Friday, 2 November 2007
A Dodo Bird Called Nakuru
I recall brief moments of panic when my mother remembered half way through her shoping that she left the car unlocked when we parked in the streets of Nakuru. Mad rush paying getting change of mostly a penny or shilling because everything in Nakuru cost something-and-90 cents or something-and-9 shillings at the end to give you some (very) false impression of a discount. Reaching the car poking her head in and looking around shiftily the hawkers and or idlers around reaffirm her, "Mama tulikuangalilia gari." Nothing was pinched thank fully. She promptly tipped them (this is where this parking attendants/ chokoras aka Choko's now in all towns and cities spewed from)….
Needless to say it didn't really matter if you locked the car or not…most times nobody would take anything…And the pickpockets knew you by name and always said hi..they really just targeted
gullible newbies or tourists who just begged to be robbed flashing hundreds of dollars infront of
their eyes... I thought it a quaint trait to have in addition of course to being touted the cleanest town the country.
I moved away from Nakuru for 10 years and would occasionally go down to see the folks and get to breathe some real air not that dank stuff in Nairobi. Nakuru like many places today has changed, for one its not the cleanest town anymore (surprise.. surprise) and it seems everyone is a lot older …the newspaper guys, hawkers and those at the market giving me wide toothy grins happy to see me after yonks….they always ask about my dad (yet they live in the same town and perhaps see him more than I do) and always have something to say about me getting fat and when I am intending to finally get married. Like surrogate parents there eyes twinkle with pride when I tell them what I am up to in the big bad city, they are bound to tell me what their own children are up to (most times it's about them gone to America for good and what they hope is a better life) … I would feel somehow nostalgic and pleased and end up buying off some stuff from them for the sake of it….
I used to pride myself when much younger in knowing all the Nakuru cars…now I can't. The town has grown and the one main street along Kenyatta Avenue is swollen with masses of people...many I can't recognize…
On the flipside I am horrified to see so many shops closed on the main street and hung on the doors are second hand clothes…beautiful fleece jumpers of all colors. (My son and I cant resistget a couple of sweaters amid our whining on what is happening to the once wonderful main street). Many businesses have failed and others have mushroomed….the old street my mum had a florist shop is now the main second hand street in the town centre…a "sunshine boutique" get anything from sneakers to football boots, bras, socks, handbags school bags…ok you get the drift…
The street boys are now men…they are still in the streets and always remember to say hello. I stopped fearing them because I realized that they would not do much to me as a child in the small town as everyone was watching and they stopped bothering me altogether because they realized that I had not one but two big brothers (a sure force to reckon with I assure you) who would track them and release their wrath on the sorry bullies. They have street families now but as he tells me his children are all in school- what with the free education and all that he can finally see some kind of future for his off spring glad they can rid themselves of a life in the streets if they work hard at it….
Nakuru. Its strange and quiet…may be strangely quiet…. After 3 days here I have ants in my pants and I crave for the matatus blaring music, the hustle and bustle with mean Nairobi citizens trying to beat the jam and head to work then home or home then work, the loud and late night bars of Nairobi, a couple of demonstrations and a riot or two… I can't imagine why?
My mounting irritation has reached record heights and I feel like I finally cracked the code called Nakuru. To my amazement, a local leading supermarket still closes every lunch time (what time are peeps suppose to shop???) and so does almost everyone else…. Going to pay my dad's internet bill at half one, the office is closed as all the agents go for an hour's lunch… I look at my watch and wonder what would stop me from detonating there and then…..Ever had of that??? Which offices still closes at lunch time these days?? Nobody's shoping and nobody's paying bills….If you say something about it you get these knowing smiles " Yes you know in Nakuru we like peace, we are different…not like Nairobi" and I wonder why they wonder why their shops run down and close….I am curious to know how low we are going to have to go till they realize this and wake up from the euphoria of an indolent business mind..Why should the whole town have their lunch at one o'clock….no wonder I once waited for 45 minutes for 2 sausages and a fanta in a restaurant between one and two o' clock….
So it hit me that the reason my mum didn't need to worry about anyone stealing from her car those days (don't try this in any town now though…) was really because they were too complacent to do anything about it….and that complacency is still there for sure…
Ahem, meanwhile, since its one o clock now and in true Nakuru tradition, let me have some lunch first and think about more about a solution after two o'clock…..