Slugging in the DC Area

There is an interesting form of commuting in the DC area called “slugging”.  This is a form of carpooling where drivers pick up riders, who are total strangers, from designated spots and drop them off at designated stops.  A friend works downtown DC and lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, about 40 kms away.  She drives 5 minutes to a park-and-ride lot, stands in the queue going in the direction of her office and hitches a ride.  She has been doing this for years, saves money and time, loves it and says it’s very safe.

This works for both driver and riders as the former does not have to pay for using the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes which are faster, while the riders get a free ride.  Yes, passengers ride for free.

This form of commuting has been around for a long time in DC and helps both people who save resources, and Mother Earth who gets less pollution.   In Zambia, drivers now pick up people on the way and charge them lower fares than regular buses.  It helps drivers with fuel money while passengers save a bit of money, have a comfortable and quiet ride, and don’t get hustled by bus conductors.

Do you live in a city that has a form of slugging?

Just because I am Chinese???

she responded to me.  I was shocked and confused.

There is a Chinese woman that I regularly bump into and we usually chit chat.  Well, a few weeks ago I met her again at a time when the news of coronavirus was getting more media coverage.  I know that most of her family is back in China and I was concerned for them, so I asked her how her family was doing.  Her response was:

“Are you asking me just because I am Chinese?  I do not have coronavirus and neither does my family.  I have not traveled to China in a long time and neither have my parents who live with me (I did not know that her parents live with her).”

That went in a direction I had not been expecting fast!  I explained that I was only concerned for her family.

Around the DC area when something happens in a given country or region, people from other places ask concerned nationals how their families are.  Therefore, it did not cross my mind that the lady would take my concern in a wrong way especially since I sometimes ask after her young son who has a chronic illness and she willingly gives me updates.  I know that there are now some attacks against Chinese or people perceived to be Chinese, but it was disappointing to see that this lady would think so low of me.

I have moved on and learned a lesson not to show concern for people except if they I am close to them.

I hope you are all keeping as safe as can be.

I don’t eat Avocado

I find the craze for avocado very interesting.  I grew up eating avocado a lot especially if we couldn’t afford butter or margarine, which happened frequently.  I don’t like the taste or texture – especially the texture as it seems like a ‘mistake’ to me.  So, you will not find me eating avocado to look cool, healthy or anything!

My parents have countless avocado trees which are very fruitful.  My mother does not eat butter, for medical reasons, and so uses avocado as bread spread.  Fortunately, she enjoys it and she always tries to get me to eat some when I visit.  It’s always a “no” from me.

I hope you enjoy your avocado toast.  Let me know if my mother should send you some! 🙂

Adoption is wrong!!

That is what a good friend said when she was chatting with another friend and I.  The following conversation followed:

Friend 1: “No one should ever adopt”.

Friend 2: Why?

Friend:  It is just wrong!

Me:  What about couples who are full of love and have enough resources but cannot have their own children, even with the latest medical intervention?

Friend 1:  They should just live without children.

Friend 2:  What about children who live in poor orphanages without their basic needs being met?

Friend 1:  They should be left in the orphanages.

Me and Friend 2:

Friend 1:  OK, maybe people can adopt but it is still wrong.

Friend 1 and I didn’t continue with the subject because our friend could not justify her opposition to adoption and was definitely in no mood to listen to a different opinion.  It was unfortunate because Friend 2 is planning to adopt since she has not been able to have children.  She told me afterwards that she did not want Friend 1 to know about her plans because she may get resistance and negative feedback.  By the way, Friend 1 has got two children and a growing brood of grandchildren so she has no idea of what people who can’t have children go through.

I am still very good friends with Friend 1, but this conversation made me start thinking more about what subjects to talk to her about.  Have you ever had a conversation on whether or adopting is right?


I Need my Personal Space!

In my culture personal space is usually a foreign concept, except if it’s your parents-in-law or children-in-law.  However, I have always liked my personal space because my mother told me from childhood that no-one should be near me for no reason.  I wonder if she said this for my safety.

Well, I was minding my own business while standing in line for dinner in the desert in Dubai, when a girl behind pressed against me.  I shuffled forward a few times and she followed suit.  I finally asked her not to touch me and was she shocked!  However, she continued pressing against me and I could tell that she was doing so unconsciously. I let her and her group go ahead of me and I saw that they were they pressing against each other.  Unfortunately for me, the new person behind me also kept pressing against me even when I shuffled away.  I looked around and most of the people in all lines were pressing against each other, whether they knew them or not.

I felt like I was suffocating, not just because I was in physical contact with others but by just seeing other people pressing against each other.  Unfortunately, I was ‘trapped’ in the desert and could not just walk to another place to eat.

Are you bothered when people invade your personal space?

Words 2019 leaves with me

  1. Start where you are.   You may be in the right place to carry out your dream, but the timing may not seem right, resources not enough and people not supportive enough. What to do?  You just have to start right there in that place otherwise you never will.
  2. Bloom where you are planted.  Similar to the point above, most of the time we don’t have to wait to be in a specific “right” place to start doing something.  We have to thrive right where we are even if it’s not in our dream place.

It will do me well to remember and work on what I need to.

Happy and healthy New Year to you all.

I Don’t Agree With Day of Prayer

(I drafted this five years ago and my views have not changed)

Zambia has been a Christian since 1991 and this is even in the constitution.  Presidents have been announcing National Days of Repentance, Prayer and Fasting for many years.  This is with the hope and faith that God will intervene and bless us with economic, health and everything-in-between prosperity.

Zambia has had a lot of issues with corruption, both covert and some so overt that the public “expects” it.  For instance, if you see a roadblock, you expect the cop to ask for a bribe in order for him/her to let you through and usually this is done in the full view of whoever is around.  One time, a bus driver said he had no money to give the policeman and well, the latter just got fresh fish that the driver had and the issue was closed.  For me, there is no need to pray about this – the powers that be just have to clean up the system starting with the big players. The President/Zambian authorities already have solutions to many of the problems:  For example, corruption and misappropriation of funds by public servants which causes a drain on the economy can be easily solved by arresting the those involved, starting at the top.  This would serve as a deterrence to other would-be thieves.  Seriously, how do we expect God to respond to our prayers against corruption?  Come down and deal with the offenders Himself?  Of course, there are other reasons for our economy being in a bad shape, but for eradicating corruption dealing with the perpetrators is one of the lowest hanging fruits (or so I think) that can be resolved immediately if our leaders put their mind to it.

As for prayers about health – how do I expect God to listen to our prayers and prevent cholera when we Zambians dispose of trash carelessly?  He won’t, and Mother Nature will definitely take her course.

I believe in prayer, but many times we don’t even have to pray for a solution as the solution is already in our hands.  All this being said, I wish Zambians everywhere successful future Days of Prayer – which I still have no intention of attending.


My visit to New Orleans

Well, my employer decided that it would be a good idea for me to attend an event in New Orleans a few weeks ago.  I went because I felt obliged to (like I told my manager after the event), but it was a very productive time and I am glad I went.

Bourbon Street:  I went to Bourbon Street on the first evening.  Some girls seemed to have fun baring their chests for a couple of cheap beads – I mean dirt cheap beads.  The girls also gladly posed bare chested for any young man who requested for photos.  I think this is all fun and games until the photos pop up on unsavory websites, but who am I to ask.  There were people dancing to a street performer and I could not believe their XXX rated moves!  Zambian traditional dances are sometimes considered risqué, but they are G rated compared to what my eyes saw in New Orleans.  [(No, I don’t have photos or videos of the bare bosoms and X rated dances :)]  I visited a couple of jazz bars after this and they had very good music.  However, Bourbon Street is not for me, and visiting once is more than enough for me.

Garden District:  It is very beautiful and the residents seem to have plenty of money.  I saw the house where Peyton Manning grew up and where his parents still live.  I did not know him before this but the tour guide insisted on us knowing it, so there you go.

An example of the trees in the Garden District:


Mississippi River:  Monday evening saw me going on a Mississippi River cruise.  This was for no reason other than that this is one river I have always wondered about and wanted to see since childhood.  This is all because of a song I heard about the Mississippi River.  The songstress had strong feelings about the river and one of the words that hit me as an seven/eight year old were “Bye bye, my darling.  Hello Mississippi River”.  I couldn’t understand how someone would want to leave another human being and go see a river.


Katrina/ City Tour:  I went on a tour of New Orleans one afternoon.  I was interested in seeing areas hit by Katrina and hear the narrative from a local.  We saw the superdome where countless people took shelter.  The tour guide said the superdome has been renovated to act as an emergency shelter should another catastrophe hit.  A sizeable area all around it has also been upgraded to block out water from entering the dome. The interchange struck me the most because this was the first place of refuge for people before they continued on to the superdome.  I can’t begin to imagine the terror, helplessness and hopelessness they must have felt.

The dome:


Too bad I didn’t manage to take a clear photo, but there was a very well made “bedroom” for a homeless person under one bridge, complete with a teddy bear.  One would have thought it was in a house.  Apparently the homeless man has been living at that spot for several years and makes his bed everyday and keeps the area around very clean.  His room is cleaner than my bedroom!

Aboveground Cemetery:  Cemeteries in New Orleans are aboveground because of the high water table.  Families with a bit of money have their own graves like the one below.


Families short of money are ‘buried’ in these slots (not sure of the correct name).  I found the cemetery visit very interesting.


Frenchmen Street: I later went to Frenchmen Street the night before I left.  Boy oh boy, what a blast I had.  I thought the first street band I saw was the best band in New Orleans, then visited a tiny jazz club, changed my mind and changed it again after going to another club.  I still haven’t made up my mind as to the best band – it was a tie, I guess.

Café Beignet:  The Café is small but has a lot of character.  I couldn’t sit in the garden because it was too hot.


I had heard a lot about beignets at this Café and was really looking forward to tasting them.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that these are just fritters that I grew up eating, minus the powdered sugar though.  What a major disappointment.


Now talk about the jambalaya!  It was the best meal I had in New Orleans.  Simply delicious!


Now about work – the reason why I went to New Orleans.  It was great, especially one young motivational speaker.  [When I think of the great jazz I enjoyed though, I think work was just an extracurricular activity and not the other way round :)].

The only reason I would return to New Orleans is the live jazz, something I really enjoy.


Missing someone else’s target, but finding yours

Society, church and our families have certain expectations of us. Indeed, we also have certain expectations of ourselves.  A general expectation is that people should complete high school, have some kind of training and get a job.  However, what happens when someone does not hit the expected target ?  What do you do when you are surrounded by successful people whose achievements seem to magnify your failures?  Of course, you will look dull and maybe even seem lazy because people will assume that you are not studying or working enough.

I know a young lady, Harriet, who was not doing well in college where she was taking a marketing course.  She failed all the subjects even after repeating.  Her younger sisters on the other hand, were doing very well and leaving her in the dust of their success.  I was chatting to her one day and asked how school was going since I had not been aware of her struggle.  She said she had stopped taking her marketing course.  In my surprise, I asked her why.  She said she did not want to continue wasting her brother’s money as she was failing all her classes.  She had now started taking design and tailoring lessons and she seemed quite embarrassed about it.  I said this made sense because she had always been very good with her hands and was business savvy. She seemed surprised at my response.  She had had many small business ventures from childhood and made profits, so why not pursue that which she was good at and was already successful in? Cut a long story short – Harriet has now had a booming tailoring business for many years, and may I add that her products do not come cheap because she is very good at what she does.  There is also a queue of people waiting for her services.

Harriet’s situation is a perfect example of one missing other people’s targets but finding one’s.  I am glad that Harriet went against society’s expectation of having an office job (which most people in Zambia view as something to aspire to) but instead did that which she is excellent in, even though it is a lowly career in our society’s eyes.  Harriet missed the mark society set for her but in the process found her own – one of achievement and fulfillment.

Have we let society tell us how to live our lives even if we know that something else is better for us?  How have we rectified our mistakes and gone on to do that which we are good at and then succeeded in it?

I am currently at a crossroads in my life.  I know what my heart has wanted to do for many years whose financial benefits may not come easy, if ever, but there is something else that I am expected to do and whose monetary benefits would be more immediate.  I guess it is time to follow my own blog post’s advice and do that which I really want to and I am sure will succeed in – after all I have done something similar and been more successful than I ever imagined.  There have been no monetary gains in the activity I succeeded in, but the impact on countless people has continued long after I moved on.  I can never compare the feeling I got (and still get through memories) with having more money.

Deliberate Hit and Runs

I was shocked to hear that there are people out there who deliberately chase down  strangers just to hit them and then zoom off.

Well, that’s exactly what happened to two of my nieces.  NT was walking home from college with her friend in Livingstone at dusk and a motorbike rider rode straight towards them.  NT and her friend ran away and the rider targeted my niece.  Unfortunately for her, it was an open area with nowhere to hide and no other people nearby.  NT tried to escape but could not shake the rider off, so she finally just stood.  She put out her hands towards the motorcycle to protect herself when she was hit.  Fortunately (if you can call it that), only her arm was injured and she needed medical attention.  The rider sped off.

A year go another niece, RT, was headed for work in Lusaka early in the morning.  A car drove off the road straight towards her.  Fortunately for her, there was a tree and she hid behind it.  The driver reversed and tried again to hit her, but luckily someone came along and started shouting.  The car drove off.

My nieces did not recognize the perpetrators and had no running issues with anyone.  It was puzzling to us.  Who were these people? Why were my nieces targeted?

We are grateful all the same that they survived the attacks.

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