Thursday, November 6, 2014

Learning The Art of Saying No

It’s almost 3 weeks since I started Wordy Cakes and it has been an interesting experience. Seeing happy faces brought to life either by the quote they’ve found in their pair of Wordy Cakes or just the taste of the new Vanilla Wordy Cakes is very priceless.

I have had the opportunity to share in people’s birthdays and celebrations. I’ve helped people tell their friends how much they mean to them by using a pair of Chocolate Wordy Cakes. I’ve just made two deliveries today where the people who ordered bought more pairs of Wordy Cakes to share with their workmates.

A lot of love is going around lately. And I am thrilled to be in the middle of it all.

I am especially thankful to the people who have invited me into their space so I could share in their stories. Wordy Cakes is about sharing incredible stories of love and hope. And that is what we are going to do for a very long time.

As more and more people have joined social media, there has gotten to be a physical disconnect from their friends and family. This has got to change. I want to be a part of that change with Wordy Cakes.

That is why, when you ask me to make for you a wedding cake, I might say no. I don’t say no because I don’t know how to make wedding cakes or because I hate weddings. I say no because right now, wedding cakes may not help Wordy Cakes to spread this love that we want to spread.

While wedding cakes are at the centre of a very beautiful event of love, they do not help tell a story. They do not speak the way Wordy Cakes speak. Wedding cakes just make the wedding more fun. And a year later, you may never remember how that wedding cake made you feel.

And there are lots of people who bake wedding cakes and will be very happy to do a better job than I’d ever do for you. I can even refer you to some of my friends. My friend Khairoon, of Sheba Confectionaries makes incredible cakes for weddings and birthdays. You should check out her Facebook Page.

So what would I do instead of baking for you a wedding cake? I would make for you 200 pairs of Wordy Cakes, each with a special love message to your wedding guests. Now that would be an interesting story to be a part of!

You see, Wordy Cakes is not a bakery. Wordy Cakes is the newest way to say “I love you,” “You’re my best friend,” or “Have a great, productive day at the office today.”

I’d most probably make more money if I baked wedding cakes, given the fact that a lot of my friends are suddenly getting married (I guess I’m at that stage in my life). But Wordy Cakes has never been about the money and will never be.

I’ll most probably say no a few more times before I get comfortable saying no. But I am learning the art of saying no. And I believe that five years from now, I will be glad I said no to the things that didn’t push the vision of Wordy Cakes in order to say yes to the things that push us forward.

And five years from now, all of you will be happy Wordy Cakes came into your lives.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Wordy Cake Story

My name is Paul, and this is my story.

From December last year, I had a very secure job. Then some circumstances pushed me to ask for a one-month leave, for the month of October. That was when I started thinking a lot about what I want for myself and how I would love to shape my career path for the rest of my life.

While I had a discontent for my job, I knew that at the end of the month, I could go back to it and all would be well, I’d keep waking up every morning to go to work and coming back in the evening, worn out and unfulfilled, to sleep and wait for the next day to repeat the process.

Then I went to Gulu.

I can’t really explain why I had to go to Gulu. But I was at a point in my life where I needed to be alone to think and reflect. I realised that this was my life to live, and that all the decisions I made had consequences. At the time I went to Gulu, I was almost broke. I had to choose between eating well and sleeping well. I chose to sleep well.

After paying for my room at a decent hotel in the middle of town, I went and bought bread to make sandwiches from my room.

On my last night in Gulu, I did what I’d been putting off for almost half a month: I wrote my resignation letter. It was quite long. Halfway through it, I started crying.

I don’t know why I cried. Maybe I cried because of the sudden freedom I felt. Maybe it was because I was scared about what I would do afterwards.

But I knew that I had done the right thing. So I hit the Enter key and the letter was sent.

By the time I got back to Kampala on Friday night, all I had to my name was UGX25000 and a light heart. The next day was my birthday.

I spent half the day lying in bed, thinking about the last 23 years of my life and what I would do with the next few years of my life. I thought about love. I thought about money.

And I cried some more.

That evening, on 18th October, the idea of Wordy Cakes started forming in my mind.

One Wordy Cake, sitting on a quote
I have always loved words. And I love cooking. Wordy Cakes would be the intersection between these two passions. But what has always driven these two passions is my love for people. I’ve written on this blog about how I am a human tourist. I really love watching people. And I love listening to people’s stories.

Everyone has a story. Some stories are very passionate love stories. Others are heart-rending tragedies. But I have realised from my own experience that words have a way of shaping people’s stories. Hope knows how to dissolve despair. Love, with the right words, can drive out fear.

There is power in words. A lot of power. That is why I created Wordy Cakes.

There are a lot of stories being written in people’s lives around me. And I want to be a part of them. I choose to do that with a pair of muffins sitting on a few words.

Already, I have seen how these words have warmed the heart of one lover towards another. Someone has already used Wordy Cakes to say happy birthday to a friend. I’m starting to receive orders to create special messages for people’s loved ones. And I get to be a part of these stories.

I’d love Wordy Cakes to be the encouragement to face a long, draining day at office, and the inspiration to create a great innovation that would change the course of history.
This quote made someone's day

I dream of a time when a terminally ill father will smile after receiving a pair of Wordy Cakes from his son. I dream of the day when a pair of Wordy Cakes will carry the words, “Will you marry me?” I can’t wait for the day when two estranged lovers will be reunited by a pair of Wordy Cakes with the words, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

In the first week of operation, I’ve received a lot of support. Many people, both friends and strangers alike, have told me how this is a brilliant idea. They’ve made me feel like I’m an entrepreneur, like I know what I am doing.

But I am just a regular guy. I’m just a guy you’d pass by on the street without a second glance. I just happen to be passionate about words, food and people. And I have this deep desire on the inside of me to make a difference, however small, in my corner of the world.

What makes me happy is when a girl closes her eyes to enjoy all the sensations that come with a bite of my chocolate muffins. What gives me joy is seeing the light coming on in a guy’s eyes when he reads the quote in his pair of Wordy Cakes.

Of course I know that I can’t keep in the clouds. There is a lot of work that goes on in making this dream a reality, like baking the perfect chocolate muffin and looking for relevant quotes to go with each pair and sourcing for financing. I’ve already started getting so very many challenges, ranging from the realisation that I need a smarter phone than the one I have to the realisation that I need a larger oven than the one I have.

I am quite confident that this dream will live on, whatever the cost. I may have to look for a job at some point to keep a roof over my head or this crazy idea might buy me my dream Subaru Legacy.

But what really matters is that I get to be part of people’s stories, one pair of Wordy Cakes at a time.

A pair of Wordy Cakes, begging to be devoured

Photo Credit: Stella Nyanzi

Thursday, October 16, 2014

23 Things You Didn't Know About Me

  1. Though I love cooking, I don’t like cooking for myself. I’m still hesitant to buy pans at my home.
  2. I hate to admit that my favourite colour is blue, because almost every guy loves blue. It takes me a lot of self will not to buy a blue shirt when I go shopping for clothes.
  3. I started wearing glasses when I was 12, and all my friends said I looked ugly, I should put them off.
  4. I’ve been reading books since I was a kid. I actually don’t remember when I started reading books for fun. I’ve still failed to drop the habit.
  5. I never grew up watching TV, even when it was available. So I don’t know how it feels like to be addicted.
  6. I’ve been dumped by the same girl so many times I can’t count. Never thought I’d ever get over her.
  7. I am left-handed, but eat with my right hand if I’m using my hands to eat.
  8. I rarely edit most of the stuff I write.
  9. My favourite band is A Great Big World.
  10. I don’t have a favourite musician.
  11. I’m a collector of music. I’ve got over 50GB of music on my pc and I’ve never listened to all of it, but I keep collecting more and more.
  12. I have thousands of ebooks, most of them stolen, and I hope that one day I’ll be so rich that I’ll buy copies of them to stock my library, and atone for my sins
  13. Bananas are my favourite fruit, followed by jack fruit.
  14. I am extremely introverted.
  15. I don’t have as many friends as Facebook thinks I have.
  16. I love classical music, though I won’t play it when my friends are around, lest they look at me like I’m from Pluto.
  17. I wrote my first song when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I still remember it, but you’ll never catch me sing it.
  18. I’m not afraid of the dark.
  19. Writing scares the sh*t out of me. I’d rather drink myself into a stupor, which actually has never happened.
  20. If you dumped me on an island, all I’d ask for would be my 4-year-old laptop and WiFi. I can get almost everything else I need.
  21. I love wearing dirty jeans.
  22. The Shawshank Redemption is my all time favourite movie
  23. I turn 23 on Saturday.

The Art of Drifting

While enjoying my bus ride to Gulu, I kept looking out the window at the passing terrain. Something stood out for me: the farms. Every few kilometres, I saw men, women and children hard at work in different farms. Some were growing maize, others cabbages, and some other plants I don’t know.

Then there were these farms that weren’t being tended to. They had weeds growing in them. Some of these farms overgrown with weeds were next to well-kept farms.

One word kept coming to my mind.


Whenever someone stops proactively doing something, drifting sets in. Usually, the consequences are not desirable. When a farmer drifts, weeds grow. When two people in love drift, the love dies. When an employee drifts, production plummets. When I drifted, nobody visited this blog.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt from my travel to Gulu, it is this concept of drifting. Looking back on my life, I have realised that it is very easy to drift. As soon as life starts getting comfortable, money starts coming in, and I drift.

I have realised that I’ve done a lot of drifting this year. I have taken the path of least resistance and it has choked my creativity. I’ve learnt that whenever I don’t deliberately choose to think, my mind will wander. If I don’t deliberately choose to write, I get worse at it. I’m now starting to write again, and it is no longer as easy as it was before I drifted.

I used to jog everyday at the beginning of the year. Then I got so busy. I tried jogging after two months of not jogging, and I realised I had drifted. My body told me.

I am now evaluating my life. And I’m shocked at how much I’d drifted. I’d gotten used to swimming downstream with all the dead leaves and chaff instead of upstream.

You should also evaluate your life. Are you drifting in your career, relationships or hobbies? Do you need to get more deliberate about doing something? Remember, change rarely comes without action.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Think I'm a Human Tourist

When the thought of getting out of the city for a day or two crossed my mind, I had the option of going anywhere I wanted to go to in Uganda. I decided to go to a place I’d never been to: Gulu.

“There’s nothing to see in Gulu,” a friend told me.

And that’s exactly why I chose the place. I’ve never really been into sightseeing. I don’t really know how to stare wide-eyed, open-mouthed at waterfalls and wild animals. They don’t really get my blood running.

What gives me a rush is watching people.

I love seeing two people, completely in love, who can’t get their hands off of each other. I love watching an irritated bus driver, or a beautiful hotel receptionist who doesn’t know how to smile.

That’s why I’m in Gulu.

This guy with a cart loaded with pineapples spoke impeccable English and had a contagious smile. I had to buy a pineapple from him. The lady at the hotel I’m staying at is so nice and courteous. Even after trying out other places to see if I could get a less expensive room, I ended up coming back to her.

An old Indian woman rode a motorcycle around town. She passed by me a couple of times.

Then the huts. I don’t remember seeing so many huts like the ones I saw today on the 6-hour bus ride. We passed by people who didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere. They definitely didn’t look like they badly needed the new iPhone coming out next year.

Four barefooted kids in school uniforms waved oranges at us. I guess they wanted us to buy the oranges. But the bus driver didn’t stop.

I lost count of the number of churches I saw on the way. What was interesting was that more than once, I saw a brick church surrounded by mud and wattle huts. At least the gods get revered in this part of the world. I wondered whether the priests can afford bicycles.

And oh! The Gulu Archdiocese has a very beautiful cathedral.

Now I’m in my hotel room, the sun is setting, and it still feels like I’m in Uganda. Northern Uganda doesn’t feel any different from Central Uganda. I can’t wait for tomorrow when I’ll go tour some more.

Human beings are really beautiful.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This Part of my Life is Called Facing Reality

This part of my life is called facing reality. I asked for a month’s leave from work. Well, given the fact that my performance wasn’t that good and my boss wouldn’t really miss me, I got it immediately. It’s been a week into my leave now.

For the first time since I left school, I have completely nothing to do. I could decide to go on a road trip. I’ve actually thought about it, though I haven’t yet figured out where to go and where to get the money to take me there.

For the first time in my life, life feels uncertain. Well, partly because I may not go back to my job after this leave.

I am told that a lot of grown up people feel like this. So I am not alone. The best way I can describe this feeling is that it is bittersweet. I love the freedom, not having to answer to anyone for once. But I’m scared about how I will be able to pay the rent.

That’s why I started a bakery. I haven’t made a single sale yet. But I’ve got the equipment, the space, and the skills. I also have a partner who believes in my dream and is helping to finance it. Soon—very soon—I’ll have to get out of my reverie and start working.

Lately I’ve been taking lots of walks, with earphones in my ears, listening to audio books. I’m learning quite a lot. I’ve also found out that Kampala isn’t that big of a city. So, except if I’m late or tired, I’ll keep up with the walking. It’s healthy. And I’ll save lots of money, which money I don’t have.

I’ve read a lot about starting and running a business. I’ve gone to lots of seminars and conferences. But I’ve never put any of that knowledge into practice. I just hope all of that knowledge will help me somehow, or else I’ll be back to looking for a job.

I even did a written interview with a media house in town for the position of a sub-editor.

This morning I visited a bookstore. As always, there were lots of books I wished I could buy, but didn’t have the money. My eyes got wet. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I was standing on holy ground. Bookstores are holy grounds. One day I’ll have my books in them.

So this evening, while waiting for a meeting to start, I decided to power up my computer and write this blog post.

This part of my life is called facing reality.

Monday, September 15, 2014

On Circumcision and Start-ups

I have had so many excuses for not writing, the most prominent being my day job. But all those excuses have gotten silenced by my heart, which can’t live without writing. I hope this will be the first article among many that I’ll write before the end of the year.

Now that’s no way to start a blog, but why wouldn’t everyone cut me some slack? I haven’t written in a gazillion months!

So, today I’d like to talk about circumcision. And start ups.

A few months ago, a guest came to the guesthouse where I work. She was on the team trying to popularise non-surgical male circumcision. And she had lots of dildos to show for it. So one evening we got talking and ended up talking about her work. She described to me the whole circumcision process, its pros and cons and even encouraged me to get circumcised.

It’s just yesterday that our conversation came back to me as I was thinking of what it takes to start a business. I realised that starting a business is like getting circumcised. At first, you don’t want to do it. It’s so painful and you could lose your pee-pee if the doctor doesn’t do it well. And it takes some time to heal and be able to function well again.

And even after the guest with a bag of dildos and a PhD convinces you to go get cut, even after you make up your mind that you really need to get cut, you decide to nurse some procrastination. You say you’ll do it next week, and when next week comes you push it to next week until the year ends and you still have your foreskin.

And then you get a girlfriend and she demands that you go have the simple procedure done or else... and for the first time you realise that it’s now a matter of life or death. So you go to the hospital. The procedure is over in just ten minutes and now you’re a certified entrepreneur!

And now the pain starts.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Water Under a Bridge

Water under a bridge
Flows slowly, quietly
Until a storm rages
And the rain falls.

Then the bridge floods
And the river cries
And the wind blows
And we’re all wet

Nothing stays the same
The storm doesn’t care
We’re blown off the bridge
And float downstream

When the rain stops
Water under the bridge
Flows slowly, quietly
But we’re no longer there

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Open Your Heart to Love

I want to be the one who holds your hand
And leads you through this hard and stormy world
I want to be the one who dries your tears
And tells you everything will be okay
You don’t have to be afraid
Open your heart to love

I want to be the one who knows your fears
And holds you in my arms ‘til monsters die
I want to be the one who makes you smile
And makes your face wet with tears of joy
You don’t have to be alone
Open your heart to love

Don’t be a mannequin
Don’t turn into a pillar of salt
My arms are open wide
So open your heart to love

The flowers are blossoming
Look out, see the bright shining sun
Reach out and kiss the stars
And open your heart to love