Scam humour

13 03 2016

scam letterI don’t often get snail mail letters from South Africa and thinking it may be for my landlord who’s company is also called Emerald Seedlings I opened it to find out whom it was for (very unlikely to be personal). It wasn’t.

scam letter_0001Now I’m sure that most of you have received this sort of scam letter before, by email. I should think I get about one a month.  They are deleted, often without being read (NEVER reply to these by the way). I’m told they are of Nigerian origin, usually. That this one came from South Africa, where there are lots of Nigerians, was a first as was the method of sending. It follows a fairly standard formula; a deceased estate that the sender has authority over which in a fit of huge generosity he wants to get rid of for what seems like very minor personal gain and somehow evade a bank audit in the process. Quaint English too. But what really is a give away in this letter is the sentence that states “…60% shall be for me for personal investment purposes in your country…”. I mean seriously, someone wants to invest in Zimbabwe?

 

 





It’s the small things

28 06 2014

I felt absurdly pleased with myself. A whole $100 in NEW dollar bills! Now THAT was something to feel good about. But it had taken a bit of doing.

Dollar notes in Zimbabwe (the US type, our dollars disappeared towards the end of 2008 in a deluge of hyper inflation) are notoriously dirty and not that easy to come by. I keep the worst to give to the toll gates who cannot refuse them and really don’t have the time to quibble either. So when I find a source of them I exploit it. Like my local pharmacy where I deliberately hand over larger notes than necessary to get clean dollars back. Then I started to get suspicious; the pharmacy ALWAYS seemed to have new dollar notes.

Karyn looked slightly embarrassed “We get them from CBZ”.

“But also bank there and I can never get them”.

Now she looked a lot more embarrassed “Actually we don’t even bank there, we just go and get the change at lunch time”.

I pounced on this clue and called in to get the wages in the afternoon after gym. The teller gave me my breakdown but had only a few $5 notes.

“You can give me all the smaller stuff in ones if you like” I added helpfully (and hopefully).

She pulled out a bundle of truly revolting notes. I made a face.

“I will see what else we have” she said and went off and came back with a bundle of new $1s. Delighted I gathered up the stack of notes and asked for a rubber band (rekken in local lingo).

“Are you always needing new notes?” she asked.

“Oh yes please!” I responded. And another bundle of new dollar notes magically appeared.

Suddenly the afternoon looked really good.

 

I love the web address!

I love the web address!

Crisp and clean - not for long!

Crisp and clean – not for long!





HIFA 2014 – Day 5

6 05 2014

Day 5, the penultimate day of HIFA 2014 was sponsored by Coca-cola. I started off slow with the Spoken Word programme because it was next to the next venue I wanted to go to. It’s been going quite a few years and can be very entertaining. Not everyone spoke (poetry usually) but the youngster in the photo had an amazing voice. He is a protege of Oliver Mutukudzi’s centre for aspiring musicians in Norton to the west of Harare.

Zimboita is an Italian/Zimbabwean music group (Zimbo + Ita-lian – get it?) fronted by local drummer/percussionist Blessing Chimanga who proved himself quite the entertainer. It’s difficult to describe the style – Afro/rock/blues perhaps? It went down very well!

Maneli Jamal is an acoustic guitarist of Iranian descent who has spent most of his life on the move. Canada is finally where he finds himself at home. Entirely self-taught he is a virtuoso player and well worth going to see. A very different style of music to the other 2 acoustic guitarists who came to HIFA this year.

Attachded was a circus show presented by Swedish Cultural Council and the Embassy of Sweden. Starring a very big man (who looked like his ancestors must have been Viking raiders) and a very small man they did the best they could with what few props had made it to Zimbabwe. The rest were still in a box in Stockholm! In true HIFA style lots of other artistes helped out and we had other circus performers, trapeze artistes from Belgium (les Cliquets), a local poet and one of the Opera singers and a comedienne compere who did her bit to make the audience squirm (apparently to lose weight). It had all been put together in the previous 12 hours and was good fun.





The power and the cheese

26 02 2014

I am feeling rather pleased with myself. Almost smug. The power has been off for most of the day and there is no sign that it will come back on so I have made a plan for the evening. A combination of no lights, a clear sky and a full moon makes for good stargazing conditions and it’s about time I checked on the binoculars in the cupboard.

I set up the tripod on the verandah, fasten the adapter to the front of my rather under-used Nikon 10×50 binoculars and clamp it all onto the tripod. I clear away the solar panels for the LED lamps, they must be fully charged by now (wasn’t it a good idea to leave them charging all day?), and settle down to focus the binoculars.

Dusk is falling rapidly as is its way in the topics. There is a light on the hill opposite – about 5km away and a perfect focusing spot. I wonder if they don’t have a power cut or have their own generator. Closing my right eye I focus the binos so that the left field is clear then close my left eye and use the focusing ring on the right objective lens to get a clear image of the light. Perfect. I sit back and enjoy the evening.

There is a buzz behind me as the fridge kicks into life. The power is back. It doesn’t matter; it is relatively dark where I live outside Harare so I will just turn the lights out and use the red LED lantern that I made to preserve my night vision. It is a perfect evening; mild and calm. I look on the horizon for an early star but it is still too light. I look up. Damn, clouds have moved in and they don’t look like the transient type. Now the mosquitoes start up. No! What has happened to my perfect plan? And now it starts to spit raindrops.

I put all the carefully prepared equipment away and go to see what can be done about supper. There’s a wedge of Camembert in the fridge that needs eating. I unwrap it. It doesn’t look good and is a bit slimy on the outside. But I am a Camembert veteran who is not easily put off his favorite cheese. I cycled across France in August of 1987 and subsisted on ripe Camembert and baguettes. It was hot, very hot, and by the end of the day the cheese could be poured out of the container. This, however, is not French Camembert and the fridge has been off all day. This cheese is more than ripe, it is rank. I try a piece and struggle. I call Zak. He is no cheese connoisseur but does like smelly things that can turn a human’s stomach. He is a bit hesitant to take the proffered cheese and biscuit. Does he know something about this cheese that I don’t? What has his nose detected? Maybe he is just a bit suspicious. He eats the cheese in the privacy of the lounge and comes back for more. He gets a bit but only one piece as he often sleeps with his rear end rather close to my head. The cheese goes back in the cooling fridge for future disposal. I can’t risk more either. I have a dentist’s appointment first thing tomorrow and it wouldn’t do to fart in the company of two rather attractive ladies!





Outdoor pool

14 05 2013

The sun blazed down on the rather tatty que ball that had more than a few pieces missing. It had seen better days but the table was more or less level thanks to a few pieces of wood. There was no chalk for the sticks but nobody seemed to notice. Advice was freely offered and taken and a small crowd gathered. I declined an offer for a game, I am hopeless at pool, but donated 50c for a token as I left. A car pulled in for fuel and left in disgust with gravel flying when they were told there was none. It seemed the old fuel station had finally gained a new lease of life with the outdoor pool table.

Hit it just about... here

Hit it just about… here





HIFA 2013 – day 3

3 05 2013

Day 3 of HIFA and three shows. One was not what I’d call a show but a talk by an American of his experiences coming to Zimbabwe for the first time as an adjudicator for the National Institute for Allied Arts. A very good talk but not a show and therefore no photos!





Celebrating 33

17 04 2013

Tomorrow Zimbabwe will be 33. And there will be celebrations. Those cynical people who have never visited this amazing country may ask what we have to celebrate. I will answer them.

  • We have 3 big South African supermarket chains with outlets that would not look amiss in South Africa – spotting the Zimbabwean produce can be a challenge though.
  • We have  plenty of fuel at competitive prices.
  • We have the biggest fertilizer company in South Africa selling  their top quality fertilizer.
  • We  have manageable inflation. Officially it is 4.5% but it may be a little higher than that in reality.
  • 10% of the population is employed!
  • We have a stable currency (not our own) in the US dollar
  • We have the world’s best climate along with Malta.
  • We have been a democracy longer than South Africa. There is a slight financial problem in funding the next general election this year but we will make a plan for the shortfall of $100 million or so.

I mean really, with all this, who needs an economy?





The long day

22 08 2012

It was not a good start. I lay on the highly polished, dusty and therefore treacherous floor and wondered if I’d broken my arm. I hadn’t but there was a bit of a haematoma on the back of my hand that I thought I could sort out at lunchtime with some ice.

The next stop was the shadecloth factory where they’d quoted me the wrong price – it turned out to be just more than half the price I’d heard, or thought I’d heard, on the phone. This could be a good day! The shadecloth was offloaded at work and  Kharma was ecstatic, as she always is, to see me home for lunch. By the time I’d got to the fridge to find the ice the haematoma had gone from small to half tennis ball size and was excruciating. I phoned the doctor and got an appointment straight away. Kharma gave me the “I am a dejected dog” look as I sped away from my briefest lunch ever. They can really turn on the pressure if they want to!

“We are going to have to cut this on open” Simon said.

“Why?” – this was sounding like a very bad idea to me.

“Normally I’d leave it but you have those two abrasions which could be a source of infection and a haematoma is an infection waiting to develop”.

“What about a needle?”, I bargained.

He considered this option for a moment and then went and got a big one. I am not squeamish but this was one procedure I was not going to watch.  I left shortly afterwards with my right hand tightly bandaged and a script for antibiotics should the haematoma become infected. I was back 10 minutes later to retrieve the script I’d left at the reception. Now I had to get out to a fertilizer supplier out of town and pick up a tonne of fertilizer. It was time to look for some air for the back tyres of the pickup.

The first filling station: I knew they’d had an air hose but they were undergoing renovations and it was no longer there.

The second filling station: “Sorry no power!” the attendant said, shrugging his shoulders. A generator stood idle in the corner.

The third filling station: “Sorry but this one doesn’t work. Try the filling station back there” the attendant said. I finished my indigestion rich pie and drove off.

The filling station back there: There was air in the air hose but I couldn’t get it into the tyre. It seemed the valve on the delivery mechanism was faulty.

The fifth filling station: “Reverse in here” the attendant” called. I did.
“How much diesel do you want?”.

“I don’t want diesel, I want air” I replied wondering if this was a Monty Python skit.

“Oh, I thought you said diesel, the air is over there” he indicated a tyre and wheel balancing outfit across the street. I thought about pointing out the dissimilarites between “air” and “diesel” but my patience had failed and I knew of another filling station close to where I was going but I doubted that it was the type that had a compressor. I was right.

“How has your day been?” said the well dressed lady at the fertilizer company office.

“Dreadful” I said and recounted the tyre pressure saga in compressed format.

She shook her head and said “This place is a disaster”. Then I told the story to the clerk in the payments office.

Tony rang from work. “There is a problem with the plough – the bearing on the tail wheel has seized. Can you get another in town?”. I was nowhere near town but the bearing needed to be got so I copied down the details and phoned the company.

“Yes, I have the bearings but they are not sealed” the sales clerk replied.

“That’s not a lot of good for the purpose I want them for” I commented.

“But I can sell you the seals” she added hopefully.

“Why don’t you just give me the part number of the bearing and I’ll get it elsewhere”. This was becoming a farce.

“I can’t do that over the phone” she replied. I could think of no sensible reply so burst out laughing. This was just amazing!

I parked the pickup in the warehouse and watched in admiration as the workers loaded the 50kg bags of fertilizer having carried them on their head from the pile. In front of me there was another pickup truck loading 10kg bags of fertilizer. They were also being carried one at a time on the heads of the laborers. I suppose it is easier to walk five times to the pile than carry five in one go.

It was past 4 p.m. by the time I got to the tractor spares outlet where I found the sales clerk whom I’d phoned. I asked about the bearings whilst she wrote down the part number. They were $6 each for the unsealed bearings, $7 for the seals or $5 for the sealed bearings which they did not have anyway. I got the required part number and dashed to a bearing specialist nearby. They had the right bearings at $34 each! The salesman was emphatic that the seals, if indeed they were sold separately, could only be factory inserted. By this stage I was beyond arguing so I paid and just managed to beat the rush hour traffic back to work.





Appropriate technology

7 08 2012

I was in the local irrigation supplies outlet, and looking around whilst the connectors I’d wanted were sourced, when I noticed a rather natty water tank float gauge made in Australia. I didn’t ask how much it cost. I know the Zimbabwe version (on the right below) is much cheaper and spares are dead easy to find too.

Water tank float gauges on the local market





And the calf will lie down with the lion

6 08 2012

I think there’s something in the bible about a calf lying down with a lion. Whoever wrote it can’t have known much about lions or it’s a metaphor for something else. Well today I found a statue of something that I think looks a bit like a calf CROSSED with a lion (maybe THAT’S what they were doing lying down?). Or maybe it is some sort of homage to something else I have not thought of. I give up. Make up your own mind what it is. There was one “guarding” the other side of the gate to the unfinished house and there were some vaguely leonine blobs on the balustrades visible behind the gate. Money obviously doesn’t buy taste…

Guarding something