stage had been our home for years. It’s funny how at some point in school, the two of us seriously wanted to get into acting, but look at us, we never did! It’s kind of sad because I still love acting and Chris does too. We made a promise that we would do something together some day, just to fulfill that part of our collective dream.

It seemed like our conversation was just not going to stop. After we talked a while though, Chris just dozed off, so I guess that was supposed to mean ‘time to sleep you big emotional weirdo, you’. It took me a while to fall asleep. Mostly I was kept awake by Chris snoring sporadically. Ah well, can’t complain.

When I got up in the morning, Chris wasn’t around. That’s when I took my chance to go bathe and dress up. The maid got some breakfast for me, which was really sweet of her to do. After breakfast, I started unpacking a few of my clothes, checking if my camera had space, and getting my backpack ready for the day. Before long, Chris arrived. I was kind of embarrassed to be honest – he said he got up at 7! I slept until 9. But then he was the one who kept me awake with his snoring!

After having a shower, Chris asked me if I wanted a short tour of Lusaka in his car. Like, why would he even have to ASK such a question? Duh! So off we were in his fancy car (which incidentally, will be with us on the rest of our travels in Zambia later, so Chris says). Chris drove us around the city and by Jove I have to say I was extremely shocked! Lusaka has changed so drastically! I couldn’t recognise most of the places I used to frequent. What’s with the buildings! I hate not being able to see the horizon. Chris thinks it makes the city more modern now but I’ve gotta say, I was kind of sad with all the changes. It’s really hard to accept such drastic changes to a city in which you grew up. At the same time, I know it’s natural. I cannot expect Lusaka to be the way it was 5 years ago. Working in an underdeveloped part of a developing country really makes you see things differently. After my experience of working in rural parts in India, I think I have essentially become a person who dislikes big buildings popping up in the name of ‘development’. Develop facilities for common people. That’s what I would say first. Anyway enough of that.

lsk

After seeing the mushrooming malls and buildings, Chris took us to Galito’s, because I told him I wanted to eat chicken. When did he become this sweet? Anyway, while we waited for the food to come, we discussed plans for later. I could see Chris being a bit shy – I wonder what it is with guys. Chris, being this shy? Come on. However, once I started getting actively involved in the planning, I could see his shyness disappear a bit. Boys, really. And they say girls are enigmas.

Once we got out of Manda Hill, I saw these vendors selling stuff. I really wanted to buy something, but Chris thought I would not be interested, so he politely refused them. Maybe I’ll come back later and buy a memento or something. Hehe.

Our next stop was a real surprise for me. Chris took us to school! I had no idea he would do that. I was not even ready for school yet, but when he turned to go there (and of course I remember the way to school), I felt butterflies circling inside me. We got off the car and headed to the office first. Being alumni really does make one feel important. No one we recognised was in the office, but once they heard we had studied at ISL, they were happy to let us in. We relived so many memories. Chris found trophies with his name still on them! How awesome is that. Unfortunately I could not find my trophy, the one I got during my graduation. Must be somewhere I hope.

We walked around the school and ended up at the place where we had taken Drama and Theatre Arts classes together. I don’t know if Chris noticed that I was crying. I had already started welling up way before this, but when memories of everything that had happened in these classes hit me, I couldn’t stop myself. I think Chris was getting emotional too, because we just sat outside in silence for a long time, before we decided to walk on. We talked to a few of the workers there as well. Suddenly it felt like I was a teenager again, that I was a part of those walls, those rooms, those people working there. At that point I wished I could go back in time and find myself walking around the place, books in hand, heading to the next class. Nostalgia really does get the best of one’s emotions sometimes. You really do not know where memories end and reality begins again. Then when reality is back again, you don’t understand if you’re really happy anymore. I really wished I could see our old teachers once again, but this time we couldn’t, because it was holiday time and no one was around.

With heavy hearts we left ISL to get back home. It was getting dark, and we ended up being stuck in traffic. Lusaka and this type of traffic? That was another shock to me. Anyway, we made in back in time and we discovered there was a power cut. Chris told me his parents had to go through this every day and because the farm is on the outskirts, it suffers even more. However, thank goodness, there was a lovely barbeque (braai) waiting for us. We just sat under the stars and talked about our day – about Lusaka and about school. Chris’ mom asked us about our day and I started welling up again, but thankfully no one realised I was about to cry (or so I hope). Darn – I should stop getting so emotional. But I can’t help it! After dinner, Chris and I sat under the sky for a bit longer and watched the stars. I wish time would have stopped there somehow.

Move to Chapter 4

Move to Chapter 2

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