Thursday, December 31, 2009


Did my first zap transaction. I'd been looking to use this service for some time but walking about, the only places I saw with the relevant signage were these exhibition stall type places. A box by the pavement that was just big enough for the person manning the place to turn around really slowly. Not really appealing to those of us blessed with healthy doses of paranoia.

So I decided to ask someone who works on the inside if there was a more reasonable place that a guy can do this business. Not once have I managed to get to talk to an actual live human after dialling the customer care number. Try the post office, came back the reply. I didn't believe that response at first, but figured I'd not laugh it off completely, given that this was coming from the horse's mouth. It was time for my posta run anyway. Didn't see any big signs at first but sure enough there were a couple of counters where in addition to paying whatever bill you could imagine [this must be their main business these days], you could zap. And when did you start offering this service, I ask the guy across the glass. Two months ago. Now, I don't read the papers everyday, and watch the circus that is local news even less frequently, but I had not heard that post offices had become zap agents. I was at the zain website last week and it certainly wasn't among the 100+ page list of agents. So you can't get info from customer care because you'll never get through, and you can't get info from the website because it's never updated. Never = Sufficiently infrequent, tending towards Never. If you don't know a guy who works for zap who you can email, you end up not using the service. Or perhaps that's just me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Viatu za mbao

How is it possible to buy shoes for 20 bob. Women are so lucky.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who makes these websites

It's incredible. Perhaps I need to be reminded why people put up websites. Is it so that the CEO can tick the "Have website" check box. So that the IT manager can get over being hassled about [lack of] progress on a company website. Or so that people can have a grand occassion at some hotel to launch the website. Garbage.

Now, I've never been one to pay much attention to web stuff. That, to me, has always been another, ethereal world. In which wizards do whatever they do. Magic I think it's called. I have read HTML tutorials innumerable times. [As it is I'm now reading PHP ones] It's torture. I can never seem to get my head around this web stuff. And always at the end of the tutorial [listing of tags or functions or whatever], I find myself shaking my head, wondering what I'm meant to do with it all. I find thinking in Prolog orders of magnitude easier than thinking in HTML. And that's not including aesthetics and employing one's so called creative side. Torture.

My long standing apathy towards websites has been somewhat shaken lately. My visists to corporate websites in search of info have yielded great surprises. The first is a complete lack of said information. Information that a typical user or customer or whatever would go to the site to get. Then there are those who don't update their information. Same thing. What's the point. Are the pages there as some historical edifice or something. Is a URL something you acquire to put in marketing materials or is it meant to serve some kind of [more] meaningful purpose. Then there's the sad tale of the missing links. Reminds me of GHC and Zinjanthroupus. Let me click on this About link and see what these guys have to say about themselves. 404. Or guys who boldly tell you "click here!", only there's no applicable link anywhere in the vicinity for you to "click here!" on. Some guys do give you plenty of links to click on, but after furious clicking, disabling of NoScript, and generally wondering if those lingering thoughts of you going senile aren't that farfetched, you look up and discover that all of them point to the same place. Hompage/#. Why torture me so. And today, another surprise. Guys advertise a URL, but if you go to the home page, you'll never be able to navigate to said URL. Why? There's no way to get there, apart from doing a Ctrl+L and typing the link as given.

The way I see it, some of these guys are just small business owners who want to get on with their lives, and wrestling with things like CMSs [can't wrap my head around this one either] isn't what they want to be doing. Although they could do some due diligence and mystery customer kind of stuff. The same way the restaurant owner can discover that there aren't enough forks, or the bar owner that there aren't enough glasses. But everyone's too busy running the business to think about customers. Some are big companies. Not big companies selling soap. Big companies that would require you to know awk for them to hire you. What excuse will suffice here I wonder. Beats me. I can't create a web page, let alone a web site. But. Who are making these websites. Why are so many so inadequate.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Refusing to come of age

In the last few months (more than a year actually)I started going to the kinyozi early on Sunday morning. One of the benefits of not having itchy feet on Saturday evening is that I sleep early go for the 730 mass and then have a whole hangi free day to myself. But it is weird that I get a lot less done than when I used to stagger into the house at between 2 and 4 pm. I like going to the Kinyozi before 10am to avoid long queues. I cannot stand the wait especially since they take much longer fixing up a guy now that they decided to also be washing peoples heads after they cut the hair. I also like knowing that I will get the same person to cut my hair. I like the predictability and knowing that later that evening or the next morning I will not be looking at my head and thinking I look weird. Most of all I get the same guy to shave me because I do not have to explain to him how I want my hair cut. How do you go about explaining how long or short you want your hair. Your are left saying stuff like, 'Refu kidogo kushinda yako' which of course they guy does not understand so he first shaves the top of your head and asks, Hivyo? and all you can say is Sawa since the hair is already gone.

There is a guy who usuallys also goes in for his haircut at around the same time as me. I guess he is in his mid to late 40s and usually comes with his 3 or 4 year old kid who I bet begs to come with him but soon gets bored of the waiting and starts in and out of the barber shop making car, train, sounds to my great irritation. This guy does not usually just come for a hair cut, he also gets his hair dyed black. The process of dying the hair is quite interesting first the hair is cut, then the barber wears some gloves and applies dye on what i presume to be the white spots. I always wonder about the gloves. Are they to prevent the barber from getting very black hands or to protect them from the corrosive dye he is applying on somebodys scarf. After the dye is applied the guy has to sit around for another 15 minutes or so waiting for it to dry, set or whatever it is. I thought the guy was weird until this past Sunday when I found two guys sitted at the kinyozi's in a manner to suggest that they had just gotten their hair dyed.

I cannot be too far from getting white hair. I find myself wondering why anyone would want to hide the fact that they have white hair. Is it because Kalonzo does it? I think Koffi Annan looks pretty distinguished with his white hair and goatee. We were grown to believe that respecting our elders is the right thing to do so I would imagine white hair is desirable since it earns you respect. Are guys with white hair discriminated against? Forced into retirement or taken advantage off? I really struggle to understand why anyone would want to pretend to be younger than they are.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


During my one and only trip to coastarica, Kamikaze kept saying, "There! I bet I can get a massage there", or something to that effect.

I'm in a similar state. In need of a massage. Once upon a time I called up one of those numbers listed in the classifieds. You know, the beauty section. I don't know why I did it. Probably boredom. Or something else. But it was a sato afternoon and I figured why not. I think I asked whether they can do the kind of stuff that makes paralysed guys walk again [a yes], where they [she?] were located and how much it would cost a guy. I think they mentioned a location is some exotic residential area and seeing as I didn't own a car, I didn't consider it further. Not to say that if they were located next door the outcome would have been different. Blue pill, red pill, who knows what would have happened.

Now I've had a bad back for the longest time so it's not totally new the situation I'm in now. But I think I'm in serious need of a massage. There was a time one of my workmates had one and apparently it made him all better. Or was that physiotherapy. I've heard a few other working folks having the same done. Perhaps it's just another occupational hazard. Or we aren't getting enough sunshine or something. Now that I wouldn't place myself in the hands of the lovely people in the classifieds [tempting as that may be], and my phonebook has exactly zero chics to whom I can suggest such an exercise, I'm left with the guys in white coats.


I rarely go into town. I do my biweekly Posta run, with the accompanied bill paying and that's just about it. So I end up missing a lot of the goings-on in the city. You're walking across a street and start to think to yourself how wide the pavement has become. Kumbe there's a make-every-street-one-way project going on, that's why. Or you discover that mathrees moved.

So walking about town and seeing the tents, I was a bit confused. This was either a bank, doing what banks do best, or a blood donation drive. But somehow none of these prospects seemed convincing. Until I got closer and was able to see the VCT logos. I'm pretty blind as it is. What was interesting to me wasn't the foray into the CBD of this service. OK. It was interesting, but what was more interesting was the host of people standing outside [presumably] waiting to be tested. I always imagined that this was the kind of thing people do highly anonymously, in a distant neighbourhood, in the dark. I thought there was stigma associated with testing, and that generally one wouldn't want to be recognized while doing it. It seems I was wrong. A pleasant surprise if that is so. I've only ever tested the once. And seeing all those people made me feel like I was on the wrong side. But if everyone is doing it, it can only be a good thing. I wonder who pays all those folks manning the centres though. Doubt it's the GoK.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mbili mbili

I decided some time back that walking around with multiple phones was ridiculous. I just wasn't going to do it. Look at me now. My initial excuse was that the main phone didn't have too much credit, in case I got arrested by city council askaris for breaking some by-law I was unaware existed and needed to tell someone about it. Am I the only one who gets a bought of paranoia about this every time I leave the house.

I can't remember the other trigger, but one day I left the house with two phones in my pocket. And then it happened one other time. And now it doesn't seem so evil anymore. Inexplicable.


I got my first regret email today. Actually the email has a timestamp of yesterday but I could swear it wasn't in my inbox before today. It looks a lot like an auto-generated reply, but any kind of reply is better than none. Far better.

I made my first application in August. And for a week or two after that I would go into the shower with my phone. Or think about it at least. Then I remembered the experience from the last time I was sending CVs around. You're likely to get a call several months down the line when you've completely forgotten about whoever it is that's calling you. If you do get a call.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A new way

Its now 1.52pm and I am sitted at my desk. The question I need you to ask yourself is why is a jamaa not out at lunch? Could it be the rain? Is it because I am on a diet (not a bad idea seem to have put on 1.5Kg in Naijja, do I have so much work that I cannot spare time for lunch?

The answer is that a jamaa found a new way of doing things. I have been having challenges going out for lunch for the last one year.One of the draw backs of working in the same place for the last seven years is that over time most of the people you are used to having lunch with leave and then you find yourself in a situation where at midday you start looking around to find someone you would like to go for lunch with. This is stressful because you either end up getting rejected by that guy or that chick who already has plans or end up going with guys who you really dont want to talk to or listen to. Even when you get company there is also the stress that comes from unpredictability. You get to a restuarant (kiosks in upper hill are few and far between)and either they do not have what you want to eat or they take too long to bring it or what they bring does not meet your expectations of quality or quantity. With this kind of situation I found myself getting very stressed around lunch time.

Just over a month ago, I decided I had had enough and started carrying lunch. I eat more or less the same thing every day.A sandwitch made of a bun from Tuskys, lettuce, cucumber, tomato and a the feeling of the day (cheese, ham, tuna). I also carry youghurt, nuts or salad on alternate days. I have received quite a number of interesting comments about my new way of doing things. Two of my work mates have commended my new galfriend for taking very good care of me, despite my protestations of not having a new galfriend. My desk mate confessed that they thought I would only last a week carrying lunch. My Dad has been sharing stories of how he used to carry lunch when when he started his first job. My Mum has been coming up with all sorts of suggestion about what else I can be carrying, an egg, banana etc