Nobody Told Me ‘It’ Would Be Boring

We all knew it was coming. This ‘downturn’.

The government, the opposition, the pundits…even the Tweeters said it. Repeatedly.

We braced ourselves as though for a  Tsunami.

We cringed at the figures as they were bandied about:

Half a million jobs lost, three trillion dollars of debt, 20% capital loses.

Our vocabularies grew: Asset Backed Commercial Paper, Foreclosure, Debt,

Underwater Mortgages, Ponzi Schemes, Stagflation, Bailouts, Stimulus Plans.

CEOs went from being visionaries to being considered white collar criminals.

Private Equity and Hedge Funds became dirty words.

The gloom spread, belts were tightened, dollars were saved.

Then it hit us:

“Going broke and being broke sucks, but getting here sure was interesting!”

“When will the good times be back?”

The downturn is boring.

2 Comments

Filed under Human Boredom

Kilifi or Bust…

It all started in early February when I moved temporarily to having more responsibility in the workplace…suddenly I found that I was expected to have all the answers to all the questions- even the ones which my predecessor had already nixed in the past. Soon those who shied away from taking on the added responsibility were eavesdropping (I know! How childish!) whenever I had a conversation with a colleague, keeping tabs on all activities, offering unsolicited (often useless) tips in overbearing tones- as if I asked for their help. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Human Irritations

Elliptical Apologies

Dear E (I feel that I may address you this way since we will be spending so much time together from now on :))
I have been lying to you since the day we met. None of it is true- the stuff I told you. My age, my weight, all of it was lies.The only true thing I told you was my name.
In my defence, it was not ill intentioned towards you, it was really about self preservation: I thought that if I told you the truth about my weight (or age) you would be merciless. I feared that you would chew me up and toss me aside contemptuously. I feared that the truth would be too painful for me to handle.
There. I feel better.
Let us start afresh. I swear to tell you nothing but the truth from now on.
From now on, I will step up to you proudly, give you my vital statistics, and place myself in your capable hands.
I pray that you will not hold my confessions against me as most humans would.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow and working out with you.
Sincerely Apologetic,
W______

2 Comments

Filed under The War on Fat

In Response To Your Email….

During the average workday how many emails would you say you send out, or receive? Before, my ‘official’ emails were crafted painstakingly, edited for clarity, brevity and typos. At times when I would click ‘Send’ I said to myself “that was a good one my dear!” Sadly, I quickly learned that many recipients would not give my emails more than a cursory glance. It was like all they read were key words  or the “For assistance, please contact me at 555.555.5555” line. 

Within seconds of clicking ‘Send’, my phone would be ringing with the recipient on the other end asking me to walk them through the login process! Most of the time this entailed sitting silently as the person umm-d and errm-d their way to the site- I would ‘see’ them one-handedly mis-typing our URL…then I would listen for the creaking, sputtering sounds of their CPU crunching the data. Aaargh!  

I have now switched to sending keywords-only emails. It’s working very well. Maybe I will start doing that with my blog posts too.

5 Comments

Filed under Human Irritations

More Swahili Banditry…

Say you were walking down a street in one of the seedier parts of Nairobi and some hoodlums descended on you with kicks and punches in an attempt to rob you of your fake Rolex and crystal ‘diamond’ earrings. Let’s say your attack was witnessed by a passerby who then rushed to your aid.
If said passerby were to rush to your aid yelling “Kudenko! Hulu!” as they approached, what do you think the bandits would do:

  1. Immediately cease their pummeling, desist from further violent action and take off into the night.
  2. Turn on the would-be Good Samaritan and pummel both of you senseless before making off with your faux-bling.
  3. Pause, confused by the gibberish the Good Samaritan is yelling at them. Then turn on the would-be Good Samaritan and pummel both of you senseless before making off with your faux-bling.

If you answered

  1. Eeeh…wrong! I have no words for you
  2. you would only be partially correct or
  3. you would be totally correct!

Last week I was enjoying reading an article in The Economist about NBC/News Corp efforts to build an online video site that would be different from YouTube when I came across this line… Into this mess Mr Kilar tried to enter with the service that was to be Hulu. The bloggers at first scoffed: it turns out that Hulu can mean “cease and desist” in Swahili…immediately sending my brain racing.  “Could Hulu be Kiswahili for cease and desist? Hmm. I’ve never heard the word before…something about it doesn’t sound like Kiswahili. More research required,” I concluded.

It just seemed rather unlikely that Hulu could mean all that (Cease and Desist!??!). So far all indications are that it means nothing of the sort- but I could be wrong…I can only shake my head. I mean: Hulu? Seriously?

Sometimes I am left feeling that for something to be considered visionary/edgy/cute/different in some circles it must incorporate elements of the exotic “…‘xyz’ which means ‘abc’ in Swahili (‘world’ language)…” I know that product names are important and can go a long way in brand creation etc, but this searching for something else about a brand can be so silly to the casual observer.

Anyway, I would like to suggest a new word to all those who are determined to include a Swahili translation for every word that sounds even vaguely like it could be ‘Swahili’- Kamusi, which is the Swahili word for dictionary! Use it! Or better yet, just leave Swahili out of it 🙂

3 Comments

Filed under Dunia ina Mambo

The Next Chapter

The varied sounds from downstairs echoed around the upstairs landing: overexcited aunts cackling raucously, the beeping of text messaging cousins’ phones, the phlegmy coughs of grandparents wilting from the previous night’s festivities, the pacing feet of an anxious father accompanied by the bolder strides of bravado-filled uncles syncopated by the frantic cries of a woman about to lose a daughter, “Are the cars here?” “Has anyone seen the photographer?” “Are the girls ready yet?” she calls to no one in particular. Everyone ignores her, afraid to catch her eye lest they be sent upstairs to wrangle the bridesmaids, flowergirls and bride into some semblance of order. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Fiction

Mother May I?

As a Kenya passport holder, travel whims are not so easily satisfied. For every whim, there is a rule. A short while ago, my girlfriends and I were sitting around just shooting the breeze when the subject of Argentina came up. One of my friends (let’s call her the Fat One) has been to Argentina before, and from what I’ve heard, it is all about the Beef, Leather and Malbec. So, like good Africans, we struck an exploratory committee to look into the feasibility of an Argentina jaunt.

Well, no sooner had we entered ‘Argentina Consulate’ into the Google search bar than we discovered that not only would we need visas (as Kenyan passport holders), we might be required to have in-person interviews at the nearest Argentinian Consulate (in my case, miles away in Toronto). The dream was dead before the gloss was set on it. No steaks the size of a small car, no cheap shoes, and definitely no Malbec! Sad. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Goodbye 2008

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

31: Inspired by Makeba, Chiwoniso

Someone pointed out to me yesterday that I post to my blog roughly every 21 days. It’s not that the will is not there, I just seem spend so much time wallowing in inspiration that I end up missing opportunities to do more than just come up with creative ideas. I spend so much time stopping to read, smell, listen, watch, that I have little time left to do any actual creation.

This week I turn 31. The past year has been eventful to say the least, and the upcoming one promises to be just as challenging, if not more demanding. The timelines I set for the book are still within my grasp (if I really buckle down in the next few weeks and remain serious/undistracted by Christmas merrymaking), and new creative avenues open up constantly. Ripe for exploration, they beckon me, promising busyness for the coming months.

Tonight I decided to let go of all expectations, suspend all hope/dreams, forget all plotlines/themes/characters, and just dance (if you know me, you know dancing is not on my list of usual activities). I’m soaking up the beats, whirling around, stomping my feet, singing along in a stage whisper (I’m wearing headphones to avoid disturbing the neighbours), channelling the spirit of the music and loving it.

I dance for several minutes till I am dizzy but delighted, sweaty from the exertion which has my heart thumping loudly, rhythmically. I sit and assess my dreams critically. They are once again within my reach, and right in this moment, they seem close enough to grasp, to touch, to feel. I am ready to savour success (I think).

I put away the dancing shoes, massage my cramped toes, wipe my brow. I reach for my pen and face the next chapter. I am ready for the next year.

Soundtrack: Miriam Makeba (Pata Pata. Ibabalazie), Chiwoniso (Vanorapa)

Reading: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun)

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How to End War in Africa 1.0

Dear Rest-of-the-World,

Do you want lasting peace in Africa? I have the solution.

Stop selling weapons to Africans.

Yes, all weapons, to all Africans- even ‘legitimate’ governments.

Then, sit back and watch as the brutality we call war declines.

“Why would it decline?” You ask.

Well, have you seen Africa’s maintenance record?

Just take one look at our roads.

We seem unable to maintain simple tarmac,

Trust me, we cannot maintain more complicated things like AK-47s, tanks and jets.

Before long, there would be news of military jets plunging out of the sky like downed flies,

Of guns jamming from lack of oil or care, reduced to rusty bits dangling from crazed men’s arms,

Of bullets running out, or failing to fly when fired,

Of tanks giving up the ghost on the road to battle-their owners having failed to grease their clunking parts

Before long, there would be news of peace.

Wishful thinking? Yes, I know, but:

Only fools and cowards wage war armed to the teeth with your machetes, guns, tanks and planes

Against defenceless civilians.

Fuelled by pure greed (which they obfuscate with a ’cause’) they maim, rape and kill.

Stop the violence, Stop the sale of weapons to ALL of Africa

Sincerely,

A Concerned Human Being

 

Dedicated to the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose continued suffering leaves me despairing.

Want to help? Please visit:

The International Rescue Committee

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized