My Last Days in Uganda

My dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar,

Did I ever tell you how old I was when I left Uganda? I was 15 when I left Jinja, my childhood town on the shores of Lake Victoria. Then, I did not know that I would never return! Seeing those words in black and white makes me sad.

Map of Uganda
Map of Uganda

Naynamasi and I flew from Entebbe on the 20th of December 1971. It had only been a week since I had been involved in a grand drama and dance event at our local cinema (called the Odeon!). I think it had been a charity event, though for what charity, I am not sure! I so enjoyed all that dancing on the stage. All Indian traditional folk dances and with majority of the participants being Gujaratis, you can imagine the vibrant colourful costumes. Kiranmasi and I had to go for practice everyday and that too dressed up in saris, so as to be decently dressed!

Dancing in Jinja
Dancing in Jinja

A week into the practice and I remember Neshmama coming home and making a big fuss as to how we were involved with the shady bunch of Jinja and that our parents’ shouldn’t allow it. Thank God, no-one listened to his advise for though there might have been some not-so-shiny examples of the community in our group, the whole programme was exhilarating, at least for me. Kiranmasi and I were the junior members of the group. Our dancing abilities promoted us to dance in four routines. As the year-end exams had just finished we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into this adventure. Just a week before the show, the talk of whisking young girls out of Uganda began. During our rehearsal breaks there were loads of discussions of the unsettled atmosphere developing in Uganda. The then president Idi Amin Dada started questioning the aloof status of the long settled Asians in the country. I had not come across any mixed marriages or liaisons in our local community. This resulted in 2 teenage Indian girls being kidnapped by some Ugandan boys.  Naynamasi in her late teens, became the  main subject of my extended family’s concern. I was chosen to accompany her. I was shocked as well as excited to be able to go to England. That distant dream of mystique. To avoid any kidnapping fiasco, Naynamasi and I moved from enjoying the warm December of Jinja, to enduring the cold winter of Surrey. It only seems like yesterday!

I am sure many questions come to your mind right now. Ask me some and I will answer in the coming letters. For now I am posting a recipe for Dhokri. A typical Gujarati all-in-one comfort meal. I call it the Indian pasta. As usual I will await your comments, always hoping that you will make it soon.

With all my love, hugs and kisses,

Vishfully yours,

Mum

6 thoughts on “My Last Days in Uganda”

  1. Dear mum,

    What a great story! I remember from Bali when we heard the tape of you singing as a child, and you saying you had dreams of becoming a singer. You are a truly an artist at heart! Please keep telling us more stories about your time in Uganda, I love hearing about your life back then, it seems all so different, like a story from a far away land (which it is, I guess!)

    Lots of love,

    Komal

    Ps. Keep posting old photos- Anjli’s right- you look the same!

    1. Thanks for your lovely words, Komal. I shall keep relating the stories, please keep reading…..and cooking.
      Lots of love, mum

  2. Vish, You know I had almost forgotten this event!!! Thank you for the reminder. I also was not aware of Nesh’s comments. Glad nobody listened to him! Is that my cousin Anita in that photo? I am impressed with your memory but also that you have the photograph! Like Anjli says you look good.
    I will send you a write-up on re-visiting Jinja -a two parter!!
    xxx

    1. Kiran, how the years have flown! I have no idea who is in the photos…you will probably know more. Look forward to your Jinja input. Hope your celebratory weekend went well. Lots of love….

  3. Hi mum!

    Thanks for another great letter, so great to read your words from across the pond! I’m so impressed by how this blog is taking shape! You’ll have to teach me, since you’re clearly more tech savvy than me!

    Always love hearing about your adventures growing up, you’re right though, hadn’t heard this one. Wow you look great in that pic! It seems you haven’t changed at all, still enthusiastically dancing garba in colourful costumes (I seem to remember you won a prize for your dancing skills in Pune, right?!) I hope one day you’ll be able to show me the country you grew up in, you always talk so fondly about Lake Victoria, we should definitely do a trip one of these days!

    Thanks for the dhokri recipe, one of my favorites, will let you know how it turns out! Looking forward to the next letter!

    Lots of love your favourite (middle) child,
    Anjli
    xxx

    1. Pleased to know, this is a new tale for you. I shall try and tell you more of my stories, and hope you will try and use my recipes. All my love…..mum

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