31 Mar 2008

Goodbye Great Artist

I don't want to say goodbye anymore.

Not to great personalities that I wish I will meet one day, and suddenly, even though the dream was far-fetched, I realize that it now will never happen! First was the abrupt end of my Knight's Tale then now my new found favourite artist, Tony. Just a few weeks ago, I blogged about him and his work as I was very impressed and wanted to share him as Helena did. I usually don't go through my Spam on my mailbox, but today, just less than an hour ago, something prompted me to it. I was scrolling past the make millions in a day, and get paid to read emails junk when I saw Helena's mail. It was dated 28th March, at 21:31. She was thanking me for blogging about Tony (no problem Helena) and informing me that Tony was very ill. I have to admit that in my traveling and the planning days before that, I had not been active in reading any blog, not even updating my own as regularly as I usually do, and had no idea about Tony's health. I quickly replied, assuring her that Tony would pull through, as I believed it so hard then. I mean, he is an amazing, extraordinary being. I then log onto his blog page. The heading hit me...hard. In memory of Tony it read. As I scrolled down the post, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. And I'm crying for two reasons; That Tony is no more, even though his memory lives on, it's just not the same and I have just written this optimist mail to Helena. I did not live with him , but just thinking of the effect he has on me all the way from across the seas, I could only imagine the impact he had on the people he lived with, and the feeling of loss they must be experiencing.

He was cute
and creatively talented and he will be missed.

PS - I just went back to Tony's blog to pick the image above, and I noticed one thing- Tony passed on on 28th March at 20.15 (UK time), which translates to 22.15 Kenyan time - about an hour after Helena had written to me.

Rest in Peace Tony, enrich Rat Heaven with your incredible art...

Promises Promises..

I'm back to Nairobi, blessed beautifully busy Nairobi. Have no emails to catch up on as i have been online (yeah, so much for my holiday). I made plans and never accomplished any, including that major one of going white water rafting. It rained every frigging day, and by the time I had decided that i will do the bungee jump instead, it was time for me to head back home.

I have now decided that I will do the whitewater rafting within two months from now. I have to set a deadline now for myself as i will never do it if i don't...

22 Mar 2008

The silence

It's not that i haven't had anything to write, I just have not been able to consolidate my thoughts long enough to form a comprehensive paragraph. Spell check was invented for people like us.. otherwise we would be certified illiterates.
So what have i been up to? Spending a weekend of coaching about reality and who i am. Funny that that came about after i had posted a blog on the same. I'm enlightened and is continually creating possibilities...

Then I went to a Huruma Children's Home in Ngong on Good Friday and fell in love with Sam...

Afterwards, my pals (most of them who i had just met) got on a convoy
of about

6 cars .... (count them!)

and headed to Ole Polos for some Nyama Choma.

We ordered a full goat and 2 chickens! Funny, i remember seeing the meat and asking, 'Is that ALL?' I'm the kind that won't let you hear the last of my whinnying when I'm hungry, give me food and I'm full after two bites. Lars and I worked a system to avoid food wastage, especially with those expensive dinners - I have to order something he will like as he has to finish his food, and mine. We have become experts at switching plates, we should write a book on that! Anyway, 10 pieces of nyam chom (as it's fondly known) and I was good to go. I went sight seeing.. and my, the sights!

View of Magadi Road from Ole Polos

Afterwards, we went dancing even though I had not yet packed for my one week in Uganda. I finally went home around 1am and did my packing then. 4 hours later, I was up ready for my taxi and cursing why i chose an early morning flight.

Hours later, I'm here on my hotel balcony, Muyenga Club, typing this. I'm thinking of leaving and exploring the pubs...

11 Mar 2008

Older, not wiser, and the reverse is also true.

Originally posted on my former blog on 19th Sept 2007

So I turned 24 today. well, I feel no different that I did one year ago, except the fact that time like this, one year ago, I was in Mombasa, and my then looser boyf(r)iend had just decided that he did not want to be serious anymore. Anyway, that was birthday present from him. Asshole
Anyway, I was talking about my aging and my mental state. which is not normal, by the way, and never want it to be. Normal is boring, is mundane, is predictable and runs on a set course. I hate that. Do I know more? yes, but growing up is a process, and waking up 24yrs today does not mean that I am wiser, at least not today. It's what I have amassed in the one year it has taken for me to move from one digit to the next. It's what I have picked up on the way here, what I have taken with me, what I have been hurt by and moved on, what has touched me and lost it, what I have now that I did not have then. It's the people I have met, people whose impact in my life has left me feeling in a certain way on another, whether apathetic, energetic, motivated, lethargic, crushed or simply loved.
I have reached a point where I do not want to know more. Not that I feel I know all there is to know. I don't think anyone can truly attain that kind of knowledge. It is because I'm scared. Scared of what the information I have in me so far is affecting me and the decisions that I make in life. Scared that I'm being ruled by what i have put in my mind, that has now moved to my subconscious, and directly or indirectly dictates how I live my life. I want to be in control. I want to make decisions that I deem are fit for me, without basing it on the tried and tested. I want to make mistakes, I want to learn from them. I do not want to be stopped by the activities running through my head, like an alter ego, always contracting me, reminding me of what I heard about something / someone, or why I should not do something because of what will happen or the effects of my actions on me and others. Not that I don't care what happens to others in consequence of my actions, but if we all face the fact, we all look out for our own personal gains, our own survival, our own sustainance. (my thesaurus does not recognize that word.. so I'll assume that it does not exist. It works though..
That being said, I don't want to know more. So I made a conscious choice not to watch any news, local or international. I don't want to know who killed who, I don't want to know who rose to power where, I don't want to know how high the prices of oil has gone in the Middle East. Not that I wont hear these issues from others around me, but it easier to ignore it when it comes up, other than consciously look for the information.
Wish me luck in my ignorance quest.

Booze, Swimming Pool and Music

Originally posted on my former blog on 24th Sept 2007

Sometime two weeks ago, it hit me that I have never celebrated a birthday since I became my own person, my own person meaning since I moved out of home... which is since I was 19 years old. I know that does not seem like a long time ago to most people, but to me, it means a great deal.

So I had a light bulb moment. Pool Party. And this light bulb stayed on for a while until I remembered that I needed a pool to do that, and the filament suddenly blew. Darkness, but the idea still blossomed. So I set out to scout, true Producer style, for a location. We call it Recce. Being the optimist that I am, I even set a date and told all my friends about it. My b/day was on Wed 19th but that's hardly a day for a proper party. This is how a typical or atypical conversation would go like.

Pal: Hey Merc, What u doing for your birthday

Me: Pool Party.

Pal: Nice, where?

Me: On Saturday 22nd, No idea where.

Since I'm known as crazy already, that answer was quite satisfactory for most of them. Lunches are good. Especially those business lunches... When I'm done convincing myself, I'll get to you. I've been trying to get out of a business lunch for the longest time possible, and finally, I contended. The result of the lunch was a pool offer! 4 days to the party, and viola! I love Me(rcy). I had booked the DJ, the two goats for barbeque, alcohol, the works. So now it was to invite, and to confirm stuff. I have never thrown a party before; no one told me that it is stressful. People should be organizing parties for others so that we, the party owners, can enjoy the frigging thing!!

The party was set to start at 5.00pm. I was there at 2 pm to make sure evening worked. I was on phone with the DJ, the Meat guys and the alcohol guys, all at the same time!! Then, as usual, anything, and I mean, anything that could possibly go wrong, started to. There was no grill for the barbeque. I have two rusted grills in the house, which I had mentioned to my pal who was in charge of buying the goats and slaughtering them that I had two grills but had not been used in since Noah left the Ark. He had promised to get others. At 4.30pm, still nothing. So I reminded him about the grills at home. 'Why didn't you say so?' The old cliché about men and listening was once again proved beyond humanoid imagination. So we took off, to my house, which is an hour away. And oh, the alcohol had not been picked, could we pick it on the way to your house. This is when I just stare, because no amount of words would do justice to the emotions inside. And Usually, people just wish I had said something, anything. Oh, by the way, nothing that big or significant, we also had to stop to pick some truck tires (dare you ask), and stop every 15 or so minutes so that they can suck the petrol through some pipe in the engine. no, it was not a prelude to getting drunk, the car would just stop, and that was the remedy. Then the watchmen would not let me out of my flats compound with the grills, because my housemate had not told them that I would be leaving with the grills. But I live here, it is my house! I said calmly. I know that, he said but so-and-so did not tell us you would be leaving with the grills. Why does he need to tell you and this is my house as much as it is his? I asked, now getting a tad angry. But he has not told us. he said. I blew a fuse. You effing open this gate now or you will be sorry. I was shouting, and I did not care. It was 6.30pm, I was not at my party, and already 15 people were there!! And the DJ had just told me that he has not yet picked his equipment! my pal, who was driving, took my phone called my housemate then handed me the phone. All I said was. If you don't tell this asshole to open the gate...then I handed...well, threw the phone at the watchman. 10 seconds later, we were speeding out of the gate. When I get the chance, the watchmen will hear me out. I'm not done, not by a long shot, no SSiiRR!

Short version, I made it to my party, only to find out that there was no power. Good thing, I have patient pals. they were still there, drinking what they had brought. Most of them were too drunk to realize that they were using candles and moonlight, and that there was no music.

At around 9 pm, the lights came back, the DJ arrived and the people were happy. Gordon, the DJ, my fav DJ of all time, one I could have killed just then for being late, played I'll Be, maybe to make me mellow up a bit. It worked, because minutes later, I was in my bikini and diving into the pool.

The next event did not necessarily happen in the order I will tell it. a girl was thrown into the pool. she was very very drunk, and now that I think about it, I don't think she can swim. But she landed next to me, and started flattering around. the guy who had thrown her into the pool was next to her. she was going up and down the water, and that must have been the most bizarre swim style I've ever seen. I say this because some guy had the nerve to say that he thought she was swimming. Suddenly, her arms were around my neck from the back. she was pushing me under, to act as her buoy. I can be underwater for a while, but this was getting dangerous. Especially because her arms around my neck were getting tighter. She was choking me, and I could not hold my breath while being choked. I tried to come up several times but she kept pushing me under, this time, with her legs around my waist. As you can imagine, this was pushing me under completely. Girl is strong. All the stories of people who are very good swimmer drowning while rescuing others were flooding in my head. Vividly. I told myself, do not Panic, Do not panic. Relax. Then I told myself, what the fuck are you talking about, I'm going to drown. Then another thought. I'll drown on my birthday party. Then in a weird twist of thoughts, I thought about Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Do not panic and the towel is the most essential thing to have. I know, I'm weird, especially when it looks like I'll die. My head was suddenly very heavy. My chest hurt really sharp pain in my chest. I must no open my mouth, I thought. And most of all must fight urge to breath. I was blacking out. It was like that feeling I get when am about to fall asleep, the one which am aware of what is around me, but I'm not quite part of it; the one where I feel like I'm being pulled towards a certain cushion of thousands of clouds as soft as balls cotton wool. I had to fight it. So I relaxed, stopped struggling to get up for air. I had tried once to remove her hands from around my neck, but that had meant that I could not use my hands to stay afloat. And with the legs around my waist, using me as a hoist to the surface meant my legs were useless to kick and push me up. Imagine giving a piggyback ride underwater while being choked. Mhh. I dived under, taking both of us deeper in to the pool. I have no idea why I did that, but it worked. She released me, maybe so she could use her arms to flap about. I had this feeling that if I surface; she would go for me again. So I saw underwater. Truth be told, we were not that far from the edge of the pool, but it looked like miles and miles to me. Finally, I touched the wall, and I surfaced! I opened my mouth and I breathed Oh precious air! but my mind was foggy and I could not focus. I was thinking. I almost drowned, she is going to die, it's my birthday party, no one is aware, wait, the guy she was with is swimming away from her, I'm going to black out, or am dying and this is not such a bad death, there is not pain, I want a towel, the DJ is playing 'Why can't I breath' by Liz Phair, weird! (And more weird that I noticed) is Lars going to cry? He loves me; it's not fair so maybe am not dying because I love him (that last part was confusing.) So I fought to concentrate, and I saw that people were aware that she was drowning. No one was making a move to do anything though. It was up to me. Not fucking again, I thought. Then a funny thought occurred. God will really get pissed you are using that kind of language when you should be imploring him to save you. Then I thought, I thought 'pissed' instead of 'angry' so maybe I'm helpless after all. Hooking my fingers into the drainage slates on the edge, and positioning my legs firmly on the wall of the pool, I stretched out and reached to her. I was scared that she would pull me back. it was then, or never. I’m not saying I was prepared to drown, but I knew that if I lost my hold on the edge and lost my footing, and she pulled me, I would not have the strength to fight again.

Somehow, I got hold of her by the arm and pulled her towards me. She was not fighting anymore. I got her to the edge and hoisted her up, to where other people were waiting. How ironic that they were waiting! They pulled her out. I remained in the pool. My arms folded across on edge, my head between then, my feet dangling inside. She was now lying face down, and I thought, she is not supposed to be lying like that. She is supposed to be face up, make sure she is breathing, remove water from her lungs... or whatever, she is out and I want to sleep.

Anyway, that aside, we went back to partying. She went back to drinking. I'd want to know if she remembers the incident. We danced, had meat and more meat, then I had to rush out to but more booze. In the Supermarket, I met these two guys in the booze section. Being the wild one that I am, I asked them if they wanted to come to my party. Sure, one said, where. I gave them directions and thought they were kidding. Five minutes after getting back, they arrived!!! I now had more than 100 people in my party, and the scary thing, I knew more than half of them! I had no idea I knew so many people! (Either I’m that popular or the meat and the booze made me popular that day)

I had the best party ever, and even though it left me virtually and practically broke, it was worth it. We finally left for home at 6.30am and not after the police came to ask us to cut the music and go home. We cut the music and continued swimming. On our way home, we came across this car, packed at a junction with the hazards on. On close inspection, the Driver was asleep, his head resting on the window frame of his door. After a good laugh, I stepped out of our car, walked barefoot to them and woke the driver, who had two other guys in the car with him, all out. When we got home, my housemate fell asleep in the car in the parking lot, as he always does, as my other pals and I went on to get some sleep. We woke up in later in the afternoon, cooked, watched movies, drunk the remaining booze from the party, and the stash that always in the house and played strip poker. For gal who does not drink, I sure do spend a lot of time with booze.

Yeah, I had fun, I said I'll never have another party coz of the stress involved, but I think I'm just kidding. The phone calls I got yesterday proved that I can actually throw an awesome bash!!! It is addictive! And most of all, I really wished the love of my life, my DVP was there. Would have made it perfect, if not a % closer to...

I actually left out the part where some woman wanted to confront me with a 'You want my boyfriend' kinda of thing, which I can’t stand. Needless to say, one of us had to leave, and guess who!

10 Mar 2008

Who I'm I?

By now, I should have answered that question. By the time I turned twenty, got a job and became a mother, I should have had an idea of what I was all about. But no, things are not usually that clear cut, and some of us take ages to discover ourselves. Discover is not the right word to use, it's more of awareness of myself as a human being, as a woman, as a lover. I'm allergic to change, especially because I'm shitless scared of failure. The idea that my life, or the world I have built around me coming down in front of my eyes is greater than my fear of dying and darkness. I get that cold shiver down my spine every time i see dominoes fall, one piece unbalancing the next, all happening so fast... as that is how i look at my life. A game of dominoes that I have to keep a close eye on just in case someone sets in motion the first piece.

One of the worst feelings for me in the world, is the feeling of helplessness. The feeling that I can do nothing about the situation, everything is out of my power and will... not that I have that much power over anything. That is not to say that I do not love challenges. Quite to the contrary. I push myself too hard sometimes, and I set unrealistic goals too. They are usually unrealistic at the time of setting them, but by and by, I do realize them. A while back, I lost my handbag in a pub. We were 4 of us on the tale, and somehow, someone walked away with my handbag, which at that time, contained my two phones, my wallet which houses all my banks cards, My ID card, GPRS modem and KES 20,000. ($310). This could have happened at a worst moment that that! Lars and I were running out of money - strike that - were out of money. Despite being broke, we were planning for a holiday at Lake Elementaita Lodge for the weekend, just before he left. Now with the money gone, along with the fact that I had to replace most of the items that were in that handbag urgently, the getaway was off. We spent a while looking for the bag, and thirty minutes later, we gave up. We left the pub for another one and went on to party the whole night. One of my friends who was with us, Ann, later told me that she was still awestruck at how I handled the whole incident. It amazed her, that even after loosing all that, I took it in stride, went out and had absolute fun. What's my secret, she wanted to know. I told her about my mantra. Years back , I came across this:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time..

Those must be the most intelligent words that have ever been spoken. And I explained to Ann, using examples of situations she had gone through.... it made sense to her. I could see her getting enrolled.. and it was satisfying to know that i had saved my friend years of worry about things she cannot change. I give advice, my friends are always asking me what to do... and it always sounds so mature and nice when I tell them. Truth is, I rarely listen to myself. I worry about things I have no business worrying about, and I still try to lock the barn door long after the horse has bolted.

I have been thinking about what I want to do five years from now, and the sad fact is, I have not decided yet. I have never had the thought that I'm young hence loads of years ahead for me to think about my life. A while back, I explained what happens when you get too busy making a living. The last thing I want is to wake up one day when I'm 40 and wish I had lived my life more, I had enjoyed my youth more, I had.. I had.. I had.. and so fr, I've had none of that. Most of the decisions I made did not augur well with the people in my life and I learnt early that the only happiness that matters in this world is mine. I know that is a very selfish thing to say, but an unhappy person cannot bring happiness to any another. If anything, he / she brings that deathly sense of gloom and foreboding. Same applies to love. Love your self first, and only then can you obtain the capacity to love others.

I have said enough.

7 Mar 2008

Kenyan Bus Driver - A story of courage and heroism

On the 27th of December 2007, Kenyans went to the polls. The results were hotly contested and, for over a month, Kenya was the world's focus as law and order appeared to break down. On the 5th of January 2008, 9 days after the general election, Paul Karuri, a bus driver working for the Starliner Bus Company, left the Western Kenyan city of Kisumu with 47 passengers aboard for the coastal city of Mombasa.

This is his account of what happened that day, as told to me and my boss, Guy Wilson.

6 Mar 2008

Paradoxes frozen in time

Any other day, I would have said that this is not normally the kind of things I post. Maybe I was not realistic enough, but after what happened in Kenya months ago, I have come to realize that I'm not exempt from war and other calamities, and it could easily happen to me. So, here is a collection of deeply moving pictures that might have escaped our minds (or will) yet they remain frozen in the moment eternally.

Malcolm W. Browne, USA

1963. Thich Quang Duc, the Buddhist priest in Southern Vietnam, burns himself to death protesting the government's torture policy against priests. Thich Quang Dug never made a sound or moved while he was burning.

Hictor Rondsn Lovera, Venezuela

1962. A soldier shot by a sniper hangs onto a priest in his last moments.

Kyoichi Sawada, Japan

1966. U.S. troops in South Vietnam are dragging a dead Vietkong soldier.

Ut Cong Huynh, Vietnam

1972. After South Vietnam planes accidentally drop a bomb on a town.

Stanley Forman, USA

1975. A woman and a girl falling down after the fire escape collapses.

Kevin Carter, South Africa

1994. Hunger stricken child crawling towards an United Nations food camp, located a kilometer away during the 1994 Sudan Famine.

Jean-Marc Bouju, France

2003. An Iraqi prisoner of war tries to calm down his child

In the same world, we have beauty profound. Immensely intoxicating with exquisite wonders. I always wonder if the people responsible for the above atrocities have eve had an encounter with scenes like these;

All Works of Andy Goldsworthy

So you wanted to know a thing or two about me?

My first reaction to obstacles in my life is never to run. And I think this is so deep rooted that even on the face of danger, I tend to freeze on the spot, rather than run for my life. I'm Nyctophobic and has been since I was a kid. I used to sleep with my lights on and still do sometimes. My solution has been to switch off the lights, leave the TV on, then (maybe) set the off timer, in which case, by the time the TV went off, I'd be dead asleep. Most of the time, I have to admit, I sleep with my TV on. Bad habit, I know, and I'm not interested in breaking it. One incident comes to mind. I was 9 years old. My mom's sister had come to visit us with her 5 month old (or so) baby. We were all sitting in the kitchen, my aunt holding my 5 month old cousin Tony, and I sitting on my mothers lap. We had a had a power blackout for over two hours and I was dying to go wee-wee. I had been holding it in for so long, to an extent that if I breathed out, I would pee on myself! My mother was accustomed to me and knew that I would hold off going to the loo for hours, only to start shuffling on my feet and performing non-rhythmic dances. These dances included my hands tightly pressed between my legs, my teeth clenched menacingly. No I did not look as cute as Mizpee here. She'd pee on herself and everyone would wow at her incredible she looks while peeing or some other sycophantic actions / words that people do / say when beautiful people do otherwise absurd things. I looked more like one of my old time favourite cartoon character from Down Under. My mother would catch me doing my wee dance in front of the TV and had to practically take to the loo at times. I always viewed going to the bathroom as a waste of my time. I can't remember the argument I had with myself to justify that theory, but knowing myself, I'm sure it was very logical (for a 9 year old, at least). This night however, it was not about time management. It was about fear. Everything was so dark and scary looking. Then, (in the dark) everything became alive. Suddenly the chair would have eyes, and I could swear I could feel it looking at me. I could almost tell you what the chair was thinking, and most of the time, they were not good thoughts... always directed towards me. No, I was not mad, though I will cover that topic later. To the contrary. I had a very active imagination (I still do) and I could make anything come to life in my head. The chair with eyes would conspire with the table and the whole room would join in. And in my head, I played out the scenes so well they became almost real. I'd be so absorbed in my 'observations' that I would actually loose track of what was going on around me in the present. And as I sat on my mother lap, my legs tightly clenching my hands in between them, I had thoughts of the toilet swallowing me up. Why I got these thoughts only when it was dark beats me.

When I could not hold in anymore, I asked mom to take me to the bathroom. She offered me a flashlight, which I obviously refused. It was either she accompanied me or I was not going, the latter not being an option anyway. My aunt suggested, joking that I should take Tony with me. I agreed! At first , they thought i was kidding. So I picked Tony from my aunt and carried him with me. I got to the bathroom, wiggled out of my trousers and sat on the toilet seat, with Tony asleep in my arms. My aunt came just as the relief that comes from letting go of a wee you've been holding for hours came gushing at me. She could not believe it. In my mind, then, 5 month old Tony was a person, and if anything when was going to happen to me, at least I'd be with him. I have not yet figured out whether that was selfishness on my part, such that if I died, then I would not die alone, or I was just taking comfort in having a human presence with me. Whatever the case, sitting there on the toilet, with baby tony asleep on my lap was, I had a feeling of security.

I started by saying that my first reaction is never to run. When I was 6 year old, our house caught fire. It was just me and my mom. I saw the fire and stood still. mom had to yank me and take me outside. I can't quite remember what I was thinking then. About two years ago, my boss and I went for location scouting in Voi. Were were getting ready to film an episode of Hunter Hunted, a National Geographic series. (see credits here). The story involved investigating why the otherwise calm cow-relatives, the Cape Buffaloes, would attack human. We were going to re-enact some stories of people who had been attacked (and killed) by wild and tame Cape Buffalots. In Voi, we have a friend who had a ranch - Rukinga Ranch that housed tame buffalots. PS- I call them Bufallots - (A lot of buffalo). We went on a recce drive round the ranch and came to a watering hole. The owner of the ranch (and also a trained and experienced safari guide and game warden) warned us to be careful when getting out of a car near watering holes. Most predators hang around the water, waiting for their prey to get thirsty and maybe drop by for a drink. I made sure - or so I thought - that I had thoroughly checked the area and when I was sure it was clear, I got out of the car to take pictures. I walked about 200 or so metres from the car. My boss called me back... softly. As I was still taking pictures - ohh, they were beautiful - I answered but did not turn to look at her. All she said was ' Get back into the car.'

I hesitated, taking more pictures, her voice became firm and I decided to go back. I turned to get back from the car and stopped dead on my tracks. The car below is what we were driving.

My boss and the ranch owner were in the car, and I was about 200 meters away from it. On the other side, just beyond the car sat these cats.

They were actually 4 of them, but I was shaking so much as I took this photo (now from the car) that I could not think well enough to zoom out, frame and focus at the same time.

I realized why my boss had not wanted to tell me why she was calling me back to the car. She had not wanted to alarm me and was maybe hoping that I will not see them.

It would have been better, had the car been between me and them, but I had walked in front of the car, hence nothing between us. My blood ran cold... literally. I felt a shiver start at the base of my neck and run down my spine... all the way to my toes. I tried to walk, my legs became tom heavy. It's like I was rooted to the spot. I remember thinking - I'm not going to make it to the car. I can't move! At the same time, my mind refused to register that it was real. I was not in my body. I was looking at the whole scene from somewhere above me, leaving my body immobile and decision-less.

I don't know how I did it, as it's all blurry now, but I did walk back to the car after a few minutes of being immobile. I was mum for over 10 minutes, all I did was sit in the car and stare the lions.

Five minutes later, I took these (not great photography, you have to zoom into them to see the four lions.

5 Mar 2008

My Life With (out) Him.

We met in the back of a car in a restaurant in Nairobi less than one year ago. I think it was around June 2007. His friend had told me that there was some one I should meet. And I took the chance. Even though I had my Danish candy then, I could not deny the attraction I felt for him. We sat at the back of his friends car and looked at each other, sizing each other up. He was tall, dark and handsome. Now, usually, I don't go for the dark (read African) type but he captivated me. He was like no other man I'd ever met. He was quiet, unless he had to say something really deep and profound, and when he spoke, he left me breathless and speechless, almost .... hyperventilating.

He had no place to stay, and his friend figured that I could help him out.
I was stranded. He has those pleading eyes, the kind you can say no to.
Doe-eyed, I believe it is called. They looked something close to this...

I succumbed to the manipulative eyes and agreed to take him home. Meanwhile, I was wondering how to tell Lars about him. I could say nothing was going, that we were just hanging out, I was just giving him a place to stay blah blah. Even to me, that sounded lame. And if I could not convince myself, how would I convince Lars? Anyway, I took the Chance. I hinted to Lars on the phone a couple of times, and he seemed not to suspect anything....or knowing Lars, he was just letting it pass.

Bob and I were inseparable. He did not have a job and I did not mind footing all the bills. After all, his presence was all over, but no impact on my living costs at all. Of course I had to leave him when I went to work, but would rush home every evening to be with him. He made me laugh, sometimes we fought over little things. Well, it is correct to say I fought with him, as he never talked back to me. It is frustrating fighting with someone who won't fight you back, though it does help you see the triviality of your quarrel.

On every shoot that required me to be out of town, I'd take him with me. He did not get in the way of my job, or the production and that made it so easy to take him along. It was like having a pet that required your presence only no conversation, no cleaning after...Needless to say, I was falling in love. That made me very worried.. as it should anyway. It seemed like he was competing for my affection with Lars, and he always won, what with Lars being in this town miles and oceans away from me. (look for clues on the right hand side)

His name was Bob. He started to get sick about two months after he moved in with me. At first, he kept quiet about it. I noticed a change. He was not as vibrant in conversations as he used to be. He would talk to me for a while, then keep quiet. At first, I took this bouts of silence to mean that he was reflecting, but then they became too common and too long. sometimes he would not speak to me at all. Luckily, I got a film shoot in Maasai Mara and thought that we could use that opportunity to think about things... well, him at at least. As I was packing, he asked me to take him with me, as he needed a change of scenery. I figured I was going to be too busy to be on his space, so i agreed.

Two days later, Bob and I were sitting in our tent, talking. Ever since we got there, he had been vibrant, though I had to let him take breaks just in case he felt I was imbuing his space too much. Suddenly, I smelt something burning. At first, I thought it was coming from outside the tent. Usually, the camp attendants lit firewood and put huge tanks to heat bathing water. I thought that maybe someone had accidentally put in rubber with the wood. The rubber smelt become stronger, and I noticed a white smoke. White smoke is good when it's in the Vatican, but coming from Bob, that was far from good. I panicked. I put Bob on the bed, and tried to resuscitate him. He was not responding. The smoking stopped. And so did Bob. He lay there, lifeless, me siting by him, helpless. My black man was gone, and there is nothing I could do to help him. I did not cry, but i was heartbroken. For the 4 months i had known Bob, my life had changed immensely. Lars had even come to accept him and agree to share my affections with him. I was yet to see how the two related when out in the same room.

It's been almost 7 months now, and I keep thinking of getting replacement. Thing is, being my first, it's hard to just forget him and move on. I'm thinking of replacement, now that Lars is not around anyway, but I keep thinking about Bob whom I have preserved in my closet. Though he is gone, he still looks sweet, strong and oh-so-wonderful. I stopped looking at him, and one of this days, I'll gather the courage to lay him to rest.

Rest in peace Bunny Bob.

The Artist Formerly Known as...

I have been following a certain blog with interest. One about Tony Blair. And no, i did not just see the light (or darkness) and decide to follow British Politics. This is of a self-taught artist that highlights the development of his career from his childhood to present. I'm not an artist buff, but i have to admit that his work did catch my attention. He works with paper, rather, that was his first raw material, before graduating to foliage, fabric and electric cables. I am concerned about the last one though.. one of this days, Tony won't post on his blog as he would be looking something like this:

Tony lives on, no wait for it, not Downing Street but Newcastle upon Tyne with his two brothers and a foster mother. I'm yet to establish how they ended up in that home. Lucky for him, Tony's foster mother is an artists too, could be it runs in the family, and now exhibits Tony's work along side hers in the 36 Lime Street gallery. His brothers do help once in a while too. Helena, his foster mother says that she first noticed his creative prowess when he first walked across some clay tiles and left his paw prints and has not looked back since.

Some of my favourite works of art from this artist are;


Every time i see beautiful work, I long to see the artist or creator at work. It's something I have with watching things take shape, forms getting defined, ideas coming to life. It's more of me challenging my mind to visualize the canvas as a complete art material, (the canvas here meaning any raw material - including that full formerly whole Avocado - that the artist uses to create his art). I then keep the idea of what i think the finished product will look like, then hold my breath (depending on how fast the artist is) until he / she finishes. I would not want to swoon and faint on an artist, and give him the impression that his art took my breath away, though I think that would be a good selling point for the artist. Thus being said, there is nothing I'd love as much as watching Tony in action. Apart from the fact that he is very talented and a lively, Tony is very cute, and you can be sure that he works hard, not taking advantage of his looks.

Here is Tony with one of my favourite of his works.

Oh, I forgot the tiny detail that Tony is The Artist Formerly Known as the Rat.

4 Mar 2008

The Great Wildebeest Migration Cont'd

I left off when the floodgates of KICC opened. and people poured in. The 'intelligent' ones from the back of the queue walked to the front, and we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the bunch. I had made a couple of friends by now and formed an alliance (not of evil). One of the girls i became friends with, like I, was not auditioning but had come with her friend for moral support. We decided to cheer everyone up by 'trying to decide' which song to 'audition for'. We sang popular songs, off key and a high pitches. The intention was to make others think that we were actually going to audition hence give them the courage. I mean, if you'd been listening to us, as a judge, you'd have changed your mind on EVER auditioning Pop Idols. I was pretty sure that the other contestants were consoled.

We got as far as the few meters from the main entrance of KICC and asked to stop. The director and some of the cameramen were set on the roof, filming the procession. I'm slow. I just figured out why they wanted the people in groups of 5. To make the crowd look bigger by adding volume. Damn me! I know I shouldn't have dyed my hair blond... it's seeping into my brain. There is one thing that most visitors fail to realize about Kenyans. We have too much pride and rarely get wowed by things like cameras and celebrities and such like hypes brought about by glamour. And this is not only evident in urban areas. I have worked with film crews from overseas who did not understand why the people (esp. rural folks) did not seem dazzled by the camera or clamoring to be in the shot. Only the kids seemed interested. The way i saw it, it was either they were too busy to care about activities that would not place a hot plate of Ugali on their tables or are too proud be the object of Mzungu's entertainment. Either way... Kenyans rarely entertain Cameras, unless they are actually actors / actresses.

The director, sitting high up on the roof was trying hard to make the aspirants 'look excited' and 'on the count of three, scream... we love Idols'. Needless to say, that took them about 20 minutes. Since they could not get the crowd to follow instructions, they played a trick on them. They divided the crowd into two and one crew member asked the first group to follow him. Half way through, the crowd realized what was going on. The group that had just left was being led towards the back! Too late! half an hour later, after being in the sun for over 4 hours, the auditions gave signs of life.

We queued up, and my sister ended up being the 200th - ish person. As luck would have it... Celtel Kenya, who happen to be one of the spponsors went round asking aspirants to to show their cellphone if they had Celtel SIM cards. I gave mine and my sister got a 'jump the queue' pass. What luck!

Long story short, I started typing the first part of this as she auditioned. She says they bloved her outfit... not her singing though as she did not qaulify for second round. She figured she was too nervous and could be felt in her voice. She made to re-try, but could not be let to re-audition.
We went back home around 5pm. My legs were killing me. We got home, i fell on the bed and woke up the following day at noon. Yeah, it was that bad.

She was disappointed, and since I dont know how to handle failure / rejection. This is what I told her.

'Look at it this way, it's better you were eliminated at the beginning stage, instead of going all the way to the the top and getting eliminated with nothing to show for it after all that hard work.'

That is what I call proper bullcrap. We both knew that the reverse is also true. Going past the first round could have given her the exposure. You would not wanna be the one to voice out her thoughts, would you. You leave her with them, and try your best to divert her mind from that - by helping her get into a music school.

And my task begins.

1 Mar 2008

The Great Migration (of the Wannabe Wildebeest)

Being the concerned big sister that I am, I woke up at 4.00am to make sure that my sister was ready to go. Suddenly, it hit me that that was way too early, even for the most competitive soul. So I went back to sleep.. but I couldn't. All I could think of was, 'What if I oversleep? What if I wake up at 9.00sm and it's too late for baby sis to audition? So I lay in bed and willed away the time. At 5,00 am, I woke her up. Half an hour later, we were out the door and on to the chilly sleepy street. I was planning on taking a matatu, but I thought that would delay us. So I paid a cab to KICC, where the auditions are being held. To my shock, really, we were the only ones!! I didn't get it. There is only one audition, in the whole country and no one is there just tow hours earlier?

We met some of the organizers who told us that we were way too early. Yeah. So we went for a walk, watching Nairobi wake up...and get samosas. On coming back, like 10 minutes later, there were 10 people or so at the gate. So the waiting game started. SEt tto start at 8 am, the organisers did not talk to us until some minutes to 9 am. Then they moved us from one gate to the next, and back to the previous gate. 30 minutes later, they asked the aspirants to get into groups of 4 or 5 people each. What did they thiknk would happen then? People would walk calmly and peacefully join hands? So a push ensued, causing them to abandon the plan. They opened the gates and let people in, in whatever groups they were in.

My laptop is low on power... have to continue this later

The Birth II

I get to the hospital after 2 hours of traffic and my friend wants to kill me. She is pacing up and down, sitting, standing, bending, looking like she wants to jump out of her body. Earlier on, she had sent me a text message saying that she is tired, she wants to leave the labour at the hospital and go home.

I rub her lower back and she has never be so thankful in her life. Minutes later, another contraction hits, and the phone rings. It's her live-in boyfriend. He is stuck in traffic but on his way. I don't hear the rest as my pal is screaming at me now. I force her to breath with me and by the time the next contraction hits, the nurse takes over.

It's now 8.0pmn, and the doctor tells me unless i want to spend the night on the bench, she is not close to giving birth. The hospital they chose is miles away from the main road. by the time i go to pick her boyfriend (because the matatu has abandoned him in the middle of nowhere), it is close to 9pm. I come back with him to the hospital, he has a very unsuccessful conversation with his girlfriend, then we leave.

On the way, we discuss baby names. I've know for nine months now that they want to name their son after a Manchester United Player. I have been insisting it's a girl and unless they call her 'Nani' - which by the way means 'who' in Swahili, they will have a hard time naming her. They are convinced it's a boy. An hour later, she calls me. She gave birth to a bouncing baby girl!!

'She is just staring at me', My pal tells me.

I'm yet to go see her and possibly come up with baby names. I love Man U, but i don't think I'm having my godchild named after some guy.

Which reminds me of a story i saw today on CNN. An expectant woman goes to the loo in a train in India. She gives birth - accidentally, i presume- and the baby falls on to the tracks. The mother fell unconscious, and two hours and two stations later, the relatives knocked at the toilet door. She told them the story and they stopped the train. The baby girl was found, still alive.

Below is the mother and baby:

I find this very hard to believe. How did the baby become separated from the mother?

Lost chances

I get my one in 4 year chance to propose to my man and he is conveniently hiding somewhere closer to the North Pole than to me. Ok, he is not hiding, he actually lives there. Apparently, where DVP comes from, were he to refuse my marriage proposal, he would be required to pay me 12 pairs of gloves, and i can only propose to him on 24th, as opposed to the English tradition of 29th Feb, which happens to be the medieval leap day.

Digging deeper, I found that in England, if a man refused the marriage hand, he was required to pay anything from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown. This was a law passed by a five year old queen. Now, the men claimed that that was too much pressure (don't know whether the pressure was - to be asked to marry or to have to pay £1 or a silk gown) , hence the restriction that women could only propose once every four years, to save the men. If i was making the laws then, my sweet response to them would have been...