November 27, 2012

Straps can be adjusted

When I took my safari to Amboseli, I booked it as a discount package through a Groupon-like site called Rupu.  It was a great deal (~40% discount) and a great trip, but now I'm on their mailing list.  Typically I auto-delete the e-mails every morning for all-you-can-eat steak buffets as I wait for the next great gem of a deal to turn up.  But today's offer really took the cake:

A glamorous BRA STRAP from Elegantly African.

Ladies, replace those unsightly bra straps with these glamorous bra straps from Elegantly African.  Going for a party, hang out with friends or a wedding?  Well, if you have been searching for elegant and fashionable bra straps in Nairobi, we have the perfect solution for you.

- Dazzling bra-straps in various designs
- Straps can be adjusted
- Provide ample choice to select the one that best suits a dream outfit"

Because I have no pictures today (weekend update coming soon), here are a few links to round-out your internet-browsing experience:

The votes are in, and Obama beats Romney in a western Kenyan village.

Breaking news: Obama beats Romney in Kenya even through animal surrogates.

And finally, what would people from Africa think if they were only shown this fundraising video of Norway?

November 22, 2012

It's my second

It’s my second consecutive Thanksgiving in Kenya. Last year I was eating cabbage and streaked in mud, so this year there was really nowhere to go but up.

I convinced my coworkers to take me out to lunch after telling them that Thanksgiving was based on white foreigners arriving in a strange land and being fed a feast by the locals. They asked about the subsequent killing of the Native Americans, but I said we could discuss it after lunch.

However, around 12:30 I happened to remember that my 3-month visa expired yesterday, making me an illegal visitor to Kenya. An illegal alien on Thanksgiving. So I had to rush home to get my passport and rush down to the immigration office at Nyayo House downtown.


Dept. of Immigration.

 Last year when I went to extend my visa, it took 2 trips, several hours, several lines, an alien application form, 2 passport pictures, 10 fingerprints, and $25. This year it only took 5 minutes and $25. No application, no pictures, no finger prints, no waiting... Which leads me to believe that the money was directly pocketed by the guy that helped me.

Illegal alien for Thanksgiving.

The Kenyan police have been showing up in international news lately for a variety of reasons, mostly centering around corruption and incompetence. And it's true- Nairobi is a city, if not entirely fueled on bribes, at least topping up the tank with them. And I think a fair chunk of that is due to the inefficiency of the legitimate bureaucracy. If you get pulled over for speeding, the proper procedure isn't a site-issued ticket. Rather, you are supposed to go to the nearest police station, wait through trial with all the other crimes that day, and then pay your nominal fine. It's a process that can take an hour at best, a day at worst. Therefore, anyone who gets pulled over for speeding has strong motivation to just use that money to pay off the cop directly. If the government were as efficient as the guy who gave me my visa today, it would reduce at least a portion of the corruption.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I was too afraid of the military guys with assault riffles to take any more pictures inside immigration, so I took this one outside instead.  Pretty sure that's not what "clean drinking water" actually means.

Which is all to say- Happy Thanksgiving to me! I participated in unintentional bribery and saved myself several hours at immigration and oily finger pads!

Anyway, it's a day in which most of the people I know are ticking the list of things for which they're thankful. In addition to my speedy immigration trip, I'm thankful for... just about everything.

Life feels pretty charmed these days.

November 17, 2012

What I've been up to

It's been a long time since my last post here.  Pole. (Kiswahili "sorry." pr. pole-ay).  I don't have a solid defense or any ground-breaking excuses.  Just that my boss has been in town and work is a whirlwind.  Couple that with my evening Baptist aerobics, and I'm usually ready to hit the pillow by 10pm or earlier every day.  For a while, I also thought that my camera had walked off, so I was photo-light.  But the past two weeks have been full, not only with the U.S. presidential elections, but with daily life in Nairobi.  So now that I've unearthed the camera, this post will be a simple pictorial round-up of what I've been up to over here.  More in-depth posts to come soon.

Bi-weekly (twice, not every other) Kiswahili lessons at Com Cafe in Kenyatta National Hospital on my lunch break:

Com Cafe, next to my office.  

Salsa at Brew Bistro on Wednesdays and Meridian Hotel on Fridays.  We have a standing reservation for the table next to the dance floor:

Wednesday dance floor at Brew Bistro. 

A funeral at a co-worker's house in Sultan Hamud:
Again, the only mzungu.

Purchasing produce on the side of the highway to Mombassa:
Onions and tomatoes.

Papayas and Lychee.

A day-trip to 14 Falls in Thika:
Brown falls and lots of trash... Not all of Kenya is beautiful.

Traipsing (trespassing?) through private property in Thika:
The cow is not impressed.

Watching ladies cross rickety bridges made of sticks:

Til next time... Karibu.

November 1, 2012

That I don't

Over time, I've noticed a couple of things about myself that many Kenyans tend to find baffling:
That I don't go to church, and that I don't take milk with my tea.

Finally, after 8 months of dodging awkward questions, I have found a solution on the first point.  I have found religion, and it turns out (...drumroll...) I'm a Baptist.

Or, rather, I've found a Baptist church near my work that holds aerobics classes thrice weekly, which I attend with some co-workers.

My first church.

The aerobic classes themselves are quite fun; we bounce around to Pop-y gospel songs inside a room with cartoon Jesus murals.  Shout!  For joy!  For the son of God.  He's the sa-ving one.  He's the sa-ving one!  It's like doing Kick-boxing to Lifehouse music.  I usually don't wear my glasses, so everything is a blur, and I can't understand the accents of the instructors, so I just give it my best guess and flail.  Sometimes my confusion is innocuous.  When they say "you can't swim with a muscle pull" and I hear "you can't swim with a massive ball" I just get odd visualizations of a person struggling to play with an over-sized beach ball in the ocean.  However, there's a lot more riding on the distinction between "heel-toe!" and "hit her!"

Jesus loves you workout room.

Before the session, we pray for a good work-out, and after the session we share our feelings on the music and take prayer requests for the entire gambit of human ailments (from a kidnapped child or sick family member, to a lost document and clear traffic on the way home).

But it still works!  Last night when my taxi driver asked if I also believe that God protects us all, I was able to say, "I go to the Baptist church on Ngong Rd," and awkward silence averted.