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.