Saturday, October 31, 2009
It was a beautiful day at the beach –blue sky, gentle breeze, calm sea. I knew these things because a man sitting five feet from me was shouting them into his cell-phone, like a play-by-play announcer.
‘IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY,’ he shouted. ‘THE SKY IS BLUE, AND THERE’S A BREEZE, AND THE WATER IS CALM, AND THE SURF IS UP...’
Behind me, a woman, her cell phone pressed to her ear, was pacing back and forth. ‘She DIDN’T,’ she was saying. ‘No. She DIDN’T. She DID? Really? Are you SERIOUS? She, did NOT. She DID? NO, she DIDN’T. She DID? NO...’
And so on. This woman had two children, frolicking in the surf. I found myself watching them, because the woman surely was not. A giant squid could have surfaced and snatched the children, and this woman wouldn’t have noticed. Or, if she had, she’d have said, ‘Listen, I have to go, because a qiant squid just…No! She didn’t! She DID? She…’
And next to me, the play-by-play man would have said: ‘…AND A GIANT SQUID JUST ATE TWO CHILDREN, AND I’M GETTING A LITTLE SUN-BURNED, AND…
It used to be that the beach’s major annoyance was the jerk who brought a boom box and cranked it up so loud the bass notes caused seagulls to explode. But at least you knew where these jerks were. You never know which beachcombers have cell-phones. You’ll settle next to what appears to be a sleeping sunbather, or even (you hope) a corpse, and you’ll sprawl happily on your towel, and you’ll get all the way to the second sentence of your 467-page hook before you doze off to the hypnotic surge of the surf, and...
BREEP! BREEP! The corpse sits up, gropes urgently for its cell-phone, and shouts, ‘Hello! Oh, hi! I’m at the beach! Yes! The beach! Yes! It’s nice! Very peaceful! Very relaxing! What? She did? No, she DIDN’T! She DID? No, she...’
Loud cell-phoners never seem to get urgent calls. Just once, I’d like to hear one of them say’: Hello? Yes, this is Dr Kariuki. Oh, hello, Dr Makau. You’ve opened the abdominal cavity? Good! Now the appendix should be right under the... What? No, that’s the liver. Don’t take THAT out, ha ha! Oh, you did? Whoops! OK, now listen very, very carefully.
The good news is some politicians want to ban cell-phone use. The bad news is that so far they’ve only banned using hand-held cell-phones in cars, which is the one place innocent bystanders don’t have to listen to it. Granted, drivers using cell-phones may cause accidents (‘I gotta go because I just ran over a man, and he’s bleeding from the... What? She DID? NO, she didn’t. She DID? No, she..’)
But seriously folks, I don’t believe drivers yakking away on cell-phones are nearly as dangerous as drivers with babies in the back seat. I’m one of those drivers, and we’re definitely’ a menace, especially when our baby has dropped her Barney doll and is screaming to get it hack, and we’re steering with one hand and groping under the back seat with the other. (Groping for Barney would be a good name for a metal band!)
So we should, as a long-overdue safety measure, ban babies.
But that’s not my point. My point is there’s good news on the cellphone front. Several companies are selling devices that jam cellphone signals. Yes! These devices broadcast a signal that causes every cellphone in the immediate vicinity to play the 1974 hit song 'Kung Fu Fighting'. No, that’d be too wonderful. But, really, these devices actually cause nearby cellular phones to register ‘NO SERVICE’.
Unfortunately there’s a catch. Because of an outfit calling itself the ‘Communications Commission of Kenya’ (CCK), these cellphone-jamming devices might soon be illegal in Kenya. I say this stinks. I say we should all contact our local politicians. Tell them if they really want to make up for proposing that 'One Parking Bay, One Attendant' idea, they should put down their palmtops for a moment and pass a bill legalising these devices, at least for beach use.
I realise some of you disagree with me. I realise you have solid reasons -perhaps life-and-death reasons-why you MUST have your cellphone working at all times, everywhere. If you’re one of those people, please believe me when I say this: I can’t hear you!
(c) Dave Barry 2001
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Something different. This is a guest post by the lovely Aquastar. Wedding Planner extraordinaire.
Aren’t they sweet? When they are wreathed in smiles and saying “I do” he in the strong assured voice and she in that coquettish breathless voice that only women or truly gay men can perfect. (By the way the coquettish voice takes a lifetime to perfect, it starts from babyhood, but that as they say is a story for another day)
Having never been married and seriously in danger of swearing off the institution for life due to the pretence I have been privy to, that leads up to those grand affairs that Citizen has turned into an advertising cash cow named well you know the name so why waste space repeating it? Anyway where was I ahhh cash cow gimmick (You have got to love dear Masha he knows where money resides like any good okuyo sorry businessman)
So here is the low down that dear Noni neglects to mention during that one hour marathon of sugar and spice and all things wedding.
BRIDEONSTER: - yep a new word has been coined for that sweet thing wearing all that white frilly lace and cooing “I doo”
The brideonster is a unique shaken and stirred combination of a bridezilla, perfectionist, P.M.Sing bitch and those weird women on the rave who pour booze on peeps, beat the bouncer and cashier and piss on the floor like a drunken guy because their ten bob is missing from their 1000 bob change.
Here are the types of brideonsters that exist and woe unto you if the two of the personalities decide to form a coalition or government of national unity aka GNU.
The Micro Manager Brideonster:- This is the type of bride who must know, approve, re-bargain and re-confirm everything, never mind that as a planner you have the expertise in the field of weddings noooooo, if you omit something you are a liar, if you edit something you are trying to play her and woe unto you if ask for re-confirmations from her. The most popular response I have heard is ‘”Aren’t you the expert in this field? You should have advised/not advised/ had the omnipotence and omnipresence of God to read my thoughts, condense them into a form that I would like and then acted upon them accordingly. This type of bride is a perfect nightmare, as she thinks that:
a) You are a lying, cheating, desperate idle, idiot who must be policed constantly and relies on the money she is paying you as wedding planning is your last stop in life because if truth be told she is way more intelligent than you, as she works for mega-huge corporate or a bank and would have planned her wedding herself were it not for the fact that she is running this super huge corporate/bank/N.G.O. Never mind that she may just be a mere executive assistant or receptionist or sales person, hell no you may mistake her for the M.D. Added on to that her e-mails and phone conversations with you will always contain phrases such as, “you know you came highly recommended, but why is that I have to keep on following up on stuff I told you to do? I thought my wedding is now your responsibility and blah blah blah blah nonsense.
This bride always goes behind your back to harangue and arm twist suppliers/vendors (these are the guys supplying the tents, food, entertainment etc) into giving further discounts and slashing prices. In addition, she will complain to them how lazy/dishonest/and slow you are and that she has only hired you as her planner as an errand and go to person for the suppliers, a mouth piece for her if so wish to sugar coat it.
However she will still smile in your face and express surprise at why vendors are by-passing you to get to her directly or their quotes and services have suddenly changed etc. You are also sunk if they(vendor and bride) are of the same tribe, they will proceed to have long conversations in their mother tongue with you standing by looking clueless as you undoubtly are cos duh its kao and you are luhya
b) You are mentally challenged/akili punguani as regards planning things ( no disrespect meant to our mentally handicapped brothers and sisters, I love them they are them most honest humans next to kids and pets) and therefore you need her to handhold you through out the planning and co-ordination of her wedding. To her you are another project to be managed with the zeal and vigour she applies to her office projects. This usually leads to the phrases such as, “ you came highly recommended and blah blah please refer to (a) above,” due to the fact that she finds that her actions actually impede than progress her wedding, but that again is your fault too as the planner.
c) You are an idiot who never went past form four(as if people with KCSE qualifications are idiots) or are a mere student(if she gets to know that you are in University) who has no inkling as to the seriousness of her wedding and marriage and therefore treat her wedding as a fun, by the way thing that you are using to liven up your mundane life
d) It doesn’t matter how many weddings you have planned in the past, this one is hers and hence it is different. Never mind that you are simply photocopying nani’s wedding as she actually came with photos of everything and said, “I want you to do my wedding like XYZ’ wedding.”(Lack of Creativity, Yawn) and that she says, “I want ___________ (mundane and over used vendor who short changes brides) to do my cake/tents/ etc.
Additionally due to the fact that you have never planned HER wedding before(never mind that it is the photocopied type that you can plan with eyes closed, reciting the bible backwards in Hindu) she must have last say in all things, including the type of plastic that has been used to make the chair she will be sitting on at her high table and let us not forget the thread count of the seat cover that her bridal gown encased derrie will perching on because God forbid should she feel the least bit uncomfy
Folks I could go on about micro manager, but we must move on
The Amnesiac Brideonster: - this type of brideonster encompasses the micromanager brideonster, as well a memory that would make a goldfish look like an expert memory champion. In addition this bride can go psycho on you and insult you and demean you, and call you the next day and sweetly inquire how you are feeling and isn’t the wedding a lot of work to plan, what would she do without you (sigh). [PSYCHOOOOOOOOO]
Apart from the sieve like memory, this bride will always leave fundamental issues pending and then turn around and pin them on you. The most extreme one I heard was,
Bride (to planner): Why didn’t you remind me to buy sexy lingerie for my honeymoon? Now Secrets has run out of my size and what will I wear?
Planner: I am not sure how exactly I………………………..
Bride: What did I hire you for? Aki Kenyans you cant expect better blah blah blah blah
The ‘laissez-faire’ Brideonster: - This type of bride can be both a good and bad thing, you what they say about too much of something. Simply put, this bride is the opposite of the micromanager brideonster. While the micro manager has an opinion and set rules about every thing, this bride has no opinion about anything about her wedding and everything and anything goes. This should be an ideal bride for a planner right? WRONG! As she has no opinion about anything you can bet that all her female relatives and extended family as well as prospective in-laws have an opinion and want to plan her wedding because after all she has no opinion and will just be a figure head in her wedding.
What you end up with as a planner is a Kofi Annan post election violence Kenya in Jan 2008 whereby you have to be smuggled into the bride’s presence to plead with her to calm her horde of opportunistic relatives and in-laws who have turned her wedding into a version of their own weddings/marketing opportunities for their own businesses or friends businesses/a chance to gain kick backs form wily vendors/an opportunity to prove themselves to the rest of the family extended or otherwise/a chance to outshine each other as in-laws rivaling, and explain to them that you, yes you (one person) has a fool proof, fail safe and tried and tested methodology of effectively planning her wedding.
Woe unto you as a planner if your particular bride is a mouse that has no hopes of ever roaring, wewe umeishiwa, tuonane ahera, because you will definitely suffer a stroke/heart attack/madness all at once. And trust me neither heaven nor hell will take you as St. Peter and which ever demon manns the hell gate will be bouncing you back and forth each claiming to have no knowledge of you and that you are solely the responsibility of the other.
The papier mache/collage/montage brideonster: - This bride is just a fancy copy cat or rather a tasteless wannabe who pretends to have more class than that famous Collin Cowie (super, mega, rich and totally groundbreaking party planner that Oprah is always going “dahaling” to)
So any way this bride is usually a summer bunny from any foreign country which can even be T.Z or U.G. (No offence meant to our neighbours) and claims to know exactly how classy she wants her wedding to be. She will then proceed to combine the Victorian, Edwardian, African, Indo-Chinese, Indian (Hindu) and ultra modern chic, turn of the century American, as well as Puritan American (okay so I have exaggerated on the Puritan point but you get the picture) themes.
What you end up with is a scary gathering that not even Halloween or those Nigerian movie witch doctor scenes covers. Just think of those neon signs that Pelican or Falcon Signs sell and try and condensing it into a wedding, nauseating isn’t it? Added onto that the republic of Kenya only sanctions marriages performed between 6am to 6 pm, but as her planner you will be expected to somehow void reality and create an 8pm wedding for her because as she would say, “Out there (as if Kenya has outer space high walls around it with no internet access) evening/night weddings are all the rave dahaaaling.”
Just as you cannot mix wines, spirits and barley without consequences that include but are not limited to projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, and dehydration; the end result of this delusion of grandeur are wedding pictures that everyone always goes, “Oh how sweet did you have a kiddie party theme for your wedding?”
Most brides basically fall into the above four categories and some even come all four in one like a handy Swiss knife J.
GROOMPAIN- This is the male human being (though some from their behaviour may be referred to as Pro-Consul Africanus or Cro-Magnon) commonly referred to as the groom/other half/man to marry the brideonster/bugger to be pitied/ suckered idiot etc
The M.I.A Groom:- Like the name suggests, this character only shows up on the wedding day. Enough said.
The Do It Yourself Groom: - This is the groom that thinks a planner is his long lost childhood mboch/handy gal/Ms. Fix-it/ the go to gal/financial solutions’ provider to their over the top wedding/oracle/fountain of all knowledge.
As per all the above titles your e-mail and cell phone will be inundated with senseless and meaningless questions and general pestering from the groom. He will act like since you are the planner you are in essence him and are now marrying his bride(ughhhhhhhhh yuck you know what they say about beauty being in the eyes of the beholder and fellas you all know that in certain cases you have to squint really hard to see the said beauty). Therefore even intensely personal tasks such as selection of wedding bands will be assigned to you, as well as in some cases embarrassing tasks such as telling his baby mama he is shortly to be hitched to some one other than her, seriously!
The Area Code Groom:- This is the groom that has either been suckered or forced to the altar due to family or financial pressure. He therefore assigns you the task of either finding a top-secret location for his wedding (preferably Mars cos believe me this guy has been around and then some) as every location you name he has set up home there, sample this
Groom: Shiro, Wanjiku and about three Wanjas
Planner: North Horr?
Groom: Aisha, Zubeda, Aliya and Gubi
Groom: Their female camel
Planner: WTF? Please do not elaborate ever
Believe me this guy is such a whore he even has reserved standing space on Koinange Street, complete with a souvenir Majengo stool.
The Scrooge Macgroom:- Like the legendary cartoon Scrooge Macduck, this guy can give banks and insurance companies lessons on with holding payments and scrimping on basic necessities.
Ok guys, I will explain something to you, women are insane when it comes to weddings and sure we need to be reigned in a little bit when it comes to finances and wanting to rent helicopters to take us to the reception. However telling me to use my Auntie Shiko’s wedding dress and shoes who got married in 1981 isn’t practical its plain cheap, and getting your nyama choma joint guy and the local one man guitar to do the catering and entertainment at our wedding is beyond shady, and no I do not care that you own ‘shares’ in the nyam chom place on account of how many weekends you choma nyama there. In addition a boda boda isn’t vintage transportation; it is a black mamba bicycle and no we cannot use your mother’s sofa sets and coffee tables at the reception to seat guests.
The Scrooge Macgroom will bargain and set his preferred prices on everything (which is nothing) including the Sheria House Marriage License (though with our levels of corruption, he may actually have some success in that area) and for him the cheaper option will always be best.
Scrooge Macgroom does not see the value of having a planner and therefore conversations with him will always be spiced with comments such as, “Ehh! Kenyans are really innovative mpaka you have devised a new way to fleece young couples of money by ‘consulting’ on weddings. Who consults on weddings? A water project may be but weddings are simple, go to church, then eat lunch, kukata keki and then the thing is over [sarcastic laugh], Kenyans!”
This groom is so tight fisted that he will get up from the high table during the wedding to periodically come and inspect the money box at the gift table and ascertain that all envelopes are there. In addition he will hold on to balances owed until, “he is satisfied with everything.”
Woe unto you if he is a lawyer or believes himself to be conversant with the law, he will find a breach of contract form the church service to his honeymoon(the honeymoon part we do not exactly know how we get involved) and delay your payments or refuse to make your payments.
Like the brideonsters, the groompains fall into either or if you are really lucky all the categories above.
But do not despair novice planners and wedding committee loving friends and at heart romantics, there do exist couples out there who are genuinely in love and will start planning their weddings early enough and will heed their humble pennies and in some cases bountiful pennies in the bank. You will just have to search really hard, Best of luck!
For the cynics, yes once again you were proved right but there are exceptions to every rule and the four weddings that I came home smiling from that I planned from A- Z beat the 15 or so others that I came home cursing to high heaven and low hell.
Oh yeah, I am wedding planner and yes like the movie starring Jennifer Lopez we do have to do most of the stuff she did, but the Kenyan market stinks, and no there are no handsome grooms to secretly sigh over(okay there may have been one or two).
The basic point here is that marriage is serious business and if you are not ready please run away or better yet unplug the T.V. when Noni’s show starts and enjoy singledom, otherwise you may end up a regular client of my fellow blogger, and that is just all kinds of wrong and mildly disturbing.