Thursday, August 31, 2006

My boss is singing

Well, humming actually. He's right behind me, probably craning forward to see what I'm typing. I couldn't believe my ears. Hilarious. Refreshing. Amid all sorts of pressures, a guy still hum along to some tune. [Couldn't quite make it out. Probably zilizopendwa. Which reminds me. My dad also used to hum sometimes but I always swore that there were no such songs. Tu tuuu turuuu...]

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Its been eons since i was up in this place. Glad to see 0.5 still cracking people up. Samborera still holding fort. I see you aJamaa. We (where i work) have had power fluctuations all day today. UPS juice got used up ages ago, then power went completely. Left the office at 4.00. Have just bought a trackie (not the entire suit just the trouser) and a t-shirt. I am turning over a new leaf. Soon. Okay, don't know when. Just have to get running shoes. Maybe I should go drink, wait for those guys who sell cheap shoes at night then buy a pair. Okay, that is exactly what I want to stop.
I am not happy with the office. I still haven't gotten an email address, we definitely do not have internet. Now our generator doesn't work. I do odd jobs like fixing guys' comps when they are messed up, and people have stuck it in their minds that it is actually my job. The slightest hiccup, and they start sendind SOSs. Crap. Anyways. Thats about it. Keep it moving guys.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


10 years.

I was in form three in a boys boarding school.

There were 2 tribes. Those who belonged to 600+ mark and those who were on the lesser side of 600.
There were 2 more tribes. Those from Nairobi (those from Nakuru were given some mention). The rest of the places were just one big in-distinguishable country.
I belonged to all the wrong sides of course.

Attained immunity that year by completing three painful steps.
i) Laugh in the face of the cane - accomplished by taking upto twelve strokes without moving a muscle, and not afraid to come again in the afternoon for another helping.
ii) Disobey every prefect
iii) Still make it to the list of top ten students in the stream.
I became a misnomer. A curious point of interest to teachers and aspiring psycho-analysts. But more importantly, instead of being caned, the teacher would try to advise and counsel me. The prefects gave up on me and I could get away with pretty much anything except the serious stuff.

Witnessed a man and a woman having sex in a drainage trench while hiding behind a thicket (during august holidays). The excitement was unbearable. I don't think I blinked through the entire session. You bet I told that story for a long time to come.

There were only two entities in the musical universe: Tupac Shakur, Bone Thugs and Harmony.

Was once busted in nearby town having sneaked out by the headmaster. Once he stopped the car I took off. But he caught a glimpse of my face. I latched onto a lorry which ferried me most of the distance. The rest I tore through bushes and coffee plantations like Justin Gatlin on Kryptonite and just made it in time for the roll call.
"Haven't I seen in you town just 10 minutes ago?" [that was about 8 km from school]
"Must have been a mistake, ...sir"

Rice and beans was a feast. That used to happen on Tuesday and Friday lunch. Toppee we used to call it, if I remember correctly. On sunday morning they served boiled eggs. The spectacle of the mad dash to the dining hall is comparable to the wildebeest crossing the Mara to Tanzania.

The murram (githeri), could catch fire back in those days. The cooks used to liberally dose the stuff with paraffin! The paraffin was supposed to suppress libido.

I was a breezer. A breezer was someone who could not 'hook' any of the girls who came around for sports, or those funkies. Ahhh the funkies! Blazers were washed to till they gleamed, shoes were shined, the shirts and trousers were ironed till they could stand on their own. Some enterprising folk owned non-standard issue Hugo Boss white shirts and blazers bought from School Outfitters. These they would hire out to the smoothies for the princely price of two Eaton loaves a piece. It was a roaring business.

During 96, a fellow called Emmanuel invented the 'Hook a Thwack' compe. The participants would all hedge their bets and each offer one loaf of bread as collateral (bread was a POWERFUL medium). The judging panel (which included anyone in form 3) would sit on a half-wall outside the dh on a sports day or funkie day. A participant was supposed to hook the ugliest chic and walk her by the panel of judges. Jeering or hooting was strictly forbidden.
The winner took home all the bread.

A chic's dancing costume slipped off during Provincial Music Festivals in Nyeri. She was standing topless, no bra, on the stage. The roar was deafening. She danced stoically to the end of the piece.

The english teacher (form four), had a habit of walking with her head down. Some boys were having a 'wire festival' after rugby practice. ('wire' pronounced 'wee-ray'- a higly favoured way of showering using the washroom instead of the bathroom. Buckets were employed, and Quencher juice cans cut in half were used to draw the water from the buckets)
The boys see the teacher coming, pull out chairs and sit down stark naked in her path. She could not see them from far because there was a building blocking the view. Woman almost fainted when she rounded the bend.

A biology teacher, female, made the unfortunate mistake of walking into a dormitory where boys were having a 'sorghum sake' (strong alchoholic drink that shipped in plastic bottle - since banned) party. Someone switched the lights out and boys had a good feel of her boobs and butt. The incident was never reported. She however always tried to discern her molesters in class by deeply looking into everyone's eyes.

For 300 bob, you could have sex with Janice (a cousin of the Dean of Studies). 100 bob was for paying of Pechi, our dorm prefect, for the use of his secluded quarters. Everything else was arranged. She was a veritable woman. The queues were long, sometimes upto 5 guys at one go. Sometimes a dude would not be allowed to run the course of his full term and would be pulled off after 3 rocking motions. Sht! Sentries patrolled outside with hockey sticks. All this happened during the day on Saturday because she had to be at home during the evening! Her entry into the dorm was a masterpiece in stealth and subterfuge. She would be dressed in the school uniform and drape a sweater over her head like one who had a fever!
All the people who dipped their pen into the inkwell were sworn to an Omerta. Breach of the silence could get you beaten up very badly. Janice had finished form four in 1993. Of course the worst happened. One of the boys burst a cd and she got pregnant. To head off the impending scandal, she was shipped off to Germany for further studies.

Perhaps the most important is that I would have been a doctor today (assuming I could have survived the 5 gruelling years). Until we visited The British Council Library as a class. Naturally, I rushed to the medical section and pulled out a large Pathology book. The images were large, detailed and in colour. They were the most disturbing images I have ever seen. No more doctor for 0.5.

Thursday. Counting

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My face is up here [upward facing arrow]

That message was written in bold-and red, across the front side of a t-shirt won by a girl. How is that for Good Morning?

I do not know what sex means to women, but to most men it is a fulfillment of first, a physical attraction. However, when women decide to make you lucky, most probably they will have arrived at an important decision about you. Based on the circumstances, you will have been scrutinized, checked, vetted and confirmed to fit a certain bill.

Once you hit that chic, there is no easy way out. Accept it gentlemen, the one-night-stand world that we see in James Bond movies where good-looking-intelligent-independent career women screw their opposite number purely for fun is not here yet. That day has not dawned. This is the one lesson which equality has annoyingly refused to teach women. Or women have refused to learn it. They still insist on subscribing to the old school rules of romance.
Wake up people. Detach and have fun!

Vote, Mister.
Colonel TD was subjected to a vote last Saturday. They came, they sat on his couch, they asked him to choose the one to go and the one to remain. I would have paid 5 big hundreds to see the look on the man's face.
TD pointed at one and said: "she is my wife" ....shifting finger ..."you can go".
If you are going to play don't show them your digs. Unless of course you are Harry Houdini and can make one (or the other) disappear.

I have met a good number of these. I have the un-enviable position of being alone while other men are in the company of beautiful women. Some women have the unfortunate habit of bringing their girlfriends along to dates where only they have been invited.
So usually, I get a call that goes: 0.5, I have 2 women here. Please come and provide some distraction.
This is very noble duty considering that the subject to be kept busy could turn out to be very unsavoury.
But my my haven't I been lucky.
There was 2Cute. My mind went blank for five minutes after I first laid my eyes on her. Then there is Cute2. Don't ask. Sambs' friend's friend who rode me like a horse in Choices (no no no not like that). The Brownie/Joan combination (that one we uckedf up). Kamikaze could have paid five large ones to make the switch. He he! Damn! Then TDs girlfriends (and their friends) who do unmentionable stuff right in the open. Hollaaaaaaaa! Gives a whole new meaning to 'not afraid of the dark' or rather, light.

Meet TD.
(seeing that the guy is featuring a lot in my posts)
Cool guy, little talk and more action is his mantra, 26 therebouts, couldn't be bothered about blogging, same class at University for 4 years (where he was mostly absent).
How is that for detail!

Whats with all this excitement about Barrack Obama's coming to Kenya? Don't people have stuff to do? Waiting for salvation to land on the airport tarmac along with Mr Obama's plane? I don't know whether to be sad or angry, but I think as Kenyans we are cursed with a hopeless, misplaced optimism. The circus is going to be spectacular. I will tune out of the press for a few days.

I have been invited to a wedding committee. Again. The first time was in May. I will send a large donation and that will be the end of the matter. I have poor organization skills anyways.

Tomorrow's Wednesday. The miserable week is almost over. Sayonara. I am incredibly bored.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The death of Culture

I was lying at home on sato night, nursing my aching back, listening to Metro, and noticed they were playing a lot of a certain group's music. At some point the presenter indicated that this was in tribute to the lead singer and voice of Culture. Not that I had known whether he was dead or alive - such is the enduring nature of conscious music.

A cousin of mine also passed away and was buried this past Friday. It's especially sad when kind, giving, young people die. I was pointing this out to my mum, to which she responded, "... good people are not lucky. She didn't even get a good husband... Mambo yake imekwisha. Amepumzika".

It is appointed unto men once to die.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The last thing I wanted to here her say

I have been going to a gym for the last few weeks. Mainly because I could not find a heated public pool and partly to give me something to do in the evening and thus avoid going to a pub every day. There is this hot chik who works there who I started chatting up a few weeks back. In my mind I could see us hanging out together on weekends, doing drinks, movies, nights at her place e.t.c But these noble intentions seized one evening. As I walked up to her I noticed she looked unwell. 'Are you OK? You dont look to good', I say. She replies, "I am not feeling well. I have had cramps all day. Spent half an hour in the bathroom. I am two months pregnant."

A jamaa can handle a chik with a boy friend or a husband. But a pregnant woman, is out of my league.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A near miss

I've never been in a car accident before.

So on sato our department at work went out of town for a team building session. I wasn't looking forward to it exactly, seeing as I'd gotten home at 2 on Friday night.

Anyway, after running around [and spraining my ankle in the process] we passed by a colleague's place in kitengela for some drinks and nyam chom. The transport that was meant to take those of us without cars to town was cancelled cause there were enough guys with their own cars who would drop guys off. I was in the group of guys who were leaving last. There was a guy in the group who lives in the same neighbourhood as me so I stuck around. Some time after 9 we left for Nairobi.

I sat oblivious to the goings on around me until I noticed the car going off the road, as if to avoid something. And we weren't moving slowly. We didn't keep to the side of the road though but turned and crossed the road, heading for the bushes on the other side. The car had clearly lost control. Then we started turning. 360 degrees. Twice. All the while the car making awful noises. We came to a halt on the side of the road, facing the opposite direction from which we were headed initially. I'm not sure how come we didn't go off into the bush/ditch/whatever. That we stayed on the ground and didn't roll over. There was a brief moment of silence. I was terrified. For about a minute there was no other car going in either direction. Another thing we were lucky about. We did a U-turn and continued on with our journey. Apparently there's a guy who came to our side of the road as he was overtaking and we had to take evasive measures, then lost control.

Our lives were spared on saturday night. The end can come so quickly and suddenly.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Meeting the MD

I had a meeting the the MD today. Part of the orientation process apparently. Me and a couple of other new guys who are in 'management' grade[s]. That's in quotes because, let's be honest. I'm not a manager. I'm a programmer. So I saved my one suit to put on today.

Anyway. The thing about meeting 'big' people, for me, is that it's eye opening. In the sense that you realise that these guys are just that. Normal human beings like you. Kind of the way Joel discovered that Bill Gates isn't a one-eyed, 2 headed something or other. As I realised sometime back, kumbe adults are grown up kids.

As much as I often question the need for such meetings, it's helpful in as much as it is inspiring. For a couple of hours at least, you have a sense of belonging and a certain other feeling that makes you want to work harder/better.

Monday, August 07, 2006

a day in programming

There was a utility on our intranet that used to convert word and excel documents to pdf. Click here to upload ....zzzz...5 seconds later. Click here to download PDF version. Simplicity itself

Then we upgraded the Intranet server from W2000 Server Enterprise to W2003 Server Professional. Seems just like names huh? There are differences (especially with IDEs). We transferred all the asp to the new server and everything works fine except the pdf converter. Now you cannot begin to imagine the misery this innocuous little thing has brought me.

Mail flies in and out in caps.
We have a very important document that should not be seen by anyone else (reluctance to send the document to helpdesk)
developers are just lazy...
What can be so hard about copying an application from one computer to another?

My boss asks me why the application is not running. To put it very simply Microsoft have become very sly and have disabled server side Office Automation (in 2003). This means that if you open a document object in code and try to do something with it, the runtime will detect that the document is
i) not visible
ii) running in a server context;
and proceed to present your code with a dialog box, for instance "Are you sure you want to open this document" or "this document is read only". Once presented with this, your app is dead in the water because there is no way to simulate a click in code.

So you imagine that some bright chap might have written a dll that can be ported? You actually find such a dll but the OS needs a certificate authority or some sort of Public Key/Private key code signing (Corporate Information Security? Yeah. Bunch of busybodies whose work is to make other peoples' work harder). The dll is launched but then it hangs in memory, does not finish its task, it does not quit and it does not raise any error. At this point, you are just seeing red. You search event logs record by record. Nothing.

After endless Googling, you find some deeply burried MSFT bulletin that vaguely tries to explain it to you why you cannot do certain things in certain contexts. Try explaining that to Mr Jonathan of Accounting.

Shortcuts now. You find an old, disused PC running Windows 2000, install IIS and redirect the users there...and hope the security idlers will not find out you are simulating servers on PCs.

In software, newer is almost always never better. Avoid the monstrosities that are coming out.

Friday, August 04, 2006


The alarm goes off. It can't be morning already. You're still sleepy. You scramble to find the phone, and be careful to press the button to set snooze on. 6 minutes later, you do the same thing. Another 6 minutes. You know it's now or never. You roll out of bed and proceed to do an elaborate dance with sufurias, jugs and mitungis. Water doesn't flow in taps, or showers. You go back to bed, turning off all the lights you'd put on. You lie down and hope not too sleep too long. Time check. You have another 5 minutes. Another time check. This is it. Time moves at an incredible pace in the early morning. You get through with the shower, dress and dash out into the cold.

You check yahoo mail, a few blogs for new posts, reply to her email and before you know it it's 8 already. You switch to office/work mode. To deal with all sorts of requests, all urgent. You understand how the headless chicken feels, not knowing which way to go or what to do. Doing a little of this and a little of that, and not doing anything in the end. Somehow, you survive the day. It's home time.

You walk to the stage, talking to yourself on the way there, visualising the code you could have written/you'll write tomorrow. You get home, get into your shorts and t-shirt and get into bed. After putting on the radio for some sunset, easy going music as you attempt to wind down and medidate. Before you know it, it's 8 o'clock and you need to present yourself for supper, before you get summoned. After some brief utterances over supper, you're back in bed. The fatigue helps you go out without much fuss.

Monday to Friday.

You wake up on Sato morning and realise it's a saturday. The sun is up already so it can't be a working day. You don't have to wake up, but you have miscellaneous errands to run. You haven't been to church in ages but convince yourself that you'll stay at home and meditate on God and read a bit of the scriptures to keep you in tune. Do good intentions count for anything. You dash to town and back, just in time to get back into bed for the meditation you'd promised. You fall asleep somewhere at the beginning and wake up later in the evening. You debate whether you should stay in or not, but at some point the programming on TV convinces you to make a dash for it, under the unapproving looks from your mum. You spend the night contemplating the futility of life, in between a bit of dancing. It seems like you were the only one who was a teen in '95 as you're the only one singing along to the old skool playing.

You head for home when you're chased away from the club. You hope you don't run into anyone you know who may be making their way to church. You sneak back home and into bed, not wanting the awkwardness of meeting your mum at the door. You are absolutely spent. You don't know why you punish your body so. You wake up at 1, just long enough to look for something to eat and head back to your bed. You do spend a lot of time there. It's 7pm already. You need to get up so that you cheat your body later at 10pm that you've been awake the whole day. Otherwise you'll end up waking up at 2 and tossing, turning and cursing until day break.

The alarm goes off. It can't be morning already. You're still sleepy. You scramble to find the phone, and be careful to press the button to set snooze on.

friday reflections

I read very many blogs, though I never comment. Blogs are really hilarious. However, most blogs are dying. And this one is taking it slow. It seems the pent-up frustration that made people blog furiosly has been spent and people have run out of steam. The novelty has worn off. And it is sad. I could never surf for more than two hours without getting immensely bored. A cursory look at espn, yahoo, and imdb and thats it. P2P is a no-no and that leaves music downloads out of the question. That all changed when blogs became popular. I could read peoples wacky ideas for days on end.

A girl I know recently sent me a text that accused me of being distant and hiding behind my job. She continued that may be she were better off with another man who would pay more attention to her. I was darkly amused and replied that she was free to do whatever she wanted. I cannot remember at what point exactly that we became an item. Women sometimes make decisions for you without the courtesy of informing you and expect that you will play by the new rules. My being a boyfriend of anybody had never been on the table. On the same breath, the qualities that endear you to a person will be the same ones that make him or her loathe you, due course.

You will be surprised how much stuff changes when you grow up. There was nothing that I loved more than a loaf and a soda. In high school, eating a whole loaf was not uncommon. I can't stand bread now. Visiting aunties and uncles were always a welcome distraction. You could play with your cousins and not get to do prep. This has remained so for only just but a few of my relatives. When I was home one of my uncles visited and he was an unwelcome intrusion. The air of camaraderie was shattered as he introduced his church routines. I could no longer make wisecracks at my mum (who is doing her degree now. These usually included bringing a basin of cold water and going: you are dozing mum, feet in water! just like she used to do to us in primo).

I am nowadays invited to harambees.So and so has given birth. When did she get pregnant?
Up until 2004 that had never happened! During these meets people take their time to elaborately chastise you. There is no shortage of topics. Another of my uncles asks how I can waste so much money drinking Tuskers in these hard times. How he got wind of this information escapes me. Snooping I guess. That is a question I answer with a cold, hard stare. What I do with my money is my business. I have always been an object of intense scrutiny in my extended family. Everyone suspects that I have got a mad streak somewhere, only they are not sure where it is or even whether its there.

Cafeteria. Free lunch by the office (someone is happy something has been delivered in half the expected time). Boys on one side, girls on the other. A girl, doing fairly well, quips:
Men are cowards. [many reasons given].
I do not get angry at this statement. I understand. I have become wiser. I am generous and therefore will share my take on this.
This is the 21st century. Women have changed, so have the men. There is a new order. Women are gaining respect and recognition for what they do. They have also learnt how to go out and make money for themselves. Many have even made a lot of money. They drive big cars and live in nice houses. One thing which has not changed is that male ego has not gone away. There cannot be two centres of strength in one domain. Simplicity itself. Any other argument does not hold any water. Where women stamp their mark, the men either submit or migrate to another place.
A behaviour that surprises women.
If you are a well-to-do woman, most men will regard with a cool dispassion, your drop-dead
beauty notwithstanding. The options are bleak for these women. They are either i) stay out of a relationship ii) make do with a lesser man who will bend to their whims iii) or bend to the whims of another man.
People who say they don't need the other sex are either abnormal or they are kidding themselves. Don't play against the house. You cant win.
On the second point, women have been known to prefer full-blooded men (and thus guys who are controlled by women are said to be losers). You can't get a man and control him at the same time.

There is no middle ground, not really. There are only positions of advantage. There are these dudes who seem cool, romantic and entirely reasonable. They seem to understand, and more importantly accept that the girl in their lives has her own life, can get into any hanky panky (without the guy raising a fuss) cause eeh what do you think? she earns her own money, drives and lives in her house! They are equal partners! The explanation is painfully simple. Sex. Career women make great sex partners. Ask any man who is capable of playing the part. The answer lies in a very simple equation.
Fuss=No Sex.
Why take the risk? Play by the rules and get some! In any case some of these women are stunning. Who hates taking a beautiful woman to bed? When the relationship looks like its getting into deep, still waters, the guy bolts for the hills and simpler women.

There are some songs that are so beautiful they should not be resampled (in my humble opinion). I immediately lose my respect of the artiste who does the re-sampling. Crystal Waters "Gypsy Woman" is one such song (resampled by TI).Mas que nada by Sergio Mendes is another. Hiphop has become too adolescent and plastic.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Being careful what you wish for

There are those times you see other people and envy them. You hear how this chic bought this guy she apparently likes a shirt and you want to be that guy. You like the thought of someone thinking of you thus. Someone looking at you in that way.

Then you meet someone and the next day she's telling you how your company makes her happy. And the next she calls you at 7:40 am to wish you a nice day. And for some unknown reason you get freaked out. What have you done!

Perhaps one day you will let go. Let your guard down. Give in. Let your heart overrun your brain. Until then, there's a european football season to distract you.