Vuvuzela and Football Fever – Waka Waka!

The World Cup in South Africa - 2010

I am certainly not a football fanatic though I do support Liverpool Football Club and have learnt from my brothers that I am to boo and hiss and suddenly start spitting venom if Manchester United is suddenly mentioned. Between you, me and the four walls, I seriously don’t care. Football is tolerable to me because I guess I understand it. Cricket is the game that makes me want to slash my wrists and die because I just don’t understand the game fully, though I must say because all major matches are sponsored events on East FM, I have learnt to read out the scores and perhaps indulge in some commentary while I’m on air. But the bottom line is that cricket is the bane of my existence at work.

The Liverpool Football Club - You'll Never Walk Alone

Football is a sport even my Dad watches a lot. Remember those days of Football Made In Germany? Well, my Dad was an utter fan and he’d religiously watch it and yell at the TV appropriately with whatever that was happening. For us kids, we’d just sit in the same room and feign interest while doing our own thing. There was only one TV in the house, no decoder and subscription TV maneno back then, and the sole JVC video cassette player was only to be used with permission to watch those pirated muhindi movies at the weekends.

World Cup 2010 is at feverish levels. I have known many sporting events to get a lot of media coverage and fan reverence but this time, football is surpassing everything else it seems like. Even I have a vuvuzela that I attempt to use during the matches and then give up because the sound is irritating after a while. I watched the first opening match and I did catch a few after that too though I’m not following them religiously. I went to a shopping mall’s food court with the kids at the weekend and the waiters who usually aggressively come and slap their menus on your table and jostle for your attention were actually more keen on watching the match that was being televised on the big screen TVs that seem to be a ne addition to the food courts, probably in an attempt to entice shoppers to chill out and have a meal while watching the football.

Coming back to the vuvuzelas, I have reason to believe that they might be banned from within the stadiums because of irritatingly high-pitched sounds that probably affect the concentration of the players. Apparently the sound is like millions of bees buzzing away and to me that is pretty annoying and irritating. Having said that I’m still not sure which country I am supporting. I’m actually taking it match by match and so far all the countries I have supported have won their respective matches. My niece insists I ought to support Spain because all the good-looking players are in that team. She has a point. Nothing like watching eye-candy for 90 minutes doing their thing.

Personally I am first supporting countries on the African continent first. I’m also amazed that I am yelling at the TV like my Dad used to and still does as he watches matches with my daughter who, by the way, is an excellent goal keeper for her school team. My son is pretty sporty but I get immensely pleased when my daughter takes part in sports because she was riddled with asthmatic tendencies as a child.

I think sports is a great way to bring people together and I do hope any form of hooliganism doesn’t rear its ugly head during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I have heard of people committing suicide because their team lost. It may be a way of life for some people but don’t lose your life over it. Be sensible, be smart, have fun and enjoy the games. Don’t get drunk at a pub while watching a game and then attempt to drive home. You may not die but you might kill an innocent person.

I’d love to know which country you are supporting and why. For now I’m sticking to Spain because of my niece’s insistence but I might even go for South Africa, Ghana, England, Brazil and Germany. This would be my cue to yell some sort of football slogan but I only know the one for Liverpool so here goes – You’ll Never Walk Alone. Or something of the sort.


What a pickle!

First of all let me clarify something. I’m a muhindi and it’s expected of me to be eating pickles and chutneys with every meal including my cornflakes. I am supposed to be able to eat chillies at an alarmingly high rate and not even wince when biting into those small bullet peppers.

‘Supposed’ being the operative words here! There was a time I could eat no food without dollops of hot sauce on it, or some sort of chilli condiment with it but as I grow older i realise I have what us Kenyans term as a ‘mzungu palette’. I can’t bear the heat in my mouth or the havoc that gets wreaked on my insides. I have a mzungu friend and he tries really hard to fit in with my mum’s cooking. Mum has a bit of a heavy hand where pili pili is concerned so he’s usually politely red-faced until he leaves the house and runs for an ice cream parlour.

My dad’s younger brother has a habit of eating a special chutney with every meal of his. He makes it himself and it is, in fact very simple to make and tastes divine too. Basically it’s a yoghurt based garlic chutney.

You will need:

6 tablespoons homemade yogurt (but even the shop stuff will do)

1teaspoon crushed garlic

1teaspoon crushed coriander leaves

Crushed green chillies (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

Just mix everything together and this chutney goes with just about anything – except your cornflakes of course. Try it with samosas and chicken tikka, sandwiches, drizzle it over irio (my favourite), in fact just about everything.

Now just in case you’re wondering what do I mean by pickle and what do I mean by chutney, it’s quite simple…

You can pickle a lot of things, including many vegetables and fish, in a solution of brine and vinegar. The terms chutney and relish are often used interchangeably, but a chutney is usually considered to be an Indian-style relish made of fruits, such as mango, and certain spices, plus vinegar and sugar. Other relishes can include a variety of ingredients, not simply cucumber. Not all things pickled are chutneys. Generally, chutneys are not whole or simply sliced (like a cucumber pickle), but are diced and more spices are added to chutneys. The difference  between them is mango pickle is a pickled version of mango(Achaar) and the chutney is a blend of spiced with mango added in it.

No self respecting chicken tikka joint can go without an array of chutneys to accompany the yummy food you get served. A tamarind chutney is usually standard fare at such restaurants.

I remember my Granny (cucu) used to make a fabulous mango achaar (pickle) with mangoes handpicked from her garden. The process was amazing. Firstly you pick the mangoes and wash and dry them really well, then cut them into small, long slices with the skin on – and at this point it is important to note that the mangoes are not the sweet orange fleshed ones. These are usually hard. Once washed and dried they are rubbed with salt and then laid out in the sun to dry completely. Granny used to use Granddad’s voile turban material but one can also use newspapers to lay the fruit out on to dry out in the sun. Once totally dehydrated, Granny would cook these dried mangoes in oil and i must say it’s not just a tablespoon or three of oil. She’s use litres of it! To this she would add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and lots of red chilli powder and of course green chillies and a whole host of other things that i seriously can’t remember at this point. The result was an amazing mango pickle that would taste divine with pronthas (shallow fried chapattis) and hot masala chai.

Did you also know that marmalade is considered a sweet pickle? We love to put it on our hot buttered toast. I Portugal the fruit called quince would be used to make a kind of a sweet pickle which came to be known as marmalade and the ladies would make this marmalade and give to a man as a token of her love. Basically if you were in love with a man and wanted him to know that, you’d make him some marmalade and present it to him and in some parts of Europe this tradition still continues.

To this day, this fruit called ‘quince’, as it falls off a tree, a man may pick it up and hand it to a lady to indirectly say ‘Would you make me some marmalade’ so I guess the man, too, can reciprocate his feelings or make them known to a woman he loves with this gesture.

What a pickle eh?!

Vegetarianism – It’s not for the wimps!

I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian was a bumper sticker I used to have on my car as a student. You’d think that living in the UK as a student would make it easier for me to stick to a cheaper and wholesome diet but no. I used to absolutely love eating meat every single day! Walking into a fast food place was a thrill – eating southern fried chicken by the bucket was Friday night’s menu and walking through the place known as the Golden Arches for a burger fix or hot apple pie was almost a daily occurrence.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, states that vegetarianism is the practice of following a diet that excludes meat, including game and slaughter by-products; fish and other sea animals; and poultry. There are several variants of the diet, some of which also exclude eggs and/ or some products produced from animal labour such as dairy products and honey.

My worst vegetable used to be karela (bitter gourd) and I hated the taste with passion. Luckily Mum never forced me or my siblings to eat this food whenever it was cooked but there mere smell of it cooking in the house would ensure a hunger strike for the day. If we knew beforehand that it would be cooking at home the same evening, we’d stock up on junk food from the school tuck shop to make sure we didn’t die of hunger.

Then suddenly I grew up somewhere along the way and had kids of my own and I realised the importance of vegetables in our general diet. My daughter is actually a very finicky eater but my son eats anything and everything you put in front of him. He loves to experiment with food while my daughter picks out onions, coriander leaves, tomatoes and anything else and piles it on the side of her plate. In the dramatics department she takes after me, I must say. If she is forced to eat something she doesn’t like she will make retching sounds and heave as though I’ve just poured a litre of arsenic down her throat with some rat poison for good measure. Surprisingly she likes cauliflower, which I didn’t like while I was growing up so I do try and vary recipes so that she ingests at least one green!

Being a vegetarian or having a diet that leans more towards vegetarianism is great for health and it doesn’t take rocket science to figure it out. The fresher the vegetables, the more beneficial they are to your well being. The equation is the simplest one I know off head.

I would suggest trying to experiment with herbs and spices to flavour the foods. A sprinkling of sesame seeds on tofu with a drizzle of soya sauce and a quick pan fry method, served up with sautéed vegetables is actually very delicious. Oregano is an herb I really love using. Who says it’s just for pizza? I even use it in basic Indian recipes that I make at home for that slight oomph in the taste, and that’s not the only herb you can experiment with for flavour. Just let your creative juices flow and you know there is so much you can do and enjoy your veggies.

So including a lot more vegetables in your diet isn’t really a scary thing. You might end up liking it more and more instead of eating far too much meat which ideally your body doesn’t require. The key is to enjoy the taste and various flavours and if you’re stuck with not knowing what to do, just let Susan walk you through it. She’s a dab hand in the kitchen if you know what I mean!!

De-cluttering My Life

For the record, I am someone who hoards just about everything. I keep all sorts of things that would make one wonder what is it that really makes my mind tick. Let me demonstrate to you the extent of my hoarding. I have my 18th birthday banners and the champagne corks too. I have my birthday cards from all these years and I keep things for the event of ‘just in case’. By this I mean I will not throw out that piece of fancy ribbon that I got off the packaging of a posh chocolate box because you never know when you’ll get to use it again.

You must understand at this point that I’m big into recycling things and because I really enjoy making my own greeting cards, I will use the oddest of objects to stick on the cards to make it unique, so I rarely end up throwing bits and bobs. I have special drawers for all my crafting supplies and I know the day I throw something out because I feel it won’t have any use, chances are high that I will need to use it as soon as the bin people have taken the taka-taka away. Sod’s Law!

The hoarding has continued with my kids’ stuff. I have their first outfits they wore home from the hospital after birth, their blankets, first footwear, heck, I even have their teeth! Usually the Tooth Fairy is meant to replace the tooth with some cash and probably flush the tooth down the loo or something but I save the teeth. Sometimes I wonder why because a mere look at those teeth just grosses me out completely. Ewww.

It doesn’t stop at my kids. I have pictures and colourings and cut out flowers given to me by my vast number of cousins, nieces and nephews. I’m just too sentimental and absolutely refuse to throw away my memories like that.

A fortnight ago I was on leave from work and I decided to clear out my home. Being at work the whole day I tend not to have the time to give it the full attention that I do at the weekends so it was actually therapeutic clearing up. First of all I did my filing. All my papers were stuffed in a purple floral gift bag and more kept joining that bag until it started tearing from the sides. Then I got rid of clothes and shoes and handbags that were in great condition but I wasn’t using them. Most of the stuff I just sold it off at a very nominal amount and the rest I gave away. The kids’ toys, books and clothes also followed suit and I felt really good to have taken out so much stuff from the house.

The only area left to clear up now is my study. No one is allowed to touch anything here or move anything at all. The helper has strict instructions to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING on my desk and leave all noble intentions of wanting to tidy up because she will just mix everything and I will have a nervous breakdown. In my pile of papers, books, pens, craft supplies and what not, I always know where to find whatever it is I am looking for.

Having said that, I’m actually glad that I have managed to sort my stuff out. It’s amazing how, when you clear one aspect of life up, all other looming aspects seem to get sorted out too. Or maybe it’s just me…!

They say a cluttered environment is a reflection of a cluttered mind but I just like to call my clutter ‘organised chaos’.

Share your clutter and clutter-free stories with me…

The Woozy Day

I’m getting off the effects of General Anesthetic as I write this. No, it’s not a regular habit or occurrence. It’s just that I had to get a medical procedure done and hence the need for it. As I write this I hope some silly git spammer doesn’t pick up on the words medical and anesthetic and send me offers of cheap viagra. I swear I don’t need it!

The day has gone by in a daze and I even painted my nails black for some strange reason. It’s strange because I’m more likely to wear pink or red or some other ‘safe’ colour like that. Perhaps the black was a reflection of my mood. Maybe I saw The Light while in the operation theatre. I have no recollection of any near death experiences, if any.

I have most of tomorrow to recuperate and look forward to chatting more with you over here….

Do you see butterflies during NDEs??

Welcome to Kamal’s Korner


Welcome to Kamal’s Korner where I say exactly what I feel like because I feel like it!

Your feed back is much appreciated but if you’re spamming me with offers of cheap viagra and you are from Nigeria and want me to fax you my letterhead, please don’t bother. That’s just not done!

What is done is that I can yakkety yak away and you can enjoy that if you are so inclined.