The City In The City

image credit: Mutua Matheka
image credit: Mutua Matheka

Its Friday morning, I’m in a matatu bound for Westland’s thinking about what will go up on the blog. I know you guys probably think words ebb and flow effortlessly out of my fingers but sometimes its work. There are days you try to seduce, fine tune and even send the damned things flowers but they just won’t respond. Those days you sulk and have a certain gloom about you that just wont go away till the words feel pity on you and come back to your corner. I’m seated next to a young, yellow boy in green school uniform who can’t be a day older than ten. I’m in those risqué matatus that blast music almost breaking the windows. A dancehall track is playing and the words, “I wanna wake up inside you.” Are coming through its speakers in a staccato, jarring my ears.

“I wanna wake up inside you.”

The chorus goes on and on, again and again in that painful, energetic cadence that only Jamaicans can pull off and I want to cover the little boy’s ears and save him from this fractured world but then I look at him and he’s oblivious to the music. He is staring out the window at the trees, buildings and lampposts. He’s probably wondering if he did his homework correctly and if the teacher on duty will punish him for being one minute late. I want to nudge him out of his reverie and ask him if he thinks it’s possible for a human being to wake up inside another human being. But he would probably shake his head and roll his eyes and tell me that is scientifically impossible because all he knows right now is photosynthesis and chlorophyll. Such pure innocence. I envy him, he hasn’t had a sleepless night over a skirt yet, he doesn’t know heartbreak, in fact, at this age he probably thinks all women (besides his mom) are gross and he just wants to play with his fire truck or maybe play a bit of Temple Run on his moms phone after he’s done with his homework but his mom won’t give him her phone. She keeps insisting, “simu ni za watu wazima.”

“Enda ucheze na wenzako—“She often barks at him. “—na nisikupate ukicheza na Boi, umeskia!”

The boy now has his head pressed on the cold glass window probably wondering why his mom won’t let him play with Boi and what’s the use of playing if you can’t do it with Boi anyway? We’re on Waiyaki way and Safaricom is bobbing its entitled head in the distance. The little chap stares at the intimidating building as we near it probably wondering which floor Bob Collymore sits and would he allow him to play Temple Run on his phone? Perhaps he would even allow him to play with Boi. We get to Brookside Groove and the little guy alights with his mammoth bag weighing heavily on his shoulders almost breaking his frail frame. Why does the administration do this to these poor kids? I wonder. Schedule all the subjects for the same day and make these kids carry that burden? My laptop weighs a meagre 1.5 Kgs and its agony on my shoulders, I can only imagine what seven KIE textbooks do to a child.

But this piece is not about a big bag carrying, yellow boy who likes Temple Run and often looks for trouble by playing with Boi. No, this article is about Westland’s and the many hats it wears.

Westland’s has a certain uncanny charm about it. If it was a chap it would be the kind with an infectious smile and a thousand watts of social charisma. The kind that works in an ad agency, the creative chap who wears Polo shirts, khaki chinos and lofs. The kind of attire that says I can dash off to a meeting, comeback and push paperwork and catch a drink or two in the evening if I feel like it.

When you come in from Waiyaki way you will see the bigwigs of Westland’s, they are intimidating as they are unrelenting. You will pass Barclays and meet Safaricom and maybe like our Temple Run loving kid you will look into the sky’s and wonder which floor Bob sits. You will think about his desk which is probably big enough to serve as a podium for Cord rallies. You will also think about his chair which must be bigger than a throne and you will wonder what a man needs to do or who he needs to know to occupy such a seat? You will see ABC place on your upper right and on its feet is the infamous Caramel Lounge—they say you get served by European waiters and everything there is off the charts expensive, but you can’t really trust Kenyans they always have a way of exaggerating things. I’ll wager that it’s a pretty affordable and chill place.

You will knock on the door of KPMG, RMA and Jaguar just as you dock into Westland’s stage. You will think about what goes on in these tall buildings and you will wonder if they run on the usual backscratching and phony palm pressing Kenyan culture we’re accustomed too.

There’s a Brazilian steak house not far from the stage where you can eat anything from crocodile to Ostrich meat. You take Rhapta Road and you will find yourself in the nostrils of Vineyard but If your pockets are a bit deeper you will proceed downwards with Waiyaki way to the grandeur that is Villa Rosa Kempinski or take Ring Road and come face to face with the snazzy Sankara. These are places the bourgeoisie come to dine and spend obscene amounts of money on ambience and food presentation. This is where the elite who wear thin, gold, Bulgari and Patek Philippe watches meet to eat. A place where the the nobs and toffs of society who live their lives on golf courses, smoking Cuban cigars and sipping fine wines come to close deals and exchange war stories.

After Sankara there’s Sarit, a quiet mall when compared to its sister Westgate which is down along Peponi road. It has gotten its glow back now and you wouldn’t tell there was a massacre there not very long ago. Opposite Sarit are chintzy vibandas; the seedy underbelly of Westland’s. This is where you find cheap food and most of the people who dine here are juakali; big men, with big hands. Men who down a mountain in minutes and still ask for ugali saucer. I frequent the place often because they have excellent kuku choma. If you come here and enter the kibanda on your far left you will find a short lanky chap, tough as nails with a deep Kisii accent who will serve you anything from: Managu, Omena, Matoke, Bones (literally bones in soup) to kuku choma.

When you proceed into the armpit of Parklands road you will find Bacchus, Aqua, Black Diamond and Skyluxx. You come here at night and you will think you just walked into Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s a ruckus, with chairs outside, hookers, young vibrant laughter and enough drugs making rounds to sedate East Africa. Men here spend insane amounts of money and flirt a little more and the women entertain and cheer them on with their joie de vivre and next-to-nothing outfits; tiny, low-cut fabrics that make them look more naked than they would look if they were wearing nothing at all. The money and game men throw at the women here has one subtle punch-line,

“I wanna wake up inside you.”

Guys, Biko (the chocolate man with the forehead) commented on this blog, Oyunga Pala was here as well. So it looks like we’re headed towards the right direction. Keep whispering us, something sexy, something with zing, something like, “Have you heard of kisauti? Check him out, he writes well.” I like whispers, they’re damn erotic and we’re all about getting turned on here. With words of course.

Also, a big thank you to Joyrugz for featuring us on her blog.

Hey there, we don’t (yet) have the budget to buy space on prime time TV or full page ads in the Daily Nation, so your shares are what help us get discovered. Feel free to whisper us to a friend and leave a comment.


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