Wednesday, July 28, 2010

School for scoundrels

I’m no fan of the Gambian bumster – as you may have surmised - but I am guilty of stereotyping the young male of this fine nation as I have discovered that the fine art of bumstering is not confined to this slip of a country, and is a multicultural affliction.

And it’s not other West African nationalities. The first was a senior official from the Libyan Embassy, a regular at Safari Garden who seems to have taken a fancy to me. 

Maybe this is his attempt at a rapprochement between our two nations? 

Unfortunately his line in small talk is well, small, and his most exciting comment to date has been to berate me for having lived in the Middle East for 12 years and not be fluent in Arabic. Hmmm. Our subsequent – unplanned – meetings at a local Lebanese shisha joint and on the terrace where I was marooned during a rainstorm haven’t exactly cemented a lifelong friendship. He has even taken to lurking around the guesthouse and pumping my friends for information on my whereabouts.

The other international bumster-in-training was a 50-year old Filippino chap I met at a VSO farewell party on Pipeline Avenue. OK, he had been out in the boonies advising local farmers on the best crop cycles but I thought it was a bit presumptuous.

By far my favourite bumster has been the baggy trousered, half-my-body-weight, skinny-assed MOFO wannabe at Fajara Craft Market. He’s well known to the Safari Garden crowd and is usually a cool guy, but for some obscure reason – slow day at the office? – he decided to chance his luck with me. Big mistake. After a swaggering shirtless attempt at persuading me that Gambian guys really are the best I berated him for his appearance and told him to only come back and attempt to speak to me if, and when, he purchased some grown-up trousers and a belt.

For once he was speechless, you could almost see the pre-prepared patter dry up on his tongue, and he was off in a jiffy - but only to find his ID to prove to me that he was in fact a 33-year old male of the species merely masquerading as a Tupac lookalike. It didn’t help his case.

Despite their bad rep, I think I will almost miss the local bumster set, they’re good amusement value – if you can give as good as you get. But on the flip side, the sight of middle-aged British women, dolled up in their peacock splendour, walking the Senegambia strip and holding hands with nubile Gambian 'totty' is not something I could ever get used to and is truly cringeworthy.

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