Nairobae

Being bored of everything everyday despite thousands of options for entertainment and preoccupation for me has passed the point of cliche and descended into a point of threadbare stereotype. Many of us are joining a group of zombies who are bored of everything. Bored of forwarded and recycled whats app messenger jokes,news, job adverts. Bored by the everyday tabloid headlines with fickle tabloid material. Bored of hang outs with the same deafening often bubble gum music played over and over again till your senses accept it as good music. Bored by the senseless politics and drama making for coleus and often revolting office talk among paper pushers who never want to leave their desks all in the name of job security. Bored of the economic recession talk which makes good fodder the social commentator’s gripe fest.

With this thaasophobia creeping up, i decided to take a random trip. How about go see a different city and speak an old language i used to know, meet old friends i haven’t seen in a long time(lots of change here). Usually i sit in Kampala have a drink with friends in different cities but now i was ready to risk it all mid year and take off. But random comes with its challenges as any attempt to escape reality. There were numerous postponements.

So i boarded a bus with my person with a mutual disdain for cliches and one equally incesed by stage bodabodas,  and her often well guided pessimism is for both our good. I had a smooth night journey, met very irritable border officials who pushed me to the back of the queue twice as this whole East African community thing hasn’t picked up well at the Busia border yet, got played by a money changer at the border or not and this remains a deeper mystery than the moon landing or jfk assassination. I had a smooth ride still, beheld the magnificent rift valley whose intriguing mystery and beauty cannot be explained then blankly gazed at the country side till we arrived in Nairobi

Its a different city in many ways from Kampala though. From the many midtown skyscrapers to more reckless and exorbitant bodaboda riders(still learning the dynamics from their Kampala buddies i guess) to the cool weather allowing for a leisurely walk around in my favorite hoodie and at the same time making swimming a very bad idea. it is here that uber’s selling point ‘cheaper and safer than boda boda’ makes most sense. It was quite a relief that there was no much hooting from motorists making it less irritating.
while a stroll in  the CBD feels like one is in Windhoek Namibia, one in Nairobi west near Nyayo stadium feels like its Kampala with the street food and loud music.
The hospitality from people is great but being from my city any act of good faith is met with high end suspicion. so i didn’t really acknowledge these numerous acts of kindness from the askari at the Forex bureau.
Nairobi is also a hub and perhaps a market research ground for international franchises from kfc, steers, burger king to others. yes i mostly noticed the food chains and Only the customer care would differ. I managed to grab myself 2 burgers for the price of one at steers as it was the visa burger week. For a man on a budget i was in the right city at the right time.
While here i managed to counter the famous ‘makarao’,the Kenyan police as i was frolicking along river road. It is said that these guys can dry your pockets faster than a trip to the mall and their camouflage uniform is rather unusual for the law enforcers making me wonder what the army would put on, iron-man suit???. As soon as i was stopped images you get when you google Kenya police ran through my mind but thank God it was just them welcoming me to Nairobi. so if you want a good nights sleep please do not google images of Kenya police. On the positive note, they are unarmed so for lack of  trigger happiness they compensate by whipping the baton.

It is in the lively and buzzing  Nairobi west that me and my recently overfed rugby playing friend Aleki hit the early waters, the healing waters aka liwowo aka liweng at the fully packed lively Discount bar. Here you could think protein and gender imbalance was on the menu as this was a rugby players hang out. The healing waters are magical to those who know them and they will brutally hurt those who don’t(sadly i didn’t know them).
its here that i got acquainted with the way of life of my Nairobi peers, quickly caught up over slurred words and noisy jabber . How can one survive in this environment of overly priced beer.

I was here just for a fleeting moment in time but this trip served me well to navigate the intricate web of life and my travels.

My Airbnb experience

‘I stood over him with such condescending grandeur’

One of the most humbling experiences in life is house hunting as this is when to your dismay and utter disbelief you discover with profound horror that you are miles far from making it. And it is while doing my house hunting that i discovered and gladly came across Airbnb

Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service, enabling people to list or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, home-stays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms. And just like the many others before, i discovered this revolutionary application a bit late 7 years after it launched. The money  i missed out on!

So after sailing the murky waters of Kampala real estate, i managed to find a modest place to call home in the outcasts of the city then i began my rent trouble days. This is when it hit me, that i can make side money by hosting guests at my place through Airbnb(That app which at first i simply thought was some realtor’s website).

So  i signed up with very little faith because i mean which muzungu is ready to stay in the deep annals of Kiwatule. But given my nature and  mindset about things that belong to me being appealing no matter what, i went ahead and tried to beautify the place and made slight improvements. I gave the place the best of descriptions and my friend Adrian(Thanks AJ) helped me take some awesome high definition pictures. Also i had to plead with the mosquitoes, ants and other visitors not to show up. Actually i sprayed them.

On a #tgif Friday morning i got an alert and it was from my first client Nasir(not real name in order not to offend my guest any further as ), oooh the celebration before responding to the request was out of this world. I mean am possibly earning over $200 without barely any initial investment. This is the best deal a yut born without a silver spoon  could get.

so after back and forth communication with Nasir and wondering which kind of person he would turn out to be(like people do on a blind date), he checked in for his first night and guess what…it was a disaster and also he was a short man from Canada. From mosquito bites (guys it was clearly a wrong day for games), no wifi  to lack of privacy as i hadn’t figured out where to go after giving up the whole apartment. That night i drunkenly stumbled in on Nasir who had hosted his Ugandan lady friend.

So just like any man who had hoped to get laid but wasn’t(i can’t confirm this), Nasir woke up frustrated and decided to cancel the booking and give me a long lecture on hospitality(he worked in hotel in Canada) citing various issues but i knew deep down this was because of the interrupted coitus from last night. i accepted this and of the $200 i got $16 for one night of which i only received on my account $5 as my bank charges $11 for international transfers. Not worth it.

Good news is that later i got around this by setting a minimum balance on my account before a payout and i also chose Paypal as my payout method. At least i could use the money for online shopping other than being robbed by the institution.

After the Nasir incident, it hit me that i need to take this thing serious as hosting visitors is not a simple thing like i presumed. This side income was good as i could cover my rent from only hosting a guest for 10 days. I got down and changed most things from the wifi availability, breakfast, cleanliness, scrubbed tiles like my mum taught me on the holidays at home or like the school tutor made me do as i served a punishment.

This greatly improved my views and i got numerous inquiries and a booking every month at least so far. I have hosted numerous people from many countries and i have made good friends too and had many other experiences which i will share in the future when they stop being embarrassing. I have made dollars in hundreds and i began to take pride in the fact that am among the few Ugandans bringing the dollar into the economy. looking at this as an experimental phase am hoping for business to be rife so i can have at least more than one listing.

All in all i will always remember my first experience hosting on Airbnb.

Kigali!

Have you been to a town so different from yours?Have you been to a town full of possibilities? Have you been to a city that makes you feel like starting something, even a fight. Not  out of anger or any other emotions that  might make one clench fists but because of the chill nature in this city, the peace and the general organization and cleanness. Being from Kampala you would want to push over something so everything can seem normal. You cant believe things can run this smoothly.

I should have written about this in November last year but for some reason i was locked out of my word-press account but am in now. feels good.

Going to Kigali was a random trip i took on a random weekend to appeal to my adventurous and spontaneous side and it was worth it. Worth the missed hours at work. Nothing scares me so much like getting bored by anything am in for a long time. Scares me cold.

From the shocking language barrier to the scenic hills, i was impressed how different this city is yet not so far away from the chaotic Kampala.

I went by bus and as always on every long distance bus there is a lost guy on it. This time it was me. Thought i was on my way to Katuna border but alas i was on a bus that passed via Kagitumba border crossing which threw me off track both in time and directions. Ended up being the inconveniencing lost passenger and guest. Yet earlier i was laughing at a couple that was lost in Kampala. karma. This mix up only gave me more opportunity to explore Rwanda and i would say i covered the whole country given my journey lasted a full 12 hrs.

With a sense of delirious abandonment i arrived into Kigali and started a stroll of self discovery, exploration, meeting new culture, drinking malt beer at the roadside Duuka and at the upscale bars and clubs being surrounded by the most magnificent rolling hills one would ever see. I mean with good company consisting of old school mates and friends who could hardly handle a drink, this was an epic visit to the most beautiful city in Africa.

Soldiers on each corner of the street wielding a nameless authority with their semi-automatic weapons did not only give me a sense of security but also fear but this only added to the excitement i had to continue my stroll around Kigali entirely on foot. This stroll did not take a toll on me in anyway as i did not even draw a sweat, it was rather refreshing to walk down good pavements except for forgetting to keep right as i walked and crossed the well marked streets. Almost got run over on several occasions.

I can say its submissive and law abiding citizens make the city what it is and i appreciate everyone from there especially the curvecious, tall female ones. I like hygiene but i also found it weird when they gracefully wiped each beer bottle with paper tissue before indulging. As for me a beer indicates masculinity and one can drink anything labelled beer anyhow even if it was deer urine. The other surprising and rather delightful surprise is the mayonnaise given along with french fries, this was awesome. Down here in Kampala one can hardly get good ketchup at an upscale restaurant with any order.

If it was not for the exorbitant Visa transaction charges by my bank, i would have completely and unregrettably enjoyed spending my money cashless as kigali is on a fast track to a cashless society. In fact i almost failed to take a bus from Kanombe to the city center as i did not have a prepaid card but thanks to  a stranger, i managed to get on in exchange for my pocket change. Being popular and hated for as one who usually doesn’t have cash on me always, this was a perfect setting.

Am definitely going back.

The Young Adult

Me and most of my peers find ourselves at this moment in life where we are described as young adults, tricky times i would say. Most of us are fighting midlife crisis right now and the main cause of this is the one and only factor…great expectations from society.

Society is not something strange or someone from outside or far, society is closer than you think. Society are your drinking buddies, parents, workmates, rolex guy, boda guy and siblings to mention but a few. And these are the people with great expectations from you. They expect certain things from you as a young adult. They always want to ask questions them themselves cannot answer.

Many have succumbed to this pressure by marrying too soon, getting into jobs they hate, abandoning their passions and doing things they love, moving out of the parent’s house when they can hardly pay rent.

Though some have rebelled and refused to be subject to these expectations, well guess what? these are the people society calls ‘losers’. Which i personally do not agree to. These are the heroes, these are the people who are out there to save the generation from such heavy burden. People paving way to a complete new way of life, a change in society attitude.

With the ‘losers’ holding onto their guns , maybe society will agree to a number of situations without being judgemental and cringing to the idea of it;

32, not in a relationship,no full time job, staying in parents house

36, stays alone, with well paying job, and no plans of getting married or having kids, with hundreds of empty beer bottles in the bedroom.

Truthfully, this is how some would like to live but they cannot so they end up living other people’s lives which is a disaster in a long run.

I know a friend who is facing a midlife crisis at 26, he has been in a long term relationship which ended cause he wasn’t putting a ring on it, he is living in a huge apartment alone for which he moved out of the parent’s house to leave with the departed girlfriend, he hates the company that he is currently working for hence missing days at work. He feels like reversing his life but he is stuck. Time is irreversible.

I have other friends who have quit work suddenly because they fell into the wrong job and they are frustrated and feeling like they deserve better. Better being following their passions art, sports, music,dance, coding.

Others have ended their marriages before a year because they got bored. In the first place getting married at 26 is like leaving the party at 11 then you get text messages, snap chat stories of what is happening at the party and you decide to leave bed and go back.

well many of us young adults are falling for this pressure but i do not think we should fall for it, given that there are a lot of things we haven’t accomplished in our 20’s and 30’s. As many would know, there is a bucket list for our 20’s. lets cross things off. That threesome hasn’t been had yet, you haven’t visited Brazil yet, the road-trips to south Africa, bungee jumping and the list goes on as far as your young imagination can go. So go live life.

 

 

#UgHacks: Got a girls number, forgot her name. what to do?

We have all been in that situation where it skipped your frugal, alcohol or internet addicted mind about asking for someone’s name, usually a very good looking female  judging by your clumsiness in this situation. You forget to ask for this very important and basic details of getting to know someone and perhaps transforming a conversation over a drink at your favorite hangout into something mutually beneficial like getting laid. First maybe because you were so distracted by the females’ good looks and deep intellect (rare combination this one) that it is too late to  ask for her name as she is trying to explain to you why in the GOTS04E3 ‘the other guy with a beard’ decided to do what he did.

Also maybe at this particular point in time you met this lady, you are in the middle of an identity crisis, you haven’t yet decided if you are Puff Daddy or Puff Diddy. And  that you  popularized your twitter name so much that you can’t help using it IRL and you wouldn’t what to limit yourself and put your pro-creation chances in jeopardy with this very beautiful creature by using your internet troll name. we all know how the story of the troll and the beautiful person ends.

Or you could have cleverly swerved away from the name introduction part of the conversation not because you like to be anonymous (which is a good idea because Anonymous has a lot of good quotes) but you are called Faizal and you met the beaut while holding a beer bottle. I mean you do not what to start off a good run with the first impression of you not being the religious type. Because as you know the religious type get ‘it’ a lot, ask whoever went for the recent “phaneroo” concert.

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Another situation can be that you would like to get someone’s name and number without ever meeting them or asking them(creepy!). They intimidate you, you are shy, you do not know how to talk to girls and maybe you are doing it for a friend who is experiences all the above( birds of the same feather).

Lastly, naturally many of us men easily forget names of first time acquaintances, so you reach that part of saving the number in your phone but you would like to keep your low attention span and shallow memory problem to yourself, so you don’t ask for the name again.

How do you would  recover from this tight situation while living in a country that skipped the basic of technologies like the white pages or the telephone directory, where we still sell SIM cards on the street corner and many phone lines are not registered? Here is what you can do before you start sending unsolicited messages to your future wife or before making a deceitfully orchestrated looser attempt of asking your friend to call her and ask for you.(he will take the number and take her too, unless he is uglier). Here is a few clever ways you can find her name.

Google +: The probability that she was using an android phone is higher than 1, so save her in your phone as “panamera chic” and check Google+, if you need more info on this, you should take a short course on ‘cyber stalking’. And stop misusing your smartphone for ‘whatsapping’ only.

Visitor’s book: well if you are slick enough and managed to arrange your second encounter to be at your hostel(for campus students), run to the visitor’s book and check. Thinking about this, you will need Clark Kent’s speed to do this. The opening of the door to usher her in, the running to the gate and be back in time before she takes a seat on you only seat, your bed. Good luck.

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Mobile money: You really really want that name and you are too dumb to find other ways to get it, send her money using any of the mobile money services, the agent will confirm the transaction by reading out her name. Also good luck if she gave you a fake number which is coincidentally real and is registered for mobile money services.

Talk to her Mom: so you happen to be a ‘sponsor’ or ‘investor’ who likes to prey on your work-mate’s daughters, here you just have to start a conversation about your families with her, she will be glad to tell you of how her daughter ‘kikalamu’ has grown so much.

#UgHacks: How to hook up with a muzungu without being a rasta

So you are an average male Ugandan who likes to keep his hair short and neat, you prefer your jeans clean when you put them on, you are not into weed and smoking, and although we are all black, you have a lighter skin complexion and you have a real job so you cannot hang out at bars everyday. how are you going to compete with the Rasta who are everything you are not for a muzungu lady?

First what makes the Ugandan Rasta the bazungu ladies men is a mystery but we won’t delve into that. though i think it is the dreads, no. maybe the fact that they do not discriminate by age. or they are more Ugandan than the rest. mystery? so to have it easier just be a Rasta.
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But for one who sees this unfairness where if a muzungu is dating a Ugandan girl, they date the best of them preferably a model. Then when a Ugandan man dates a muzungu….all hell breaks loose but i do not want to offend anyone. so i think we need a meeting with the Rasta community because they are the majority of people setting these unfair standards.

Enough of the Rasta.

Given that there is currently an obsession about dating light-skin chics in Kampala,  if someone turned up with a white chic, competition would be dead. he would win the competition without lifting a finger.

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Now from Ug-Hacks here is how a “not-a-Rasta” guy can turn up with a muzungu babe.

Join Aiesec:this students organization is responsible for a good percentage of the datable white females who come to Uganda. if you are too old for Aiesec friends. (small shout-out to Joseph and Gerald)
Join an NGO: NGOs are breeding grounds for  bazungu females with good hearts. Keep your day Job and be one of the few Ugandans who volunteer or just be a big time donor. ‘hard paper’ that one but eyes on the prize.

Lastly: leave the tourists bazungu for the Rasta

ONE MAN’S MUSE by Chris Holm

River Heights Book Review

ONE MAN’S MUSE by Chris Holm

Larry Arsenault could’ve done without the voices.

It was bad enough he had no job. No girl. No favored hangout to haunt, nor any money to spend there if he did. Nothing but this godforsaken place, and the constant company of the voices that resided here. The rest, he could’ve swallowed – accepted as his lot in life. But the voices he could not abide, any more than he could shut them up.

Time was, things were different. Time was, Larry had as decent a gig as a high school dropout in Central Maine could hope for, working the line at the Georgia-Pacific pulp mill up in Old Town. Made enough to buy himself a decent truck (a Ford Super Duty not more’n ten years old) and his knocked-up lady friend a ring (a cheap gold band inlaid with diamond chips, but real gold…

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