Archive

Archive for February, 2012

An exciting tour

February 27, 2012 11 comments

At exactly 1pm on Friday I alighted from a bus in Kisumu city. As soon as I stepped out the sun hit the top of my head so hard I could feel my brain cooking. You can actually feel your brain turning into pasta. I tell you each morning the sun in Kisumu rises with a mission. It’s in that part of the world where the sun realizes its full potential.

I’d never been in Kisumu before. I was in the company of my lady and we were excited. We simply couldn’t wait to get to the shore of Lake Victoria and have some of that famed, lip smacking fish. My friend Linda had praised the fish so much I had put it in my bucket list.

After settling in, we found our way to the shores of the lake. I could swear the women who prepare the fish are gifted with special powers. They have a special ability of sniffing out potential customers. They were all over us even before we alighted from the tuktuk. A woman with a big body won the battle after successfully daunting her competition.

She led us to her shack and directed us to a table that had an assortment of roasted fish that had been grouped according to size. The modus operandi is you select the size that you think will fill your stomach and then you take a sit and wait for it to be fried.

The waiting part is the hardest. It’s a nail-biting situation. My stomach was rumbling and I was salivating so much my tongue was afloat in my mouth. My girl and I were both silent in anticipation. She was aware that I was getting impatient and about to get very fussy, and was smart enough to ease the anxiety with one brilliant line:

“Here is what really gets my goat…”

We laughed heartily at the joke. For a moment there I was distracted. If you didn’t get it, refer to this link. Remember to come back here.

Our little mirth was interrupted by the sight of a woman approaching holding two platters on each hand. My neck stretched to its elastic limit. I had a broad smile on me as she walked towards our table. But the smile soon turned into a sneer when she walked past me and placed both plates before my girl, completely ignoring me. One contained a huge mountain of ugali, and the other was the real deal: It contained a mouth-watering whole fish that had been fried with some greens.

It is wrong to subject your customer to such agonizing torture. I should have asked to see the manager and raised hell. The management needs to hire more attendants so that meals for couples are brought to the table at exactly the same time. That’s all they need to do to be the number one fish spot in Kisumu.

I dug into my food as soon as the plate landed on the table. The ugali was so hot but that did not deter me. My fingers learnt how to tap dance. The fish! The fish was something out of this world. It gets to your mouth and your tongue climaxes. That mean chef from Hell’s Kitchen would be so impressed by the lakeside women’s ability to prepare such scrumptious fish. If ever you need to reward your mouth for whatever reason, take it to Kisumu. It will forever be indebted to you.

Kisumu is such a hassle-free place. I’ve never been to a more relaxed town. Traffic flows freely and streets are not as crowded. You can walk freely without people bumping into your shoulder. The residents are polite and friendly. I need not mention that the fish epitomizes all that is wonderful in Kisumu city. Sighting of a probox is yet to be recorded in this part of the country.

The next destination in our itinerary was Eldoret. On Saturday morning we left Kisumu for Eldoret. My mission was to meet up my special friend Fabian. It had been four years since I’d last seen my first year campus roommate. He was back to Eldoret from his impulsive trip to Malindi, and I was eager to see him.

Fabian came to pick us shortly after we’d settled in. I was pleased to see him. He’s not changed in the least bit. Even his specs look the same. He leads us to the family hotel, Cicada. When we get to the entrance the guards greet him respectfully and then proceed to search him before searching us. I find that very amusing.

The hotel is exquisitely furnished. Everything – from the choice of furniture to the fittings – is of impeccable taste. We walk past the lounge on ground floor and climb up to first floor where there’s a pub. An attendant comes to our table to take our orders. I ask for water. Fabian makes it clear that everything is on the house and my order quickly changes. He even buys us lunch and I’m like, “ooh you didn’t have to.”

We reminisce on the times we’ve shared. We talk about work, ambitions, prosperity, women (this he dominates), and so on. Fabian is the most engaging guy you will ever meet. He talks with such gusto and has a great sense of humor. Four hours fly by unnoticeably. We agree that we would go refresh then meet up later in the evening.

At around 8pm I call him and he tells me he didn’t even make it to his place. As he was going home he met some friends and they went back to the hotel. We agree to meet him at the same place and we set off.

When we get to the hotel, he is in the company of four other revelers: Two ladies and two gentlemen. All of them seem a bit liquored up. We join in the fun. That afternoon I had suggested that Fabian brings with him a female companion in the evening but he’d brushed off the idea saying that ladies no longer tickled his fancy. He implied that he had changed and he no longer bothered chasing after women. His conduct that evening did not corroborate his claims. In summary, that evening, his friend had warmed a bath only for my friend Fabian to bathe in it. Evidently, old habits die hard.

On Sunday morning we traveled back to Nairobi. My tour was awesome. I had a great time. I saw a lot and learnt a lot. I also got to be with a special person. I had created memories.

Advertisements

Saturday morning events

February 20, 2012 11 comments

Saturday morning I’m awoken by the ringing of my phone. I ignore it hoping the caller will realize he/she is calling a wrong number and hang up. But the person is relentless. So I roll over and search for the phone with one eye slightly open. I want to press the hang-up button and go back to sleep. But then I see it’s my sister calling. You can’t hang up on your sister; especially if she’s celebrating her fourth day of motherhood. I figure she’s calling to tell me that her new born baby just high-fived her. But instead she tells me that my folks were robbed at 2am that night.

I sit up. I’m like what? Were they harmed? Where the hell was the guard? I thought we had an alarm system – Did it choke?  Where was the dog? (Ok our dog wouldn’t scare away a cat but at least it barks). Where were the angels?

She tells me my folks were unharmed and goes ahead to narrate the episode, which will be more interesting if I paraphrase and tell in present tense. Apparently my dad hears some commotion from the verandah and does what a man is expected to do: He gets out of bed saying to his wife “don’t worry honey, I got this” and walks to the sitting room. When he gets to the main door, the glass is broken from outside and a voice dares him to go ahead and sound the alarm. My dad realizes the buglers mean business and says there’s no need of bringing the alarm into this, and instead of them breaking through, they just wait he opens the door so they can go ahead and rob him like the nice robbers that they are.

I figure it must have been a very deep, scary voice that came from outside for him to be that compliant. The thug must have sounded like freaking Hulk. You can imagine being challenged by a dude whose voice sounds like Jimmy Gait’s. I would get my belt and flog him so hard he would reform and join a church choir.

The thugs made away with some cash, the dvd player, my mom’s laptop (how could they), phones – including the new one my mom was admiring last Saturday, and – wait for it – CHARGERS! I mean who risks his life to steal phone chargers? Isn’t it unethical for one to degrade his work like that? The devil himself must be very ashamed of them.

It’s a good thing I was not at home that night. The moment I noticed them picking chargers I would have stopped crying and found the courage to say something like, “oh give me a break guys; chargers? Really? What now are you going to take the salt shaker too? Cheapskates..” And they would all turn towards me. I would hide behind my mommy. Then they would all scramble for the salt shaker before disappearing into the darkness. Dumbass small-timers.

Anyway my sister and I agree I would pass by the city center and buy phones for my folks.

“Umm do you think they will refund me?” I ask.

“What!?” She exclaims.

“Just kidding. Ha ha ha!”

Guys, I wasn’t kidding.

I hang up and get back into the covers. I can’t sleep. I realize I would be quite twisted if I fell asleep after such a chilling story (you bet my sister did not tell it like I have). So I get up and I switch on the tv. I scroll through the channels and I see Whitney’s hits showing on Mtv Base. I find myself something to watch. You can always count on Zuku.

I watch Whitney as I prepare to leave. I have to admit I have never really been swept away by Whitney’s singing. She has never moved me in any way. My style is more of Soulja Boy Tell’em. Just kidding, I hate that kid’s guts. My pal Joy has his photo in her wallet. Child abuse.

We get to the number one song of the countdown. It’s the song is ‘I will always love you’. This one gets my full attention. I’m distracted. I drop what I was doing. My eyes and ears are fixed on the tv. Whitney looks extremely beautiful in this video. Her skin is smooth and flawless. She is calm and collected as she sings. Whitney simply looks FRESH.

Her voice! Her voice is rich. She sings the chorus and I’m in awe. At that point, I realize she’s got the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard. It almost sounds too perfect to be real. Her performance is exquisite.  For the first time, I am captivated by Whitney. I am spellbound. The song ends. I start crying. I look for my hanky. I get hysterical. I smell something burning. The iron box! My Sunday best! Shit!

Anyway, the fact is Whitney is legendary. She has left her mark on this world. But over the past week there are some people who’ve managed to get under my skin and crawl beneath it. These are the self-righteous fellows on the social media who’ve been judging and persecuting Whitney because she was a crack-head. These people are acting all sanctimonious you would think they share a room with angel Gabriel. We all have our flaws! No one is perfect. Mr/Miss holiness, why don’t you shift your focus on leaving your mark on this earth. Whitney Houston can boast of 22 AMA awards, six Grammy awards, and an Emmy award among many other accolades!  These people only have certificates and they’re running their mouths.

I’m catching feelings. See you next Monday.

Categories: True_story

HELP

February 13, 2012 17 comments

It’s laid-back Saturday evening and I’m hanging out with my folks. My dad is keen on BBC News while my mom is stretched on the couch admiring her new phone. I have a laptop on my lap and I’m trying to structure the week’s post. I have to get this over and done with tonight since I will be occupied on Sunday. My mom keeps interrupting me to show off some cool computer tricks she’s learnt while I was away. It’s her laptop and I have no choice but to pass it over to her. I watch her attentively and I tell her she’s smart (Penny will see that and think that I was being sarcastic). I’m not. Bill Gates would be so proud if he saw what my mom can do on Windows 7.

Out of the blue she asks me about my girlfriend. Normally I would brush aside the topic. But after the ‘Muffled Killer’ feature that aired on KTN last weekend (the one on gay sex workers and their astoundingly huge clientele), I figure it’s best I put her mind at ease. By the way if you’re a man of a certain age and you’re not showing any prospects of settling down, be sure that for a week now, your mom has not had a good night’s sleep. It gets worse if she’s been complaining of disturbing nightmares. That would mean you are doing badly. It’s high time you stepped up bro.

Daddy and I engage in small talk. We talk about work and life in general. He knows better than to discuss world politics with me. That’s the surest way of sending me to bed. He reserves that for my elder brother. He tells me about the high suicide rates in Russia. Apparently every minute someone attempts suicide in Russia. Staggering fact. “And we think we have problems in Kenya,” he says and chuckles.

He also tells me that a study conducted in Japan revealed that thirty percent of young men there do not want anything to do with women. Women are not in their long-term plans. He says that and waits for me to comment. I’m tempted to tell him that I do not find the Japanese ladies that attractive either. I’m tempted to tell him that if those little dudes came to Nairobi they would understand why God created Eve.

He notices that I’m occupied on the laptop and turns to me and asks what I’m so busy doing. I tell him that I’m working on my typing skills. Pathetic answer but at least it gets him off my back. In case you are wondering why I can’t let him know that I blog, the reasons are explained here. At quarter to eleven, he leads us in prayer and they retire to bed.  I go to the study room to finish up on the post.

So last week on Wednesday I met this acquaintance of mine who has established himself as a broadcaster. He saw me and hollered boisterously as the car he was in drove by. The encounter gave me an idea. You know one of those ideas that hit you and you feel like you’re on the verge of a breakthrough. It occurred to me that I could ask this guy for hook-ups with his pips in print media. So later in the day I send the guy a detailed email. Basically I introduce myself and then I ask him if he knows anyone in print media who might fancy my kind writing.

I went ahead and contacted two more established writers; one is also an acquaintance while the other is just a writer I admire. After sending the emails I sat back feeling all clever. I felt I had done something ingenious. And I spent the rest of the day refreshing my inbox expecting to see that life-changing email any minute.

Well, the only email I received that afternoon was a forward saying that Jesus loves me. The day after did not bring with it any luck either. I stayed positive though. I did not lose hope. Media personalities are very busy people you know. I imagine their inboxes are always full of very important, news-breaking emails. I figured I just need to be patient and anytime between now and my 60th birthday I might just get a reply.

The broadcaster I met is a cool guy. There’s no way he would holler at me so enthusiastically and then go ahead and snub me. I was sure he didn’t just shout my name because he was in the back left of a sleek BMW and I was walking on the pavement being scorched by an unforgiving sun. Or because he wanted me to see the flashy Beats by Dre headphones on his companion’s head. No. The guy is awesome.

On Saturday morning I wake up and I see an email from him! I am so excited and I quickly open it. I immediately notice it’s distinctively short. Seven words and two punctuation marks, to be exact. It reads ‘have you considered entering any writing competitions..’ Such a bright idea! How had I not thought of that? Any writer worth his salt probably started out by winning a writing competition. No? Sure?

On Friday, I coincidentally meet the accomplished writer whom I had emailed. We shake hands and after a bit of chitchat I tell him that I’d sent him an email earlier on in the week. At that moment he places me and admits he was having trouble ascertaining the sender. He says he will get back to me. You can’t help but admire the humility on this guy. I googled him and found him on Wikipedia. He has some prestigious accolades under his belt and you wouldn’t even tell.

I have never met the third writer that I contacted. I don’t even know how he looks like. I just know he has a big nose. I very much admire his writing though. He has such amazing talent and I read his articles with such allegiance. If only I had the same dedication in school. In his articles he projects himself as a courteous and down-to-earth guy. I couldn’t get his email address so I wrote him a message on his facebook fan page. He has not gotten back to me. I assume he has not logged into facebook yet. I’m sure he didn’t just see my message and think ‘pfft yet another groupie who thinks he is the first person to have a dream. Martin Luther King Jr. had one too. Chill out dude!’

I can now relate to my neighbor’s poodle.

My neighbor recently bought this miniature dog. The little doggy is as playful as they come. The only thing it does better is crapping. It takes crapping seriously. Every time it sees a human it gets so excited and it runs towards them and starts nibbling on their shoes and pants (or socks if you’re wearing three-quarter pants).

It used to be fun the first few days. Nowadays I do not have the time to hang around and play. Whenever it sees me and comes running towards me, I look away and pay zero attention to it. You should see the dejected look on its eyes whenever I ignore it. If the little dog came with a translator, he would translate that expression to something like, “Sir, the dog says, and I quote, I hope you die in your sleep you mean b*stard.”

The dog’s happiness is dependent on the mood of the person it comes across.

More often than not, in life we have to rely on other people. No man is an island. No man is a one-stop shop. There are times when we have to swallow our pride and ask for help. Some of the people you will stretch your arm toward will be ready to lend a helping hand, others will give you a cold shoulder. But you will not know unless you try.

I hear boys talking about their side hustles and I get envious. I suck at hustling. But if it came through writing I believe I would enjoy it. I would like to write professionally some day. If you are out there and you need a writing assistant, feel free to drop me an email on the address joeytales@gmail.com. I do not mind starting small. Help out a brother.

Categories: People

All I want is a happy life

February 6, 2012 16 comments

As I write this article, I have just awoken from an afternoon nap and I feel like crap. I am not in the best of moods and I don’t know what my problem is. I have to write something so you will excuse the somberness of this article.

I am thinking about the twists and turns of life. I am thinking about the roller coaster ride this life takes us through. And I find myself wishing life came with a handbook. I wish there were stipulated guidelines that if adhered to, guaranteed success and happiness. No scrape that – there are successful people who lead miserable lives. Heath Ledger took his own life at the height of his career. The movie the Dark Night earned him an Oscar posthumously. Success does not guarantee happiness. Let’s focus solely on happiness.

Religious people will be quick to say that the Holy books (Bible, Quran etc) are the guidelines of life. That does not hold water in this argument. These Books tell us how to live here on earth so as to earn eternal life in heaven. They are about pleasing God. This post is about happiness while on earth. The Bible embraces suffering. It is evident from the Bible that leading a blameless life will not guarantee you happiness. Trials and tribulations are supposed to take us closer to God. Remember Job?

I have never really been able wrap my head around the Biblical story Job. It’s a very disconcerting story. For those who might have missed Sunday school, Job was a devoted man of God. He is arguably the most pious man in the Bible. But it’s this devotion that made him lose everything. He lost his children, wealth and even his health.

Job suffered because God presented him to the devil as a paragon of virtue. What a paradox! I mean if being righteous does not guarantee a happy life, then what does? What does one have to do to be assured of a happy life? You see the most defining thing about this life is its unpredictability. One day you are over the moon, the next day shit happens and that ecstasy is snuffed like a blanket thrown over fire.

I understand that you can never have it all. It’s the curse of humanity. But the fact is, the level of happiness varies from person to person. Some people are happier than others. And when I talk of happy people I am not necessarily referring to those people who always act all happy and rosy. There are people who cover up so much pain behind those facades. I am talking about those people who fall sleep with smiles on their faces. Those that can’t remember the last time they wiped a tear off their cheeks.

What do these people do that the rest don’t?

Being nice is definitely not it. Someone said that expecting life to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting a lion not to pounce on you because you are a vegetarian. It couldn’t have been said any better. Karma only knows payback. She does not give incentives.

Human beings live in vanity. People have this misconceived idea that if they have a lot of money then they will be happy. People are willing to do bizarre things in a bid to enrich themselves. Men have killed their parents so as to inherit wealth. The lengths at which people are willing to go to enrich themselves is nauseating. I do not believe ill-gotten wealth makes anyone any happier.

Money does not guarantee happiness. Not all problems can be traded with money. On the 13th of October commuters in Scotland’s capital city watched in horror as a woman leapt to her death from the prestigious Caledonian Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh. If you click here you will see a list of millionaires whose lives were so unbearable they opted for a shortcut.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to live a full life. If someone teased me with a million dollars I will snatch it and run so fast Usain Bolt would be proud of me. I want to be wealthy. I want to bask on the beaches of the Bahamas. I want to take cruises.  But above all, I want to be happy. I would rather have an average lifestyle with lifelong happiness than a flamboyant one with momentary blissful moments that cover up underlying perpetual stress. Personally, happiness overrides everything else.

We are told not to worry. In fact one of the quotes on my Facebook profile reads “Worry makes one emotional and susceptible to making bad decisions that usually make the situation worse.” But how can you not worry knowing that you are not the sole author of your life? How can you not worry knowing that you’re not in complete control of your life? That there are cosmic forces that may conspire against you?

Contrary to the skepticism elicited in this post, I have never been one to worry too much. I live in the moment and I am a bit of a don’t-care. I am not easily bothered and I rarely panic. Even in the heat of things, I somehow find the courage to believe that things will get better. I remain optimistic that no matter the situation, sooner or later I will be back up on my feet. I’m not sure if this is because I have a strong will, or simply because I’ve never really been tested extensively. While working on this post I had to pause, search for my Bible, wipe off the dust and read the book of Job. The guy went through hell. I wouldn’t want to be tested to such lengths. I just want to live a happy life. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Categories: Reflection