Monday, March 26, 2007

Two weeks

I have not drunk in two weeks. This is probably because there are no pubs near me, my sis does not drink and I do not have a car. Going through 2 whole weekend without a hangi has been good but has not been as good as I expected it would be. I wonder if I will want to keep this up when I come back. It might be interesting to go a month, two months or even three months without drinking. A jamaa can do that just for laughs.

It has also been two weeks of sleeping in a sleeping bag on a couch. To make things worse my sis sets the heat up really high and since there is only one heater for the flat I keep waking up in the middle of the night. And then there is a main road right outside the window and there is always an ambulance or cop car or fire engine racing by with blaring sirens. I believe that these guys just drive around with the sirens on to disturb guys who are trying to sleep because there is no way there can be traffic at 2 am and I have been checking newspapers and TV news and there have been no disasters to warrant emergency response.

In todays news they reported that there have been 96 murders in Philadelphia since the beginning of the year. Considering the city has a population of around 5m this must represent a comparable if not higher murder rate than Nairobi and yet the American gvt issues a travel advisory against Kenya due to crime.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stolen dignity

Where is my handbag? A pretty stupid question you might think if you have never before seen hysteria.
How the f888 should I know? The stupid answer to earlier question. She starts lifting and moving people's stuff from chairs and tables. Boyfriends take offense. Girls want to snatch her eyeballs out of her sockets. I am thinking she is drunk and has misplaced her handbag.
Then she starts screaming. Who has taken my handbag? she is pacing all over the place, crouching under tables. Those with skirts are closing their legs in a hurry and wondering who this crazy chic is.
About 10 minutes pass as she scours the entire pub for her handbag, only not to find it. The tears start as the realization it has been stolen sinks in. They come thick and fast. Racking sobs.
I try to comfort her. She is cursing and swearing and fighting me off. I engage a bouncer and we ask around for her handbag. No luck. I ask that we leave. We indeed leave. After a hundred paces she dashes back to the pub. Another thorough search. She is moving around like one possessed. I am distressed. Between sobs I am appraised of the contents of the bag. Money, passport, id, something she calls ray bans (sunglasses I come to know later), office keys, home keys, pads (yeah, gloves off - embarassment has no place here)...and so on and so forth. Education each day gentlemen. There was a time when female MPs raised such dust because the Honorable Kaparo (or rules of the house - don't know, don't care) did not allow them in the chambers with their handbags; And I thought they were just being dramatic. Only to have on my hands a completely hysterical woman. Who would have thought a handbag is something so central to a woman's person?

Meanwhile, she is sitting on the pavement, then abruptly standing. Running about kicking stuff, punching walls. Talking, cursing and crying. A wise man told me when women are like this the best thing to do is watch. And keep silent. So I watched. I asked her if I can pay a taxi to drop her home? No. She does not have keys. I asked her what she wants to do then? Stay on the street all night. Huh? So I asked her if she will come with me till daybreak. She agreed.

I open my door, switch on the lights and she goes ...your house is a ** mess! where is your bed? Off she goes. I stick to one side of the bed, and her to the other. Somewhere in the dark hour of three-to-four am she says her pad has soaked and is about to break. Just f888ing great. I put on the lights and move around looking for something. What was I looking for? Pads? And in a guys house? Sh88 I have never before handled this kind of drama. Do you have toilet paper? I get her toilet paper, shuffle out and start opening and closing drawers to distract my deeply disturbed head.

I am swinging my legs to the side of the bed as I get up. I am trying to get to the closet to get my trousers.
Please don't look!
The very thing you should not say if you want someone not to look. So I look. Tissue with spots of blood. It was a new milestone for my abilities to remain composed (or to at least appear composed). I shrugged in a matter-of-fact fashion as if it was a trivial, everyday occurrence. It was the best I could do to save the deeply embarrassed chic more embarrassment.

But she is a different breed though. She smiles sadly and asks me to buy her a pack of Always. Go figure. A hang-over dude asking the motherly lady at the tuck shop to hand over a pack of Always. She looked at me, bemused, wicked grin dancing at the corners of her mouth . I must have looked like a thoroughly hen-pecked boyfriend of some domineering woman.

A shower and general clean-up and she can afford a smile and even mildly joke about the whole incident. Unbelievable strength of character.

If you are a thief (and even if you are about to die of hunger), please do not part a woman with her handbag.

Later tonight. Strong drinks. I need to wipe out the episode from my memory.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Showdown At 1.00 AM

Its pitch black. You are asleep. You think you are asleep. You aren't. Only
light is that red thing on the music system. That's how you know you aren't
asleep. Cause you can see it. You reach for the phone under your pillow
(mobile phone folks, there isn't any other kind nowadays. And It's under the
pillow so that the alarm buzz and vibration of the phone actually wake you
up). Check the time: 1.10 AM. What in tarnations!!

Why am I awake? Then you hear it. Its like a choir. Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzz. There
must be like a thousand mosquitoes working round the clock to suck me dry!!
It's incessant. All around you! They're everywhere!!

Calm down. Calm down. If you just ignore them you'll go back to sleep and
wake up with a couple mosquito bites, but you'll have slept.
What is this? Some sort of invasion? I've never heard them before. I usually
sleep like a log. Wait. Its Wednesday night (Thursday morning). I am usually
still drinking. That's why. By the time I get home, the damn things are
tired of waiting for me, they've either moved houses or gone to sleep
themselves, saving themselves for Thursday night. They are usually thinking,
"The guy will be too tired to try and drink on Thursday too. We can wait.
One more day". Usually they are right. All these thoughts are running
through your mind, then you remember you are supposed to be asleep. They
won't quit. They haven't had enough? Bloodthirsty animals!!

Time to fight back.

Candles! I have some. Ok, they are like tiny mangled things. They'll
probably sputter out soon as I light them. Time's a wasting! Anything will
do. Someone once told me that mosquitoes turn into houseflies in the
morning. They can't stand the light. Seriously, someone said that once.
aJamaa did. And don't try and deny it! Ok, so we were all high at the time.
Maybe that's why I believed the guy. Wait, that just means I was high, not
aJamaa. The guy never gets high. Always cool, calm. All the time. The
basta...I digress.

I reach into a drawer. Not there. Aaah. Under the bed, they must have fallen
there. Yup. There you are. Two things the size of a ballpoint pen cap. Reach
into another drawer, pull out a lighter (pause. In utter darkness, I take
pride in knowing I can work the remotes - TV, Music System and DVD. Hence,
reaching for a lighter is child's play in my opinion. Unpause. I just did it

Put light to candle wick. Voila! Light. Two candles. set them up on the
bed's head board. That should keep me safe from evil vampiric mosquitoes.
What the..! They're still at it. C'mon!

That's it! Now I'm pissed! I grab one of the candle-like things. This is

Start with the walls, work downwards, then back up, then the next wall.
Repeat as before.

There's one of them. He's a huge one eh! Fat from sucking the life out of
me. Its payback time you little vampire. Now, slowly, from below the guy,
bring the candle closer, closer still. He should feel the heat now. When the
guy starts to take off, he will fly straight into the flame itself. Pssss. I
love the sound of burning mosquito. The guy is singed, disappears into the
darkness. I have more fish to fry. Wait. More mosquitoes to burn. Either the
guy is dead or dying. Any is fine with me. There's another. And another.
Meticulously, I go about my fiery retribution. Four walls. Top to bottom.
Ceiling too. Right to left and back again. The walls look clean. Can't hear
them anymore. That should do it.

One of the candle-thingies goes off. Ah well. Its all good now.

Back to bed. Peace and quie..! What?! Nooo!! It can't be! I hear three of
them! Risen from the dead. Damn Vampires! I need a wooden stick and holy
water. What size stick would that be?

Get the lights! I snap the lights on. The choir sings!! Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzzz.
Ohh they're in fine form. Battle stations!!

I keep a stick in my room. Flat, almost swordlike. I grab it. No time for
the war paint. They have my scent anyway. I stab at hanging clothes, others
in the corners. I swat at anything that moves. Almost hit the light bulb.
That would be certain demise for me. Wouldn't they be glad for some
darkness! I huff and puff. Swinging like a gladiator. I get some. Soft
"thucks" on the "sword" confirm my precision. I'm not beat yet. I keep at
it. Ten minutes or so. More stabbing and swatting. Things are quiet now.
There's one or two around. I'm sure of that. They...can'
Yawwwn. I've worn myself out. Lights out. Check phone again. 2AM. Drat! Do
your worst you draculets. I'll get my sleep. You'll get your blood.

Then the alarm goes off about 5 minutes later.

First Wednesday night without drink. Moral of the story? Don't ever start
drinking on weekdays. Cause when you stop...yeah well, you can see what
happens. Can't wait for Friday.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Beam me down Scottie

I was scheduled to leave NBI at 3pm on Monday 12 get to Dubai 11pm, catch a flight to JFK in NY at 2 am get to NY at around 11 am and catch a connecting flight to Philadelphia at 2pm for a 45 minute flight. And as consideration for this change in location Emirates demanded like 110K (What I am now is not even broke, I two levels below broke, I have to look into liquidating my pension).

Things did not work out as planned. At some point on Monday morning my bro informed me that the Dubai airport was closed to all incoming and outgoing flights. Since I was in the CBD I passed by Emirates and they confirmed that the airport was indeed closed and they were in the process of trying to book me on alternative flights and they would give me a call as soon as they had a new itinerary. At around 2pm they had not called so I went back and this time they confirmed that the airport had been re-opened and although they had booked me on an 11pm flight from NBI they had not confirmed flights for the rest of the trip. I asked if I could postponed the whole trip for a few days until everything got sorted since I had no desire to spend an unkonwn period of time in Dubai but they threatened that if I did so they would have to charge me a 'cancellation' fee.

Got to the airport at around 9 pm and found a really long Emirates queue. It was obvious that they had booked the guys who were supposed to take the 11 and 3 o'clock flights on this flight. Once I checked in they informed me that the flight would be delayed until around 2 am, but I was not to worry since I could have dinner at some restaurant as I waited. I would actually have preferred them calling me and telling me to show up at midnight instead of making me hang around some lousy restaurant for a few hours.

We got to Dubai at around 9am since the flight from NBI actually left at 3 am and not at 2 as they had promised. I made my way to the transfer desk where a long queue had already formed. The line was not moving they were taking around an hour to sort out a single person. Four hours later, we were still on the queue then some flight from UK landed and the queue got even longer. Finally the speed of service, improved, they increased the number and in my view the quality of people behind the counter and things started moving faster. After nearly five hours they managed to book me on a 2 am flight. I dont understand how the airline business works but is it unreasonable to expect that since they new we had all boarded a plane in Nairobi and could not possibly disappear in the twilight zone or change our minds about our final destinations that they would have sorted out our flights by the time we got to Dubai? Anyway, they also gave me vouchers to a hotel where I could have meals and freshen up as I waited for my flight. That was very kind of them but the only problem was since I had been on the queue for around five hours and my luggage was tagged to go although the way to Philadelphia there was no chance of me getting my baggage in Dubai.

The hotel was really nice. I now know what five star really means. This guys had those flat lcd screen hang on the wall tellies in every room. Ndawaonesha picha nikirudi.

I left the hotel at around midnight and since the shuttle that they use to take people to the airport was late they hooked me and some British man with a chauffer driven Lincoln Townace to take us to the airport. Enyewe for a guy who drives a small Toyota taking a ride in that gari was significant.

Back at Dubai airport I had to go through the whole process of checking in again and so had to pass through metal detectors again. By this point I had decided that it was better to risk my jeans falling down than have to keep taking off my belt and so I had stashed it in my hand luggage. At the rate things are going to fly one will have to wear some special tight fitting orange overall with not pockets.

After spending 13 hours crumpled up on a small seat we finally got to JFK. Immigration and customs was another story. There was some cop kind of person (immigration, homeland security etc) walking up down the immigration queue selecting guys at random asking some questions and and examining their papers, Nazi style. There was a black guy four people infront me and another one around three people behind me. The 'cop' stopped the three of us. What made this even more suprising was that the plane having come from Dubai there were enough Arab looking people on the queue and I would have expected they posed a bigger risk than some black guys.

JFK is so large that I had to take a train to the terminal that where I was to take my last connecting flight. We finally boarded the plane at around 3pm and the difference between the large 777 I had used from Dubai and the 30 something sitter that they were using for the local flight was amazing.

I could not find my luggage at Philadelphia and considering I had been wearing the same clothes for three days (I left home on Monday and got to PHL on Wednesday) this was the last thing I wanted to hear. They took down my address and phone number and indicated that they would deliver it if they found it. Alternatively I could file a refund claim after 24 hours which may take 72 hours to resolve. I must have done some good things in my life coz at they got my bags and delivered them to me on Wednesday night.

My sis has gotten better and is going back to work kesho. So I will have to find something to keep my self busy for the rest of the month.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Moments .....

5:30 A f8888ng M. It is still night in my universe and only dogs, thieves and policemen should be moving.
Who am I speaking to? 0.5 of IT. 0.5 I am not able to log on.
Have you forgotten your password?
I am seeing a padlock on the screen.
Try pressing ctrl+alt+delete.
silence ....
I have pressed. And? I am still seeing the padlock.
What kind of machine do you have? A laptop. Is it a ThinkPad?
ThinkPad? Sorry, an IBM? Errrr.......yes. Yes! Yes it is an IBM.
Do you have a fingerprint swipe pad near your keyboard?
What is a fingerprint sign pad?
Some shiny strip of metal .....
I am still seeing a padlock.
Tell you what,...its a problem we have been having. Very useless machines those ones. I will disconnect now and call IBM to resolve your issue. Just hold on in 45 minutes
max everything should be set alright.
Click. Back to sleep.

Monday, March 12, 2007

0.5 and the Pizza factory

If I have a desire to fill my stomach, I will seek a place that has the simplest of protocols; Much as pizzas, cappuccinos and lattes are delights, I prefer the normal spread that Nyamu of thisorthat cafe has to offer. Nyamu will present me with a laminated menu and leave me to make a decision. I will point to an item and after having eating ...that's a hundred bob. Eeezy Peezy.

On one Saturday midmorning of a day I would rather forget, I walk into Nandos and go promptly to the cashier.
Can I have one pizza please?
What flavor would like?
There was mexican beef, pig, cheese and mangoes and pineapples and berries and other stuff that I can hardly remember.
Mmmh? I am lost. The first one missus.
Would you like 6 inch, 9 inch or 12 inch?
The cashier was exasperated, sneering and very impatient.
6, 9 or 12?
Bigger is better isn't folks? Bring on the 12! There are bemused faces all around me.
Are you having a drink?
Oh my it is not yet over. A soda please. Coke please.
She bangs the cash register and hands me a receipt.

My face is flushing. I rush to the collection point and hand the thing to the guy dishing out the things for lack of a better term. He looks at the receipt and drawls out have to wait for your number to be called....sir.
Ahhhh...this is just great. They have a public address system which is issuing static every 30 seconds or so. Some teenage girls who are greatly acquainted with pizza buying protocol are giggling.

Finally! My number is called. I pull my leaden feet to the collection point. The guy hands me my 12 inch pizza. It is almost the size of car wheel. I pick the damn thing and practically start running out.
Your drink sir!

So you can imagine my distress when this girl who I was to see later in the day said she does not want to have drinks but a pizza and a drink. An exercise in analysis on her part. Take the fellow out of the bar and see how he behaves. I hate dates. I can only suffer one if I have a cold one in my hand and a constant stream of others piling up. Calms the nerves. Nerves. Always a problem. Have let many a fine woman slip by because I have a back-bone made of straw.

She did not show up. It is hard to describe the feeling I experienced. After erotic SMSes, booty calls, uncountable "oohh I really want to see you" all boiled down to "I am sorry I can't see you today, it has become a bit tricky, something has come up".
Indeed. I will bet that some guy's d**k had come up.

I get another SMS after 2 days.
I hope you were not too disappointed or angry. Can we meet next Saturday?
That is not going to happen. I guess I will be letting this one slip too. Either nerves or women who think I am a chess piece to be moved about in their grand scheme of life.

I once asked for a sausage in BurgerDome. Thankfully a lady friend was there and kicked me in the ankle; They don't sell sausages here!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

To Breathing.

Young Nairobi women have become too bold these days. A total stranger sits next to me at a table. Legs facing away, back facing me. She pushes me (gradually of course) until I am pressed to the rails.
Then suddenly: Can I introduce you to my pals?
Its flattering, but it sucks. If a guy is not talking to you, he probably just wants to drink his beer in peace. Tis a speedy way to get laid and dumped. But more and more chics are into this casual sex thing. If guys can do it why can't we? It rocks! Anything that reduces the effort required to get a woman into bed (minus the clothes) is indeed welcome news. I am contradicting myself here so I will stop.

The ship has sailed. In fits and starts, confusion, fire and smoke, breakages and general mayhem. Things should cool a bit before they bring on the next big one.....

It is my personal opinion that men over 25 years should not:
1) Wear earring(s).
2) Dye their hair.
3) Relax their hair
4) Braid their hair
4) Sag their trousers
5) Try to speak like 50 cent
Unless of course they are in the music, movie or other entertainment industry that requires people to look mad to make money.
Plain rocks! Shirt, trouser, black shoes, close cropped hair. Perfect. Or jeans, t-shirt. The women will still listen to you, even the most beautiful ones. Life is too short for a man to be sitting/standing in front of a mirror tending to his hair.F**k! Go out and make some money instead, jog or play soccer for good health.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Learning how to work

It hit me the other day, again, that I don't know how to work. Don't like to work. For the longest time, I didn't think of what I did as work. Or a job. I'd wake up at like 7:30, go to the office in T-shirt and jeans. Take off my shoes [there's no better feeling than walking around a carpeted office barefoot], put on my earphones, turn up the music, and write code. There was a time early into that job when I'd put my feet on my desk as I thought about a particular problem. And if it wasn't for some of my siblings expressing absolute horror that I could do such a thing, I'd have carried on. [My bosses probably just thought I was crazy, or mentally unstable or something, and didn't ever mention it] I used to have a spring in my step. Literally. I'd happily tell anyone who asked that I was a programmer. [I've never liked this developer business] It wasn't a job. Just something I did during the day. Never even used to look at my payslip.

Ok. I think I got sidetracked somewhere there. Anyway. Now, I have a job. Go to work. Work, where people relish writing loads of emails, and CCing half the known world. [I wonder how managers cope with all the mail they get] Back stabbing and finger pointing. Guys not doing stuff they're meant to then laying the blame for lack of progress at your desk. Accusations and counter-accusations. All manner of politics and sucking up. Thinly veiled spite and resentment. Numerous times I've looked around, shaking my head. So this is what working is like. And if I don't shape up, catch up or otherwise learn how things are [to be] done, I won't survive. I hope my leave application doesn't get cancelled this time. I need a break from all this.