Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 2 in Nairobi and am lost in Eastleigh enroute to city center

Eastleigh estate. BBC online
I experienced it first hand; when it pours Nairobians have atavistic tendencies tacked away beneath their skins exposed to all and sundry. Today morning it was worse when the City woke with a down pour.

It was in this wet instigated mad rush that i ended up in Eastleigh by boarding a matatu i thought was heading to the CBD.

The mercurial fare in the capital which was 30 bob more in morning got me duped when the tout accepted the customary 30 bob in the morning rush. it was when the anticipated landmarks delayed that it did hit me that i was heading to Gikomba market and not the CBD.

The feeling of getting lost  started when i realised i was in Easleigh eastate. The Arabian perfumes from new commuters, the bushy and bearded faces, well tendeed shops sellliing carpets, clothes and perfumes, and lastly posters of Kamukunji by election campaigns confirmed the worst.

Though perplexed i dared not ask for obvious reasons.As the shops increased i new i had to think quick.

Quick calculation made me realize that in Gikomba market, a meeting point for Nairobi traders the cacophony of confusion would get me lost further so i alighted and went to board other matatus plying the opposite direction.

And that was when i made the mother of all mistakes when lost in Nairobi. Unlike up country, the matatus plying the opposite lane don't necessarily go back to where you are from!!

You further know you are in a hot soup when you share a street in the morning with street families, winos, lady's night carousers and school kids. So there was i with the rain soaking me to my bones and in the middle of God-knows-best!

I built hope that since where i was was the 'First Avenue Easleigh' then the was a chance of matatus to town. Other matatus passed back to other easates while others took traders to Ngara market next to the CBD (You can figure how many i asked before knowing this fact).

It was a veiled lady wearing an hijab who pointed to an accident further up the road that had diverted the matatus to town to another lane. I tried to look purposeful as i followed  her directions, but before reaching the destination a tout called out that a matatu was headed to town though the number wasn't 9/6 for Easich.

After a few meters and almost out of the Somali Ndogo (AS Esich is called) the tout realized there was more passengers to Ngara than Town and dumped us at a bus-stop rudely.

Sarakasi Dome and Ngara
Just ahead a group of Somalis hurdled together in cold, i walked to them and started a chat with an old Somali man about the general weather. I got relived when other passengers, mostly of Somali origin, joined in and complained of the increased fare to the CBD. Need i say i was relived!

So when the next Matatu pulled by with the tout screaming his lungs out "Tao! Tao! 80!" i was the first one in the hiked fare not withstanding. The other commuters remained behind ganging against the tout, while i stayed put.

With no respite the other passengers joined in before the old man shouted at the tout in the effect of Kikuyu's and their money. In a counter measure the tout joined by his driver went into a diatribe about terrorism, Osama's death, drug abuse and gays (the last two being thorny to Muslims especially with the Coast province vice)

Suddenly the argument turned bellicose and truculent with the rain and the hiked fare forming a perfect cocktail for a soar mood. Curse words were traded with mother's nether organs thrown about carelessly.

I slithered deep in my seat and thought ruefully of a bad day already getting worse.

To beat the traffic the driver took a panya (mouse) route to Ngara post office down the Sarakasi Dome sharing a fence with Ngara Girls before entering the Ngara market. (To digress, i couldnt stop imagining the student in prep with the Dome disco)

My first entry in the famous market and the place was muddy and trades milling about like peasant lost in the city's concrete jungle. We were further delayed with trucks haphazardly parked while off loading their products.

A matatu
This compounded the mood further with some Somali women yelling like a pack of rabid dogs called the tout and his driver morons. In anger the last duos dumped us at the fire station in Tom Mboya street opposite the Old Nation in a foul mood.

With about two and a half hours wasted, i walked the remaining distance crest fallen. I was late for scheduled attachment appointed which i had wrestled from an irate secretary.

Take it from me: No matter how smartly dressed you are, with polished shoes, smart mind and perfect attitude you would still appear stupid and dumb when rained on in Nairobi!

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