This post would have a better title if only I have been even remotely sober every time I visit this City.It’s not my fault by the way.Contrary to popular belief, I don’t drink much. In fact I am polite,and one you would describe as a social drinker. I know what you are thinking.Stop now. Bell while at home and Tusker mkubwa the other side of the border.
I still remember my first visit to Nairobi a long time ago. Like all first visits you observe a lot.Trying to acclimatize with the new environment.Our hosts met us at a pub(you remember I told you it’s not my fault? Now you believe me?),and I was trying to decide what to order.I decided,what the heck, I will take the first thing I saw as I entered the bar,it must have been Hooters.I mean the bar,not the drink.That problem out of the way,I order for Tusker,unlike here where Tusker means the malt,there ,malt is called malt and Tusker is Tusker…eeish.How easy is that! Any way,I order. Then this waiter chick decides to complicate things ati moto au baridi? I looked at her.Obviously I did not know what she meant,even if I had known I did not know how to answer.So I looked at her, confused.She was not letting. She asked her question again. Now,while in Nairobi the town seems to be on a marathon of sorts,no,not a marathon a dash, I think. Everything from walking to speaking are done at a fast speed,more like to get them out of the way and do other things.Not enough time.Not like home where we speak slowly,walk like we are on holiday,the taxis(matatus) reverse to pick us up.I suspect in the near future they may even help those six -inch -heel- trotting bu-gals cross the road. No hurry in Uganda. Sorry, I got carried away.Eeer we are at Hooters… yes..waitress looking at me wasting her time. So I seek help from my right hand neighbour who happened to be Ugandan too. She had noticed my predicament and she tells me, just say Baridi. I ask her,but what does baridi mean,and she simply insists just say baridi.So I say baridi and the waitress chick goes. I later learn that was my first Swahili lesson and it was to serve me well during the numerous visits to the Nairobi and to the bars too.
Then we go sight seeing. The safari walk,the Sarit centre,mbu to shop,well I managed to buy a book.The museum..yeah I think it was the museum,but the name could be different and then the Panari Sky centre. This is where my second lesson was waiting.Kenyan money. Let me take you back.When my bus arrived at River Road,it was early morning,and they warned me to stay in the bus till day light.Nairobi is not as friendly as Kampala by night.So I waited.But I wanted to buy gum,so I called this hawker around the bus terminal to get me gum. Good thing,he had gum,and I had money.So we exchange. I give him a Ksh 1,000 note. He stares at me. I wait for my change. Back home,chewing gum goes for Ush 200,or Ush 100 then.So just give me back my 900. The guy politely asks me if he can go to the bus office and find change. I say yes. He comes back 10 minutes later and tells me ,we may have to wait till the bus cash office opens before we can get change. I say no problem. Then someone notices our exchange and asks me.
“Do you realize what you are asking the man to do?”
I ask,”What? I am just buying gum”
So he breaks it down for me.Gum is like Ksh 5 and you have just given that guy Ksh1000. Then it sinks in.
Now to my friend who goes ‘shopping’ at Panari centre.She gets into the clothes’ boutique and notices this really nice sweater. She asks the price and they say 7,000. She goes,
“Wow,you guys really are cheap.Pack me two sweaters please”
They start packing. Then it hits her,that the 7000 was Ksh. She gets out her phone,gets the calculator application and she mumbles an apology to the attendant. We head to the bar. You see,if you were from Nairobi and came to Uganda,such a scenario would not arise,because our money is ‘more’ it sounds an alert when you are told the price.Then you compute.On the other hand,if you are handling Kenyan money for the first time,it seems so little,till you realize after conversion.
Anyway,my hosts were so nice they took me to a three course dinner,at that place Chillers.They even asked my friends and I to be a tad formal,and we enjoyed the dinner.So we go upstairs where the bar is.You know how you can be after a hard day’s work or walk when you see your first beer being poured into a glass?It’s very very relaxing,and that first sip! Aaah! You can feel it wash down all the day’s dust down the throat. We were thus occupied when my friend seated right by the counter feels something on his forehead.Something smooth. He looks up to see a stripper right there on the counter looking down on him and her foot on his forehead. I hope now you realize why I chose to just be drinking throughout my trip.
Oh.I had forgotten. There’s is this guy who decides to buy us all beer. We have since become friends…and dude whenever you get to read this,know it’s a warning.I almost turned into an alcoholic since then because of you and your turn to be drinking Nile beer non-stop every time you visit has not even began. That marked my first visit,of course not mentioning F1,F2,is there an F3?
I missed church at my host’s home.Actually walked in as they returned from first mass.Just because some dude decided to run out of cash and go use the ATM at K street. Of course now that he had the money,we had to drink it.