Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Fighting for my right to be wrong.

I feel as if our relationship has been progressing at an admirable rate... progressing enough for me not to just assume that someone somewhere is reading this, but to hope that this is so.

Today has been a Monday, true to form. Murphy s law through and through. Anything that  could go wrong DID go wrong...but I don't want to bore you with the gory details. I do need to mention, though, that I was diagnosed with alarmingly high levels of typhoid fever. To be frank, I didn't feel THAT ill. I was simply mildly sick with a stomach ache and a head ache but the pharmacist wouldn't give me any meds until he had run some tests.Even after the diagnosis I still felt pretty amazing considering the shocked expression on the lab tech's face as he tries to make me understand how 'grave' my situation was.
Dad wasn't as flippant about it as I was (His own face-to-face encounter with typhoid had confined him to bed for a week and he couldn't believe that my body was more 'bad-ass' than his when it came to illness.) and made me sit in his office while he silently observed me for any signs of oncoming shivers, sudden black-outs and bouts of nausea. There were none. But still he watched. I suppose I should feel grateful for his paternal concern but being stared at disconcerts flipped through the morning paper to keep busy.

There was a moving story about how HIV positive women were forced/coerced into being sterilized simply because someone somewhere decided to play God and decide who deserved to have children and who didn't. I may not be an expert in reproductive health, but I am a firm believer in the principle of subsidiarity: those in positions of authority should recognize that individuals have a right to participate in decisions that directly affect them. Every one deserves to make their own decisions... even the least in society. The most twisted thing about it all is that these doctors took from these women the little dignity, the last bit of self-esteem that they had left. They took that which every woman holds dear: The ability to give life.

What is even sadder is that injustices such as this will continue due to our ignorance and our helplessness. Not unless we seize our lives and not let society dictate how we live. Personally, I will fight for my right to decide how my life will turn out. I will fight for the right to be wrong. True, I may make mistakes here and there: like getting my heart broken, or finding out that being an actuary has its downside... but I will be happy. In my opinion, being wrong beats having life mapped out for me, albeit perfectly.  I may not achieve all that I set out to in the end but I will see to it that every turn that my life makes will reflect my hopes and desires: starting with the desire to go to Belgium for Tomorrowland before 5 years are up. Since that dream isn't realistically achievable right now, for now I will seize the day. So, Carpe Diem ! Or if you speak 'douche-bag', YOLO!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Nairobi 2024

I suppose it’s a bit late for me to give my two-cents worth on the Olympics. So I have chosen to look into the future. Probably due to the ‘A Million Reasons to Believe in Africa’, His eminence the Prime Minister has found one major reason to believe in Kenya…its untapped potential to be the 2024 Olympics host. No matter that we are nowhere near the level of infrastructural development needed to host Olympics now, let alone in 12 years time when much more will be required of us. We could just borrow like the Greeks and plunge ourselves into debt. It would be worth it, that fortnight of fame and wonder.

Let’s not be cynical here. It can be done! In fact, my limited imagination can almost picture it. We would have to hold it in Moi Sports Centre, Kasarani (You didn’t actually believe we would build an Olympic stadium, did you?) That would also give us a chance to show the world that we could also ‘gerrit’, what with Thika Superhighway and all… High ranking officials would be hosted at Safari Park and other hotels in town.

 Our main focus would, of course, be the marathon. Why bother with canoeing and karate facilities? Everyone knows that no one watches that shit anyway. Olympics makes sense IFF there are people running, preferably for long distances and with an adequate supply of Kips on the track. The 42 km stretch would be from Thika to Kasarani. I however doubt that that distance would suffice. So, to take advantage of the opportunity to market unchartered tourist destinations, and because I just spent an hour gushing about Kamulu here, I am convinced that the marathon would start in Kamulu. Being the resourceful Kikuyus my family is, we would spend days to the event (not painting our faces and finding vuvuzelas to cheer the team) making mandazis and hoarding water in the area so that we can sell it to runners and spectators on D-Day at exorbitant prices.

The runners would use the Ruiru by-pass to connect to Thika Road. Needless to say, the roads would be closed off to motorists. However, matatu drivers, being the creative fellows they are, would map out alternative routes to town in a matter of minutes. These routes would at some point bring them right in the midlle of the marathon track and I can imagine a number of speeding, hooting matatus disrupting the whole event and creating pandemonium ‘Kenyan style’. But there’s not much harm in that. After all, we have to give the world something to remember us by... (Seeing as having Makmende skydive with a Kibaki impersonator wouldn’t be original enough).

Kenya would bag all three medals in the marathon and restore the lost glory. Everyone would be happy and we would tell of our fortnight of fame to generations to come…probably as an explanation as to why the country was so heavily in debt. 

Home, sweet home

I had to take 2 mats, cross a river (on foot) and get a mkokoteni ride to get home tonight. Yes, I still live in Nairobi.

That tweet cracked me up, but I couldn’t laugh too hard. When you live where I do, even Rongai jokes lose their ‘oomph’. Let’s just say that if Rongai haters discovered the enchanting haven I call home, they would have a field day. I may not have to take a mkokoteni to get home but I do HAVE to cross a river (it’s seasonal and has been dry for all of the past 4 years but I am allowed to get theatrical here.) And yes, I still live in Nairobi. Politically speaking, I could even claim to be from Embakasi. Geographically, not so much.

If I were to give directions to my place I would use the words to that Sprite ad that goes something like: 'Take a step. Go further. Now go too far' I know two ways to get to my place, Kamulu:
 Weave your way through Muthurwa and board a bus to Tala. The bus will take Mombasa Road, branch into the Ruiru bypass until it gets to Ruai. Then it will take Kangundo and 8 km later you will be at Kamulu...but you won’t have gotten to my place yet. There’re still the rivers that have to be crossed and what-have-you.My directions will probably get yo lost so here's a map. 
Or you could just hitch a ride with my dad. He favours Thika Road as a way of appreciating Kenya’s leap into the future. At Ruiru he takms the bypass to Ruai then Kamulu. He will drop you right at the doorstep. Either way it’s a gruelling one hour long journey.

My house sits in the middle of nowhere. From my window I see tracts and tracts of grass, as far as the eye can see. The wide, wild west...only in my case it’s the East. There’s a school close by, and a few scattered houses...but more or less, we are alone. I am a bit of a loner so this doesn’t bother me much.  What bother me are the heat, and the dust, and the bugs. The bugs here have all sorts of mutations: roaches can fly, mosquitoes are humongous and there are many other creepy crawly things. But they grow on you after a while. I think it has something to do with the fact that they aren’t afraid of humans. Even birds here don’t fly off when you approach them.

However, I love the space and the quiet. The sunrises and sunsets are at their most beautiful here. Even the full moon is bigger and much closer. And on moonless nights, the stars are quite a sight. I love the endless grass too. When I look out of my window, I can pretend that all that lies under the sun, as far as I can see, is mine to conquer.  More importantly, inasmuch as it is home, it doesn’t allow me to just sit in my comfort zone.  The climate is unforgiving but I have learnt that I am not as fragile as I thought. I am not much of a ‘settler’. I don’t get attached to people, let alone places...but this place is growing on me, somewhat.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Of Doing Milk and Staying Young

Boredom inspires/ drives me to do the unthinkable... like texting him to say how I couldn’t stand pretending that I didn’t like him...or drinking a glass of milk. I do not DO milk. And no, I am not lactose intolerant. As Max in ‘2 Broke Girls’ aptly points out, “Poor people don’t just run out to buy anti-biotics. You man up, grow a pair, and stare germs in the face...booyah!” I may not be poor but I am definitely not rich. People in my economic bracket don’t get fancy diseases like eczema. We get rashes, and if you want to get all fancy then you will have to do with ‘allergies’. So, no, I am not lactose intolerant. Where I come from it’s just a plain, simple ‘I don’t drink milk.’ But here I am, with a now half empty glass of milk. (I hope you can detect the pessimism there or else my pun will have gone to waste)

I suppose the ‘Do Milk, Stay Young’campaign hasn’t gone to waste. All that sexual objectification of infants wasn’t in vain. “Sexual objectification?” you ask. Yes, research has shown that a significant number of people, upon hearing the phrase ‘Do Milk’, thought not of milk, that rich, supposedly delicious and life-giving fluid. No, the first thing that came into their mind was bestiality, followed by boobs. Milk was a distant third. I know, even I was shocked to discover that the perverts I knew were actually formidable and surmountable. There are greater forces out there. 

What is my point exactly? Well, my point is, that thanks to savvy, dancing, and milk-drinking babies at a bar; I might just have to rewrite my fate. I always thought I would live to a ripe old age...old enough to die of osteoporosis- a condition where an old woman’s  bones become weak ...fragile...porous. I would get osteoporosis because of my calcium deficiency, because of the fact that I wouldn’t drink milk. It seemed like an okay way to go, respectable even... no major fuss. (And there is nothing weird about thinking of how I would rather die at 19.) I was going to be able to ‘Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth’. Now I suppose I have to rethink my strategy. Osteoporosis will be hard to get when I have been taking a glass of milk every day... because taking that glass makes the sexual objectification of those babies a little less worse. 

Wonders, miracles, unicorns and seahorses

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles
...But of all God’s miracles, large and small,
The most miraculous of all
Is that out of a worthless lump of clay,
God has made man today.

I almost didn’t write this post. Halfway through the Muse just stopped smiling and though I boast that I don’t need that bitch her, when it’s barely 15°C I can use all the inspiration I can get.  But I figured that it would be unfair if this truth went untold... and if I don’t tell it, then who will? Since I am writing this on a very cold Monday night and you will be reading it at an equally cold time, I will try to be as bearable as possible. Life is dull enough as it is.

I witnessed a miracle yesterday morning.  Not a full blown rise-up-and-walk miracle (those I treat just as cautiously as belief in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. One wrong word and you may just have broken a poor child’s heart) but a miracle all the same.

I was on my way to Nyeri and it was really cold. The cold in Nyeri just sought of sucks the life out of you, consumes you and gets into your bones... leaving an empty shell that just wants to curl into a foetal position and sip hot chocolate. No, I am not exaggerating. A power blackout will do the same to you too... and make you suicidal as well. I was curled up and focusing my mind on happy thoughts; thoughts of warm days, sundresses and melting ice cream. So absorbed was I that I almost missed it.

In the distance, at the bottom of a steep slope, past a grove of trees, was a car... a car that had just veered off the road. I could see the skid marks from where I stood, but further down slope there were none. From where I stood it looked as if after a while the car just... just flew. It left no trail in its wake. There was a small wooden house that would have been crushed had the car rolled down the slope but it stood firm as ever. The clothes on the hanging lines were still in place. The car had practically ‘flown’ down a slope and landed right on the front yard! What was even more amazing was the fact that the driver was unhurt. He got out of the car and straightened his pants, easy as Sunday Morning. 

I know how surreal it sounds... but it really happened. And I suppose I needed that, that little miracle to remind me that despite its sham and drudgery and decadence, the world is still a beautiful place. Your small miracle might not be a flying car. It might be that beautiful sunrise (oh, if only I would wake up to one tomorrow), that spectacular full moon, your baby brother’s undying trust in you, a friend dropping in with chicken just when you thought you would starve to death because it was too cold to get out... Whatever your small miracle is, don’t hold back. Bask in its glory and be cheerful. As I said, life is dull enough as it is.