Saturday, December 24, 2011

Random thoughts on Afreaka (#2)

This post ain't named so cuz it's a sequence of the previous post, but when SRK names a movie Don2 with no relevance to the first one, so can I...


With each step, bus journey, matatu ride and a random conversation with an African , you come to realize that you're in a different continent and all the travel is quite fatal to prejudice. As any other travel experience, you will be baffled at the diversity of the people - Nigeria alone has 510 live languages with 250 ethnic groups. And within Kenya, there are 42 different tribes with several thousand different clans who do not speak the same language. And overall, I've never seen a race of people who've got a better sense of humor than the Africans.

Some random observations and #TIA moments (in no particular order, just like my room)

- A guy at the Maasai market guy saw my t-shirt (that read "Being Human") and chased me yelling "Hey brotha, if you really wanna be human, why don't you give me some cash?" - I figured Karma is a bitch, given that Salman Khan killed the "Black Buck". Just saying...

- As I heard about the reversed dowry system in most parts of Africa, I could not stop but imagine a Reddy daddy with 2 kids, a girl and a boy where the son marries an African woman and the daughter, a Telugu boy. Jokes apart, I would love to see that happen.

- Everyday, as I walked back from work, I would notice a cool gang of friends chatting with each other, sitting on their motorcycles. Only when one of them approached me and asked if he could drop me, did I realize that they were actually "transport". The "boda-boda" is an insanely phenomenal system in East Africa where people drop other people on a motorcycle or a bicycle for a fee. Legend has it that when a machaan was approached by a boda-boda, he told him poda-poda. And yes, the name stuck.

- And everyday, as I walked back from work, I would also notice a cool gang of women at the crossroads, waiting to get into new cars, everyday. You get the drift. But unlike in (most parts of)India, women in Nairobi choose to do it themselves for an extra buck. Although some things like an extra dash of lipstick, high heeled boots and gawdy dressing remains consistently the same.

- Modern day African women change their hairstyles every week. Got my bubble burst once when a random chick said hi to me and then I realize I failed to recognize my own colleague. Accra, Ghana has more salons/sq km than any other place in the world. Speaking of Accra and shops, they have phrases as names of their shops and it always is, in praise of the Lord.

- Safaris don't get any better anywhere else - waking up to see zebras and wildebeests a few metres outside your tent and chasing down a cheetah chasing its prey were probably the best parts of my trip.

- During the safari, we went deep inside the wild in search of lions and we ended up seeing a Maasai dude chilling with his cattle, unarmed. Take that superheroes! Maasai tribes kill lions but live in fear of termites. They literally, scale new heights, in securing more girlfriends by jumping as high as they can.


- Africans are the best dancers. Ever. A personal must-do recommendation is to walk into a bar and witness Africans dance for Shakira's waka waka song. The speed at which women can shake their butt, rivals the hummingbird's wing flap. Interestingly, slow reggae dance is also amazing to look at. Overall, I think they are the most uninhibited and awesome dancers.

- If you thought the movie Madagascar was funny, you should read the story of a former DJ who organized a coup there to became the president of Madagascar. Can you imagine that happening in India?

- India will look like a reasonably honest country with not so many issues, if you end up here
> Nigerian cops will simply stop cars and ask for money, without a reason
> When asked why I was being charged for an extra $30 for my visa to Ghana, the
woman simply said "Do you wanna go to Ghana or not?"

Weddings, food, religious practices, clothing and many other aspects are mind blowingly different and unique out here. Guess there is only so much I can recollect today...Can't wait for Tanzania feb '12.

Of course, more later.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Those evil returning winds...

The final pain of a mother's yell
the end of a hiccup you can't tell
The final seconds of the exam,
the confession of a friend's sham
Scraped knees, broken chin,
those wounds on the skin
Gone with the wind...

The final vision of the breathless,
as the mortuary's ajar door passes
The untasted drops of the vintage,
as the glass shatters on the floorage
The last rice that nourished the departed
the last ice that unfulfilled the besotted
Gone with the wind...

The final step of the vagabond,
the last sex with the blonde
That final puff of the last cigarette,
those promises that you unkept
The end of an indulgence,
the beginning of temptation
Gone with the returning wind...

My 2 paisas:
Humans have always known to deal well with things that they know have ended. They could end so well or end so bad, but that doesn't matter. What bothers mankind are those things that can be had or done again, for one last time. That last time, which comes again, and again...and again. Aaah those evil returning winds

Monday, July 25, 2011

The first random thoughts on Afreaka

I definitely did not feel like the white guy when the Kenyan immigration officer reduced my visa from 3 months to a month. Wonder what the Patels did to Africa. Surds, though stick to their culture of driving gypsies in any part of the world.

The city's cost of living is freaking high. Given my limited per diem....

60 Rs. for a bottle of water (Strategy: Camel up and drink water from the office)
100 Rs for toothpaste (Strategy: Squeeze tube mildly from bottom and flatten slowly as you go up)
200 Rs. for a beer (Strategy: No compromise on beers)
120 Rs. for a small hand sanitizer (Strategy: Who the fuck wants a sanitizer. Use jeans pant to rub)

Nairobi is a very interesting city with 50% of their population living in slums and earning less than 40 Rs. a day. If that wasn't enough, they occupy only about 5% of the area thanks to deforestation and urban settlements.

Crime is inevitable in this city. Although one dude was polite in letting me know that I need to give him my bag. He gave up after following me for a few steps. Hordes of people come physically close and ask(beg) you for soda, cash or whatever you have. I do not quite blame them. The police is corrupt (more than in India) and a cop stopped my van and asked my driver for money. A beggar with uniform and authority. Period. My driver simply said he has no cash and drove ahead.

My service apartment is comfortable with one exception. No a/c or fan and the room temperature is what I get to live with. Bright spot: Shereen looks hot and attractive (one of the 3 caretakers of the apartments, on rotation basis).

The city is crazy about football. About 500 people filled the streets and screamed their lungs out in the center of the city[Video link]. Kenyan beer tastes good. The toilets have no separation. In India, I wouldn't hesitate to open my fly out, but here, I prefer using the enclosed loos, given the certain projected inferiority complex - thanks to Russel Peters and others.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happiness for dummies

Hang on.
Move on.
Turn back.

Hence Proved.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Laugh on

Deep inside my head,
I burn you alive.
You don't flinch,
you don't scream.
Did you just think,
you deserve it?
Or did I just hear you laugh,
watching me burn…..
…..your effigy.

for that will be your last.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No seriously, I'm freakin busy

I logged in to check my leave history and it got me thinking. And then it made me happy. It then made me appreciate the life that I have.

I've been working for Google for 3 years now and I have been out of office for 60.5 days. This excludes all the weekend holidays which amount to 312 days(for 3 years). It's not over yet. We get roughly 12 Govt./National holidays and most of them fall on weekdays. So another 30 days. That makes it ~ 403 days or 1.10 years of not working in the last 3 years.

Happiness turns to guilt if I think about how I split my time at the office during the remaining 1.9 years.

So what did I do with the 1.10 years?

Thanks Google (For keeping me busy, that is)