Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Felix Is My New Barber

Barbershop 'Tings'
Whenever I start writing this awesome stuff that I write here I often get this urge to start off with this line. I am Wesh, Peter Wesh – you’d get this if you watched enough James Bond movies. And then go on to say superfluous things about me. Like I can play the guitar over the back of my neck like the late Professor Okumu used to do

Any-who how are you? How’s life over there? Is it raining? Yes? That’s a good thing. And speaking of rain, it really rained heavily this morning. One word - Awesome!!! 

You don’t get to experience the warmth of a comfy bed on a rainy morning very often. And it happened today. A Saturday! Mother Nature had really good timing today. I am saying that because I slept late last night watching the HIMYM comedy series and today I woke up to the sound of Heavy rain. As you can guess and as any hardworking Nairobian that doesn’t get to oversleep as they would wish would do, I savored the moment. I overslept. It was special. They say the best nights are when you don’t have to set an alarm for the next morning. But you know what makes this even better? Not setting an alarm and then it rains in the morning. I believe I offset a lot of my sleep debt which is a good thing since they - I know you're starting to wonder who is they; I also have no idea - say the more sleep deprived you are the more you act funny. The bad funny that is: the kind that embarrasses you. 

Anyway I don’t want to write about rain, I want to introduce you to my new barber. He is called..wait I forgot to ask for his name but he looks like a Felix so let’s call him Felix. 
One more ‘wait’ before I tell you about Felix. I promised a friend that I will comment on their dyed hair. What do you guys think about dyeing hair? Would you dye your hair? What color? I imagine how my conversation with Felix would go if I went over there to dye my hair.

Me: Vipi Boss

Felix: (He has a Kisii-sh accent) Poa. Karibu tena. Tunyoe kawaida?

Me: Zii, leo nataka uniweke dye ya blue! I am sure nitakaa poa na nywele ya blue. I think madame hupenda nywele za blue!

Felix: (Really sure he would laugh an entire hour) Boss kuwa serious bana. Dye ya blue hata hatuna hapa. Unataka nikunyoe aje?

This conversation would go on and eventually I would just have to shave normally. I have nothing against dyeing hair. I think you, my friend, look great with dyed hair. It comes forth as bold to me and bold people are good people. I rest my case there. 

So back to Felix my new barber. Wait – the last one now – so that you understand why Felix is the new barber I need to tell you what happened with my old barber. He was a ka-rough dude with a barbershop just opposite my flat. This ka-dude went to Dubai for a job. You know one of those Saudi jobs that people go for. I used to like him because he was not chatty. Then he was replaced by a tall weird beardless guy. I didn’t like him much. His hands were clumsy mostly. So I moved to this other barbershop over there (pointing with lips the Kenyan way). This new barbershop was okay but their massages were not. They shave you nicely then throw you into the temptation that is engrossed in their massage chair. I hated that place – though I went there kedo 5 times. For the sake of decency I will not divulge the details. So I moved to this very new barber – Felix. 

Felix is very chatty. Five minutes in and I was already exhausted from the 'lengthy' chat. You should know I am not a chatty person, I like to keep stuff to myself and talk when I really have to. Felix did not know this – he just kept going. I wanted to stop him but I couldn’t mainly because he was the one with the shaving machine. He had leverage yo! I guessed if I told him he talks so much – like a girl – he would intentionally screw my cut. And you all know a good cut is important – just like dyeing hair

We, mostly he, talked about many things. Sports – I had to pretend to like his team because, again, he was holding a shaving machine over my head – we talked chics, the hood, politics and business. The business part was particularly interesting. Felix now owns this barbershop after 8 years of being employed in other barbershops. 8 years man! He told me about how he mapped for business and worked his ass off to get where he is. It is interesting that he warms his water – to wash clients’ hair – with a Blueband tin. He dips that heater coil inside the tin and waits patiently at a safe distance. I was baffled at first. Who does this in this century especially with such a nice shop setup? Would it kill one to just buy an electric jug? A damn jug! Anyway after he told me his story I just stopped judging him because I am pretty sure next time I visit that place he will have saved enough for a new electric kettle. I will compliment him for it btw.

I should have started by saying that I like the service there. Its in-explainable how it feels to sit confidently knowing 8 years of experience is working on your hair; so reassuring. I will end this post by saying this. I thought of the case of Felix as I strolled back to my flat and I was immediately thankful for what I have accomplished thus far. Sometimes we focus so much on what lies ahead of us and on those ahead of us that we forget to appreciate our own milestones and think of those that are behind us. 

I admired his courage too. He started off something new in a place where he is a stranger to everybody – I will add this – while some of you won’t get the balls to move out of your parents’ house (But they say ‘Mwanaume ni kukatalia kwa wazazi hadi wazazi wana-move out wanakuachia keja). 

Seriously though Felix gave me a little bit of motivation to pursue what I do best and to have faith in my abilities. Let’s call it a ka-reawakening. Did I say I tipped him?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Life On The Fast Lane

Are you chasing the wind?

Ever thought of going for a hike? Climbing up on hills and hanging your feet off a cliff as you take in the cold breeze and think of your purpose in life for some time? Well I know I have. I often think of going for a road trip all the way to Merueshi – lovely place by the way – where all I care for is the incessant sounds of Maasai cattle. I want this – no, I actually need this – to escape the fast pace of Nairobi - to go away and confirm that I am still on my divine path.  And not Nairobi the city but more like Nairobi the culture. Let me explain to you what Nairobi the culture is – assuming you’re from a village – let’s use Rware as the village where you come from. Ok pause a bit. Rware sounds funny. How do stand before people and say “I am Kinuthia and I come from Rware without a grin?” An you know the fellas will be like Rware Rware? Anyway cheers to everyone from Rware. You guys are great. 

So back to the Nairobi culture, there is this thing with Nairobi that dictates how you live. I will call it culture for lack of an alternate word. It’s more like a code. A very easy way to see it is to look at the people here. Everyone is eager for action. At every corner are chaps who got the ‘hots’ for the game. We throw outrageous parties. We fancy bewildering moments. We are thirsty for things money and wealth. We like to live on the edge. We walk and ran fast – literary. We never seem to slow down for anything. It’s all ringing phones, loud conversations, shouting touts, beating traffic, office deadlines, chasing pay checks, bands playing, DJs making sure we don’t hear any song for more than 30 seconds and the list goes on and on. We are fast – really fast. And that is our culture – very different from the one in Rware.

And speaking of DJs and Photographers, have you noticed how everyone is doing these two nowadays? I am sure the number of Djs and Photographers per square kilometre in Kenya is kedo 250. We need government intervention on those two careers. I have a plan for this but let’s not diverge here. I want to talk about life on the fast lane. See all those things I have said about Nairobi are not bad, they are good. I like some of them. But where is the line? When do we stop chasing so wildly? When do we fall back and experience serene life?  Before I unload my titbits of wisdom let me tell you a story.


Meet Bob – let’s just call him Bob and don’t ask why. He is at the balcony of a noisy club in the CBD. Bob is not happy and he is tired. He’s not drinking but it feels like he is drunk. It’s on a Friday but he’s still got work to do in the office. So a little after 9.00pm Bob signs out on his gang – the office chaps at the bar - and returns to his office. The clock edges midnight and he is more than halfway done with the work. He stands and stretches. He wants to pee so he heads to the washrooms. Standing at the mirror washing hands, Bob looks at his reflection and he hates himself. He does not like what he’s turned into. His sulk red eyes stare back. He even feels ashamed. It wasn’t meant to be this way. His life has not been fulfilling. There are deadline always and that’s fine because he beats them – he’s smart. But something else is bothering him – he’s sick. He wants to tell someone but he can’t. Everyone idolizes him. They’ll see him as weak. Nobody with all the money and power wants to seem weak. It’s been eight month since the treatment started but there is no change. Bob wants just a gleam of hope that he can live. He really wants to live. And this is the problem. He is almost facing the afterlife and he has not lived.

See Bob has money and lots of it at that. Rumour has it that he has flats all over Nairobi. He has a family too. However his family barely sees him. He is always at the office. He works hard, or so he says. He also has a bad habit of drinking through the weekend and showing home on Sunday midnight. Bob’s wife hates him for this. She wants to leave for good. Bob knows this but there’s nothing he can do. It’s been year and they have gotten rich together but it was all about money and wealth. The hustled their ass off but it all seems meaningless now. In the bathroom Bob punches the mirror in anger.  He rushes back to his office and drowns half a whiskey. He’s rattled. These thoughts are killing him. He has everything but nothing at the same time. He’s scared. He hasn’t lived his dream life. It has all been accumulating wealth that he has not enjoyed.  He screams out and runs for the door. He wants to clear his head. He rushes across Moi Avenue and ends up at Tribeka. At 3.00 am he can barely stand. He tries to but a sharp pain shoots across his chest. He falls and fast forwarding the story he ends up on a bed at Coptic hospital, barely breathing. He drank too much and his body couldn’t take it. He has to be admitted for at least 3 weeks, maybe longer. The doctor knows his afterlife is beckoning.


His case made me take a step back to think. What is the essence of life? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? It is sad that we have been cultured to adore and chase materialism. We only remember to live when we are almost dying. Look at it this way. We chase money at the expense of our physical and spiritual well being. We then use the money to recuperate our health. In the process we become engrossed in the fear of the future that we don’t even live the present. And we try to live as if we will never die truly knowing we will. And when we die, we do so having never truly lived. The worst thing is that the definition of success and prosperity in the modern world has been reduced to how expensive we can be, the car we drive, and the level of education, the much we earn, and the cost of our house etc. we have ended up in a cage of materialism and all it can bring along.

But have you ever asked yourself where God is in the middle of all this? Have you realised that unlike in the past the topic of our eternity and our purposes in life has stopped trending. We want to be preached to about prosperity and taking over the world. But what about our supernatural assignments? I know there are those that don’t believe the tiniest bit about God and this is a problem too. We are a society that seems oblivious of realities of life. On the other hand, say you’re saved and they immediately think you’re a boring loser and maybe an idiot. And the bigger problem is that we are saved but money and wealth and every other good thing first. We accumulate Bob style – as if we have all eternity to enjoy what we have.

It’s like we are screaming we know everything and we have everything. And who needs God when they have that? Who needs the old fashioned God of the Old Testament? I mean things are different now aren’t they? Funny enough God comes in only when we are in trouble. We pray hard when that doctor’s report comes along in a way we never expected. We cry to God when our loan has not come through? We observe a convenience relationship with God. I mean we don’t have to keep all the rules but we still want the blessings. We are busy to commit to Him. It is too hard to have a fast-lane lifestyle and still be on God’s side right? We want God to bless us as long as He does not question our lives on the fast-lane. It’s easier to buy a shoe at 15k than give a 3k offering. What for?

But here’s our undoing. Although we are gods we forget that we are here for a time and a reason. We will not last forever, we have expiry dates. Wait until it hits you that you’re not here forever, when you’re on your death bed. Then is the time that we realize that what bothers us now maybe isn’t that good. Maybe it is not worth it. Maybe we are chasing all the wrong things. Maybe our culture is just an evil plan to usher us in to desires that literary kill us before we die. Methinks one does not need to be buried to be dead. It all gets lost at the loss of purpose; at the dismissal of our creator. So how about next time you make sure you go for that hike and hang your feet on the edge of the cliff and think hard about your purpose in life. How about you pause from the race and rethink your direction. And by the way can we go for the road trip to Merueshi? Yes?