Monday, March 27, 2017

‘Alilo’ Trust.

noun: trust
    firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
    "relations have to be built on trust"

Image result for trust imagesI suck at swimming. It doesn’t bother me much because after all man was not meant to live inside water by any means. The holy book says God created the first man, Adam, and put him in the garden of Eden and not inside some pond behind the garden of Eden. That’s my succour whenever I sulk for not having a day that falls short of ‘fantastic, tremendous, the best, terrific, big league’. You’d think I put in a lot of effort to learn this rather amazing art of swimming having publicly admitted that I suck by alas, I don’t. My efforts only go as far as letting my friends try to hold me afloat like a log and watch me fail for the millionth time. Its normally a short-lived win before I sink. 

“Umecheki hio?”, I’ll ask Goddy, a colleague of mine that has a bias in ‘duff mpararo’. 

“Nini hio?”, 

“Naeza float sasa”. Sassy laugh. 

“Uko na umama sana”, he’ll jibe. He’s a hater.

“But at least nimeimprove”, I’ll say and go sunbathe the win for the entire afternoon.

Actually, when I say I’m going for a swimming session it means more like going for a ten minutes walking in the water, five minutes’ underwater swim and a two-hour juice-feted rest on the pool lounge chairs. 

I once considered hiring an instructor but then what’s ego and what’s too hard for a man to fix by himself? Floating? Tiny issue. Or so I thought. 

Why can’t I float? My umpteenth epiphany on this came at Utalii Hotel. They have a fabulous pool and good chicken wings but the salad needs salvation. And Samawati band plays there, alilo too close to the pool the guitarist can actually trip and end up in the water – akichezea chini ya maji. You see the kind of thing wamunyotas call moment of clarity between bottles of beer? I had that but I don’t think mine qualifies to be called a moment of clarity since there was no beer and no ‘shaking of tombo’. I had it in the pool’s deep end. Sitting on the pool-ladder I dared my butt to do a mini dive into the overly clear water and to let the water do the rest and boy wasn’t that a very stupid idea. Fun but stupid. I did not drown because duh…I can hold my breath for kedo 4 mins and swim like a motorboat in that span of time from here to Timbuktu. But still it was nerve wrecking. A spot between scary and sweet. I made it across to the opposite pool ladder but man, I was exhausted for days. That’s beside the point though because what I’m driving at here is that I lack the slightest bit of trust in water. 

They told me if a hippo could float I surely could float in a bid to build my confidence but then hippos have their thing going which perhaps its ancestral for them whist for me, I don’t ever remember my old man talking about swimming in any of his ‘siku zetu’ tales. Also, this was said, 

“Look Wesh, just pretend you are on your bed and let go, breath slow and be still”. 

Good thinking but dumb to me because, one, my bed is not made of water, and two, it would take a ritual, a meal prepared by that salt bae guy, a good bank balance and mutura motivation for me to let go knowing I’m supposed to lie on water. It’s just impossible. 

Some years ago, in Kisumu, under the scorching sun plaguing the city I exercised the easy way of finding if I could trust big water, which of course would be to lay my very lack of trust aside and give it a go. I was a Dunga beach, a popular place if you know your way around the lakeside. This was one of those random college plots that are drafted over the Saturday morning’s black tea and mandazis. I remember we visited a children’s home, they had one of the best swings I have ever tried. Bless them. Then off to the beach where a boat ride is 70 bob to and from a place I’d call middle of nowhere. 

Now here is the thing, the boat people, akina Otis, won’t take you to the middle of nowhere just to watch you and your college girlfriend’s play with water and not charge you. They charge for the wait and so being the broke college fellas we were, we told them to go back and come back after two hours. That immediately entered the book of dumb things I’ve done over my early life. With no swimming skills and water rising to the chest, we simply waded about like baby ducks in circles for two hours. Two freaking hours! While at it I thought why not try float like a pot. Another dumb thing if you’re counting. I drank enough water to last me a year without thirst even in the sweltering sun. When kina Otis came back for us we were all sulky and tired. They’re actually nice people because they never forgot to come back for us. Imagine the headlines had Otis decided he had made enough for the day and headed to the Dunga bar and lounge to drown away his frustrations? We’d have drowned along with his frustrations.

I know people abhor the idea of trust. I am one of them. Much that they cannot trust their own shadows at times. An African saying goes that ‘trust not a naked man who offers you a shirt’ and in all truth that is logical. 

'Me I say trust'.

With all my science knowledge, not a lot actually but enough, hours of NatGeo water documentaries, hours of YouTube swimming Olympics fails, and heck even live sessions of people swimming I can’t still find a way to believe water can hold me up like my bed does. My little cave of thought is that water is never to be trusted. Ever. A truth I manufactured to keep me safe from the scary alternatives. 

Quite the opposite I have learnt to trust people first, until they give me a reason not to trust them later. 

The whole reason I penned this down is because of everyone in my circle that behaves like everyone else is how I see water; not to be trusted. It makes more sense to not trust because less trust less disappointment. A little princess opened her hurt to a charming prince and he broke her hurt, he trampled on her trust and now all she does is update ‘men are trash’ on twitter and ‘MKZ’ (Mukuru kwa Zuckerberg or Facebook if you like 😊). A senior bachelor bet everything on a lady in red, she stole his heart but then she turned out to be into night running and now he calls all ladies witches. A guy building his fortune met an investment analyst who promised that a shilling today will be a hundred shillings tomorrow if tied to a piece of ‘buroti maguta maguta’ somewhere in Ruiru only to find the land is owned by him and forty other Kenyans. A streak of ills. Dark and gloomy paths of trust.

But wait.

Imagine the possibilities of trusting again. I might dive in the deep end and sink again or end up with a medal on my neck. Intriguing much, yeah?

It can’t be that hard to trust again, can it?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Songa Songa: The Tight Fit

Image result for overloaded kenya matatu
CO/Standard Media
There is a proverb in my mother tongue that says, “giikaro kimwe kiri ndaa” and that loosely translates to, “if you don’t travel you will die of boredom”. 

It doesn’t matter how you travel but I guess you just have to move around. Take a cruise ship and sail to the Bahamas and go bask naked on the pink sandy beaches. Take a flight to India and go see Bombay and come back with pepper for us. Take a Jambo Jet flight and to costo and go swim under the salty sea water and fly back with a shaky Swahili accent. Take a bus to western Kenya and go find out how jehovah Wanyonyi’s lads are doing. Even take a boda boda ride and go around your hood waving at people for no apparent reason. Travel and feed your soul my ‘fren’. We only got so long be around. 

Just maybe don’t do the last one. 

And while at it do it for you. It doesn’t matter if we hate on your selfies and the thousand hashtags you use. After all we could simply be the jealous type repulsing that you are over there having all the fun while the rest of us are trying to beat the scorching sun with watermelon pieces and wearing boxers around the house. (I should actually mention here that there is nothing more liberating about bachelorhood than walking around with only a vest, boxers and happy socks. It is a lifestyle of the gods). But I again, for men, a selfie a month is enough. And no this is not debatable Siloma. (Although photographers like Siloma can be excused because they live and die for the cameras).

So, do I travel as much as I want? Nyet. Why, you ask? I think my bank account has a ka-hole. If it had enough chums in there y’all would probably never see me again. But if it is any consolation I do a lot of planning on travelling. I am in this man group that has grown to be a professional planning committee for road trips that never happen. Just sad you guys (Trump’s voice). We plan things and get excited and say we will go sijui to Naivasha for camping but then we muffle such plans, let the idea dwindle like a bad dream and then plan for something else all over again after some time. 

Terrible travellers I have as friends.

You might be wondering where I travel to now that I am poorer than a millionaire to cruise across the oceans and I can’t get akina Chris to go on local road trips. Well, I go home. Counting trees and, occasionally, taking pictures of Zebras and baboons from Nairobi to Nakuru and back can be surprisingly refreshing. But its torturous too. 

Here’s why.

On Friday morning I garnered all the luck I could get, I had to run errands and still be in town in time just before the upcountry rush hour. People travel a lot Fridays and Sundays between Nairobi and Nakuru and that road becomes jam-packed with traffic, regular traffic, and ambitious Subaru drivers who race with everything and anything that moves on the road. So, to beat time I needed luck.
By 3 pm, I was running to my last stop, Cooperative House. At the front entrance, I met this dark lanky soldier who was deep soldierly with his female counterpart. Of course, oblivious of my hurry.

“Habari mkubwa, fungua bag nione”.

I opened the bag.

“Unaenda kuona nani?”


I don’t think he knew who that was. He was just making sure I wasn’t there to bomb them or anything of the sort. Of course, I would gladly disclose to him if I had such intentions.

“Aiya. Ingia” (I think that’s how he says ‘haya’).

I hurriedly zipped my bag and trotted off.

“Na umetoa chasho sana”, he shouted as I swung the glass door open.

“Kuna jua sana uko nje boss”, I shouted back laying the stale conversation to rest.

By 4 pm I was at the stage. As murphy’s law, would have it, I was late and it got worse. First, my sweet seating spot in a jav is the middle row on either side, just not in the centre seat. I never got that either of the seats. A certain baba had booked one with a newspaper and one had a dysfunctional seat belt. I settled for the seat just behind the driver but near the door because there’s enough leg room, little did I know my seat partners would be the worst human beings. 

I wish they could read this blog because I am about to hate on them big time.

“Unaweza songa songa niweke bag hapa katikati?”.

That was the lady next to me asking for space for her handbag. She wanted a damn seating position for her bag! For me to move for a freaking bag! I almost asked why she couldn’t just pay a seat for herself, her ignorance and her dear bag but instead;

“Hapa haiwezi toshea na hakuna space huku mwisho”.

“Uko sure?”

I slid my sunglasses up.

Apparently, she wanted to get rid of the bag so she could read her newspaper in peace. She actually ended up elbowing both us sideways to get more space to read her paper. 

She finished reading.

She then ate oranges and slept. (By the way she had so many oranges).

Sleeping in a jav is okay but then know your sleeping habits. If you snore, drool, shout, chew on air, have bad dreams, lie on others or fart, it is advisable to stay awake throughout your journey. She snored and lay on others – others being me and the loud caller fellow on her right side. This was the cycle; 

Her sleeping, then snoring, chocking for lack of air, waking up and coughing on our faces, her sleeping again, laying on me, me moving, her realising her mistake, waking up and staying awake just for a minute, her sleeping again and laying on the other dude and on and on. She must be a heavy sleeper than one.

Then she was all about, “funga kioo”, “fungua kioo”, “funga kidogo”, “fungua kabisa”. I felt like her air conditioner.

Then there is the other dude. The loud caller. 

“Eee, enda hapo kwa fundi mwambie nimekutuma akupe cardboard”.

“Ningoje hapo Tuskys tununue vitu. Na usitoke hapo…. niko karibu sana. 15 minutes” 

(Loud laugh). Actually, we were at the Gilgil weighbridge as he made that call.

“Usitume pesa hadi nifike, I give the authority hapo”.

“Apana, my worried is huyo mtu ananichezea” (I know! He actually said ‘my worried’ twice).

He made us slaves to his noise until the driver turned up the radio so he couldn’t make ‘important’ calls anymore. He started killing time displaying his feet for us by placing them conspicuously high and whistling indistinctive songs. A naturally annoying fella.
That was up to Nakuru.

By 8 pm I was on a jav to my village. Those ones are hell. People seat four per row on the lower side (children aren’t people in this case) while the conductor and his, about a million, assistants stand at the door butts sticking out to the wind and heads perched inside the same way ostriches bury theirs in sand. Is that the worst part? No! the worst part is that there is someone alighting after every 100 metres and that person usually is the one on the back seat on the far end right corner so sixty people have to come out to pave way and then crowd back in and repeat at every stage. It takes years to get home in these and when I do, my entire body aches from all the pushing and the “songea huyu kidogo brathe”, and the “nitwendanei hau thutha” and the “kama husongi shuka”. 

They are rude AF.

I got there at 9ish, tired for three people. Slept like a log.

If I narrate the journey back it will take another 1,500 words which could as well be a story for another day. I wouldn’t fail to mention though that I held two stranger’s babies before I got to Nakuru from home. I couldn’t refuse because it was on Sunday and the babies we going to church and weren’t dirty. I think that was enough community service for this year. Oh, and the guy who bought bottled water on the way to Nairobi and you could hear him drink the water from the moon; the violet squishing of the bottle and the smacking of lips. He also lied he was near Naivasha whereas he was barely out of Freearea.

Maybe it’s time I get me a car.