Thursday, November 26, 2009

Traipsing about the country

I'm sitting at the snack bar in Unit 3 Domestic departures at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. As I gratefully munch on my roast beef sandwich washed down with a Dorman's double cappuccino (Amen to whoever came up with the fab idea of putting Dorman's at the snack bar!) a Kenya Airways staff member announces that those of us who are sitting mindlessly doing nothing need to get our boarding passes checked in. Now this is the deal, ALL of us mindless automatons have simply not bothered to do this, after all it was at least 50 minutes to departure and we were only 10 feet away from the boarding pass check counter. But one should never underestimate the power of a herd mentality. All but one of the patrons shoot out of their seats and scuttle across the vast 10 feet of space to form a crowd at the counter, precariously balancing their hand luggage, jackets, tickets and boarding passes in the two hands they have. The KQ staff member feverishly tries to get the passengers to form themselves into a line, and in bemusement I am reminded of a farmer trying to herd a group of cats on heat.
As I am the only one left munching on my sandwich, I notice the unfinished bottles of Tusker sinfully left standing stiff and lonely on the tables, missing the warm hand that had recently caressed their midriffs and yearning lips that greedily enveloped their rims. I wipe my lips with a paper napkin after polishing off the last delectable bite of my sandwich and slowly walk to the airline counter that has now processed all the passengers. Lo and behold, we are not walking to the plane, we are boarding the new transportation shuttles introduced by the airline. What a relief to board public transportation in Nairobi without the omni-present badly dressed and foul mouthed tout banging on the side of the vehicle. I am pleased to note chivalry still exists as a younger man stands up to give an older woman his seat. Have I stepped into the twilight zone?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Road Rage

It never ceases to amaze me how Kenyans are deeply religious when they are in Church, bashing their bible and spewing quotes from the Good Book as if there will be a "Who wants to be a Millionaire" show based on the Book of Apostles or Phillipians. However the minute they step out of the Church and into their cars, they will overlap the traffic, cut across three lanes on the new Mombasa road and abuse anyone who dares to cross their path. Wait a minute, didn't we just hold hands a minute ago when praying for peace, love, spirituality and whatever 100+ petitions our pastor had in the service a few minutes ago? But Christianity aside, what I find most unusual is those drivers that will not give you one inch of space to enter a slow moving trail of traffic, even if you are clearly indicating that you are going in the opposite direction. Or better still, those that refuse to make eye contact with you when you are begging to be let into their lane, they adopt a stiff neck, sura ya kazi and eyes dead ahead as if looking out for dreaded Pirates off the Gulf of Aden. The absolute worst are the ones who cut you off very badly in traffic and then it is the passenger....yes the passenger, not the driver who gives you very bad eyes!! Kwani? Chinua Achebe put it very aptly in Things Fall Apart, the outsider who weeps louder than the bereaved! Our driving habits are surely very peculiarly Kenyan!