Thursday, March 2, 2017

Why I shall build my retirement home in Kayole

Though I would very much prefer to build a small town house on Awendo street, Dandora phase 4. But my skin is too bright. You are wondering why I would want to spend my bonus years in a damp, if you have never been to Dandora. But I assure you Dandora is just the place to be a grandmother in and two of my favourite people live in Dandora.

 You can tell from the health of dogs you see walking around. Dandora has just about the fattest dogs in all of Nairobi and do you have an idea how hard it is for a mongrel breed to grow fat? So I will settle  for Kayole Kona.

I miss those days I would spend my Thursdays in Kayole. I would leave  late in the evening feeling so happy. You can tell the spirit of a place by the way the  people walk, how shopkeepers talk to you and how fast you get served in the supermarket.  The people of Kayole are busy, their cafes churn out hot meals by the hour, and in the markets, the traders sing and talk to each other and if you ask them  to bring the price down a little they are game. Haggling is a pastime.

chips mwitu,Kayole's finest

Kayole is the model town for the vivacity that is used to describe Africa. You can stand on one street and take a picture and you can sell it to National Geographic any month.
It’s not so with the town I currently live. Kinoo is a dead town. The men drink themselves into a stupor every hour. As they stagger out of the bar at 5.45 a.m, you want to pick up a few stones and throw in their direction. Not for malice, but in solidarity to the woman they are going home to. The woman who, at 11.45pm, realized she had dozed off by the fire,  so she hurriedly  put the food inside the black cupboard and went to bed. She didn’t lock the door. 

When she got married,  she had smiled at the thought of having a man in the house at night, a man who would lock the doors and get up to check what was making the chickens produce such a racket at 3.30 a.m.

In Kinoo, the traders have nothing to say to you unless  you are buying something. Don’t go in to ask for Orange network credit in the Safaricom shop. You have been warned. I don’t think it is love of money, we all love a bit of money. I would say maybe everyone around here is too eager to build another seven floored flat to pay attention to anybody else. Apart from the shoemaker, the rasta man that one is nice and the chemist where I buy my airtime, his wife has really cool dreadlocks. 

I remember one bakery in Kayole saba saba where we would buy cakes. The minute we got in the lady would be telling us some story or the other. And we hang around eating our cakes, suggesting to her to start selling tea. They would wrap our take away and whenever I thought of cake I would get into a No. 17 going to Kayole.

The markets in Kayole are cheap. The fresh food ranges from Tomatoes, peas and medium sized live chicken, 600bob each. True, the streets are noisy from the hooting cars to music shops, but once you get into your house, you can imagine you are living in Karen and go to sleep in peace.

It’s closer to town than we think

And I am not sure why you need to go to town if you live in Kayole. Do you need to bank something? You will find a bank or KCB mtaani agent. Do you need to dress up to go for a coffee. Dress up and walk to Shujaa Mall. You need to buy something from a supermarket? Naivas is right there.

It takes a 1960 matatu 25 minutes to get into town, traffic or no traffic. 1960 Forward Traveler matatus are able to drive highway style on a normal estate road. If you are inside, a seat belt won't help. Just hold tight to the seat in front of you and bend your head like you’re in a plane that is headed for a crush and fill your mind with happy thoughts.
But you needn’t ride in 1960 if your adrenaline doesn’t like to be disturbed. They’re options. Mwamba sacco, Double M or Pinpoint.

So here I am missing Kayole, Dandora, Saika, Mathare and all the places I used to walk like a local and the only consolation I have is, I like the ivy growing on my wall.

I think when the caretaker gets inspired to hack it down, I'll just move.

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