Monday, November 23, 2009
I went around the city centre yesterday. Before getting dropped off at my very colonial, very snazz-matazz hotel. (I have my own bathroom! I can walk around naked in my hotel room! I get a robe, in case my curtains happen to be open!)
The city centre reminds me a lot of Maputo and Sar es Salaam. Big bustling African city, with colonial buildings wedged tightly between lots of crazy ugly modern stuff made from glass and concrete, and a touch dirty. But one thing I can say for Nairobi is that everyone - business' and housing - seems to keep their hedges in impeccable topiarified condition.
I saw the memorial park where the US embassy used to stand, before it got bombed in those 1998 terrorist attacks. It stood right next to the bus and taxi rank, so no wonder so many people got killed. I also went to a market - where I was immediately hustled to distrction. 'You can go slowly - pole pole - that's the East African way, slowly, so you can buy everything.'
'Dude. I'm not from Europe. I am South African, and therefore am not a rich 'msungu' (White person)'
I got a kikoi and some earrings, and had to sit down on a chair (the throne of negotiation), to try and bargain them down. I still think I got ripped, but hey, I gave it my best shot.
Then I spent the latter half of the afternoon succumbing to colonial hedonism. That is, drinking gin and tonics by the pool. Tried to stay out of the sun, but now have a red nose. Awesome.
Felt a touch lonely while dining on bruschetta and my own cheap Kenyan wine at the restaurant. (I bought my own from the supermarket. Why? The headache last night was insatiable. Christ.) It's one thing staying at an amazing hotel, surrounded by other lonely executives or executives with wives prancing around in Versace and oversized sunglasses, but when you have no one to share the experience with it feels rather ridiculous. I wish the rest of my team could've come.
Anyway, now off for an intense first day course today.