Tuesday 31 October 2023

Karma (/ˈkɑːrmə/, from Sanskrit: कर्म, IPA: [ˈkɐɾmɐ]; Pali: kamma) is a concept of action, work or deed, and its effect or consequences. In Indian religions, the term more specifically refers to a principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect): Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths.

All this is, of course, is complete bollocks. Fare for yoghurt knitting tree huggers.

The economic climate in Angola is dire.  The Kwanza, our currency, has fallen off a very high cliff.  In April this year, a Euro would buy me 400 kwanzas.  Now I can get 1,100 on the street.  Good for me, as I am paid in good old pounds sterling, but absolute shit for everyone else.  Actually, it isn’t that great for me either as the inflation occasioned by the collapse of the kwanza has eroded any gain I might have enjoyed but at least, my circumstances have not worsened.  Inflation has consigned the lives of those whose salaries are paid in local currency to one of quiet desperation.

I am 64 now and recognise that continued salaried employment is ever more limited so I have to prepare to see for myself.  I have a nice bit of land and a couple of cottages down south next to the sea, with which I am sure I can do something.

Having been abandoned by my third wife (I was never married to her but having co-habited for over a decade and having sired two wonderful children together, she merits the title), I employ two housekeepers.  They work alternatively three and four days a week.  This ensures that every day I have someone to clean up after visits of my children, an almost daily and only marginally unwelcome occurrence, and preparing healthy fare for them so they can maintain the robust energy required to not only bugger up my house, but my comfortable routine as well. 

None of us would expend treasure to hang an awful painting on a wall so I saw no need to employ repulsive housekeepers.  Marcelina and Brilha are animate works of art whose presence, while I maintain the strictest application of the rules of Safeguarding, do as much to help me avoid atherosclerosis as my own consumption of whisky, cigarettes and fatty bacon negate.


Very recently, I had to explain to my employers that the assertion by our workers union, in support of a pay claim, that inflation in Angola was 60% was wrong.  Woefully wrong.  I have no idea from where they, the union, drew that figure but based on my personal shopping experience:

Coffee, 2,400 kwanzas in April, now 5,900

Rice 20 kg sack, 7,800, now 21,000

Sugar 50 kgs, 18 - 20,000 depending on quality, now 65 – 70,000

Cooking oil 20 litre container, 10 – 12,000, now 40,000

I leave it to you to do the mathematics but if, like the aforementioned union representatives, you come up with 60%, go back to kindergarten and be content in the knowledge that you will never lead a successful workers revolution.

Two months ago, I doubled the salaries of my housekeepers. A 100% pay rise? Impressive but still not enough to mitigate the effects of inflation so I have become more amenable to ‘discounted-from-salaries’ loans to pay for medication for sick children or whatever.  Except I am lousy at book keeping so keep forgetting to apply the deductions.

Alex, by the way, graduated from high school early.  He was fifteen in September, so fourteen when he graduated and is now studying geology in a college feeding students into the oil industry, I am so proud. He is a monster of a man.  For his graduation, he needed a suit.  Nothing off the peg would fit so I had to send him to a tailor for a bespoke suit.  Between me signing the contract and the stitch delivering the suit, the Kwanza collapsed and Alex got an excellent suit at an off-the-peg price. As an aside, why do foreigners find it remarkable that an Englishman orders his suits to be made with two pairs of trousers?

The smart looking chap on the right is 24 years old and is wearing my blazer (just to give you some perspective). The beast on the left in the smart suit knocked up by Rent-A-Tent Angola is 14 and is all my fault.


I work with a gentleman called Janeiro.  This is not his real name.  He was born on the first of January so January is his nickname. His boy ran into some issues in Portugal and Janeiro needed to get him some Euros pretty damn quick.  Forget the banks, what was needed was someone who had hard cash in Europe.  Now I don’t mind squeezing the Quingilas, the informal currency traders, for the best street rate of exchange, which is way more than the official rate but this was Janeiro, my colleague and, dare I say, friend.  He wanted 3,000 Euros and the difference between official and street rates meant I would have to swallow a five hundred quid loss.  For us normal folk, this is well into the territory of tender testicles, eye watering.  Several years ago, my eldest went a bit awry so I flung everything I had at the problem to sort out his situation.  I reflected upon this. In addition, I considered the two bastards to whom I lent far superior sums, neither of whom show any inclination to honour their debt.  I felt for Janeiro so accepted the hit.

If you aspire to opening a beach side café to which you can retire and try to write like Ernest Hemmingway, as I do, the most expensive bit of kit you will need is an espresso machine.  These cost thousands of units of any serious currency, be it dollars, pounds or euros.  If I keep lending money to people, if I keep taking hits, how am I ever going to afford one?

Janeiro, unlike the aforementioned two bastards, is honorable so I was suddenly flush with Kwanzas, and, lo and behold, I received a WhatsApp message.  “Tom, you need kit for a café, check this out…”

I shan’t go into details, basically I bought the lot. I shall share with you just one score: a virtually brand new espresso machine.  I checked on line and excluding VAT (Value Added Tax at 20%) the machine costs GBP 2,800.  I paid the equivalent of GBP 200.

Karma, do the sums, I came out ahead, and so did all my staff.