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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Bakra In Uganda

Till a week ago, for me, Kampala was only a petrol pump on Mumbai's Pedder Road, and even Idi Amin had run out of gas. The Scourge of the '70s was now only a movie, and the 'Ugandians' he had had so traumatically expelled had returned in droves, triumph, and greed.

Entebbe airport was like an old-fashioned aerodrome, its Arrival lounge a small, sweltering barrack to which we walked in the equatorial sun. As we awaited our bags, a huge Alsatian sprang out of nowhere, and began bounding on and off the carousel in demented continuum. I immediately thought of the entire farsan shop in a co-passenger's hand luggage which had so exasperated Security at Mumbai. A ploy flashed across my mind. How to throw a sniffer dog off the scent of heroin? Confuse him with the smell of thepla.

The Alsatian, alas, did not get his Eureka moment, no commandos shot some scruffy drug-runner. Disappointed, we stepped out, and into what looked like an imminent cricket match. Several people, some in full battle camouflage, lolled under a festive marquee. This was, in fact, Entebbe International's waiting area.

The surrealism continued during the hour-long drive to Kampala. It was difficult to figure out this place because everything was in the process of being rebuilt. Uganda is hosting CHOGM in October, and all chaos, however unrelated, was blamed on the preparation for it. It was like Calcutta during the construction of the Metro.

Respite came via the Aga Khan. In his Sere-na Kampala hotel, it was easy to forget the disarray. Uganda's iconic Crowned Cranes strutted through its landscaped gardens, and scenic bridges sighed over lush water-bodies. Even the conference room was blessed with a view.

I sat there, a Pretender to the throne of AIDS expertise. My fellow consultants were eminent virologists, country program heads, and the ravaged continent's 'voice' at the UN's AIDS forums. We had been invited by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative to accelerate its search for the elusive vial which will prevent millions of new infections. This was harsh reality. And then I lapsed into the surreal once again. I butted into the 'Royal Ascot Goat Race'.

It is dubbed 'The event of East Africa's social calendar'. I had a spare morning. How could I bleat a 'neigh'? Next, imagine the odds on finding an ex-TOI man at its gates who would wave me in gratis. He did. I plunged into an incredible collection of Black, Brown and White celebrities, in outrageous hats, skimpy tops, and pin-striped trousers with floral-print shirts, all happily obliging the paparazzi. Music blared, bunting fluttered - and a sponsor's hospitality tent displayed a rotating spit of goat-meat shwarma. Rather insensitive, methought.

The 'race horses' were goats 'rented' for the occasion; they would return to the local market after their 15 minutes of fame. Or shame. Not to the Turf Club-born, 'Silly Billy' won by a nose, only because 'Battered Ram' got grassy-eyed. The crowd over-boozed and over-schm-oozed without a pang - it was all for charity.

Must journalism's 4Ws and 1H mantra shape out perversely for me? 'Why do i always end up with the Who's Who, even When my chief concern is the Who's Not? Where is my priority? How do i avoid this gilded trap?' I can't. It's my karma-jhhola, the price for being in the team which created Bombay Times and its celebrittle Page Three.

Alec Smart said, "Will the Western Barbie drop her Chinese toy-boy? Who Ken tell?"

Posted by Ajay :: 1:22 PM :: 0 comments

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Paris Hilton Wants A Baby?

Hilton spoke about her plans to start a family.

Socialite heiress Paris Hilton is desperate to have a baby and has already decided to name her unborn child after her pet cat London. Hilton spoke about her plans to start a family maybe even as early as 2008 and said, I want kids next year, so I’ve got to get my body ready. reports that she is certain her first born will be a son and has already picked out two names. She said: If I had a child I would name him London. I used to have a cat named London. I like the name Paris Jr. too. I love babies. I’d like three or four.

Posted by Ajay :: 1:17 PM :: 0 comments

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