April 26, 2007

Firstly, in Kenya ‘flashing’ has nothing to do with that which exhibitionist sexual perverts do. But it’s not any less obscene. Here, flashing means calling someone on their cellphone just long enough to get a connection. Soon as the call goes through, a flasher will disconnect. The bafoon will do this again and again until you either succumb and call back, or you deliberately switch off your handset.

If you decide to call, more often than not, here’s the likely conversation:

Me: “Hello?”

Bafoon: “W’sup! I just wanted to say hello. By the way how are you doing?”

Me: “I’m fine.”

Bafoon: “You are sooo lost. So when are you buying beer? Yap yap yap yap,”(Lots of bullsh!t)


Bafoon: “Aah, don’t be too quiet bwana! You don’t ever call me. Call, bwana.”

And so on and so forth. With no real message to pass across but to waste my time and money.

What is even more infuriating is that sometimes, the flasherholic will borrow a stranger’s phone whose number you neither know nor have ever seen. This will most often make you think it’s some sort of emergency… until you decide to call!

The habit is so widespread that Safaricom, the leading network operator here decided to introduce five Callback messages reading “Please call me, thank you.” Despite this generous allocation from the operator, flashers still continue to bother me. Currently, I counter them by sending them those free Callback messages (which I would otherwise never use).

Kenya has the most expensive cellular rates in Africa but brethren (& sistren!), please style up! I don’t get special rates either. If I’m not worth your five bob, then I don’t want any dealings with you, bafoon!


Rainy Season

April 19, 2007

The rains are here once again… and I cannot help but remember a certain poem we learnt some two decades ago in primary school. In the poem there’s this mother ‘pressed by a thousand cares’ when suddenly after a long dry period, clouds heavily pregnant with rain, gather out of the blue;

‘Helter-skelter, the mother ran,

“where have you been

you naughty boys”, she shouts.

Aside from her naughty boys, she also has to gather the goats from the field into their shed for shelter, and the grains that were out to dry back in, and from the clothes line she’d to gather her family’s threads…

How do I draw parallels between a village scene and an urban setting you ask? Simple, just observe how Nairobians behave when it rains there are signs of approaching rain! Everyone suddenly wants to go somewhere all at the same time, and in a perfect helter-skelter scenario, if I may add so! Traffic clogs the roads with impatient Matatus jamming even the sidewalk.  Most people’s undertakings prove to be ‘hurry to nowhere’. Any small let-up in car traffic is not helped by the stream of human traffic that floods across – with some – especially the women worrying more about keeping their hair dry and intact than watching out for vehicles!

These are the days I would rather stay late in the office and wait for rain and traffic jam to subside than join everyone else in ‘the race to nowhere’.

Dirty Kings

April 15, 2007

There’s not much a guy can do for fun in Nairobi’s South ‘B’ area on a Sunday afternoon. Okay, that was until last week. Things have changed now since Milan, a buddy of mine, opened this joint he gave an Englishy name ‘Dirty Kings’. It’s arrived with a bang – suddenly, it’s where everyone’s hanging out. Patrons include Redsan, a local ‘celeb’ who’s given it a shot of legitimacy as the place to be.

I have been coming here every evening since it opened and I’d say I’m liking it. I am even getting to know the regulars. There’s a certain fascination that grows in one when you spend time watching and mingling with drunks – when you are on sodas. The sober detachment makes it appear like you’re looking at people in a different ‘matrix’.

After a while, I hope I will be able to tell you why that jamaa they call Mike likes taking his Marycane directly from the bottle despite being issued with a glass like everyone else… And why he insists on taking the corner seat…or how Jackie that girl who’s always drunk even when she’s only drinking Coke, lost her teeth…