I lived in the ghetto – People talked

One very good piece of advice ever given to me, was by a late friend who said “People will always talk, so just ago ahead with your plan.”   And sure enough, I started noticing that people had better plans for my life, no matter how badly they handled theirs.  Here is my story for when this advice really helped and made a big impact on not only me, but my extended family as well.

I moved to the States on a one year program where my rent and upkeep was being paid for, so I decided to live in a ‘posh’ area, Place “A” – after all, I wasn’t footing the bills.  I had the choice to continue living in DC at the end of the program and go on a regular salary or go back home.  I decided to stay and also decided to continue living in Place A.  Needless to say, this was a mistake as I could not afford it but I continued to live there for another year before I decided to move.

I looked at several apartments but did not like any of them and then told an acquaintance about my dilemma.  She told me about an area, Place “B” where she had lived herself while saving to buy a house.  She took me there and I not like it because it was not as good looking for Place A and the demographics were vastly different.  She assured me that if I wanted to save money, then this was the place to be as it was not only affordable but safe as well.

Long story short, I moved with the help of a friend, Susan who was not impressed with the area and told me so.  She also went as far as measuring my bedroom because it was too small and didn’t think it was good enough for me.

Another friend, Sheila, asked me one day how I was and whether I still liked living in Place A.  She was shocked when I told her that I had moved to place B and asked how I could live in the ghetto. I told her that that I was what I could afford, but she was not having it.  My friends’ responses made me stop telling anyone that I had moved.  This did not stop people calling me or accosting me on the street to tell me off for moving to Place B.  I found this interesting because I had not told them that I had moved, so I knew that my friends had very lovingly passed on the information to others with annexes of how ghetto the place.  Actually, one of the girls who called me flat out said “Susan told me that you have moved to a ghetto.  How can you?  You lived in a good area in Zambia and Place A where I visited you is also beautiful.”  I laughed it off, but it really hurt.

What Sheila and Susan did not know was that I wanted to save money, not only so that I could stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, but also finish building my house back in Zambia while not taking on a mortgage.  I lived in Place B for about 18 months before relocating to another country by which time I had managed to do most of the construction and some family members moved into it.   The interesting thing is that Sheila, who was a retiree by then, could not afford to go back to her West African country because she had not invested there when she was working.  She mentioned her regret over and over and how much she wanted to go back home but could not afford it.  She has a condo in DC but still has many years to go before she can pay off her mortgage.  Unfortunately for her also, the jobs that she had had here in US were not pensionable.  She did not know it, but I had learnt from her mistake and did not want to end up like her.  I wanted to be able to go back home whenever I felt like it and not be stuck here.

I am happy to announce that I finished building my house some years ago, all because I did not listen to naysayers.  Their negative remarks were because they wanted me to live in an area that was ‘good enough’ for them (and not me) and yet they did not know the reason for my move.  A couple of months ago, Susan again mentioned that I had lived in a very bad area a few years ago and this made me wonder about her motivation to keep on bringing up my choice of residential area.  I did not respond to her comment but talked about something else.  Just to retaliate, I thought of some nasty things I could have said about the sorry state of her marriage which she has insisted on holding on to.  She has mentioned the issue before and it has also been the subject of the grapevine for many years but I realized it was neither worth mentioning or appropriate.  I have made up my mind, though, that I will tell her off next time.  I won’t bring up her marriage, though – I know it would be childish and immature.

People talked but I reached my goal because I did not listen to them.  Susan talked and still talks, but know what?  I have my beautiful house (at least it is to me and my family that lives there) all because I lived in the ghetto.  This is not to say I don’t want to be advised, because do I need good advice every once in a while.  One thing I have learnt from my experience is that I should keep most of my opinions to myself as far as other people’s lives are concerned.  I may not have the full details to make an informed judgement; they don’t want me to advise them and it is really none of my business.

So friends, keep on doing what you are doing because people will talk, no matter what you do.





Bin big enough for a body?

That is what a help desk person asked me when I asked him to remove a big bin from my office.  Apparently, there are different sizes of big bins and just to be sure he had the correct size he asked me:

“Is the bin big enough to fit a body in?”

This is the funniest (albeit disturbing) description of anything I have ever heard.  I laughed, but it made me wonder what this guy had done in his past.  I had a strong urge to ask HR to do a more thorough background check of the guy….

Tooth Fairy – Memories

My little niece, NT, lived with me for several years when she was a child.   When children lose their milk teeth in Zambia, they stand facing away from their house, sing a special song and throw the tooth over their shoulder onto the roof.  The belief is that this ritual ensures that a new tooth grows.  Most houses are have one stories, so throwing a tooth (or anything else) over one’s shoulder is doable.  NT wanted to do that but I told her to keep the tooth and put it under her pillow and see what happened in the morning.  Of course, there was some money under her pillow in the morning.  I told her that the Tooth Fairy had visited.

NT was both shocked and excited at her luck and exclaimed: “I should have pulled out the other loose tooth and made a lot more money!”  I could not help laughing at the business angle my baby looked at losing her teeth.

Nothing special about the story, just good memories.

Rattlesnake – Sugarloaf Mountain

I do a quite of walking around DC metro area and in the mountains around the area.  I recently went hiking on Sugarloaf Mountain with some friends.  We found some hikers resting and eating at the overlook where we were going to have lunch.  They warned us that there was a rattlesnake under the rocks we were headed to.  We were freaked out, of course, but still curious to see rattlesnake up close and personal.

One of my friends took several photos of the snake – I just peeped at it and fortunately saw the ‘infamous’ rattle.

We sat at a safe distance and left a written warning for hikers coming after us.



Panhandling for —– organic food! ??

I could not believe my eyes when I saw a panhandler in DC with the sign: “Please help me with some money to buy organic food.”  I thought, what the nerve of this man!  I cannot afford to buy organic food because it is usually so much more expensive than the ‘normal’ one, and yet here is this man asking him to give him my hard earned money for precisely that.

As expected, I did not give him anything.

What do you think about the panhandler’s very expensive taste?  Would you help him?


Capitol Building Tour

I have lived in the DC area, on and off, for more than ten years but only visited the Capitol Building this time around.  I enjoyed the tour and learnt a lot as there was not only a lot to see but the guides were very knowledgeable.  I took several photos to remind myself – and some to share with you 🙂

  1. Helen Keller – her statue is  the only one with braille text added


2. Rosa Parks – the first woman and second black person to lie-in-state in the Capitol.  She was really a courageous woman.


3.  King of Hawaii – I thought this was the most striking because of the bright gold garb.  Those who know me know how much I just love bold colors.


4. The Capitol dome seen from an underground area


Statue of Freedom?  I think that is the name.  It’s a majestic one





Funny, yet not so funny

I belong to a Facebook gardening page where sometimes members ask questions and other answer.  One member posted a picture of a fruit tree and asked what it is.  She said she had bought it from a hawker at a traffic light and was told that it was apple, but looking at the picture it definitely is not.  Other members also said they too had had the same experience.  Well, guess what the plant is?  Coffee!  I could not help but chuckle at the expense of the ‘poor’ members.  However, like others said, the light at the end of the tunnel is that these members can have freshly ground coffee everyday.  It reminds us to buy only from reputable outlets, otherwise we lose as hawkers will tell us what we want to hear or do not know the truth themselves.

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