The Weekend Past

This weekend I did not go home. Now that my parents have gone through Malindi and Naivasha in less than two years, we are back in Nairobi and am expected to make a visit ‘weekendly’. Folks have to make sure there are no new scars on my face. This weekend, my class had planned a visit to a children’s home so I had a legitimate excuse not to go home. It’s not that I mind going home (I love going home, but what is it about independence again?)…it’s just that I don’t want to get so used to it. There might be some weekends when I might be up to some mischief and the last thing I want is evidence of my weekend shenanigans at home.

On Sunday afternoon, after a lazy morning of me catching up with the Simpsons, I wore my green t-shirt, blue jeans and rubber shoes. The rubber shoes are in vogue now. We gathered with the class at ‘the airport’. This is the place where any class going for a trip gathers for take-off. It’s really the place in front of the staff cafeteria, near the graduation square where the camera guys hung out.

While we waited for the late guys to catch up, we took a class photo. I don’t mean a digital one, nothing like an old-fashioned Kodak picture to capture the class spirit. Sometimes I think am friends with everyone in my class.

With plenty of good feeling, we started the walk. Now, j-town is one hot and dusty place. I haven’t walked this far in so long. The walk is along the railway, and there is this bridge that is made using horizontally placed logs. The railway passes over and there is no space to get out of the way if the train comes by. The worst thing about the bridge is the wide gaps between the planks of wood. The gaps are big enough to fall through to the gaping canyon below.

We were hot and dusty and thirsty by the time we reached there, kilometers away. We were expecting small, sad-faced coochy faces wanting the love. At least I was, I confess. This was my first visit to a children’s home. What we faced was confident pre-teens all happy and quite frankly, I was scared of them. We introduced ourselves, trying not to stammer as I uttered one or two words.

After the preliminaries, and we got over our initial nervousness and interacted with the kids. We had to each go out to the field with at least a child and I was standing there wondering who to befriend when this girl Adhiambo came to my rescue.

Adhiambo is an energetic who befriended me and almost broke my back in the process. She pushed me so high in the swings I realized I am now over my childhood days for good. Just when I was catching my breath, she suggested we join the boys for some football in the dust bath that is their football pitch, I was literally covered in dust from head to toe.

It was a worthwhile visit, though it was not I who came up with the idea nor lobbied for the contributions but a dedicated classmate who once wanted to be a priest. I don’t know where he is in his quest, but I’ll be finding out soon.

Watch Out

Marto got swagger. Who can blame him? He’s in campus doing Mechatronics Engineering. For those of you not in the know, it’s the hardest engineering course. Well, I don’t know about rocket science but am sure it’s pretty close. Only the brightest get into the course.

He was walking one day in town, probably listening to music on his phone. He met these two shabbily dressed gentlemen. I don’t know how he agreed to listen to their story. Perhaps because they flashed some green.

They had some cash in American dollars. They said that during the Kikambala Hotel bomb blast (the one targeting Israeli nationals in coast), they had recovered some American dollars. Since he looked smart (I told you he got swagger), he would not look suspicious changing the dollars to Kenyan shillings. He agreed to help them out, with a commission, naturally.

They had about 100 or so dollars in cash. He walked into the bank and came out with about Kshs. 10,000. They gave him his Kshs. 1000. The easiest money ever made.
They were not done with him. They told him they had a stash somewhere, and would he be so kind as to check it out? So they took him their house in some place like Kitengela. He counted the dollars himself. He estimated the value to be close to 150K. with his mathematically unchallenged mind, he quickly calculated his commission. It would be enough to keep him inebriated the entire semester.

They were willing to let him take it, trust him to exchange it and return their fair share to them. But in this world, who can blame them for wanting a little security? How about 10K? Marto is just like any other student in a university in Kenya. Broke. But how could he lose this opportunity?
Marto was lucky. He met Ben, his friend and classmate just from withdrawing his student loan cash. He convinced him that in two hours, he would return his cash plus interest. Never mind Ben was going to do his shopping and cover part of his school fees. He thought about it…could it wait two hours? Plus he would get some more, when has anyone ever had enough money? So he counted clean notes (don’t you just love crispy new notes), ten of them, into Marto’s hand.

He should have guessed it could not be so easy. The guys had changed their minds. They said 10K is a bit too little as security for 150K. Marto started to panic. He even thought about selling his Safaricom shares. He is one of those who is waiting for the price of Safcom shares to hit the roof. He suddenly remembered his state of the art phone. That phone does everything a computer can do. A cool thing about it is, you can open multiple windows on its opera mini, minimize them to do other phonily functions e.t.c. He gave it to them and told them to trust him.

They trusted him alright. But Marto was laughing at them behind their backs. Ha! How dare they trust him…how naïve could they be? He was not planning on giving them a dollar’s worth of the money. He planned to make a getaway with them. Of course he checked the paper bag they gave him, but am sure all he was seeing is green and $$. He had initially counted the money himself. Smiling confidently, he walked out with swagger.

He lined up at the forex bureau. He was feeling good. Looking around, he saw no trace of the shabby guys. He reached the counter and whipped out the cash. He peeled off the rubber band. He took off the top dollar and gasped. His heart almost stopped beating. He took out the next bundle, same story. His hands were cold and shaking. The top, a dollar bill. The bottom, a dollar bill. The middle…green paper. I don’t mean green money, I mean literally, green paper.

Who’s laughing now? 10K borrowed from his friend! His state-of-the-art phone!

He just got into a matatu and went home.

Careful, the conmen could be eyeing you next. Don’t think you are too bright for them. After all, Marto is a mechatronics student.

The Happenings on a Campus Night

I was hanging out with two of my friends.

Rhr was on the bed watching Everybody Hates Chris, Season Four. I was doing some spring cleaning, tidying up bits and pieces, here and there. Rhr is laughing at my Thieri Henry poster, when he was still at Arsenal. It’s not really mine, I found it there and it was falling off until I took to sticking gum at the corners. It works…since now the poster is stuck firmly and every time I go to bed before discarding chewing gum, I reinforce the ‘glue’. Disgusting, I know.

This is not so much about the poster but about the rules in our hostels, and the janitor who does not like me. I have done nothing to antagonize her, in fact, I go out of my way to avoid her altogether.
I was chatting with Purepato as I did my cleaning.

“So these guys come over…”

At this point, Purepato is giving all the right listening noises.

“Then I whispered something in his ear. He smiled, and that was when I noticed his eyes. So I asked him, what color of eyes he had. Then I made him move to the light so I could see his green eyes. Then he told me he could guess the color of my eyes.”

I got a laugh from him. Perhaps he was still listening, and I was ready for the punch line.

“So I asked him what country he is from.”

“He is from which country?”

“He told me to guess. And I said America. He said no, and told me to guess from his accent.”

This is how the conversation went:

Since it was not America, the next place to guess is, say it with me, England.

“England.”

“No.”

I confess, I have no idea how to guess where some accents come from. Since it was not American, and not English, which are distinct accents…and not Italian (I have done my movie watching)

“I’ll give you a clue. It starts with an I.”

“Ireland?”

“No.”

“um….can’t guess. Sure it’s not Ireland?” At this point, my mind took up the picture of the world map from my high school days. Which other countries in Europe begin with I?

“Poland?” At this point Purepato laughed. Even he knows Poland does not begin with an I.

“Of course not, Poland starts with a P.”

“I give up. Just tell me.”

“Iceland.”

Get it, Iceland. How am I supposed to guess Iceland from one’s accent? I have never heard an Icelander talk. I have never even watched Icelanders act in a movie. I did not even know people lived in Iceland, I mean, they are never in the news. Their politics, their disasters… has any of you ever heard of Iceland in the news? Anyway, I got a lesson in Iceland 101 but Purepato was still laughing about the accent guessing part.

It was way past the curfew. Guests are not allowed in past 10 p.m. It was way past 11 but we thought rules would be ignored since it was just the beginning of the semester. Purepato thought he would call it a night, so he told me to go check out the situation. This means I creep downstairs, look around to see if the janitor (who is the rule enforcer) is in the vicinity, then signal him spy-style to walk softly out.

Feeling like Jack Bauer, I stealthily walked down the stairs. I turned the corner and voila! It’s the janitor accompanied by two guys in heavy black coats, complete with huge hats, scarves, torches and masai rungus. The janitor in the sense that she does not do the cleaning, but makes sure rules are followed in the night when the housekeeper is away. The cleaners are called ‘the (wo)men who do the cleaning’.

I quickly ran back upstairs and told Purepato to stay put. I closed the door and we stood listening. We heard their footsteps in the corridor, then we heard them say,

“Hawako. Labda wametoka.” The have probably left.

We wondered who has left. Their heavy footsteps faded away. We relaxed and continued chatting. That’s when the footsteps came back. And the knock on the door. I opened it timidly.

The janitor was livid. I was harbouring visitors past time. She wanted me to write a report there and then. The head security guy (I thought he was the senior one anyway) gave us a short lecture and forgave us. The janitor still wanted me to write a report which would then go into my file and someday soon, I can get kicked out of the halls of residence. Am telling you, she does not like me. Anyway, the head security guy dissuaded her. I could feel her disappointment.

Apparently, they had heard of a group of guys who were refusing to leave the rooms. They had put up some fight and the janitor had gone to get the watchmen as back up. I don’t know where they got this story from, but they came, they searched and they did not find these stubborn guys. Later, they heard laughter from my room and jackpot! Only it was not some stubborn guys but two very genteel guys who humbly apologized and walked out.

There was a crowd of chicks gathered waiting to see who are these tough guys. Purepato and Rhr should have walked taller that night.

Getting to Know Me

Copy all questions, write responses, and tag yourselves, blogger pals.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
– 7: 52 a.m

2. How do you like your steak?
– Rare?

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
– Can someone say they are not theater movie watchers? The last movie I watched on my laptop is the Hangover which reawaked my dreams of visiting Las Vegas and booking into the Grand Hotel.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
– They keep changing. I don’t watch TV so much, but I could say am watching some seasons of Boston Legal, and cartoons like the Simpsons and Family Guy.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
– Hawaii. That’s a totally generic answer. I haven’t encountered a place I want to live in for a long time, I just want to visit all places on earth though. I think it has to be in Kenya, if it is to settle, that is.

6. What did you have for breakfast?
– 4 slices of loaf, an egg and a cup of coffee.

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
– Chapati with some savoury stew.

8. What foods do you dislike?
– I eat anything. How can I dislike food? Oh…just remembered I don’t like avocado much but I still eat it.

9. Favorite Place to Eat?
– Haven’t given it much thought, but as long as the place is comfortable. I like eating in comfort.

10. Favorite dressing?
– Food dressing, or clothes? I’ll answer the clothes one…jeans.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?
– I would like to drive a Jag one day, maybe a BMW but right now I don’t even have a driver’s license.

12. What are your favorite clothes?
– oh, the clothes questions is here. Jeans.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
– Half full.

15. Where would you want to retire?
– Coast. The coast of Kenya. Malindi maybe.

16. Favorite time of day?
– Breakfast time.

17. Where were you born?
– In a hospital in the Rift Valley.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
– Football. For real.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back?
– No one tagged me in the first place, so I don’t think anyone will even tag me back.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?
– Nobody.

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?
– All the readers…none in particular

22. Bird watcher?
– I don’t see how someone can spend hours and hours watching birds fly. It’s what they do. Definitely non-bird watcher.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?
– Night person. I find it very hard to get up in the morning.

24. Do you have any pets?
– No. we had a cat once…

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share?
– My life seems kinda stationary now, but if there is any news, I haven’t heard it yet.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
– Doctor. Pilot. Teacher.

27. What is your best childhood memory?
– There is this uncle of mine who left for India, and the first Christmas he was away he sent these beautiful cards with little Indian kids on the cover. I loved those cards. Christmas was also a memorable time for me as a kid.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
– Um…both. Cats are intelligent and graceful, and dogs are warm and loving. Well, not most dogs.

29. Are you married?
– No. what that does have to do with anything?

30. Always wear your seat belt?
– Almost never.

31. Been in a car accident?
– No.

32. Any pet peeves?
– Mobile phone flashers. So annoying.

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?
– As long as it is not tomatoes.

34. Favorite Flower?
– I know everyone loves red flowers, but I actually love yellow. Yellow tulips.

35. Favorite ice cream?
– Vanilla.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
– Am not into fast food restaurants nowadays. Am joining the health bandwagon.

37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test?
-Am hoping not to fail at all when I finally decide to learn how to drive.

38. From whom did you get your last email?
– Google groups, telling me I have successfully created the compscience2010 group email.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
– A clothes and shoes store, if ever I had a credit card.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
– Friday evening plans are always spontaneous

41. Like your job?
– My job right now is to be a student and I like it as long as it is not exam time.

42. Broccoli?
– It’s equivalent in Kenya would be sukuma wiki or cabbage. Let’s just say am not into vegetables, but again as I said, I steal eat them. For health benefits and all.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
– The beach.

44. Last person(s) you went out to dinner with?
-I can’t remember the last time I was out with anybody.

45. What are you listening to right now?
– Lifehouse: You and me. (Coz it’s you and me, and all other people with nothing to do, nothing to lose…you and me and all other people and I don’t know why, I can’t keep my eyes off of you) Couldn’t resist humming the tune.

46. What is your favorite color?

– Black. Blue too.

47. How many tattoos do you have?
– Planning to get my first one soon.

48. How many are you tagging for this quiz?
– Anyone who reads this

49. What time did you finish this quiz?
– 2.14 p.m.

50. Coffee Drinker?
– Of course. Academic nightcap.

100th Post

I’ve always thought of myself as fairly famous, if not popular or both. Somehow this is all being confirmed, though not as I imagined.

I met him on a Monday. He’s always been a good friend, but not that close. There is always the could have been between us, but I was over it. Anyway, when I met him, after the usual small talk and niceties, he said he wanted to talk to me.

“You can talk to me anytime, what’s up?”

“No, not now…I want to talk when there is time to talk. Somewhere private.”

You can imagine my mind went into overdrive. What could he want to talk to me about? Even if you don’t want to go to the party, it’s still nice to get an invite, know what I mean?

“What do you want to talk about?”

“It can wait..till you have time. I’ll tell you when you are free.”

“This making me wait will make think it’s a big deal, is it?” I persisted.

“No…it’s not a big deal but tell me, when are you free?”

“Call me tomorrow in the evening, I think I will be done with my paper then, I’ll be free…”

I checked my phone every five minutes the following day. I hate being kept waiting. I had dispensed with all I had to do so I can be free, and there was nothing to do but wait for a call that never came. The curiosity was killing me.

Later, I met my friend Cracker. Never mind the name…she told me there was this guy looking for me. Apparently, he appeared to have searched frantically for me, but he had the wrong number…which he sent messages and kept calling but it was off. So she gave him the correct number and could she now know what it was all about?

I told her I’ll find out but I don’t know yet. She started speculating. It probably had something to do with church, since he is a dedicated member. Maybe since my attendance has always been erratic, he would talk some inspiration into me. More likely was the idea of him asking me out. I dismissed it, but then who knows?

The following day, we met and went for a walk in the evening. Small talk again…when will he get to the point? So he finally said…

“Okay…I wanted to ask you, what do you think of me joining JKUSO?”

Whaaat? JKUSO is the student union body. You mean you kept me in suspense all this time, just to ask my opinion on you vying for some political stuff I don’t give a freak about?

“You want to join JKUSO?” I asked idiotically. Of course, that is what he had just said.

“Yes…and I really want your opinion. Do you think I should join?”

“Of course, if you want to, then you should really go ahead and join. I’ll support you.”

I don’t understand this guy. I mean, we are friends but not that close and why should my opinion matter? The truth is, I don’t care if he joins or he doesn’t join, I don’t care who wins a position in JKUSO or who doesn’t.

It did not take long for me to figure him out. Our church does not outright condemn politics, but you are advised (strongly advised) not to join because politics corrupts even the most righteous. Most of his friends are, let’s say, pillars of the church and he figures am the worldly one who seems to know everyone, who shall give him all the support he needs. He even wanted to make me campaign manager. I politely declined. I told him I’d support him with all the enthusiasm I can muster, which is not saying much because as I said, I don’t care about the upcoming JKUSO elections.

There is also this other guy…those whom you just say hi to and nothing much else to talk about. He’s quite good looking. One day we met as I was walking from supper with my friends. Instead of the casual hi, he pulled me aside for some lengthy chat and I was just about to begin wondering if I should be flattered. He asked me what me what my name on facebook is. Should I tell him that I’ve not included my number on my profile? Anyway, I asked him why…

“There is this group I’ve formed. Me for Academic Secretary and I want many people to join. So I’ll send you an invite then you can send to all your friends…..”

That’s it? You want me to help you campaign on facebook? I smiled and spoke all the right encouragements.

And now yesterday, Nikki’s ex-boyfriend offered a lingering hug and a huge smile. Then he told me to spread the word around, he wants to run for some post or other.

Perhaps I should stop being so conceited and realize they are telling everyone in their paths to vote for them and campaign for them, and am not as popular as I think. Right now though, despite my indifference to the elections, am walking with a spring in my step.

Update

Second year results were finally released. I took a look at my transcript and smiled…it wasn’t so bad. Sure, a couple of Bs and maybe some Cs but mostly As. I knew my parents would be pleased and at least may stop looking at my face to see how it’s healing. We will have other things to talk about, like classes and studies and school fees and such other academic stuff. I am a vastly curious person, of course, and I wanted to know what grades other people had. Let’s just say that though I did well, I doubt I will top my class in second year.

In case you are wondering, am now in my third year, this is the last semester. Post-catfight Savvy is now very careful. People do not want to hear the truth, and I should keep my opinions to myself, yes. I remember in high school, I had this friend who used to tell me modesty is a virtue. It was either modesty or honesty. Well, see where that got me.

The semester is still in its early stages and some changes have already taken place. Like we broke up with the ‘Maybe posts’ guy after three weeks of trying it out. Don’t ask. I had decided to change my outlook and am working on that…like dying my hair a crazy color and a radical wardrobe makeover. One thing that doesn’t change though is my dedication to my studies.

Maybe am very patriotic. How else can you explain that since Harambee Stars screwed their chances of going to the Africa Cup of Nations by losing to Mozambique, am still going to watch them getting thrashed in Tunisia next week and later in November, at home with Nigeria? I think the coach should be fired because the two matches in which we have led were not convincingly won.

Enough updates, regular blogging to resume soon.

Just Maybe V

Am trapped.

it’s either I go back to uncertainty, or I commit. Unfortunately, the decision is not mine alone to make.

There is a brick wall right in front of us now. We need commitment to enable us climb over it. It will take patience, which I posses in not-so-abundant quantities. It will need dedication, and the reward we will find on the other side may be life-changing, or turn out to be a disappointment.

There will be challenges faced in getting over the wall, into the uncertain future that is a relationship. It takes courage to do it. There is always the chance of turning back into the safe friendship zone. It’s familiar and there are no expectations.

I think it’s too late now. There is no turning back. It’s either we climb the wall or not. At least for me…there is no stalling here for, who knows how long it could last. It’s an ultimatum I hate to give, the plunge into the relationship or nothing at all.

I know he’s probably scared, so am I. What is it that is really stopping us? I hate psychoanalyzing myself and my motives. So I will probably give it time, see where this is going. Problem is, I probably know where this is going but do not want to admit it. So of course, am just postponing the inevitable.

Which means this relationship update ends here for now.