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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Escape report and Holidays chatter

Today I am in the mood for a little sharing and caring. And since many nice people, you included, have so cordially welcomed me into their lives, some even revealing their deepest, darkest secrets, I think it's time I give back to a community that's already given me so much. So with that said, let’s get started with a short brief on my escape from Nairobi.

As most of you must surely expect, as soon as I landed in Nakuru, I skipped directly to my travelling commandment number 3: “Thou shalt proceed immediately to a quiet part of town, find the bar where you’re most likely to contract nasal rashes, and drink yourself into a stupor”. I sure did, but Jomo Kenyatta’s favourite town disappointed me yet again, this time because it got all rainy and the pub I was in had a leaking roof and the drainage in the area was flooded and I hade to wade to my car as I left, driving off into the dark of the night in soaked shoes. What a sight.

The next day, I learned from my mistakes and checked into to the town a little earlier, grabbing a quick bite of Ethiopian food at some fancy restaurant before moving to a somewhat seedy pub within the town. Taidy’s. It is the kind of pub that hurts your feelings when you see it in the light of day, when you suddenly realize that some of the tiles on the floor are missing. You know some of the people there – most of them would ask you to buy them a drink as soon as look at you, and you are gladly bound to ask them first as soon as they say hi, to just return the favour and keep them at bay. Smoke hangs thick in the air and low to the ground. It gets into everything you own, and stays with you like a hangover. It's was not a classy place. One of my friends always remarks that Nakuru has superb bars, but girls it lacks. Get the picture? It is really not much of a club, but I cared less and I’ve had a good time in worse places anyway.

As the night progressed, being all too familiar with my lack of mental aggregation in a drunk en state I disposed all my valuables in my car since I had once lost my favourite phone in a bar run or a cop (citizens on patrol) night in Nairobi as some would call it . This was several hours before I disposed my Ethiopian meal in the main bar, then subsequently myself in that order. For all my ludicrous efforts, I earned a personal lecture a few days later from one of the managers, explaining how that sort of inebriated behaviour was inappropriate and would not be tolerated. What cheek!

Moving on, it’s that time of the year again. Can't you just smell it in the air? You can't escape it. It's coming extremely soon to a place near you, and nothing we do or say can prevent its thunderous march of consumeristic and pleasurable destruction. Christmas is coming! That time of year when the road accident rate in Kenya goes way over the top, and the money in my wallet and bank account drops to arid levels. This is the time of year that everyone loses their minds. Completely lost in an appalling maze of shoppers and overwhelmed by a barrage of marketing gibberish, one can barely pause and realize that this neither the season nor time to be jolly.

I've always been a big fan of Christmas, despite learning about Santa Claus at the age of sixteen (am from shaggz remember?), way after many Western kids realized he didn't exist at age 8 or so… and I always stare in awe when I see red and green together in harmony either online or on TV. However, with the passage of time, I do not look forward to Christmas as much anymore, and I guess it is because I can get all the little pleasures that used to come with Christmas at will any time of year, or I am just plain old fashioned and grown up now.

But aside from all the nonsense and grief that this time of year brings to our doors and households, the one thing about this Christmas that just may very well be worthwhile is the Kwani Litfest. This according to the official Kwani Litfest blog, is ‘a celebration of the word and the world of literature opens in Nairobi in December.....ends in Lamu with a Sort-of-Half-Moon reading fest on a fire-lit beach’. I personally cannot see a better way to spice up your Christmas activities, other than drinking and ogling at the neighbourhood idlers.

You may also want to take a trip to one of Nairobi’s shopping malls during Christmas and witness the Consumer wastage there. You’ll probably be seeking to replenish your stock of holiday supplies: booze, crisps and popcorn for the couch lovers and other laconic items I am not at will to mention now. I can bet a whole month’s pay that as you walk in to the mall, you’ll be appalled at the sight of urban consumer wastage in progress.

As you drive in your blood pressure will probably rise to frightening echelons as you jostle for a parking space amongst the countless overweight and lightly dressed suburbanite Nairobi women, and overbearing and impatient looking men: driving at a snail's pace because the mall is all they have left in their sad and pathetic lives; all of you vying for that prized shopping mall possession: the closed parking spot nearest to the food court. Finally, after like 20 minutes of driving in circles you get a parking space.

The crowds in the malls are appallingly shameless. Half naked bimbos, both male and female, all line up ‘to have a good time’. Your senses will probably shatter. Everywhere you turn, wave upon wave of shoppers will flood your vision. Nakumatts, Uchumis, and Chandaranas all packed to the brim with hungry shoppers. You will just wish you could get out of that place in a hurry, but the thought of looking for parking elsewhere puts you off. Believe it or not, this is the true meaning of Christmas: Wallowing in an alcohol-fuelled depression, falling asleep on the couch and elbowing through rabid shoppers to get what you want.

Merry Christmas and er... have fun!