Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

Posted: August 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 I met you on a boring Tuesday. What you don’t know, I was not in the mood to talk, much less to a stranger but I did it anyway.

 I wore black and let my hair down. What you don’t know, I spent hours trying to find the perfect outfit to match my mood; somber, uninspired, black.

I missed my matatu, because I went back to the house to change shoes. What you don’t know is had I not gone back I probably would not have caught the one you were on.

 I get into the matatu, the back seat is unoccupied but yet I take the one next to you. What you don’t know, I didn’t bother to check who I was sitting with. I didn’t matter, the journey was routine anyway.

I make it a habit to pay before I’m asked. I take out my money and you stir in your seat. What you don’t know, I didn’t mean to distract you from your lessons in Swahili.

We get off, exchange pleasantries, and head in different directions. What you don’t know, I hit the internet and Googled you.

Days became nights and then weeks and finally months and voila…I was engrossed. What you don’t know, I secretly hoped you were too.

You were, for a moment…I was, possibly for a while to come. What you don’t know…you turned my Tuesday around. What you don’t know…won’t hurt you. What you don’t know hurts me.  What you don’t know, being friends is second best.

My Keratoconic Self is Special

Posted: August 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

That I have Keratoconus is not the point. That I’m reminded every second that someday I will completely lose my sight and that in the meantime I cannot drive or walk around unaccompanied is what gets to me. That my doctor is surprised I made it to her office without my contact lenses on gets to me. That the girl sitting next to me in high school made a mockery of my eye condition and lied to me about what was written on the board just to prove that indeed I could not see that far gets to me. That my boss gets impatient when I take forever to locate stuff on my computer gets to me. That the bank teller would not help me fill out the deposit form correctly even after I told him I can’t make out the numbers on my ATM card gets to me. That people feel sorry for me gets to me.

For those of you wondering what keratoconus is, it’s a degenerative eye condition that affects 1 in 1000 people. Yes out of the 1000 people in my vicinity, I’m the only one with it. Isn’t that special? I am special. Heck, I’ll prove it! I’ve had the condition for about 14 years now; did it stop me for being the energetic, motivated person that I am? No! I did my national exams in primary school with no glasses. I would lie face down on my desk, my eyes would be centimeters away from the question paper and answer sheet and the teachers never inquired. They sat me at the back of the class and put the noisy ones in front. I would be ten steps behind in my reading, because I had no idea what he just wrote on the board. Yet I passed, probably did better than I expected; 12th position out of 33. Come high school, I got a pair of glasses, with time they couldn’t help me. My eyesight grew worse. By the time I was sitting for my final exam at Form Four, the glasses were completely useless. Yet, I passed; 3 points short of securing a place at the local universities.

This morning I wake up to go see my doctor. Her instructions were clear. “Have your contacts off hours before the routine.” That way she could correctly examine the condition of my eyeball. So I woke up, got ready and proceeded to town. Of course everything was blurred. If you’ve lived in Nairobi you know how crazy it is to attempt to cross roads, much worse of you can’t see properly! But somehow, I made it to her office after losing my bearing around the city a couple of times. She sees me and after the exam, she is shocked that with such poor eyesight I still made it to her office. Did I say I was special? Take note.

 I just finished my degree in Communication (Print Media) and it was a struggle, both because of finances and my eye condition. Thankfully black or white boards are used minimally in campus. I’ve had to rely heavily on my sense of hearing. Got my first pair of contact lenses in 2005, had them for 4 years-instead of 2! That stuff is pricy but now that I’m working I could probably afford another pair. I keep thinking I need a long-term solution. Surgery, perhaps. But that costs an arm and a leg. It’s scary when they tell you as you get older it gets worse. I intend to keep living my life to the fullest. I’m told it would be easier if I didn’t live alone and if I had a boyfriend, brother, sister to take me everywhere. I don’t need that. I have always managed alone. Besides I’m not blind. I just have a degenerative condition with a very funny name that sounds like shoes in Kikuyu. Other than the pounding headaches I get at the end of every day, I’m perfectly alright. I cook my own food, go to work by myself, manage to get home even when it gets dark, I’ve mastered how to tell the vehicles are far enough when crossing roads…yes, I’m fine! I am special, ain’t nobody telling me anything different.

If you haven’t already heard because you stayed too long in that cave o’ yours or you’re just not “with it”…Nairobi Tweet Up #3 happened yesterday, Sunday 17, 2011 at the Mercury Lounge, ABC Place Westlands. And it was AWESOME!!

It’s always a pleasure getting together with interesting tweeps in an afternoon of shared ideas, shared bitings (thanks @simonsema for the fish sweets!), shared joy and laughter. Worth noting and something that’s absolutely beautiful are the friendships and partnerships that have been fostered through this monthly get-together. And yesterday was no exception. I had the opportunity to meet a number of newbies to the family:

@Sirlliciously Alison Ngibuini, a Producer who blogs here 

@vancemuriu Evans Muriu C.E.O | Entrepreneur | Accountant | Business analyst, Strategist and conceptualization |Project Manager | Thinker | Writer. Find him here.

@Just_sham_it Shamit Patel who describes himself as just a guy who loves to write and who hopes to change the world someday. He blogs here 

Shamit’s dad:-)

@mikemunyi  Michael Munyi An advertising professional based in Nairobi

@Nafterli Naftali Thaithi God fearing, Teetotaler & a not so fun adrenaline Junkie…hehe… who speaks his mind. Find him here

@fabmush Joan Mumo  A wedding planner based in Nairobi. She came with me, had fun and hasn’t stopped talking about it!

Add that to the usual suspects @LucyKims, @Navraj, @hugocious, @EdGicovi, @ayumyum @kenyanmathree/@EdwinKuria, @ahmedsalims, host @davidmuriithi and yours truly…you get a full house of brilliant minds, creatives, business buffs, social activists, writers, energetic self-starters ready to take on the world!

The Nairobi TweetUp Family

Unfortunately the instigator and the brains behind NairobiTweetUp ParasGudka (@TheParasGudka) could not make it as he is currently in India. Am sure he would have loved to be there and blog posts like this and photos like the ones by @davidmuriithi serve to paint a picture of just how successful the tweetup was and his dream of bringing people together lives on. (Cue the chant “For he is a Jolly good fellow” hereJ)

The most interesting thing about the tweetup this time round was the speeches. And who better to bring the house down and bring us (well, me at least) to the brink of tears than Ahmed Salims (@ahmedsalims) and KirstyMcLullich (@VisionAfrica). Themed around Social activism, entrepreneurship and NGOs, the tweetup inspired action rather than mere talk.

Ahmed Salims started off by taking as down his memory lane, narrating how he first became an entrepreneur. This is one passionate guy and his humble background reflects a lot in the way he handles business and generally his source of inspiration. The founder of FluidTees, a contemporary brand of top design t-shirts in Kenya, emphasized on owning what you do, speaking passionately about it and running with your dream. I liked how he has taken advantage of social media to market his ideas and in effect reach more and more people. It’s not just the business of making money; it’s doing what you love and making a difference while you are at it. Join the rest of Nairobi in looking cool by ordering your personalized tee here

Next came Kirsty McLullich, a full time volunteer with Vision Africa. She is based in Nairobi and pretty much handles the Communications for the NGO keeping everyone abreast on their activities on Facebook and Twitter. Hers was a story of inspiration, calling to serve and making a difference however small. Just listening to her tell the stories of some of the kids her organization is assisting made me tear. Often we take life for granted and for just a second I saw life through those kids eyes and I was moved…moved to action. You see, it’s not enough to want change; you gotta be part of it. The NGO world face a lot of challenges and help in whatever form is always welcome. Check out Vision Africa to make your contribution today. Amazing how much information flow is useful in getting word out but when such information is always negative then there’s a problem. Read Kirsty’s blog post on how  you can be a good news ambassador telling the wonderful stories that make a difference in the lives of others.

In the end I learnt to keep going…do what I do responsibly and make a difference in someone’s life. And just as Kirsty was taking her seat, there was already amazing response to help out the kids she supports. Help from within the tweetup family and also from a well-wisher who just happened to be at the Lounge enjoying a drink. This help was in the form of cash and brilliant ideas about initiatives to bring a smile to the faces of the lovely kids Vision Africa supports. As Kirsty put it, be the Hero in your own story!

The Nairobi Tweet Up get-together has turned out to be a great forum to exchange ideas, have fun and inspire each other to grow. The lessons were plenty, friendships were forged and best of all we left feeling inspired to be the change we wanted to see. See you all in a month!

Maybe am just a lazy bum…maybe i just wanna breeze through life sipping chocolate milkshake or scooping vanilla ice cream in front of myTV,in faded jeans,no makeup on and not a care in the world. Or maybe the dating game has morphed so much the rules are so diversely complicated that I,a sucker for all things simple, out of reflex get armoured for battle when any datable male so much as breathes in my direction!

Call me a romance-killer or any title to that effect but why,oh why,do we have to drag the get-to-know-you through weeks of expensive phone calls, allergy-triggering flower deliveries,work-disrupting surprise lunches and sleep-denying late night mulling over all the above? Sigh…i say date someone you already know;a friend,or take it like a business negotiation. Now that we’ve established we are interested in each other’s business,a partnership is advised. State your expectations,adjust to accommodate each other. Now would be a wonderful opportunity to discuss any external influences in the form of prior ‘business associates’ i.e. ex-girlfriends/boyfriends who may hinder profitable growth of the about-to-begin partnership. Declare the partnership launched!

I don’t see why we should spend extra so personal funds must be used sparingly; you will phone me Friday night to confirm our Saturday date,during which everything shall be discussed including wishing me a great week.Not to worry,your/my credit card need not suffer,i got plenty of chicken and drinks left over from the book club get-together at my house last Thursday;all we need is each other baibe,it’s gon’ be a great night in. Come Wednesday,you will send me a message on my facebook inbox from the company computer checking up on me and i shall twitter back,from the company computer.Fun and inexpensive!Come Friday,I’ll text you an invite that’s so unsettling you will reply affirmatively and guess what,all that luuuurve for just R0.70! Do you get my drift? Luckily we live in the same town so no over-the-roof fuel costs.In two weeks flat,there being no other businesses,we can comfortably move to step II of this partnership.

I like this approach,it works on a timeline leaving no room for time-wasting goofing around and playing footsie. It’s professional and notably economical; last thing we need is financial pressure unless there’s a birthday or anniversary to be celebrated. It is also calculated; tension-rousing surprises are avoided;it can’t happen if it was not discussed. Another fascinating and my absolute personal favourite,are the bi-monthly reviews.You know,an overview of how things are progressing such that we know we are on the same page. If we are,we proceed to the next level and if we are not,having established the grey areas we can mutually decide to work on them or terminate the partnership. This way there’s no such thing as “I didn’t see it coming. “

Life is beautiful.Love is equally,if not more,beautiful. If you’re a lazy bum,raise your half-empty ice cream jar and say…”to effortless dating” cheers!

Wake Me if You Like Me…

Posted: March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hahaha I wrote this in my freshman year for a guy who has since moved on from the cute lanky heart-throb that i knew to the not-so-bad-looking guy with a bit of a pot belly…NOTE: Am not sure what i saw in the first place hehehehe!

I sit in the dark staring at a text message I recently got from you and as the glow from my phone slowly fades off I can’t help but wonder how you’ve been…And I smile shyly the memory of your voice so clear … You see it’s been ten days, three hours and round about thirty seconds since we last spoke and well…I miss you… Am allowed to do that right, besides we are friends right? And friends miss friends right? Ok who am I kidding! I am insanely impatient and my fingers are burning to press the green button coz I have you on speed dial, but I can’t think of a reason lamer than ‘I just called to say hi’ at a quarter to one AM… So I guess it can wait till tomorrow …or maybe never…

So as the morning charily steals into the night I lay in bed compelled to stay awake with questions, blank spaces and the jagged mystery that is you…Never before have I met one so calm and collected yet passionate about life, one so at peace with themselves yet humble and one so full of dreams bigger than themselves…and one so interesting yet so distant…

I chanced upon meeting you when I was familiar with the disappointings of the old and I wanted nothing to do with the new; and as our short messages grew into phone calls I realized there’s nothing quite like a seven-minute conversation, really. You know, the kind that doesn’t have much of a subject, it flows from the weather to my dream of making it big in fashion, from whether or not chicken soup can cure your cold to your favourite genre of music…spontaneity, unplanned delight.

So it is with my thoughts in the still of this night, random and scattered in your direction, with nothing much to base my liking on, other than the fact that your speech is refined…and you type words in full in your text messages…and your introvert laughter lasts only a couple of seconds…and you burble when your nervous…and you apologize even for the slightest forgivable gaffes…and you’re funny…
Forgive me if am being rush but I just want to know what you’re about, what that extra full stop at the end of your text message means, why you always answer your call after the fourth ring and why I am smiling while writing this…

Now that it’s out there that I might feel something for you and…I might want to know you better and…I might slightly hope that there’s a chance you’ll ask me out in the near future…text me if you just want to say hi, call me if you wanna go out for coffee and talk…best of all, wake me if you like me…

A, B, C, TEA!

Posted: January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

I love tea! That is a statement in finality as far as my favorite stimulants go. I grew up with porridge and all manner of soups. My mother always said tea and coffee were “adult beverages” as my system was not, in her words, strong enough to withstand the effects of these brews. And so when I was old enough in my mother’s eyes and first partook of the freshly ground coffee beans, I was bewitched! I not only grew to love it, I respected its ability to jolt me back to life and keep me awake when it mattered. Coffee has been my faithful companion through hours of serious and frantic writing episodes that would have flopped otherwise.

However, I bumped into material online that suggested too much coffee was bad for one’s health and I was so shocked that I purposed to cut down; not abandon it completely, just cut down. That has not been easy. I’ve had to make do with juice most days and an occasional cup of tea if only to just calm my often times edgy nerves. And tea is no exception when it comes to stimulants. For me it is a milder version of coffee, in its effects at least. It can knock off any grogginess and get me pumped up in no time. And our tea-girl at the office understands the art of tea-brewing to a tee. Now this girl is always punctual, breezily checking into the office thermos flasks in trolley and a paper-bag full of goodies. I find myself smiling every time she walks in; it’s always an exciting moment. Soon as she walks in almost everyone shoots up obviously eager to find out what she is carrying in her paper bag. Talks of “nifungie mbili” (Pack two for me) and “mbona leo mandazi ni ndogo?” (How come the mandazi is small today) fill up the room. Then, there is a bit of shuffling intercepted by sharp sounds of lips pulling tea from the china cups and after, loud sighs of satisfaction. In less than an hour her thermos flasks are drained and the entire office is content.

Now there are those who wouldn’t be bothered by a second helping but for me, a second, a third and I kid you not, a fourth is what keeps me sane most days! I think of myself as a tea enthusiast. We are not talking a hurriedly done mixture of milk and water and sprinkles of tea leaves, no. I like mine brewed, for quite sometime. The proportion of milk and water should be such that the thickness is maintained. It has got to be substantially steamy, preferable to be removed from the fire and make it to the table within seconds. The cup within which I consume this hot stimulant should be deep enough such that by the time I drain it, I’ve savored it enough. Well, almost; a second helping is non-negotiable. Our tea girl seldom disappoints. Her tea is always extra thick, steamy and creamy. I make it a point to appreciate her craft; she saves the hassle of carrying my own tea to the office.

Unfortunately, there are a few people like our tea-girl who understand tea-enthusiasts. Although, I noticed this past couple of days she slackened. The tea wasn’t creamy enough and I suspect foul play. I intend to keep my eye on her. Should the quality dwindle further I will have no choice but to confront her. You see, the right to high quality tea cannot be assumed and people like us make for bad customers. We fuss a lot and would not hesitate to dodge the bill if our tea was so much as a degree Celsius, colder than acceptable. We swear by hot tea and extra cream and steam is life at its best. So if you are behind us at the queue in the cafeteria, know that you will stand there awhile.

You see, we have to make our specifications known and this may take a while. Either, wait patiently or postpone your order. If you are seating at the table across from us and happen to overhear us complain to the waitress about the thickness of the tea, threatening to walk out if something is not done, do not be alarmed. We are simple unabashed when it comes to what we feel about milk and water proportions. Again, it’s just the love of tea, nothing personal.

I never imagined that one day I would work in a government office, be it a parastatal, ministry or any place that smelled of government. Really, not many good thoughts came to mind when I envisioned a government office. Just thinking about it brought the following images:-

• Mounds of dust
• Doors that squeaked when you opened and shut them
• Piles upon piles of neglected reports, old newspapers and magazines that if you were to look for in the market you wouldn’t find.
• A burly pot-bellied grumpy officer behind a chipped wooden desk with one groaning computer and papers strewn all over.
• Rodents and all manner of scurrying and (shivers) slithering organisms occasionally creeping up from crevices in the office
• Heated office with a broken down aircon and windows that are permanently locked and wouldn’t budge if there was an earthquake
• Low ceilings with the plywood threatening to give way at any surprise moment.

Yap! I hated government offices, my sentiments coming from bad experiences of having to queue for hours and the immense amount of paperwork needed to get identification documents et cetera.
So when I was offered the chance to take up an Editorial Intern position at a government parastatal I screamed “No thank you!” certain that even if I were to be offered a million bob I’d decline….or not! So I did what I always do when , sleep on it. I was desperate for a job and I remember asking God to send one my way but I never imagined He’d send me to a place that smelled of government! I pleaded with Him: “Lord if it’s within your power…um of course it is within your power….please take this cup away from me!” The ‘cup’ would lead me to my early death; I didn’t want to spend my vibrant years in a rigid, almost suffocating environment where everybody aside from the secretaries were 50 plus years! God did not budge so I resolved in my mind to take up the job anyway thinking I’d come back and tell Him:”Aha! You promised this would be a great experience, but guess what, it sucked! I quit!”

Day One. Monday September 4, 2010. Time: 8AM.Location: Government parastatal. Defense weapon: A permanent frown, a handkerchief for when dust mounds erupt and a notebook.
No sooner had I walked in through the gate than my attitude threatened to change. Of course I remained adamant thinking the well kept flowerbeds, friendly security and the neatly painted walls were there to fool me and that the real action was inside! My first assignment was to interview one of the parastatal officers for the organization’s publication I’d be working on. As expected I got lost several times trying to trace his office but eventually I did. As far as vanity went this guy was the chairman of the..ahem…the Association of Vain People Kenya Chapter! Why do you need to put your name in capital letters on the door, I rolled my eyes as I went in.

The subject of secretaries is one I’ll do a separate post on because I kid you not, these people can send you to a mental hospital! I approached the middle-aged woman with as much defense as one who was going to war. You can’t blame me, my preconceived notions that secretaries will always try and stop you from seeing Mkubwa (the boss). So when she ushered me in warmly I was taken aback. What? You were going to let me in to speak to Mkubwa? Are you sure Mkubwa has no fictitious meeting or other flimsy excuse you normally use to keep people off? Wow, this must be my lucky day! As I knocked Mkubwa’s office, I still stubbornly hoped I’d find mounds of dust and a burly grumpy officer just so I could prove God wrong (haha!)

I walk in and the nicest man ever is sitting behind his desk, note: a new looking desk. There’s a laptop on his desk and beside it a PC with an LCD screen…not a stray paper in sight…neatly arranged shelves…clean floor…intact ceiling…and open windows! Am I in the wrong place? I don’t think so!

“Yes Georgia, what can I do for you?” Mr. Smartly-Dressed asks me rather warmly. Ok God, you win! We proceed with the interview and by the time I step out of the guy’s office, I feel that I may have stereotyped the government. Isn’t that some kind of offense: Stereotyping the government may lead to several months’ imprisonment! Ok, maybe not! I realized, though, that often times we are quick to judge people, places, electronic gadgets…anything without really experiencing them first. So as I stepped into the lift I silently thanked God for always being faithful and I promised Him I wouldn’t complain for the duration of my internship.

Day Three. I’m having the time of my life and I mean that. My favorite thing about government offices is that the supply of freshly brewed tea with lots of milk is insatiable. Being a writer and a recovering coffee addict, I understand the need to have a stimulant next to you for when writer’s block rears its ugly head. I find my colleagues in the Corporate Communications office very welcoming. Of course in every office there’s the odd party pooper office gossip who thinks their purpose in life is to ruin people’s moods but am steering clear of that one! I have access to a computer, fast and reliable internet all day and that is why today you are reading this piece. So there you have it; I officially think government offices are awesome!