Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ripped Jeans and Movies

Image result for ripped jeans for men
Courtesy of Ali express
I recently bought a pair of ripped jeans. This happened when I showed up for a look-see session at my clothes guy. 

First off, all of you guys should know you need to have a clothes guy. A guy to keep you looking like a million dollars even when you can barely afford those Umoja slippers. The guy can also be a lady. A lady like Shiku who has a shop at Ronald Ngala and who I stopped visiting once she started selling those shirts that come in batches of a million and every Nairobian seems to have one. I don't buy such anymore since me and my future girlfriend agreed that the only time I can be in uniform is when in a choir garb singing Kumbaya with my angelic voice. 

Now, I really didn’t go there intentionally (not at Shiku’s, at the other guy’s shop). Rather, I was looking for a banking agent and in the process I thought why not say hi to Mr. Clothes.

“Karibu mzeiya, leo kuna mali kali” – he always says this. “Umepotea sana.”

“Napitia tu leo” - I’m giving a heads-up the only thing I’ll buy there is time (I was mistaken!)

So I scan through. He shows me shirts and we get on the usual ‘I don’t like it’ ride; 

“Zi, hii ni bright sana inakaa madem”.

Another one, “Ona sasa, hii inaweza shona shati zingine mbili bana”. 

Him “Si ulibeba kama hii last time?” - he remembers things I buy awfully well.

Me, “achana na hio, nataka kitu different”.

Another one and another one and another one;

No – “boss hio imejaaa maua maua”, 

Nope – “hii inakaa zile za Kibaki na Uhuru”, 

No – “hio ni ya mababa”.

He’s a patient guy. We go through the entire collection – literally. And onto trousers;

He goes, “Uko na rugged jeans?”

Me, “Apana. Siwezi buy kitu ishararuka”. I mean would you? We both laugh. Then I seriously think. Why don’t you have ripped jeans Wesh? The ka-voice in me that perfectly knows my bank balance but ignores it insists I get one. I take a moment to convince myself about the ‘work hard play hard’ thingie we all use as a free-pass to spend money extravagantly. That ka-thing is even there in French  - my mother tongue, just so you know; 'huthira beca ikumenyere' which loosely translates to 'use money until it gets comfortable with you' or something of that sort. It comes in pretty handy when you've used up all the monthly entertainment budget but you still want to squeeze in some Sunday afternoon guilty-ridden--because-you're-overspending chicken wings. Also when you want to buy ripped jeans on a random day.

I gulp and ask “hizo rugged ni how much?” The price wasn’t that bad for normal dad-like pants but bad for a torn pair of pants. By this time Mr. Clothes had talked me into trying on a pair – grayish. The tilapia-skin kind of grey. They did fit well. And they were pampers-level comfy. I legit felt them cuddle my legs. Two minutes later I’m standing by his mirror with a black and white pair of Airmax sneakers (these should be categorized as high heels for men) and the cuddly grayish rugged jean pants and a slim fit shirt that Mr. Clothes convinced me was by and Italian designer (I just kept telling him it was his ploy to gonga me out of my had earned browns). 

You should’ve seen me! I looked like akina Kendrick Lamar. I could’ve passed for an accomplished platinum name-on-billboard rapper with several awards to his name, a bulldog, a condominium in Abu Dhabi, a mansion in Beverley Hills and a beach house by the Caribbean islands. I looked all uptown and progressive. By the way when I get rich I will start a Mutura joint under my name and mention it in all media interviews I go to because I feel we don’t appreciate Mutura people for all the finger-licking 20-bob pieces we swallow every evening. 

I’ll be like “Yeah, I own a Bentley, 10,689 Acres in Rift Valley na base moja ya Mutura pale Ngara.” 

“Zinakutoa fiti” – Mr. Clothes quipped as he punched figures into his scientific calculator. Yeah, he has a scientific calculator - like he needs to find the Cosine of the prices. Lakini I figured out it might the one he used in high school and brought it in as an asset to the business - declared under fixed assets in his balance sheet. He has this Karatasi brand note book that he meticulously tucks between a pile of branded t-shirts and ladies tops and on which he scribbles things on after every sale and I'd bet there is a balance sheet in there. “How much?” I asked. His next statement had me remove all of those Kendrick Lamar stuff and put on my – what now seemed like Mjengo overalls – clothes. I wanted to leave but my guy (the clothes guy, not what you think – I’m into chics only) insisted I get the jeans and after the “nitakufanyia poa” higi haga (I've always wanted to use this phrase when writing!) I bought them. Oh, I bought the shirt too.

I hope I remember to carry these rugged jeans home when I visit my folks. I know it will be interesting. 

“Hizo jeans zako zilifanya nini kwa magoti?” My mom will ask. 

“Nilinunua hivo”, I’ll say. 

She’ll seem not to believe me and then probably in her mind question my ability to spend money rationally. I’ll sit with her outside the house and as we remove maize from cobs (is there a word for this in English?) convince her why ripped jeans are life for young people and that they are trendy and that they are made like that and they’re all cuddly and comfy. She’ll object and say that she does not see why anyone would buy torn clothes at all . Then we’ll talk about why I stayed so long without visiting.

My father wouldn’t care much. Rather he will but won’t say much. 

“Hii ndio fashion ya watu wa Nairobi?” 

“Eee hizi zimekua fashion tangu kitambo” – I’ll say.

I’m sure he will be proud of me. He will remember the 70’s when he was all young and exuberant rocking an Afro and bell-bottomed pants with those high-heeled shoes they used to wear. He will relate and know I am not lost, that I am just young and finding my way. He’ll be happy because he will have raised a chap that can only be arrested for dressing to kill. We will then talk politics and who will win the 2017 general elections. We will sneer at leaders that loot our country then be proud of our athletes’ performance at Rio. I will remind him that white people have gone crazy over our national anthem and he’ll be exhilarated because he lived through the Maumau era. He will tell me about the struggle for independence as we drink lots of tea and listen to crickets chirping incessantly outside. A couple of storied later midnight will rudely interrupt and he’ll pray for people and things and then we will retire to our beds. Happy over ripped jeans and our athletes.

Now that I’ve talked of upcountry, maybe you should know that for me this is a guilty-free place. All I do there is eat and watch TV series. No curious neighbors wondering whether you brought someone over and left them in the house or prying eyes of the landlord wondering whether you’ve been fired. Oh, and “Niko ocha” is all you need to tell people and they leave you alone. You eat and watch. It makes me feel young again (young means prolly 15 years).

So here’s my advice, buy a pair of ripped jeans and go upcountry. Go be young. Don’t grow up too fast aye.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Archetype of Misfits

When I am not writing, I am reading. I look for personal blogs and take peeks into the souls of the writers. Believe you me (my high school math teacher was addicted to this phrase) words reflect souls. You’ll read about Magunga’s visit to the massage parlour and in the end you’ll be like, “Filthy, filthy man! God help him!” On another occasion, say waiting in the Cooperative Bank queue at TRM which is painfully slow, you’ll read about Biko’s view on the askari at the airport queue calling out numbers;

“Sigisti one, sigisti two, sigisti three…” - a true Kisii.

And you forget about the stalling queue. You find the world to be a humorous place. Each read is like stepping out on a different body. And I can tell you some are dark, some desolate, some plain, some scary but the best are the weird. Why? Because normal is boring.

I also hate writing when I am tired because then I write like Njoki Chege – hardly-a-point-in-sight kinda posts. 

You see how after a few Jameson’s a guy will pee in the fridge and wonder why the toilet has so much light coming from it? Well, that echoes my push-back with penning down thoughts with a shifty mind. And memory. It is hard to settle on a single line of thought. Every thought becomes a blurred story line. Like the blurred line between a fridge and a toilet to a drunk mind. That’s when I’d rather read what akina Luseka are writing about fancy hotels and resorts. 

Perhaps I am in love with reading. I’ve been flirting with her far too long that I forget to write regularly. That’s why my ardent reader Siloma will once-over into this blog and find cobwebs dangling over pieces that were authored months ago. I bet he sneers with disbelief before resorting to come poke me from wherever it is I got take my mucene after reading (Normally at Biko’s blog). Sorry Siloma, I have been such a disappointment. 

But I always write. In my dreams, in class, at work, over those nightly rides from town going home, over coffee dates and pizza dates and pretty much anything else I do. Oh and those lazy morning showers. Shower writing sessions are actually the best, second from pooping sessions of course. Under the steamy water, it’s always calm; just the right amount of calm to get ideas flowing with every string of water bouncing off my head. I get to write stories of life. Of how I want to be about something – like author more ‘bangi sio mboga memes’ and maybe plant a tree somewhere in Nkubu in the spirit of keeping global warming down. I also write about how I am going to make this Kuyu neighbor who plays loud Taarab music disappear. Like they do in the movies.

“Mwambiee, awache kujizuzuaaa….para parara rampa” (You have to play this in your head with a Taarab swing)

I think if I hear this line one more time I’ll pass out. 

If you’re my Kuyu neighbor – the one who pretends to be from sijui Migadini by playing loud Taarab please stop. You suck and I PS I have hears your accent and it definitely whispers I-grew-up-in-Gatundu. Anyone can hear that ka- whisper in between you Swahili weng.

Point is, I write much. Only that those pieces remain tucked away in my head. In there, are great grandfathers of stories, stories that are still children and their grand-kids all crammed into one corner. Let me loop you in on how it goes down.

I’ll wake up at 5 am on Saturday morning. Sleep deficient but too hungry to keep going. I’ll take ten minutes to debate whether fixing breakfast at this time is even humanly possible. Then under the influence of persistent hunger I’ll fix a bachelor’s deluxe morning meal – eggs and tea. It will take around 15 minutes to eat – from my bedroom. Then I’ll try to sleep again but because of the sugar rush I’ll simply be staring into a dark space. Inevitably I will create a story, a kick-ass introduction, a moral somewhere in there and plenty of humor and I will promise myself to write it down on a word document. “Wapi!” It all ends at the bed. The bed of untold stories.

That aside, I want to ask, how are you fitting in the rhymes of life? And I am asking because lately I have been feeling like we are in a big dancefloor with DJ Life bringing the house down and that everyone one else practiced the dance moves but me. Why you ask? Well because all I want is to make ‘bangi sio mboga memes’ when everyone outchea is trying too hard to own a Ferrari and make me own one. Okay, perhaps I could use a Ferrari 458 Italia, 597 horsepower, 4.5L V8 engine with a dual-clutch transmission, 14:1 compression ratio, interiors that have an ego and a Formula 1 inspired suspension system, but I also want to make memes because my happiness comes from weird places. Places like seeing a goat given birth in a farm rather than riding a roller-coaster. 

Not that I hate roller-coasters but the on the happiness list there is memes, then running away from wild animals (I know the thrill), then that ka-feeling I get when using a cotton earbud (when the earbud hits your soul its orgasmic), then there’s food (I’m thinking this should go up the list), then the goat birthing on the rough slopes of Kerio Valley and now maybe roller-coasters. 

Reading Donna Tart’s Goldfinch is more exciting for me than spending a night in crowded places with younglings smoking their lungs out and wiggling their behinds into the darkness of night. That’s too tiring for me. I am also a believer in sobriety because I know only broken people need intoxication to have fun. And these things are the opium of the masses. 

But the good thing is that I am not the only one, there are others. Other who do wacky and wild-like things that make them inimitable and different. There’s the hopeless romantics that still believe in love and the fairy tales starring cupid. I have a friend that thinks love is a myth just because one guy shredded her delicate heart into pieces (poor soul!). But then I know more that find their strength in rhyming heartbeats. Men that listen to rhythms and blues all day and cry (that I’ve exaggerated) when she won’t text back, and women that will go down on their knee if that brings him home. I know such people. A tribe that sees your person first before they get enticed by your dollar.

There’s also the terminally weird fellas that have no pleasure in well-cut suits and polished shoes. Men that spend half their lives in the salon plaiting women’s hair – akina Tony Airo. They know all the shampoos – like by name not the “it was written shampoo on it” vibe that guys use when shopping for hair shampoo. And they can name hairstyles other than the infamous matuta. Men that are different. Then the weird women that wear aprons and climb on poles. Electricity poles. Fixing your lights as you rest your feet on that Italian coffee table that Naomi Mutua, a carpenter and plumber, made. And those in chic concodis in mathrees. A while back I came across one manning those rugged Githurai buses. She had a spooky hairstyle, a fanny pack, a faded Calvin Klein jean trousers and an attitude from here to Meru. When she was hanging off the door – both feet in the air – I could see the disapproving looks from men.  Looks screaming, 

“Wewe. Shindwe. Hio ni kazi ya wanaume!”   "Na sasa akianguka?" One guy quipped.

She stood ahead of the pack – a different one.

The outcast school kids that are constantly reminded they you have to be cool (perhaps buy the led-lit shoes) to be let in on the circle. Who wears those anyway? It’s like being a baby all over again on that you’re a baby that has a beard. Only Octoppizo pulls those off without a fuss. Ok, can we can also include all people who one led-lit shoes in the weird list? I feel they are different. Their happiness sure comes from a weirdly baby-ish place. Then there are also those with manic fixations over little pleasures in life. Like my church gang that find happiness in lollipops and jawbreakers. There’s those IT guys that make awkward conversations because their language is better with computers. And those peeps that believe they are star-crossed because they are jobless and money seems too elusive to them. Holding on to ideas and refusing to give in even as vultures circle around awaiting their last shred of hope to fade. 

These are the misfits. The weird ones. But weird changes things. Those crazy fellas that think they can change the world are the ones that do change the world. So here is to all the round pegs in square holes, the outrageously ambitious and those attracted to broken things. To those who curve their own archetypes. 

These are the true archetypes of misfits.