Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Snacks On A Plane

“You choose the locomotion that you want!” my boss bellowed as she waved me away and took an incoming call.

I choose the locomotion I want? Oh come on. You are talking to a guy who doesn’t even make up his mind whether he needs to take the opaque lift, steep stairs or moving staircase when he is shopping at Nakumatt Lifestyle. The other day I even wondered loudly to a shop attendant why she couldn’t carry me upstairs in her arms.

The boss was still on phone. Clipperty clapperty, laugh, clop… then she adds the word REALLY (which she pronounces ree-ally?) and she goes on with the clipperty clapperty, laugh, clop…

It all happened when we got a call from our Mombasa client that KRA had detained some goods at the port and were now asking for a tax that was greater than the value of the same goods. Now, I didn’t pay attention during all those Economics classes due to the distraction of having a teacher with decent looks and a sizeable, you know.

You don’t? Well, Diabs (for that was what we called our teacher who would surely merit a Facebook Group now) would always awaken me from my fantasies with ‘You there, behind!

‘Behind?’ I would repeat in all innocence triggering a heavy bout of laughter from my co-students. But now you know. So she would ask about all these crazy three letter abbreviations. Like asking me what ERP stood for. Sijui it used to be Enterprise Resource Planning or sumn. There was also EPS for Earnings Per Share. As far as I knew it then I had a terrible affliction of EPA. Error Prone Abbreviations. Yet all I ever saw in that class was her VPL.

That was then. The now was still ‘clipperty clapperty, laugh, clop..’ as my boss went on with her phone call. Truly, you can tell a man by the company he keeps works for. Michael Jackson may have been right when he sang about bosses. They Don’t Care About Us.

The rules of the Firm were clear. If an employee needed to travel to Mombasa, they would, if traveling at night take the bus and if they were travelling during the day, go by air. But when I told her that I wanted to go with a personal car, a day in advance, she was acting up. You would think by locomotion she meant even a bicycle or mkokoteni. Maybe the correct MJ song is Bad.

I don’t mind matatus. They aren’t really all Nissans but Kenyans are incorrigible. The last time I travelled in one called a ‘shuttle’ to Eldoret, I was taken aback when –Houston we have a problem - the old lady next to me launched herself into a prayer before the journey seeking to quote her ‘journey mercies’. I wouldn’t have minded being sat between two gorgeous girls called Mercy too! So I asked the good lady whether she always prayed before all journeys.

‘Mimi huwa naomba tu kwa-Nissan,’ she replied.

‘Mimi huwa naomba tu kanisani,’ I told her. But if travelling in this mode meant I was assailed by religious conversations, I quickly struck it out. I enjoy journeys where there is a great chance of engaging in the Lips Olympics.

I don’t mind air travel. No. In fact, the stewardesses are often all pretty. In an era of ageism and sexism lawsuits, I am waiting for an airline to be sued for uglism.

For some of us, the only chance we get to lift off the ground (with the added benefits of turbulence is when they get into a lift). Speaking of lifts, it is an open secret that I would rather be stuck in a lift with Penninah Karibe than with a lift engineer.

The last time I took to the skies on my way to Jo’burg, I was horrified by the pronunciation of the South African Airways crew. Having settled in, I asked the guy what he was going to serve. ‘We will serve you some snakes!’

My eyes went bulgy as I scanned around for Samuel Jackson but I still managed to put in two words of shock: ‘Some what?’

‘Snakes, sir!’ he said.

‘What kind of snakes?’ I posed whilst holding my bladder tight.

‘We have all sorts of snakes…’

Turns out, the mispronouncing crew was talking about snacks! Ree-ally!

When the phone finally came down (and I suppose this was only after my boss hit her word limit for the day) she indicated firmly that I had to go by air. The way she said it, you would have thought she said I had to vanish into thin air. And so my date with KRA was made. Short of becoming Saddam Hussein’s defence lawyer (as you recall, the militants shot his lawyers and not the prosecutors) dealing with KRA is often one of the most difficult assignments I have taken.

I may love Divorce Law but this was one of those times I said to myself, “Self, why not take this job as a challenge that gets you some quid and a stroll on the beach?” My self agreed!

At the Airport, I bump into Simon. Simon Wakson. A former classmate back in High. The last I heard of this guy he was selling his kidney to raise school fees. He seemed to have aged faster than normal!

Here he was at the airport with maybe one kidney, and walking in crutches. I knew the guy had a weakness for telling lies and I waited for a spin greater than he was about to marry Karibe. “I had my third knee operation,” he said pointing at the crutches. You see? Who has ever heard of a person with one kidney and three knees?

Turns out he was waiting for benefactors from Europe. If Simon had that modicum of business and common sense, he would have undergone plastic surgery to turn him to General Mathenge and get feted instead of that Ethiopian farmer. Mark you, it wouldn’t have been a lot of surgery.

“I wonder if you can lend me a little money? Say a hundred thao?” he asked.

You know Wakson is the kind of guy you may lend money then he repays you with an envelop dripping blood and when you open it, it’s a kidney!

This selling my kidney business came about because Simon in his wisdom or lack of it thought he was a pauper. However when we were in First Form, our teacher of English (who hated to be called our ‘English teacher’ and once asked us to give him twelve meanings of the sentence: The police were ordered to stop drinking at midnight) asked us to write an essay on ‘My Life As A Pauper’. Predictably, Simon wrote an amusing essay about how he had been planted and we were puzzled until we saw his essay was titled ‘My Life As A Pawpaw’. Maybe he should have spared his kidney and sold his faulty ears!

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman! So I was saved from Simon selling me kidney stones for a hundred grand when the soothing voice came over the loudspeaker that we were ready to board. And I dashed off like a surgeon.

On our descent, the cabin crew got us off to an alarm with the announcement: Karibu kwa uwanja wa ndege wa Entebbe. I get thinking: ‘WTF? Did Yoweri Museveni kidnap us? Did he say we were in land belonging to Kenya and air belonging to Uganda? Then a correction follows a few seconds after. Samahani. Karibu kwenye Uwanja wa Kimataifa wa Moi, Nairobi. Samahani. Karibu kwenye Moi Airport Mombasa.

In those three seconds we were in Entebbe, Nairobi and finally Mombasa. “I am speechless!” I heard the chap seated next to me say. Yeah, right. If he was ‘speechless’, then how come I was able to hear him as he said he was speechless?

You know since the alerts on terror got us into all this panic, you are not allowed to carry most hand luggage like lotion and powdered milk but it would really help if KQ allowed its crew to carry some maps!

Anyway to give Caesar – or Naikuni - his dues the flight had been a great one.

The Coasterians were friendly as usual. The cab guy said ‘Karibu’ though frankly, I was absent minded and begged his pardon with a ’Scuse me, Karibe?’ The hotel porter said it too. Karibu, that is. I found an envelop on my bed that was addressed to me! It also said in about twenty lines: Karibu.

I also saw the lines: It is safe to leave your door unlocked. I looked around the cute room. What was there to steal other than my heart? For starters, the plasma TV. NTV turned me on, or truthfully, I turned on NTV. And I saw, oh well... I saw her. Karibe that is. She was announcing some news about some tourists who were visiting the country and they showed a clip of some frail women with … Simon! Great snakes!

Here is hoping I have a KRA - and Simon - free time. I wouldn't worry about Simon... he probably sold his heart this time!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Moment of Truth

Those who don’t think my blog is brilliant, in your face! Because duly tagged by Darius Stone, KK, Pink M, Mama Maisha and Mboiz it is now my single duty (after the stipulated mandatory bragging) to step into this reality show we all love to hate. Yes, this is my moment of truth.

First the rules. Sod the rules. Do I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing about Ruth, so help me Gawd? Yes. So here go the ten questions posed to me.

Tell us about one annoying habit you have.

I like having the last word in each and every conversation. This morning I went up to get my daily newspaper and met the vendor clad in some horrific vest with a Standard newspaper completing the regalia on his chest.

“Habari ya Leo?” the fellow said as I handed over funds for the purchase. So I tell him “Najuaje Habari ya Leo na bado sijasoma gazeti?” Big mistake.Hapanahe corrects me Gazeti huwa na habari ya jana”. So I pick up my newspaper and tell him, “Basi ukitaka kujua Habari ya Leo, si usome gazeti ya kesho!” and I leave.

Tell us about your house.

I am so into branding that my humble abode has labels on each door inspired by the NBA marketing. My kitchen has the label ‘Where experiments happen’ whilst the small gym has ‘Where Fear Factor happens’. The johns obviously have the slogan ‘Where shit happens’. My bedroom has ‘Where amazing happens’. I am hoping to buy one of those neon signs near the bed so that everytime I come, a flicker tape Amazing Just Happened’ can light up.

Do you love politics?

Are you kidding me? Politics in Kenya sucks and the worst bit about it is that a majority of Kenyans spent all the time talking about politicians. I no longer follow the Prime News since at my regular swallow, everybody has an account and some opinion about politics. The other day, some man vilified by the media after saying that MPs who paid taxes when the law did not obligate them so to do were ‘sufficient philanthropists’ turned into a media darling when he declared himself the Chair of the House Business Comedy.

“The Speaker is a brave and decisive man!?” the unsolicited view came from the man popping a Pilsner. So I ask him “Oh really?” Hoping that his political scientism will shine through, he goes on about how the Speaker had taken the bull by its horns. ‘He acted like Solomon’ he goes on. I wince. So I politely tell him “If the Speaker had balls, he would be called Makende not Marende!”

Frankly, if the Speaker is the new Solomon and Kalonzo is the new Iscariot and Karua the new Mary Magdalene and Saitoti the new Herod, I am the new Doubting Thomas!

So you hate politics, but if you were a politician, what would be your slogan?

Like I said, politics is overrated. I would want to say ‘GOT BRAINS?’ much like the Got Milk campaign but that will scuttle my efforts. If any politician had a slogan with the words CHANGE they are bound to attract voters like a moat to a flame. Obama wowed with his CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN whilst during the controversial 2007 elections, Raila tried REAL CHANGE and even good old Kibaki came up with CHANGE THAT YOU CAN SEE. I think my slogan would be CHANGE OF MUSICAL CHAIRS. I am sure so many people will still vote for me!

You sound like the whining type! Are you the whining type?

Most of my friends say I am! I complain about everything! For instance, some models have been spending some time at my house. So I was recently complaining to my buddies that these models are so annoying. ‘They so lack self consciousness. The other day I met one on the stairs wearing nothing but slippers and a shower cap. She was dripping wet. She had just come from the shower and had forgotten to carry a towel to the bathroom.’

I am so sick and tired of all this. I mean, why can’t they just wear clothes like normal people? For some reason, I find women more attractive when they are clothed.

These models, what are they doing at your house?

One of them is my current Significant Other. I was at a coffee place one day flirting with the waitress when she just walked in with this prettiest face and loveliest hair. As she passed my table, I waved away the waitress and watched her walk past. She looked around the tables and as she passed by again, I stood and just said ‘Excuse me. Allow me to say this. You have a nice ass!’ She didn’t slap me. Instead she just smiles and says ‘You want to tap it?’ I liked her even more! ‘No.’ I said ‘I want to represent it!’

The guy she was meeting was late so she gave me an ear. ‘Let me hear this’ she said. She was and still is a professional model though she insists she is a model professional. That is how I became her new agent and since then she has bagged a few lucrative endorsements and adverts. But now she has all these model girlfriends coming over to my house. I know, Spice Girls sang that ‘If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends’ but any men who have followed that advice have usually found that they are downgraded from lover status.

On Labour Day, I am watching the Atwoli Show on TV when one of the models comes over and sits on my laps. ‘I hope you don’t mind if I sit on his laps,’ she tells her friend who says she doesn’t mind and gives me one of those killer smiles.

Poor guy. Tell us something embarrassing, please.

Let me see. Oh yeah. I have no idea how to ride a bicycle! I look at all these kids with envy when they ride in the estate and I wish I could go back to my childhood and learn how to do it. I gave up riding bicycles when as youngster I dislocated my shoulder after falling off one of those two wheelers. People say having sex is much like riding a bicycle. And this is true since I also once dislocated my shoulder when trying out a certain position during nookie.

Some people would consider you mad. Have you ever been certified?

I think seeing shrinks is an absolute waster of beer money. But I have seen a shrink and even she has said I am a normal person. I went to see the shrink because I have a fear of pregnant women. Just freaks me out when I see any. So there I was lying on the couch and she made me narrate stories about my childhood. I happened to mention that when I was young, I lived in the staff houses of a hospital where my mum worked at. I would occasionally sneak to the window of the labour ward and watch the screaming women as they gave birth to life. What a lesson on expansion! Back then, doctors wouldn’t scribble CS on pregnant women’s bellies and even if they did it meant Cash Strapped not Caesarean Section. I almost became a Catholic Priest because of this fear. My shrink calls it tacophobia but for a guy who loves butt, that sounds almost unbelievable.

What makes you happy?

I don’t like being happy because when you are sad, the only thing you can become is happy but when you are happy you are likely to become sad later. However, a good football match can make me happy. As far as I am concerned, there are two types of men. Those who play football and those who watch it. I am in the latter category. I am a qualified FIFA referee too though I haven’t had a run around on the football pitch in recent years due to my ageing process. People think I became a referee so that I could watch football from up-close. It isn’t true. When you are on the pitch, football players talk a lot and I think this is wrong. Football was intended to be enjoyed just like sex. In silence.

Which is why football commentators are such a kill joy to me. On Saturday evening I was smashing back some wines, bottle after bottle, whilst enjoying El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona when two of the models lying with me on the couch started asking me whether football is better than sex (their friend was catching beauty sleep!) It is funny they didn’t understand the rule about silence. But if anyone walked in on us, they would have thought we were a noisy threesome. Noisy threesome? Funny, that is what you get when you rearrange Eto’o, Henry and Messi.

This is the tenth question. Any thing you left out?

No. As it is I am extremely embarrassed by this post that makes me too stupid! At least I didn’t talk about Ruth. Or the fact that I have never had a Safaricom line. Or the fact that I was once conned into buying a product called Bullshit Repellant. Or that I honestly find most pets incredible, with emphasis on the last six letters of the word.

For more honest crap, join us soon for another episode of Moment of Truth featuring in the hot seat any of the following:-

Loco, Shiko-Msa, GITM, Sketchitect, The Campus Girl, Ngares and Ingwe Fan.