Nairobi is a great city and I love living here. This love is something that has grown on me it did not just happen. It’s been a journey in this love affair. I remember the first time I came to Nairobi on my own -without an adult. I was from Meru, I bet I was 16 or so and I had come to visit my cousin. When I left Meru it was raining heavily and it was cold. It’s a five hour journey from Meru to Nairobi and a lot can change, but my teenage mind didn’t factor that in. With the help of dear mother, bless her heart, I dressed for the Meru weather, she even handed me a huge ass umbrella. As I approached Nairobi the weather got warmer and warmer. As it got warmer I peeled off the layers of cloth I had on. When you are from Meru on a cold day you dress like you live in Iceland. When I got into the city I took one look at my umbrella and I immediately knew I wasn’t taking it anywhere. I didn’t want to look like I’m from ushago, being shagzmondoz wasn’t my cup of tea as a teenager.So I placed my umbrella under my seat and alighted as if I had only my back pack and my sweater and jacket – they felt ten pounds heavy. When I went back home I told my mother that I forgot it in the Matatu , little did she know that no umbrella was allowed to cramp my style–if you ever read this mother I will replace your purple umbrella. When my cousin came to pick me she asked me, “Meru hakujanyesha asubuhi?” (Meru didn’t rain in the morning?) Of course I said no little did I know that Nairobi had rained and people walk around with umbrellas in their handbags/cars even in sunny September. City life is interesting.
After high school I moved to Mombasa and lived there for about three years. When I moved to Nairobi I didn’t know anywhere, I was as green as I was as a teenager only this time no one was there to pick me and drop me everywhere. I had to learn the city. The first time I was to meet someone in town we were headed to Westlands. I was coming from Pangani, you could alight a Matatu at Old Nation aka KOJA and pick Matatu’s to Westlands at the same station. Afya center was my compass, after alighting I walked all the way to Afya centre the only green building in CBD. When the person I was meeting called me,”Kendi umefika wapi?” (Where are you?) “Niko hapa Afya centre nakungoja.” (I’m waiting for you at Afya center). I’m pretty sure he nearly slapped me when he came to pick me or is it collect me because I was behaving like a parcel. Don’t look at me strange I didn’t have a smart phone to Google everywhere I went!
Shortly after I got a job on Mombasa road (I hated walking long distances from work,I still do). On this sunny Saturday there were no Matatu’s to town because Gor Mahia had a football game against Tusker FC or some club .I walked from BelleVue to town without using any shortcuts – I didn’t know any- and everyone else was walking anyway. By the time I got to town my legs were numb and I vowed to never repeat that. The following day I took a Matatu to town to place an advert on the Nation Daily. I didn’t know that I should not pick my phone on the ear next to the window and talk as if I own Nairobi. Some thug snatched my phone and run with it still connected. I was left talking to my palm. Things Nairobi has taught me.
Then one day my brother came to Nairobi for a graduation at Technical University of Kenya. Naturally I went to say hi. As we drove around town someone came to his window and tried to sell him a phone for ksh 4,000 that was a deal. It was a Samsung Galaxy something, I don’t remember. He even bargained it down to ksh 2,000 and they tested with his sim card whether it was working. He bought and off we were to lunch. After ordering he decides to use his new gadget. He opened the back to insert his sim and voila, it’s filled up with MUD, rolled and compacted together. I laughed so hard I could not stop crying. My brother was not so amused, he even blamed me for not warning him about Nairobi as if I was any better.
Another day I took an afternoon off work to go to the airport to pick someone, this time I was working in Westlands and I knew my way around town. I was supposed to pick my cab guy in town then we proceed to the airport. Since I was going via town I decided to go pay my bills. I had ksh 20,000 in a khaki envelope and my wallet and my phone. I sat between two smartly dressed cute men .When I alighted I walked straight to the bank, filled a deposit form and queued. After a few minutes, I recover from whatever it is I had snorted and bam! No envelope, no money. I cried myself blue-black and my eyes turned red and puffy. Good thing I wear glasses so my explanation was my eyes are giving me problems lately, I will go get checked. Hence why I only carry ksh 1,000 in cash. The number of people I’ve met in this city that have lost money it’s amazing how we still survive.
Finally I remember while in Mombasa I had a new roommate. She was a freshman so I was courteous enough to offer to show her around. That evening I had a class, so I told her to chill in the room we will go for supper together. When I came back from class she was crying. She narrated to me how she had decided to go buy Biryani take away. On her way back she met two women who told her that they want to pray for her and with her. One woman left her handbag and walked to a distance to be prayed for and came back. Her and her naïve ass left her Biryani her phone and her ksh 30 change and walked to be prayed for. Walking back both women disappeared into thin air, with her food, her phone and ksh 30.Thug life is real people, why would someone steal food? I felt so sorry for her but I couldn’t stop laughing at her. I bought her supper I’m not a bad person but I’m the kind of person who will laugh at you first then help you after I’m done laughing.
Share with me your experiences everywhere, not just Nairobi. I love a good laugh