Wednesday, December 16, 2009

how now?

These are my top three "how now?" moments this month:

1. Seeing a man dressed in an expensive suit seated back left in a TWO door Toyota Rav 4 and watching him unfold his long torso and longer limbs as he untidily climbed out the car with what little dignity he could muster.

2. Turning around 180 degrees in a banking hall line and facing the guy who was riding my behind tightly. I am now nose to nose with him and walk backwards as the line moves. Watching his face contort with disbelief, anger and subsequent resignation as he now has to keep at least 2 feet away from me as the line continues to inch towards the cashier. somehow riding my face is not as pleasant dammit......what's up with the fight for personal space in this country?

3. Observing a traffic cop wearing a 400 thread count sweater in 30 degree celsius weather, and wondering is it that he can't feel the sweltering pounding of sun rays or are there some pockets under there that cannot see the kitu kidogo light of day?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Knowing me, Knowing you.

Panache. That is all it takes to get past any security guard at any gate or building in this country. Simple, refined panache. Why you ask? This was me a few hours ago at an office located in a residential suburb of this traffic demented city this afternoon. I drive up to the gate, and a bulbous, pockmarked extrusion of a nose surfaces for air at the peep hole. It is quickly withdrawn and replaced by one baleful eye, casting its wary glance this way and that as opposed to straight ahead at the intruder. Aha, finally said eye rests its weary glance on my car, a piercing glare that is supposed to thrust a supposedly cold sword of fear through my unrelenting flesh. I strum my fingers on the steering wheel, waiting for this perpetual dance of intimidation that plays out at every security guard's domain of power to end. Having determined that there is no clear and present danger from the imaginary Russian U-Boats, the one eyed bulbous nosed owner emerges from behind the 8 foot high mabati excuse of a gate. His defence artillery consists of a tattered black ledger book and a chewed up biro pen, tied to the book with a fraying string that is about to disintegrate any time now. He shuffles across to my open window and asks with the most serious face he can muster "Unataka kuingia?" I bite my lip and with it the sarcastic response to the idiotic question of whether I want to get in.

Instead I look him dead in the eye and raise my eyebrow, making sure that he sees the steely glaze in my eye and semi-incredulous disposition that he does not recognize who I am. This always, I must admit, work remarkably well in throwing these wannabe ninja turtles off balance. "ehhhh, we ni nani?" is his next muted question, his voice shaky with doubt as to whether this was a career limiting question. "Ni Mimi, ala!" I thunder back, struggling hard to maintain an inscrutable expression, my innards churning with laughter. Ninja Turtle scurries back to the gate, swiftly opening both gates with a sleight of the hand , while the other hand is plastered back on his forehead in what he thinks is the ultimate salute! I drive into the compound, watching him in my rearview mirror and marvelling at how his back is ramrod straight at ninety degrees but his mind must be revolving at 360 degrees of confusion, fear, worry...."is this the mdosi's relative?"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sharing is simply not caring...

OK this is the deal, I'm actually quite fed up of the typical Kenyan habit of sharing newspapers. While I was raised to believe that sharing is caring, "there come a time" when the thin line between sharing and invading becomes blurred. I will illustrate. Every time when I walk into work, I will read my newspaper cover to cover and then my colleague who gets paid exactly as much as I do, leans over and says "B'ana si you let me read your Nation?" The damn paper costs 35/- and given the dregs of Tusker clouds that linger on his fetid breath, I know the guy downed a coupla bottles last night and could very well have purchased the paper for himself today, and yesterday and the day before as he staggered back home from the pub. So with clear memories of my mother's high pitched shriek of admonishment against selfish acts reverbrating through my mind, I cave in every morning after swearing never to give in again, and lend the guy my paper.
But it doesn't end there. Because his thick fingers - with tips whittled to a smooth hide by the constant pounding on the computer keyboard - cannot turn the pages, he has to constantly lick his middle finger, slavering it with the viscous extract from his mouth in order to lubricate the page turning process. I often have to remind myself that if all else fails, at least I can produce a DNA sample for the police were it ever needed. Ten minutes into the silent reading, I always hear a pen scratching over my newspaper as the jamaa fills out my Sudoku puzzle, the ultimate sign of invasion, nay, acquisition of my property. More often than not, I always tell him to keep the damn paper, it's just not worth the trouble.