Sunday, January 08, 2006

Odds and Ends From the Brain Side

It looks like the rains are starting soon. The clouds moved in about an hour ago and the air feels light and cool, instead of heavy and dry. Locals say in another week we may get some rain, which means I need to finish putting poop in my shamba soon.

I went over to the headmaster’s house for tea this morning. His nephew Ben, who is visiting from Nairobi, invited me to church. When I told him I don’t go to church, he said, “Oh I never used to go, either. I just started going last year.”

I asked him what made him decide to start going. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I have nothing better to do.” This was different.

“If you need something to do, you can clean my house,” I said.

“HAHAHAHAHA!” he said, then lowered his voice. “If we were in Nairobi I’d help you clean your house, but I can’t do that here. People would think, why is a man doing housework?”

The World’s Nastiest Choo

I’m not sure if it beats out some of the “toilets” I used in China, but the ladies’ choo at the Nakuru matatu stage is the worst I’ve seen in Kenya. The floor is a slippery pee-poo-and-mud soup, and I discovered that if you only need to do a short call, you don’t need to bother going into a stall as I had just done; you can just find yourself a nice spot among all the other peeing women in the corridor and pee into the gutter that runs around the whole restroom. The stalls are for long calls, which would explain why there was a giant pile of poo in the middle of each one. Apparently the logic is that if you have to poo bad enough or your matatu is about to leave without you, you don’t care that there’s no door on the stall so you can watch women peeing outside while you add your contribution to the pile o’ crap that you’re hovering over. Roll up your trousers, ladies!

Kenyan Listening Skills

Kumiko and I were buying vegetables from the stands outside her house. One particular vendor, Mama Joyce, wanted Kumiko’s Nalgene water bottle.

“You give me your bottle,” she told Kumiko.

“This is my only one,” Kumiko said. “I don’t have another to give you.”

“But you gave one to the other girl,” Mama Joyce said, referring to a young woman who had been going around the neighborhood flaunting a water bottle that Kumiko gave her. “Give me your bottle.”

“I don’t have another,” Kumiko said. “This is mine.”

“Give me your bottle,” said Mama Joyce. “You get from America and you give me.”

“Listen!” Kumiko said. “I don’t have a bottle to give you.”

Mama Joyce looked at me, then looked at the Nalgene bottle I had in my backpack. “You give me your bottle,” she said to me. We walked away as quickly as possible clutching our Nalgene bottles, apparently coveted possessions in Kenya.


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