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Fact

World Elephant Day

Today is World Elephant Day. There are serious problems that elephants face as a species. It also means that we can indulge in watching videos on cute elephants online.

Unfortunately the news relating to elephants is not good. Their numbers have fallen by 62% in just 10 years. Worse still it is estimated that 100 African elephants are killed by poachers each and every day. This information is provided by the World Elephants Day site.

But it is not just African elephants that are in trouble. Asian elephants are also struggling too. There are now less than 40000 Asian elephants anywhere in the world. To put this in perspective, this represents only around 10% of the African elephant population.

It is not all bad news however. There is still hope according to National Geographic. The average number assigned as the Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE) fell below 5% in 2016. It has not done this since 2009. Below 5% means that the elephant population may well recover.

More good news. Prices of raw ivory in China has fallen by over 50% in the last couple of years. This fall could lead to a fall in demand for elephant poaching. This is according to Save the Elephants (STE).

World Elephant Day celebrates elephants and reminds everyone to support policies that help to conserve elephant populations. These policies include the prevention of illegal poaching, the suppression of the ivory trade, habitat conservation and help breeding captive elephants.

Fact, Phew

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (Fear of No. 666)

666

(read one wo/man, if you will allow me :( )

As the date 06/06/06 is here – I am somewhat amused by the whole reference to it.

Most people view that number as evil – I am not one of those

Now, let this be the place where you all learnt this first – and/or stayed away/with this blog for good.

Why? You ask!

My favourite number is 6 (and trust me I am pretty lucky, you wouldn’t even begin to imagine – but that is a life for another blog)

* First 6 – or rather 666 – My First name, Middle (given) name, and Surname are all six letters long – the only one in the family, including parents and nephews/nieces.

* Second 6: I am the 6th born (out of 8 ) in my family

* Third 6: I was born on a Saturday – the sixth day of the week (yes, don’t do that Sunday is the first day routine on me, I’m on a roll)

Remember, God rested on the seventh day

I could go on – but I hope I have convinced you

I don’t care for fears of numbers – number 13? What, what?

Friday the 13th? Who cares?

Anyway, I am not the devil’s spawn – and I am not evil, not as far as I know

So judge for yourself and laugh at me or as I would you

Oh and one more thing, Devious over there is my e-twin (and that E is not for Evil.., but then again… )

And now for the clincher – at 0600hrs, my eyes opened – LOL anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard time waking up, takes me till about 0730 to convince my brain that work calls – but today, Noo, I was lying in bed wide awake, laughing at something I remembered – Devious, you wouldnt be amused

And for those shaking their heads going: Oh but its all a concidence! I will ask you this – What the heck has the number 666 got to do with anything?

Need I say more?

Today: The luckiest day of my life – or rather, just another normal day at the office :D

Fact, Home

Renewed faith

It’s no secret that I place humans a rung below other animals for the way they treat each other, and nature. I know that I am one of them, but in the same breath I see in us something that animals and plants frown on on a daily basis. All of us would rather walk over someone to get something sorted – and I will not, for the sake of sanity (yours not mine) get into the political arena in Kenya, there are people best placed to discuss that – or even the whole ‘power’ thing going on around the world.

It’s very safe to say that I have very little faith in the human population, if any.

Having said that, in the last two weeks in Kenya, I have had people do and say things that has made me realise that all hope is not lost. There are good people out there, very good people. It doesn’t balance the equation, but we are holding the fort for the rest of humanity to get on board.

My visit to Kenya wasn’t a holiday as it were – I had some personal interests to take care of. A friend of my good friend W works for BA in Kenya. She was informed that I needed to travel, and in a 24hr window, she had booked me in, paid for my flight, and called me in the UK to confirm and give me the details. I hadn’t even paid for my flight, she did. She didn’t know me from Eve, didn’t know whether she could get her money back if I receded on my travels, had nothing to gain but went ahead and did it anyway. I had to leave work early to get home, get my stuff together, and be at the airport for the night flight home. On my arrival, we had to detour to her house where she had a ready breakfast for me, and a huge hug and a kiss.

Nothing in it for her, I had never for the life of me met or heard of her before.

Neither had she.

For the return flight, I had to make a few changes, which would normally incur a £50 charge from BA. A phone call, it was sorted. No questions, no charges. She was there when I checked in, called in someone to check me in so I didn’t have to queue, waited (for a minute) for a flight refresh to see what seats were available so she could allocate a ‘decent’ seat for me. Upgraded me to club class!!! And made sure that I was sitting alone – no interruption, no annoyances!

In JKIA ‘apparently’ once you check in you can’t leave the airport. In normal G-mode, I always fib my way out – especially when I have checked in 3 or more hours before my flight. She walks over to the guys and goes ‘ I am letting her out’.

Waited for me while I was late saying goodbye to my nearest and dearest. Sat and chatted with me while the queue abated – walked me to the flight and handed me over to the flight attendants.

All for a kiss and a hug.

She is my latest role model.

Susan – I wish there were more people in the world like you. I wish there were more people in Kenya like you. The world is a better place just because you are in it. You renew my faith in humanity just because! And not because you made my travels more comfortable or you made me feel better, its because, just because, you did it for no other reason than you are a person that does good things without expecting anything in return – you are my kind of person.

Fact, Tears

Cell Hell

cell1

I just finished reading this book, and while this is not a critique on the book, it has a huge basis on what I need to get off my chest, and educate you lot. This book talks about a Pulse that is relayed through the mobile phone that makes everyone crazy – so crazy that all bets are off. What got me is the way the people behaved and it puts my mind back to what happened in one of my relationships a few years back.

That was when I met this really nice young man – u know the usual: guy meets girl, they spend a lot of time together and soon enough they are a couple. Nothing new in that and things were going great, I had no reason to worry or be cautious.

You see, the said young man was intelligent, no I mean genius level intelligent (who in your group of friends do you know that has Mr. Gates (he of MS) as a phone contact who they chat often and has personally recruited him to work in his company?), at the top of his career, absolutely gorgeous (6’4” of a man), down to earth and chivalrous to a T. He is one of those that wont let you cook two days in a row, carry a heavy object or open your own doors.

To cut a very long story to manageable readability, he was on one of his trips abroad and as usual we would spend hours on the phone in the evening – and emails and text msgs during the day – and this one time he tells me that he is tired and hasn’t been sleeping well, was stressed at his project coz he had to finish before the Christmas rush and all. I understood, and let him sleep.

The following day, he doesn’t call or text (or answer any emails) at all, and in the evening when I text him, he informs me that he cannot talk, he broke down at work and was told to go home cos he couldn’t handle it (in front of an International Bank’s board members) and that he needs to call his mother. I was concerned but let it lie. He was coming back the following day and we would sort it out then.

In the gym the following evening, he calls while I am getting changed after the shower. The gym is in the basement so the signal is going in and out, so I promise to call in half an hour after I get home. Great until I am getting through the door and he is on the phone, asking why I haven’t called him. I tell him to give me two seconds coz I am just getting home and guess what? He calls me on my landline to see if I am telling the truth. I answer the phone and then he goes ballistic on me.

Starts asking questions like why am I with him? Is it because of his money? which pissed me off because I could never date anyone for their money (If you know me then you know my answer to that question),ever. He asks if I want him so I can have British Citizenship and I laugh in his face, he had never asked my status and I had never volunteered that information, I didn’t see the point. He wants to know what I want with him cos apparently I could have any man in the world that I wanted, and I am like: What the hell do you want with me? You too could have any woman in the world.

After this unsettling conversation, he starts crying! I am flabbergasted. I mean this guy who is all together just starts bawling like someone stole his toy. I ask what is going on and he goes on about different aspects -the conversation is interjected with crying fits and laughing fits and coherent fits and absolutely out there stuff that I wouldn’t understand even if I was Einstein. After about two phone calls, I call my best friend P – my lifesaver, my mum, my confidante, my shrink. Just relaying three lines of what is going on she goes: He is having a mental breakdown!

What?

See, she is a psychiatric nurse, she deals with this kinda stuff all the time

Yes, I had got the bit where the man was behaving erratically, he was incoherent and his brain sequence was all over the place. He was paranoid, lucid, incoherent – the flags had gone from neutral to rainbow -take your pick – yes, I had thought he was having some sort of breakdown, maybe stress since his job was way stressful, but I hadn’t gone down that road.

Yes, the man is bipolar

Mental illness

I had noticed some untoward stuff about him which were cause for concern to me:

Hating white people:

Not a reason in itself but the dude is half white half South American black so couldn’t understand why he was all up in dissing white people any chance he could find.

Hating cops:

He would be so paranoid about cops that I thought it was unnecessary, and pointed it out, even though I have never been in any scrapes with authority I thought it was uncalled for to be so negative about them, citing that it was because he is black –even if they were stopping him for something as mundane as a broken tail-light.

Racism:

He of mixed race persuasion was always going on about all these ills being placed on black people. Although I agree to some extent, he was always going on about it, even when the contrary was the case. He made a point of making sure that everyone was clear on his blackness – and he would never entertain a thought of him being thought of as a mixed race person – he always maintained that his father was a black man in white skin.

Swearing:

I am not anti swearing – heck, I am known to use some of that language when necessary – but almost always not in spoken language. He was of the swearly persuasion, not always but it did irk me after a while that he would just go off on one when he saw something on tv that didn’t impress him, citing everything from race, injustice, slavery, you name it, if it had a black person on it, it was deemed necessary for some swear fit.

Now, that may sound like your average black man in the West, but this one was in all other aspects outstanding -disillusioned, yes, but mainly a guy who saw all points in all areas and dealt with them with a neutral outlook. So I was happy to let these little points lie.

Next day, the phone is ringing off the hook, if I refuse to answer the mobile, he calls the landline, and so on until I answered one – and this continued for so long that I had to leave the house, mobile phone switched off, and go for a very long walk. I had to think, more so I had to leave the incessant phone calls with the whole thing repeated over and over. It was like someone had deleted the hard drive in his brain and installed a loop that had to be replayed over and over again – with no human attachment to it.

At the end of that day I called his phone, when he didn’t call after I hadn’t heard from him again that day, and I was worried coz he lived alone and didn’t want him to harm himself or others, and I got his mum on the phone – she told me that he had been hospitalised – and gave me the address of the place where he was. Oh did I forget to mention, he lived outside London, about an hour and a half away from my place, so I couldn’t have up and gone over to see him.

I decided to go and see him in hospital, knowing full well that I wasn’t ready for what I would find. I called P and she told me that I shouldn’t go – she was worried dead about me, but I being the stubborn self that I am, was willing to take the risk, more so when my maternal instinct had switched over and wanted to take care of my man – who had invariably turned into the child that never was.

So the next day I go into the hospital – and man, did I get a shock of my life – it was like seeing a person you have never met – in one way he was the sweet man that I knew, with the said hard drive completely obliterated minus the core code – he could eat and drink and chat and recognise me – but on the other end it was like basic human traits were not there. It was like he was a new program on the same shell – a child in a man’s body. I was heartbroken. He worried about me getting home, was sweet about me getting him the necessary everyday basics like clothes and soap and moisturisers (he had told me on the phone that he hadn’t got any of those) and how I was gonna get home in the rain – but at the same time wasn’t conscious of his surroundings or why he was there in the first place.

Everybody in there was behaving like flock – walking around, disjointed like they were drunk, or just staring into space, some were lucid enough to read or watch tv – some just following the others around with blank looks on their faces. I couldn’t believe that he was here – heck I couldn’t believe that ‘I’ was here. What the hell happened?

In a couple of days, I went to see him with P – she agreed and insisted on accompanying me – and I was touched. She told me, repeatedly, that I should terminate the relationship – that my man would understand. I didn’t understand this – mainly because I am such a caring person that letting him get on with it on his own wasn’t an option, and also because I am not a quitter (wrongly so here) and wouldn’t just give up cos a hurdle just presented itself. That was the beginning of the end of the relationship. He later on told me when we had an argument that he couldn’t never forgive me for bringing my friend along to the hospital – he didn’t like anyone apart from family seeing him like that, and that because he had wanted to tell me before, he felt that I ‘stole’ his chance and he couldn’t explain when his brain was ‘fried’ – as he used to call it.

He stayed in hospital for 3 weeks, then a couple of weeks out and he was back to work. Apparently this has happened a few times since university and his employers and parents and friends are aware of it. He had spoken to his parents and was due to tell me about it when it happened. All I can say is, I wouldn’t have been prepared for it if I had had a briefing a year in advance. It was one of the most confusing and terrifying times I have had.

Our relationship did continue for a while (8 months from start to finish) but I have to say that for all those times after that episode, I was always on edge – I wanted to fall in love with him, but I couldn’t. He was for all intents and purposes the man any woman would want to be with, and any man would want to be, but there is one cell (read hell) that neither of those genders would want to be a part of. Within this time I had met (before and after) his friends and family – and the latter had already adopted me as the future daughter in law – he had told them that he intended to marry me. But I knew I would never go through with it because:

– Children whose either parent has mental illness has a 50% chance of having a breakdown themselves. Once you are born into that grouping, you just need a ‘trigger’ to fire it and away you go. However loving and caring I am I wouldn’t want my child going through what he did – I know it sounds bad, but would you?

– Stress – being married (and life in general) is very stressful – there will be arguments and stuff – children – what if he couldn’t handle the pressure and ‘snapped’ – would I be able to look after kids and handle that? I know that thinking about it stressed me even more.
– Family – this is what P told me about it that time. “Listen G, you might be accepting of his condition, but what do you think your mum would say to you?” – damn, that had me stressing a whole lot more!
– His attitude towards his illness was denial – he was on medication but he only took it sometimes – like for the first part of our relationship, I wasn’t aware that he was on daily medication even though sometimes we spent a whole weekend together – he always stated that he could manage it and he knew when he needed the medication and when not!

Within this time frame I found myself analysing all the people that I met, friends and colleagues – and I made myself study all there is to learn about mental illness. I am surprised that it can happen to anyone and everyone – that we walk around pretending to be all high and mighty and especially Africans we consider people with mental illness as outcasts. Now I understand his apprehension with society, authority and race – and more so with the mental health issue – in hindsight – his parents would call the police on him and they would forcibly imprison him and take him away when he was unwell. Sometimes even administering electric shock treatment on him – I remember vividly when he was telling me this, he was crying.

I now know that mental illness is hereditary (mainly) and is wont to manifest itself at the onset of teenagehood, or when you are faced with extreme stress. More or less, I have now got the pointers to extreme stress or mental instability in people and I find that when people use the term ‘mad’ I kinda cringe inside cos I have seen the inside (albeit on the outside) of that side, and know that you shouldn’t take that lightly.

What is the lesson today, guys?

– It is very easy to dismiss ‘mad’ people – we all know the stigma that is associated with Mathare Hospital. I know the level of care attached to patients in Kenya and the UK are totally different, but damn, when people go to Mathare, I don’t think they ever come out.
– Mentally ill people can and do live lives to the fullest – my ex has a great career at the top of the ladder in IT, he owns a big house, a nice car, he can afford to do anything financially he wants – he has good friends, and although maintaining a relationship with a woman has been a problem, I don’t see why he cant live to have his own family who he loves and takes care of (I know this coz he is the most caring person you could ever meet)
– Just because someone looks and behaves like a ‘normal’ person, doesn’t mean their faculties upstairs are intact – watch out for extreme behaviour and be careful – not all mentally ill people are violent – he wasn’t – but at the same time, who knows what code in the head is left intact – violence is a basic human instinct you know?
– Being mentally ill doesn’t make you subhuman – and it hurts me that people just walk around stigmatising the mentally ill just because you ‘know’ that it isn’t normal – learn again and be kind to all. Everyone deserves to love and to be loved, irrespective of their mental state. Oh, and unless the case is extreme, they dont have a breakdown every other week, they might just have one in a lifetime if it is treated and they take care of themselves
– This issue gave me new insights into my tolerance levels – before then I had never dealt or even thought about mental illness, it was like something out there that doesn’t affect me or mine – and when this happened, I did not have a clue one way or the other how I was gonna react – but I went with my gut instinct and although it was as good as wading in the sea, I realised that I gave it a chance and I didn’t throw in the towel at that first hurdle.

The society doesnt make it easier either – it is bad enough to be black in the West, without a tag being placed on you as well for having a mental illness -however often it manifests itself. My ex was told at a very early age by his teachers that he would never amount to much, and now that he has a mental disorder, the society would say that he is a menace to society and no good for anything. We have all seen on TV how a mental patient who has escaped hospital or been released goes on to commit murder or assault – and that mental image is saved for anybody who is black and has the illness. We also know from statistics that mental health patients of black and other ethnic minorities do not get the care they need as opposed to their white counterparts. And you wonder why, when follow-ups arent done properly, the same patients goes and harm themselves or others. It is a pity. Every one of them deserves and should be given a support network of both the health professionals, their family and friends. Shame that most of us are all willing to run away at the first instance of danger – employing all labels to justify our disassociation and wariness of these patients.

I have learnt a lot about mental illness – especially that time when he was in hospital – I joined forums on the internet, read books and trawled the net to find all the information I could – I even knew about medication, side effects, lifestyle – I learnt as much as I could – and also spoke to my friend P who gave me all the information that I needed – both from a professional and personal point of view.

Also, our cultural norms prevent us from admitting to having this problem in our families -no one wants to be known for having a ‘mad’ person in their family, or they will be shunned but their friends or the society… I know this is bad and probably if I was on the other side of the fence I would behave the same -please people, I cant reiterate this enough, hiding behind a wall and hoping that the problem will go away does not help you or the person that you are ‘protecting’ -it only does damage in the short and long term. It is not a curse, an embarrassment, an abomination or any of that – it is just an illness that is not life-threatening, and it doesnt affect the quality of life if it is treated early and medical information and advice sort and executely appropriately.

I have written about my last encounter with mental illness herewhere my friend was suffering from clinical depression (thanksKenyanGal for reminding me about how even clinical depression is a cause for shame) and I hope that I will have changed a mind or two, or at least raised awareness to someone about this plight that is eating away in our lives that we hope and attempt to brush under the carpet, but trust me, it wont go away.

Think about this: When you have to sign papers for yourself or someone else, and there is a line that you have to declare that you are of sound mind, and you tick it without even thinking about it, do you know there are people just like you who cannot declare that? Can you tell? Enjoy the fact that you are of sound mind, and appreciate the fact that a select few arent.

In conclusion – judge not, lest you be judged. But, on a more sober note, if you know someone whose family has a history of mental illness, please please be gentle with them, but better still let them know that alcohol, and especially recreational drugs of any kind (especially cannabis) will not do them any favours in the long-term.

Fact, Phew

Brain vs. Brawn

_bconvo

A certain body (which shall remain unnamed) decided that after months of procrastination and myriad excuses that it needed to take itself back to the gym and actually get back in shape. Now, said body has finished the first week of training (ok, 3 visits this week as of Thursday) and on day two, while every possible geographical location was hurting, an argument (sorry, heated exchange) ensued between the body and the brain.

Went something like this:

Brain: See, now that wasn’t too bad, was it?
Body: To what do you refer?
Br: Getting back to the gym, silly?
Bd: But I hurt like mad, what are you talking about?
Br: No pain no gain and all that!
Bd: (Petulant) whose job was it to provide the motivation?
Br: Well, you should have taken care of that, whose ass was getting bent out of shape?
Bd: You calling me fat?
Br: Well, I wouldn’t be one to speak my mind (pun intended), but if you hurt that much, then it means you aren’t as fit as you thought you were!
Bd: Come on – every time I decided today is the day, you would find an excuse to not go.
Br: Well, I can tell you whatever, but you don’t always listen to me, so why was this any different?
Bd: You see, you were so convincing on this one – and in any case I thought that you might be all healthy since they say healthy body, healthy mind – and you didn’t see the need for any improvement there.
Br: So you are apportioning blame here?
Bd: (A little angrily) – Mine is to do, yours is to think. Well, think of a different strategy coz this one ain’t working!
Br: All I am trying to point out is that you are the one who had the big(ger), wobbly(ier) ass!
Bd: There is no need to be nasty, I am a representative of you – so show some respect.
Br: See how your skin glows, how you feel good – instead of being a couch potato you should have been doing this.
Bd: (Shouting) and who do you think you are? I follow your commands – I do what you want. I can’t possibly be walking around following my own commands – I would be a walking disaster.
Br: (Mutters – you are a disaster anyway!) Ha, and what do you call that big pumping muscle under your ribcage that has a voice (and brain) of its own eh? You go around saying, “… follow my heart”
Bd: Well, sometimes I need a second opinion!
Br: So what was the ‘heart’s’ opinion on this issue then?
Bd: (Defensively) it didn’t have the heart!
Br: (Giggles sarcastically) – you don’t mean…? Naah you cant possibly be implying… he he
Bd: What?
Br: The heart didn’t have the heart to tell you that I was right, right?
Bd: Rub it in, will you? It still won’t exonerate you from the blame. I mean, motivation is your forte. I am just the dummy that follows instructions from both ‘a you. And see how most of them have got me into trouble?
Br: No need raking in past experiences, let’s stick to the current issue, shall we?
Bd: Guilt taking over, is it?
Br: Whatever. We are both feeling good about this decision so shall we just cut it and just enjoy it?
Bd: Talk about being happy giving it, but not taking it!
Br: Will you just let it go!
Bd: One last thing though, why didn’t we go to the gym yesterday?
Br: I remember you walking like long john silver, complaining like the wimp that you are that you hurt too much.
Bd: But I did hurt too much! I have a pain threshold of –2, and you know what they say: It’s all in the mind
Br: See. Now, I had to give you time to rest up before you go back in again today – is that a reasonable excuse for you?
Bd: You just accused me of being lazy, fat, and untrusting, and now you are saying my failure was based on your being reasonable about my well being? Isn’t that why we are going to the gym in the first place, not staying out of it?
Br: Now listen here you, that is why I am mandated to think, and you to act – leave the thinking and reasoning to me coz you will never understand these things.

Bd: (Muttering) I am a stooge, I am a puppet, a slave, and a bum.

 

_Stretch

Br: (Laughing hysterically) And what a bum!
Bd: I could slap you, you know – stop with the insults.
Br: That was a compliment, you ass
Bd: What, you call me an ass and then call me an ass?
Br: This is what I am saying, you have limited mental faculties, you don’t even understand the basics.
Bd: I thought thinking and understanding was left to you, so who isn’t doing their job, eh?
Br: Shut up! Put a sack over it, can it, bag it. Do One :D
Bd:Hey, language! You can talk ( :D )You can’t tell me to shut up, it’s my job to speak for you – and my fundamental right to have an opinion and free speech.
Br: Ever heard of the case of opening your mouth before engaging the brain?
Bd: You are fired! (Rather angrily) I can survive just fine without you! No opinion, no thought, I will just walk around with my foot permanently stuck in my mouth.
Br: What else is new? Just get on with it, you need to do the split, dud!

Bd: (Gets into position, and while doing the split, deflates loudly)

(They both giggle hysterically, looking around to see if any other bodies have noticed this)

Br: Nasty! What happened to self-control?
Bd: Brain should warn body, you should know that?
Br: Ouch, now you blame me again? Who was inflated; you or me? When do you ever take responsibility?
Bd: Taking responsibility involves having the sense of right and wrong, guilt, maturity – that all comes with having a brain?
Need I say more?

Br: I am just a small part of you, and you place all of your choices, decisions, responsibility on me? What do you get to do again?
Bd: Seeing as you use practically all my energy, I suppose I feed you, so you can feed me – goes both ways.
Br: I seem to be taking the lion’s share of everything; blame, responsibility?
Bd: Hmm, for such a tiny brain, you do get around, dont you?
Bd: Oi! (Stretches an imaginary muscle, ready to punch Bd one) :D

(They both fall about giggling at the ridiculousness of it, and finally the altercation is forgotten)