The thing about ringtones

Is this…if your ringtone is John Mayer’s Heartbreak Warfare, I’m going to strike up a conversation with you. I am not declaring my weirdness, just the profound understanding of what that song means to me.

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I was meeting with a group out of town today. I had just strapped myself in when one of the guys in the back shouts to someone outside, “Weh! Ali, simu yako…”I could have cared less but then it was Heartbreak warfare and all I could think of was laying my weapons down and turning to get a good look at this Ali dude. Ali comes back, looks at the caller ID and then says “wacha tu ilie,” and at this point I’m thinking it’s a conversation he is not ready for.

I dig that. I get that.

Two magic words: Airplane Mode

When I’m not down for anything be it a text, call, notification or beep, I set my phone on airplane mode and read a book or two. Sometimes, at night, if I am unable to write, I would look up random policies on children and read them comparing what each government has to say about child protection. (I find Singapore’s policy quite refreshing; but Liberia does take the cake when it comes girl’s education and gender bias and merging it with their basic education policy, that’s kickass if you ask me. I’m yet to read Japan’s but I feel like South Korea could be worth a read some night.)

Ali comes back to the van. The driver steps in and introduces me to the team. At this point, I know two things: they are working on health and sexual reproduction in a community and they need me to help them plan out how to reach out to the women and young girls. I am introduced to; Anne (Sociology major, cute glasses), David (Masters in Community Development, Unapproachable facade), Ali (Communications, hence the John Mayer vibe and I tell him that I was once a Communications Assistant at my previous job), Stella (Project Manager, the one who reached out to me) and then Humphrey (the driver whom I like, but know he’s the senior field manager and he’s just too modest to admit that he’s the boss). Stella is keen on clarifying that this is me just giving me a guideline and that I wouldn’t be employed by the organization they work for. She hands me some liability documents and I take them and sign them. Ali asks “won’t you want to read those?”

“No, I know my way around them. The only document I ever read is anything that deals with photo and video consent and it’s not here. So, this means that any photos you take of me while we are working would not be shared without my consent. Is that so?”

“Eh, I have the consent forms but I thought I’d give them to you once we are in the field.”

“Why did you pick heartbreak warfare as your ringtone?”

“Ati what?”

“Your ringtone, that’s John Mayer’s song Heartbreak warfare off his Battle Studies album. Why did you pick it?”

“I like it. Do people have reasons behind the ringtones they assign?”

“Yes, you just said you like it. I love that song. It’s cool that you have it. Can I take a look at the consent forms you had in mind for me?”

“Sure, let me just get them for you.”

At this point, Humphrey looks at me and smiles, “You are not what I expected.”

“What did you expect?”

“Someone taller, older or let’s just say a bit different and serious like most consultants are, but you are…easy to talk to.”

“Why do you say so?”

“Ali does not talk to anyone while we are driving. He would have his earphones on and listen to music the whole way, but you come along and suddenly he’s talking. I don’t know what to make of that?”

I nodded and we talked about everything including why it was important to buy bananas at Kisian and not Ndori. They dropped me off at home an hour ago. I wished them well but Ali jumped out of the car and reach out to me just as I was opening the gate. He dipped his hands in his pockets and leaned closer and said “I really like you. I mean, I like how you talk, but don’t get any ideas, it’s just that few people can…you know, speak, yaani hawawezi kuongea vile unaongea and that’s dope. Na, juu ya hiyo ringtone, well, sometimes you like someone and she’s not yours and it’s like war every time. So, see you next time, I’d love to hear your suggestions on a success story I’m working on. We could do something together, I mean…nitanyamaza sasa, bye.”

“Sure, bye Ali.”

I knew he was cool from his ringtone because you’ve gotta have something in you to set heartbreak warfare as a ringtone.

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On Work

Work is love made visible,

and if you cannot work with love but only with distaste;

It is better that you should leave  your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

Khalil Gibrain

TMI

Word of the day:

Scripturient (adj.): Having a consuming passion to write

Listening to: Young, Wild & Free by For King & Country

 

 

Travel diary; Bungoma 

I recently shared my experience in Chavakali and an interesting turn of events at The Crying stone in Mukhonje.

My trip to Western Kenya saw me visit Bungoma county today and I was so excited to be back that the team we were traveling with thought I was high on my own expectations. I love Bungoma. I love Kakamega. Honestly, I love where I can get some good milk tea and a whole cob of well roasted maize at twenty shillings. Please don’t remind me of Kapsabet, Kitale, Eldoret and Londiani…we are talking about Bungoma and Kakamega here.

So, we made our way through Kakamega to this place and arrived at around 3pm. We drove around looking for someplace to stay, with a limited budget, I kept reminding people in the car that any hotel behind Barclay’s Bank was out. During my previous stay I had no sleep because of the loud music played from the pubs around and in more than one occasion, I found myself listening in on more than I could handle. 

We drove along Moi Avenue (yes,there is a Moi Avenue in Bungoma) and we came to The County Comfort Hotel. I stepped out and asked for the rates and a chance to scout the room to see if it appealed to me. 

When I saw the room, I settled in, picking the most spacious of them all. It did not come with an awesome view because it overlooks the Shariff Centre which is a pit stop for Easy Coach buses. 

I did however love the tiny electric kettle they set up on the table. 

The receptionist told us we could prepare some instant coffee or tea with what they had provided. When she said this everyone turned to see me light up. The Driver however asked if his room had a mini fridge and Tusker, and when she said no, he walked back into the hallway. 

I am looking forward to visiting Chwele and though my stay is a short one, I hope it goes well and I can’t wait to visit more places.

Omolo Agar Road

Friendship is like clay.

You can scout for it, but never come across the fine particles you seek. Sometimes, you stumble upon a nice heap of soft, fine clay that summons the potter in you. Then, without knowing it, you start to knead it, compress it, air it and slowly add water, and color to create what you had in mind.

Friendship is nothing like clay.

Clay receives direction on a potter’s wheel. It endures the heat knowing that it will come out firmer than it was whilst going in the kiln. Clay follows the path set out for it by the potter’s hand, bending, twisting, falling off…all at will, confident that it will be as the potter imagines it.

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Always stocksnap.io

Friendship is clay.

It is there but few seek it out to sustain it.

Like the Potter, some use it to mold it into what suits them before casting it aside or passing it on to the next person.

I found myself at Omolo Agar Road, at a crossroads, and that is when I saw this neat heap of red clay. I wonder how long it took me to accept that it was not going to be mine, but the thought of molding a pot or a family of four had me smiling all the way to work.

 

A cup of tea along the highway

I was in Turbo today which is roughly 34 kilometres from Eldoret town, and was making my way to Kipkaren- which is ideally 50 Kilometres.

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So, there I was looking outside the window counting the endless acres of maize farms and wondering just how vast Uasin Gishu county is when we came to the junction of Eldoret and Kitale famously known as Maili-tisa (9 miles).

This is your simple hotel by the roadside, some place you walk in and get a hot cup of tea, or some warm food before you hit the road. It has no menu just a waitress who is glad you stopped by and immediately sets a cup before you and serves you hot milk tea!

Now, before you say hello, she starts by reciting the menu and then asks “Utatumia nini?”

Woe unto you if you say, “Dakika tano nifikirie” because that’s what I said…and before I could sip the tea before me, the team I was with were already washing their hands and digging into their ugali and beef stew!

I tried to get a better shot, but when you carry a compact DSLR chances are people would be drawn to what’s in your hands, and just when I thought I’d gotten a great shot…this tanker just pulled to a stop blocking more of the hotels, but you won’t miss them.

They look something awesome as this:

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And when you drive towards Kipkaren, some 10 or so kilometres, you’ll get to see the Baraka Farm Shop where you can get some milk, and cheese sandwiches if you are into your dairy products 🙂

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Stories from the field

It’s been a while. I’m talking about being on the road and seeing how crazy Kenyans are.

So, yesterday I was in Seme, Google says it takes 39 minutes to Namba Kosea (the red icon) but hey, I was in a matatu and the number of stops made were more than the commas I have used in this paragraph.

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So, we get there, visit the Chief and then have a chat with the Assistant Chief on the challenges they are facing in that community and I’m busy taking notes. See, the Assistant Chief rents office space at the local market center and she’s right beside a posho mill, so every time she says something noteworthy I hear this vru-du-du-du….vru-vru-du-du right in my ear.

When we’re done, I ask about any local food joint because I am both thirsty and hungry and the kids running around sucking on ice jwala are not of any help! We are taken to this small clean mud house and we sit on benches and a tall lady comes to us. Her hair is sticking out on corners that shouldn’t be known to mankind, but I am drawn to the lesso wrapped around her waist, it’s jungle green with bold flower patterns. I ask her what’s for lunch and she says “chapat go’ganda, chai maliet, kuon gi sukuma, kuon g’omena hao hao.”

We all ask for ugali and omena and she serves us this:

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Fresh omena, deep fried and it tastes like nothing heaven has ever served up…or that could probably be, because we were so hungry I nearly told the man next to the Assistant Chief’s office to stop powering up his posho mill! And as I was eating, my mind kept going back to soda. A cold sugar-filled drink to wash down the omena and I asked the lady if they had Fanta Passion. She looked at me and asked, “mano to mane?”

Seriously, haven’t they heard of or better yet had a sip of Fanta Passion? I simply shook my head and said it’s okay, I’ll take some of her water to drink if she didn’t mind. Now, Coca-Cola Bottlers had better increase the supply of Fanta Passion, because the people around me need to have a sip and bottles of this awesome drink!

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As we were leaving the area we had visited, a lot of things were going through my mind, most of them revolving writing and as you have probably read so much about- my next book. I thought of writing about my experiences on the road and it felt so good to have such a burst of ideas and energy that by the time I got home, I was too exhausted to even look at a writing pad or pick up a pen!

Have a great day and here’s to writing!

Swing low

You came up to me today.

Black shirt, black Nike shoes, a grey back pack and you slowed down…a little screech offsetting the rhythm of my feet. It could have been the whiff of your cologne, or just the way the hair on the back of my neck stood, but you were there, staring at me.

“Sasa,” you said.

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Your feet maintained their steady pace on the pedals, and your hands gripped the brakes but your eyes were on me. Black.

I wonder why I always assumed they were brown.

“Poa sana, ndiyo kuingia kazi.”

“Hapo fiti sana, si I’ll see you around, acha nifike.”

“Okay, have a good day.”

“It already is, bye.”

“Bye.”