Friday, May 28, 2010


The Travels, Part 1

School was out and the coastline beckoned. Hence Jo, Kimberley and I headed down under, kind of, for a deserved (but doesn’t everyone deserve a holiday? I mean, dude. It’s a holiday. It’s not like there’s a quota.) holiday. A few things you gotta look out for the next time you’re in Mombasa:

1. In the morning, they will tell you the bus will leave at 8 sharp. Your poor deluded soul will therefore struggle from the throes of sleep at 5:45 in the morning. Your bus will mockingly leave at 9:30 a.m.

2. The bus will lie to you again, on the outside. (You will realize that much subterfuge will be involved in this trip.) 4 main ones: They will blatantly advertise Air Conditioning, Toilets in the bus, Entertainment provisions and Light Snacks on Board. This will be manifested in high, inoperable windows, semi-filthy toilets where the bus stops to refuel or whatever (which become fully filthy after dark), a tiny television set that doesn’t work (and mocks you the whole way with its blank screen – much mocking on this trip as well) and the light snacks which you BUY at the aforementioned pit stop.

3. The first sign of coastal surroundings will be – of course - palm trees. Very useful landmarks, those. Especially if you feel like there must be a kidnapping plan underway because you’ve been on the bus for so bloody long.

4. The climate change is the second sign. Woe unto you who carried a bulky sweater, for now you are using it to wipe away the rapidly re-forming layers of sweat.

5. However! The city will immediately draw you in with its charm, starting from the guy in the kiosk who charges your phone for free and welcomes you to Mombasa, to the waiter at New Daba Hotel who is really nice to you, cracking jokes on you and ISN’T hitting on you. A refreshing and welcome change.

6. Although finding your bearings is rather difficult, you will soon discover that Mombasarians (Mombasans? Mombis? Coastal folk?) are incredibly friendly and willing to help. Therefore when you ask for a tuktuk, you feel it is highly improbable that any kind of (Nairobian) extortion could possibly be happening, because dude. It’s Coast.

7. How suitable that number 7 should be one of my favorite things about Mombasa. At Nyali Cinemax, there is this place called Caribou Restaurant. The air-conditioning is blessedly…blessing. Ahem. But THEIR OREO MILKSHAKES ARE WORTHY OF A WHOLE NOTE. Now that you and I both now know of this spectacular flavor explosion, there is no need to write a whole note. Caps are so very useful.

8. Upon arrival at your place of stay, you will realize that you are nowhere near Kansas anymore. In fact, if you are indeed at the Coast, there is at least one bar for each person. (I exaggerate here. And am unapologetic, because the truth is still really very close.) You will be momentarily shocked at how quickly plans are being made for a night out on the town (on a Sunday. You know, the day before Monday. Right before Monday. As in, NOT Friday.).

9. Briefly, here, you will be puzzled at how positively lethargic Mombasa makes you feel. Movement is such effort, and wearing clothing seems a futile and useless endeavor. I mean, why? Why wear really long things, when booty shorts are available? Why sleep with a t-shirt on when skin will do just as well? I’m just saying. Mombasa is SUN, SAND and a PERMANENT BLANKET OF INTENSE AND UNRELENTING HEAT. They forget to advertise that part. And then the fan in your room will MOCK you (remember that?) and not work.

10. In spite of the heat, you will still be at the club every night. They are fortunately not too far from your lodging. You will become regulars at a convenient spot, with a table and everything. If you stayed longer, they’d probably give you a token for Customer Appreciation. Unlike Java. Punks. (Mad love, BUT I WANT A TIRE COVER FOR MY NON-EXISTENT CAR TOO, DAMNIT.)

11. Fear may strike your timid heart upon the realization that all the chicks at the club are not just typical girls. Yes. ALL.

12. But your MOTD will overcome this (Moral Obligation To Dunda).

At some point we were walking back from Club Lambada and there were no lights and no people. Brief digression to explain random Ghost Town-ness.

13. When you are walking about in this ghost town, sometimes, a car will pull up and you’ll hear an amusing combination of hope and vulgarity saying ‘Sasa mrembo…’ You will laugh this off because a,you are in a bunch of people and he can’t make good on the scary promise in his voice and b,really? and c,wow, so this is how my mother told me NOT to dress, and d,the delicious taste of defiance of city laws. I laugh in the face of decency! HA!

14. At the beach, you will find a host of men eager to please….get your number. This is another refreshing change from the good-looking-but-cowardly men of Nairobi.

15. You will love love love Mombasa people. In fact, you will suffer withdrawal symptoms when you return to whatever city you purport to hail from. They are the kindest, friendliest people. Simply put, they go out of their way to make sure everyone around them is comfortable. They willingly offer directions (although half the time you are too busy listening to the music of their voices to listen, and have to ask for repeat performances…encore! Encore! Hehe), sometimes even leaving their workplaces to direct you (Alex). They ask you not to forget your luggage in the matatu (matatu girl). They welcome you to their ocean (beach girl). They let you charge your phones for free in their shops and give you candy after (shop guy). I could go on, but I’m lazy.

16. Good Lord those Oreo milkshakes…


p.s. I DETEST the Ribena bursting berry ad and the DelMonte chosen fruits ads. Chosen? Kwani they’re Jesus? And how the heck is it cool that a fruit is separated from their family and DIES to provide for humanity’s needs? AND IT’S EVEN LESS COOL WHEN THEY SHOW ITS DEMISE. (The berry) Sheesh.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


One of my few, few flaws is my laziness. And therefore the question of whether to call JavaGuy i.e. chase him instead of vice versa wore tiresomely upon every fibre of my lethargic and slightly feminist being. I mean, why didn’t he just come over and get my number? Was he a secret agent who couldn’t get up lest the enemy agent in the far booth noticed his presence?

When can a girl chase? Usually the answers are
a. Never.
b. Refer to the above.
c. What are you, desperate?
d. Stop going into public places. You are scary.

But surely times have changed and these answers are not always necessarily applicable? The hunting ground is now fair game, as far as I’m concerned. Granted, you can’t lay it on too thick. But surely the archaic mannerisms of patriarchal ‘courtship’, so to speak, are just that – archaic?...

But he did pay the bill. I had been out of the dating game so long (usually I skipped the initial steps before that last glorious lap called Gratification), I didn’t know what the rules were anymore. Was I supposed to show appreciation for his chivalry? (Regardless of whether or not we were damsels in distress. Would he require redress? So many questions…) Or contempt that he was presumptuous enough to assume that we would pay him any attention after he took care of our tab? Intrigued by his alpha-male beating-my-chest provider side, or awed at his brute cowardliness for not just coming over?

This called for another Java session with one of the girls who had been away during the previous tête-à-tête, and thus was not a witness to The Incident. I told KK to meet me at our usual. Running late after work and deplorable Nairobi traffic made me show up an hour and half late to an infuriated KK who had just decided to leave. A thousand apologies were profusely showered on the victim of bad urban planning, then finally accepted after the peace offering of drinks on me. ‘Come on,’ I coaxed. ‘It’s not like you have to get home…’

Which is how we ended up at a bar on a Wednesday night, looking like the lesbians everyone assumes two girls out alone in Nairobi are. But that’s another post. After KK’s 3rd Long Island, she was claiming she was the one who was late and in fact, punctuality was unAfrican anyway. ‘I haven’t told you about dude,’ she said, suddenly interrupting her speech about the evils of privatization.

‘Huh?’ I said, thinking I should maybe start buying her water, although her tolerance was usually much better –

‘Random dude. At Java. While you were waiting for me-’ I made a valiant effort to hold in my mirth ‘-some dude paid for my milkshake. That was an awesome milkshake. It had the perfect amount of cream, and chocolate chips…’ But at this point my mirth had degenerated into ashy foreboding (like in the cartoons, where Wile E. Coyote becomes cinders after detonating a bomb on his foot, and is then blown away by wind. Then is good to go in the next scene.) ‘Look. He left his card with the waitress.’ The card looked familiar.

Mostly because I had one just like it.



p.s. Don’t drink and drive. They don’t write it on the crates, but I hear it’s harmful to your health too. Jitolee something something.