Archive for the ‘Nairobi’ Category

‘When you look at me I see what you want, you don’t hide it in sweet nothings. You want to be with me, you want to get to know me. You saw something in me the first time we met and since then you just want to see me.’     

                                                                                                                                               – Awinja

I was too lost in my blissful thoughts to hear the first shot but the second one broke through. I felt something, a pang of pain then something warm trickled down my side. The panic climbed up from my toes yet my eyes remained fixed on the road. ‘What you don’t know won’t kill you right?’ I thought to myself. ‘Well except if it just happens to be a bullet’. I can’t believe I found that funny at the time. He was panicked, covering me from all sides like he had eight arms or something. I didn’t want to tell him what I suspected, I hadn’t even told myself either, I hadn’t looked. There were people running all over the place like headless chicken, I couldn’t hear their screams, but I could see their mouths moving. It was strange; it was all in slow motion.

“Dee!!!” he shouted while shaking me to reality. I heard him, though his face had become blurry.

“Don’t panic,” I told him as I slowly went to touch my side, his eyes followed my hand and it was  the look on his face that made me realize what I already knew; ‘I was in trouble’.

The vendor we had just bought gum from was hiding behind his stand, it was made of mesh. He looked so afraid. There was a woman on the pavement; she was dragging herself forward toward the pillar. She left a lot of blood on her trail. ‘Should I go help her?’ I thought.

A Black Toyota VX with tinted windows was driving on the wrong side of the road, slowing down. There was a man running ahead of it. He was limping; there was blood on his cream khaki pants. He was crying out ‘Don’t kill me! Please! I have a family! I’ll do anything!”

A masked man on the passenger side of the Toyota poked his head out of the window, a big gun followed…

“Dee!!” he shouted again calling my attention from the man on the street and back to him as he pushed me to the ground. Everything was blurry now. “Hold on please, please hold on,” he said over and over. He lay on top of me, his hand firmly pressing down on my side. It hurt worse than anything I have ever felt but it felt like I was feeling someone else’s pain, like I was looking at me from afar yet I felt the same measure of pain. ‘I was dying wasn’t I?’ I hoped I hadn’t said that aloud. I didn’t want to tempt the universe or to add to his panic.

Two other gun shots rang out. (more…)

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In my head from Nairobi to Kisumu.

I took a flight to Kisumu a few days ago. We almost missed our flight actually. We got to the airport at 5pm for a 5pm flight. I know what you must be thinking and you are probably very right. We walk in (stroll in) having already accepted our fate, planes don’t respect traffic jam rules do they? We go up to the counter to ask to change our tickets to the next day hoping the fine won’t be ridiculous. We hand in our e-tickets to the lady at the counter and she just looks up and smiles and not a tired, ‘I’ve been smiling all day and I don’t even like people’ smile. It was a sweet ‘seriously guys?’ smile. I think she saw how embarrassed we were for getting to the airport at the time of departure. She quickly consults a colleague and what do you know, turns out the flight had delayed and we could actually make it if we start sprinting right that second. She quickly prints out our boarding passes; we say a big thank you to the ‘Pride of Africa’ peeps and rush off! As we go through the last check point, we hear our names announced over the P.A; #celebritiesmuch #weoutchea. We get to the boarding station, hand in our tickets, the lady and gent there give us knowing smiles, we return a nervous laugh and onto the tarmac we go. My seat is at the very far back. I make my way down the aisle.

Welcome to 35 minutes in my head, on a plane, from Nairobi to Kisumu. 

Polite disclaimer: Science or any form of logic not allowed (will not make sense) beyond this point…..

‘So many bags in the overhead compartments already, where the heck is mine supposed to fit? Yaay, I found a spot. I got the window seat. Score! I’m seated next to some random dude who insists on chatting me up and he really needs a mint or ten. Just smile and wave Cynthia, just smile and wave. The pilot is welcoming people onto the flight over the P.A. He has a really soothing voice. Do they train for that? Does the trainer have to measure the soothing capacity of each aspiring pilot’s voice? Can one fail the ‘soothing test’ and have to retake the class?

Maybe I should have been a pilot. Ha-ha, who am I kidding, I panic at the thought of riding a bicycle on the main road and I am the only human being I have met who dropped out of driving school. 

They are doing the safety thingy now but I can’t see the attendants (back seat things). Well I guess we are winging it. It’s ok though, I watched the first two episodes of Lost so I can totally handle a plane crash like a pro.

We are moving. Wow, planes are huge! Imagine a traffic (flight) jam on the platform and runway. Planes everywhere bumper to bumper; hooting at each other.  

Some pimped out planes on the sides trying to jump the queue, wings tilted almost touching the ground. Tiny charter planes trying to make their way between the lanes. Helicopters just hop-skipping their way through the runway. Airport traffic police trying to untangle the mess. Pilots screaming at each other through their intercoms.

Pilot 1:“toa hiyo bamba hapo kizee!”(Get that tin out of the way!)

Pilot 2: “Si uruke!”(Jump over then!)

And then Pilot 1 actually does.

The plane is taking off. Suck it gravity! Oops maybe I shouldn’t have said that. What if gravity is in a bad mood and she decides to pull the plane back and smack it on the ground and because I was the idiot who dissed her, the back of the plane where I’m seated gets blown off.

“I’m so sorry your Excellency Madam Gravity”

I start to get that bubbly feeling in my tummy as we ascend to 26,000 feet above sea level. I love the clouds up here, they look so fluffy. We are flying between two layers, the bottom poufy and cotton-candy like and the top streaky. OMG! We are in a flipping cloud sandwich! I wonder if that would catch on if I hash tag it. Maybe. All my 11 followers get ready to tweet this mad hashtag yoh!!! I really can’t speak hip.

The bottom layer looks like flocks upon flocks of sheep sleeping. There’s one that looks like an alien baby though. Uuh! There’s one part up ahead that looks like the clouds are swirling together, like the water did before they ‘released the crakin!’ on the Clash of the Titans movie. That would be fun, no?

I wonder if our pilots are trained for alien invasions. What if a huge alien dragon spider thingy appears like; 

“Run, Kenya Airways, Run (insert evil laugh here)!”

 Would our pilot know what to do or would he just park the plane, get a parachute and with a ‘see ya suckers!’ jump off the plane? 

I wonder what I would do if we have terrorist in the plane. They stand up with machine guns they assembled while on their seats somehow (technology dude) and asked for me specifically.

“Give us Cynthia and we will let everyone else live”

Would I be a hero and give myself up or would I be an absolute woos, tear out the ID page of my passport, chew it up and swallow only to find out they have the passenger manifesto and they could find me anyway. Then I would be the idiot who got shot on a plane with her passport stuffed in her mouth.

Ah, they are serving juice and nuts. I like the tiny tumblers and the tiny packs of nuts. I like cute, tiny things. I recently made a friend buy a bulb just because it was cute and tiny. In my defense, we were on a budget and this little thing was the only energy saving, fluorescent bulb in our price range. Later, we get to her place, she fixes the bulb and the little thing is so dim it barely lights up the top half of the sitting room. It’s like the little bulb that (couldn’t) could. 

I eat one pack of peanuts and decide to re-gift the other one. Maybe I’ll give it to my friend, to make up for the dim light bulb. The pilot is speaking again, something about it being a rough landing. ‘Bumpy ride’ he calls it. I wonder if part of the co-pilot’s job is to look out for cloud bumps. Dude, watch out, big bump coming up ahead he would say. They should really mark these things, the pilot would joke then they’d both laugh out loud. Pilot-humor is weird. 

I wonder if pilots would get first dibs when we invent flying cars, I’ll stick to the ground personally because I think that is you have an accident in the air then you plummet to the ground that would be a double accident, no? There would be a negative % chance of survival. You’ll be turned mush or ash, road-kill (air kill?). I really don’t want to die ugly. I really don’t want my spirit to be looking down at my lifeless body when I die thinking; ‘Ouch, I did not know my limbs could bend that way’ or ‘geez Cynthia, that’s the look you went for?’

We start to descend. The butterflies in my tummy start to wake up. We are flying over Lake Victoria. It’s huge! I wonder how deep it is and whether anyone would survive if we crash landed in it. I really should have paid more attention to the safety routine thingy. Its ok, I’m sure my superhero instincts will kick in if anything happens. We all have them right? It’s like the ‘mummy-switch all women supposedly have. It’s supposed to help you stop thinking( and saying out loud) that some newborn babies look like aliens and why the heck do people insist on posting photos of everything their babies do. ‘aww, baby burped today’, #babythings, #mybabycuterthanyours, #blessed, ‘baby’s first nap’, baby’s first smile (it was really just gas)’, ‘baby’s cute booties’. I mean, I love cute little things as much as the next guy but have you watched Rugrats? ; Those tiny humans be cray cray!

What was I saying? Oh yes, the lake. I think maybe we might survive if the plane doesn’t explode on impact. That would suck. I thought the hyacinth was a lot more than it looks like from up here. Maybe we could hold on to those as we wait for rescue. I’ve watched National Geographic though and there are a number of scary things that live in fresh water lakes. I really don’t want to swim with the fishes.

The plane takes a right, mid-air like it is turning a corner. Air roads are funny. What if a pilot deviates from the flight pattern? Would he be going ‘off-air’? Hahahaha! Get it? #idie . Would he land in a ditch? Climb onto a cloud pavement? NTSA air squad would be on his case eiy. Hahaha! A girl has got jokes.

We land smoothly.

Stink-breath guy seated next to me asks if I know how to get to some hospital in Kisumu. I tell him I don’t know, I don’t live in Kisumu, I’m just visiting. He really isn’t the least bit interesting person to talk to is he?

You should all thank him though because if he weren’t such a dull conversationalist, you wouldn’t have just spent 35 minutes in my head, on a flight from Nairobi to Kisumu. Thank you random guy!

 

I met a guy one night,

I had little cash on me, only enough to help me wait for another guy who ended up standing me up; thanks a lot ‘another guy’.  Anyway, guy number one was a different specimen all together. He came to my table, introduced himself by all three names, stared blankly as I introduced myself as if I was talking about the weather. Right off the bat,he insisted on telling me how he owns land in Mombasa and Nakuru. He made sure I knew how humble he was by constantly reminding me how he struggled in his childhood and how that if it wasn’t for God, he would not have the big luxury car he had parked outside. He encouraged me by saying that one doesn’t have to hustle at all.

“I mean look at me,” he said, “my sister now lives in a house at 200,000kshs per month.”

He did not have the courtesy to buy me a drink to help me swallow the ‘bs’ he kept spewing out but he did repeat all three of his names more than twice just in case I had forgotten. He also made sure his voice was heard by everyone in the club because everyone needed to know how the good lord had blessed him and his family. I definitely needed to know how he was no longer living in his mother’s house but that he was living in his own house (rent unknown) and driving his own big, luxurious car which he bought with his own money. I also needed to know that he had a really nice job.

He must have also seen how curious I was to know how he could spend over 10,000kshs(that’s a lot apparently) on a night out and how he can drink on credit at The Tribe hotel because, well, they all know him there. He must have also heard me enquire why the club 3 floors up treats him like royalty and how if any of the waiters from there were to see him drinking at another pub, they would immediately swoosh him up to the top floor because they couldn’t afford to lose their biggest customer. He must have also noticed how I was dying to know how his father was the wisest man that ever lived and made sure he left his children a truck load of inheritance that included land in several counties.

Of course every sentence was punctuated by ‘I owe all this to God’ because then if I scowled or rolled my eyes I would have been that girl (rude bitch) who doesn’t want to listen to testimonies of the lord’s goodness.  He paused after every few sentences to dance to a song and to think of the next thing he could brag about obviously. The Dj and waitresses, whom I know personally kept looking at me and smiling empathetically. It seemed they too had heard this story a few times. I silently cursed the friend who had stood me up; this was wholly his fault.

I’m sure he thought he was really testifying as he loudly and drunkenly rumbled on about all his riches and glory in the name of God. He finally left my table without so much as a ‘What are you drinking’ and ‘can I get you one’. If only I had carried my savings account (a sock full of one bobs) and left my politeness at home, that man would have been telling a whole different story about the girl at the pub who attacked him with a sock full of coins.

But that night I was just a girl who went to her local pub to have one drink for the road and contemplate why she had so many stories in her head and no money in her pocket.

NB: I was embarrassed to note that the guy hailed from a village just next to mine somewhere in Western so no stereotypes to be qualified here. Turns out, a douchebag is a douchebag and they come in all shapes and sizes. We are one.