Thursday, 13 August 2009

A quick sojourn into the mind of a Khartoum meat exporter, unwinding at the Greek Club.

The pool is bubbling with chaos. The water, furious and warm, is sticky to the touch and altogether too concentrated with human limbs to be a restorative source of serenity. The Greek club is not what it once was.

The old Greek air has been drowned in the manic flappings of grown men and Russian air pilots playing cards at the water’s edge. They show about as much respect for the invisible lines of the lap swimmers as they do for air traffic controllers or the regulations in their blood alcohol level. No respect for the law. Not even Greek law.

This used to be the kind of place you could come and relax, the kind of a place where a man could smoke his cigarette and stare at the still water in peace. Now it is like a Slavic summer camp for hyperactive heavy weights.

A clear winner saunters past.

I admire his tight swimming trunks, featuring an American flag and an eagle. The eagle’s beak is in a strategic position.  Quite simply, it suppresses my will to live.

His thong is complemented by long black socks that come up to his knees. He is an ample man, a real prime rib, pink and round, kind of succulent if you’re into Russian meat. His paunch alone could feed Darfur and have room for export. As I watch him teeter at the edge of the pool, I wonder how Halal he really is.

My phone rings. It is my accountant. He tells me there is a new tax.

“Salam Tax, sir” He says without a trace of irony.

“Salam?” I almost choke on my cigarette, “What about last week? The Jihad tax?”

“I guess they cancel each other out?” He offers.

Whatever happened to economies of war and peace dividends? I curse the day I ever opened my slaughterhouse. No meat is worth this kind of trouble.

I wonder if I still care. It is clear my business will fail whether I care or not. Besides, I have to compose myself for later on, when I tell my father in Lebanon how things are going in Sudan.

Meya meya. Ma fi mushkella.

The prime rib removes his socks and cannon balls into the waves. His colleagues clap.  Captain, they call him. He is a lion in the ring. 

I am a mouse. A mouse in a circus. A mouse in a circus full of tax and regulation hoops and Siberian lions wearing thongs. 

Meya meya. Ma fi mushkella. I say to myself as I down the last drop of lemon juice in the glass and consider the pool as an exit strategy. Death by flapping. 


  1. I really like the Greek Club:) It wasn't always a favorite as far as the k-town rich and famous are concerned, the American Club and the German One (to some extent) holds a special place in their heart!
    It's a great place to chill-ax

    I really like the Khartoum student seminar series initiative.

    Just a thought, you should look at the recent interest in working for NGO's ( I guess it's because there are so many operating in Sudan but oh well, just a though!:)

    good luck

  2. Hey Kizzie,

    thanks for your comment. Yes, the German club is also very nice, except now it has become an advert for zain. I just learnt that zain is an old arabic word for paradise... perhaps this is the link?

    Maybe one day in the far off future when I have finished my phd, I might get a job with an NGO. We shall see... They get lots of holidays. :)

    What are/were you doing in Sudan? Are you still here? If you want to be invited to the series, let me know!

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