Friday, April 29, 2011

Rainbows are awesome too...

Weddings ..everyone is getting married. Hurray for me. Covered one this past week. You gotta appreciate the diverse cultures we have in Kenya. A Masaai and a Samburu…what!! The pulsating chants and almost synchronized trade mark jumping was simply breath taking. The groom was Samburu and the Bride Masaai. Garden weddings..a photographers answered prayer…only if it doesn’t rain though. Pomp and color…love sparkled in their eyes. They were truly and madly in love.

Speaking of, the Royal wedding is on today, and it’s the entire buzz. Frankly, I don’t see what the fuss is all about….just heard on the radio, a guy, in England of course…tattooed the royal couple’s portrait on his teeth at an estimated cost of about 1,000 quid (Kenyan shillings 120,000) …c’est bizarre!! I wish Prince William and Kate all the happiness…and long live the Queen.

Masaais. You gotta admire their spirit. The mention of them conjures thoughts of club wielding nomadic herdsmen, who slay lions. If you had a Masaai watchmen, then you rested assured that no thug in their correct state of mind would even think of robbing your compound. So, am at this hardware in Ngong…a place where Masaais thrive..and this shuka (traditional Masaai attire, comprising of a long clothe wrapped around and fastened by a belt) dawned Masaai..yes, with a club, made his way in. The club was uniquely customized, with a bohemian metal nut as the head. So he comes over the counter and he has these outrageous cork-bottle spectacles and asks if the owner could spare some few nails for his rungu (club). The owner is more than obligatory and gives the fellow.

Jusi, mwisi nakuja iba kioo ya gari…mimi napata, alafu nakat kata..alafu napiga rungu…alafu nakata tena..(‘the other day a thug came to steal the window of a car..I found him and cut him good with my machete…I hit him with my club…and then cut him some more..’) “ , he says..and we just looked at him with morbid shock and dumbfoundedness. He takes a stone and drives the nails in the club, fastening the nut. He hobbles away, chanting a Masaai tune,,,,crazy.

Rainbows. Don’t they just give you that warm cuddly feeling.. I love rainbows..yes, that didn’t come out at all quire…but I do. Just reminds me of my days in primary school with my extremely petite, rubber-band waist shorts. I hated umbrellas and had to persevere the unmerciful rainy days. And then, just after a heavy pour…a rainbow, it stirred something in me that I can’t explain…rainbows.

Always look for rainbows..after a heavy storm of disappointments, anger, rejection, depression…after the storm is over,,,I bet the rainbow appears .. appreciate it..even if it is only for a little while.

Friday, April 22, 2011

...Life Lessons..

I  never absolutely ever cry at weddings,,,but being a photographer…it is sort of an occupational hazard, especially if it’s your sister that is getting married. Sure there is always the “No, I think I got something  in my eye,” ..or “I think it’s a gas leak”. But seeing my sister getting hitched. Wow. Wish her all the happiness..or else I’ll break the guy’s legs…am just saying.

The wedding was amazing, months of planning to this single day. I think I got bitten by the forgetful bug coz I kept forgetting stuff. First were the receipts for my sister’s wedding gifts. I had to go back home about 26 or so kilometers again to get and head t town get the gifts and back at the wedding. Secondly, that accursed car decided to auto-lock itself with the car keys inside, locking me out. Yes, had to do another 26 KMs to get the spare key. I could tell you the rest….but I just cant remember :-]

You get these lectures on how short life is and how you should live I to the fullest and all that jazz, but the hardest life lesson I got recently was saying good bye to my niece. My cousin had complications with her pregnancy and miscarried on her 8th month. She lost her baby, my niece. She will never feel the sun on her skin, or the wind in her hair, she will never be heart-broken by some jerk or get a cold. She could have been anyone…a Nobel peace prize laureate, president of a country, a photographer like her uncle, a dancer or the first African to go to the moon. All these and more…my niece. I shall live every day for her, live more, love more, certainly eat more and appreciate life more…my niece. She taught me more to about life than anyone.

I love Swahili delicacies. The herbs and spices, the rich aroma of the food. What’s not to love? I took I upon myself to quest for the best made pilau (spiced rice with either goat meat or beef) and I have found such a place….in Kibera. The reputation of it being the biggest informal settlement in East and Central Africa, supersedes it. It’s intimidating, but once you get here, the fear of someone stealing your wallet by just looking at you..are all unfoundedly ridiculous. That’s not Kibera. The folks here are hard working and industrious…even if there are on the lower scale, they are by far the most happiest and content folks I’ve come across. The pilau, man it was so good.

It’s Easter, and I got no plots. I absolutely don’t have anywhere to go. But that has never stopped me, am taking my gal out today. Aint she a beauty. Even if gas prices are how they are, she always good to me…when she is not braking down on the side of the road and stuff.

Parting words. Stop “not” living your life. It is painfully short. Stop living with regrets. Stop wishing and start acting. Stop procrastinating and be a doer. “What’s the worst that can happen…” my Nigerian friend always says. Live it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

....9 items or less

Am feeling mighty super. This is additively wrong. Am looking at the mirror and I like what I see. The radiant figure behind me is….eehhh..ok, I have already forgotten the name, well which is presumably natural considering what she has put me through. Then, there is this feeling of guilt. What will Chalo think of me when he sees me. Predicament. There I go again rambling, on, and on. Well, my beloved sister is getting married on the 16th of April, this Saturday. Given the craziness and the out-of-hand-ness of how my weeks have deteriorated to, I decided to pass by my pals Barber shop, Nick (p.s. Your place rocks)..and get my hair ‘did’..which is ironic coz I haven’t got none.

So I step in and Nick aint around, but this lovely flower is, and how can I put it without coming off a tad bit sexist..she was HOT. So, Nick isn’t around and…uuuuh..can’t seem to remember her name..from here henceforth, we shall refer to her as “Aurora” Aurora offers to cut it. I would have been a complete idiot if I’d said no. She is terribly good and dexterous with the shaver..i swear, I felt places in my head I never thought existed. She worked slow at first, maneuvering the instrument around my mango shaped head… a cute mango I might add…and she did it with such finesse. “Wow, Chalo has never done this..and that..”, I kept thinking to myself as she did her magic. Now am at the sink-thingi and she is giving me a scalp massage, aiiiyayyaai…I almost want to speak Spanish. Afterwords, the scented scalp oils, the designer after-shave, I am a King.

It’s all over..and I cant wait for my hair to grow back..that’s all am saying :-].

I tell you, if you have been on Kenyan roads, especially now when fuel is gold, and you are forced to take a matatu, you see the craziest stuff. Kenyans be crazy. You are bound to get personality clashes now and then, and the unfortunate instances of sitting next to this guy who has baptized your shoulder as his bed. And the occasional “loose canon” type who passes of gas and pretends like it aint him..and you are the only two people on the seat. That’s just Nasty. So today, this matatu guy cuts in front of this saloon and almost pushes him off the road. Bad mistake. The saloon car finds its way and they are driving neck to neck, and the passenger on the saloon car is exchanging profanities with the driver. They are evenly matched in matters of hurling insults and now they escalate to exchanging slaps..this is not something you can do easily when you are doing about 100 km/hour. Sick.

“9 items or less” . the sign is clear and placed strategically above the till. So why is this lady in front of me carrying stuff in her trolly that my 2 year old niece can tell are more than “9” items. And she is so oblivious..mellowing in her ignorance up until she reaches the till and the guy there is trying to conjure up words to politely tell her that she has more items than required…he couldn’t. So the people behind in the queue could only resound the anger with clicks and grunts. HEHEHE Kenyans. But we are all like that. We always want to put through 11 items on a “9 items or less” tills of life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monster trucks and geckos..

It started as any normal day..the only thing unusual was the gecko on the “Hammers” door handle, mmmh, predicament. I can handle ten foot snakes easy, wrestle crocodiles..but geckos, well, I need strength here. “man-up!!”..i told myself so I grabbed a ten foot pole and swept the gecko off the door handle. The morning went on well…just counting down hours to the Quattro charge…awesome. Finally, hour zero, and me my pals Muraa, Nelly and Winnie set out to Lukenya hills for an afternoon of monstrous 4 by 4 trucks as the pummel through mud, sand and rocks. Sweeeet.

We are on Mombasa road, heading to our destination, and the hummer is tearing up the road…you could feel the anticipation in her purr. We get to the diversion and the road is all soil and rock no problem. We traverse through; she was built for this, my gal. after an endless number of kilometers through the Lukenya wilderness we arrive, and everyone is wide-mouthed..some looking up for the chopper that dropped the her there.

Muraa is clearly enjoying himself..guy is everywhere, from the pit, to the now mud-mosaic decorated cars. Me, I was the more reserved and quiet one..nooot!! we were cheering on “Singh” , you could think we had money on him…not saying we didn’t though. But it was pure adrenaline. Ian Duncan, Singh..all the legends in the Kenyan motor cross plus safari rally circuits were there. Thanks to the wonderful guys at Robs’ magic for the invite and for putting up a spectacular show.

The week, how was my week. The “Hammer” breaking down in the middle of the globe round-a-about…little general knowledge, it is the biggest in east and central Africa. So if you happen to get stuck here, you are basically toast. I am heaving and puffing, trying to push her, and other motorists are just passing me by hooting away, with chants of “Get that crap off the road”..just count to ten…count to ten…and there are sooo many beautifully roundly shaped rocks on the road, maybe I could just hit one of ‘em…just ok.
This buck-toothed fellow with chocolate teeth, and from his accent you could tell he is from the central part of Kenya , suddenly shows up…and tells me to crank it. The only sound that came out resembled a grasshopper stuck in a metal tin. “Boss”, he started, poking his ear with a screw-driver..”Coiro ime uguwa” (the coil is burnt). He went on to tell me that he has one and he can get it for the right price. Seeming that I had n option, I decided to put my faith in this guy. He disappears past the mills of people, winding up the road. The blend of cars and pedestrians was giving me a head ache. He came a few minutes later, with the vital component. He fixed it in the hummer and he told me too crank her up. I turned the key and she roars back to life..we are sooo gonna have a serious talk when we get home!!!

Am giving up on her. She has mixed priorities, this car. But how can I…how can I turn back on her. She has always been there for me, took me to my first interview, carried my photography equipment, went to dates with her….had dates help me push her…sheltered me from the rain.. my gal. What is the one most valuable thing that you hold one to. That at times you feel like leaving it on the road or on someone’s doorstep and walk away, only to find yourself going back to it. Yaa, your baby blanki also counts. But don’t give up on ‘em. Just hold on a little longer. :-]