16 February 2013

Kenya: Doing Things Mwalimu Dida Way in Nairobi

Nairobi city is a special place. It is one of the few cities in the world that is always being surveyed for one thing or the other.

It has been in the list cities with worst traffic jams on the planet, the worst airports, the worst cities to live in and a myriad of others. Last week, a survey stated that Nairobi is the second most expensive city to live in on the African continent.

There were grumblings from Nairobians of course, on social media as folks complained that fuel is more expensive in Kampala and accommodation is even more expensive in Juba and Kigali.

The survey was, of course, meant for people living in western capitals but the reality is that Nairobi is an expensive city. Most people from other African cities would get a heart attack if Kenyan food prices were replicated in their cities.

With the food prices so high, we need to invent survival strategies. Last Monday, we got a survival strategy from a very unlikely source - the presidential debate.

One of the presidential candidates, Mohammed Dida, suggested that we need to do away with the way we eat at scheduled times like breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dida also disapproved the way people eat certain meals in sequencesolutions like starters, the main course then dessert.

He suggested that we should only eat when we are hungry. Our eating should, according to the candidate who preferred to be referred to as Mwalimu, be done in a specific formular such that one third of the stomach if filled with githeri, the other with water and last one should be left empty.

Many people may not like his choice of meal but the formula is a gem. This is something we need to think about seriously if we are to reduce the cost of food and get the Nairobi out of the most expensive city list.

In fact, we can implement the good teacher's theory in other areas of life, with his formula to boot. We could make it a policy to do things only when we need to.

Many of us are already doing it where entertainment is concerned. In the past, we had to wait until we got home to our TVs and sometimes family depending on how entertaining your kids are, to get entertained.

These days, all city dwellers need to do is to charge their smartphones and invade the social media. Facebook and Twitter has seen local topics trending internationally quite often. I guess Mwalimu's formular is being put to use with one of time being spent on Facebook, one third on twitter and one third of nothing.

Sex can be described by some as mere entertainment but the human race needs to reproduce and for this to happen, there are certain things that have to be done.

We have a huge industry that starts with dating or courting followed by a wedding or a come-we-stay depending on what a couple decides. This is followed by children.

Perhaps it's only fair that we now all go digital like we are encouraged by some of our presidential candidates l by going to sperm banks whenever we want children.

The men will be going to donate and the women will go to seek that which they prefer. No more heartbreaks. No more call-in shows in the morning with folks stating how life is horrible with or without a significant other.

Talking of families, we start thinking of things that matter to them like laundry. Only a few people own washing machines. Most of us do our laundry by hand; those who are not lucky enough to afford house-helps do the washing on their own.

With the 'do something only when you need to formula', you can expect to find a whole bunch of Nairobi folks washing their clothes only when they need to. No more washing of huge piles of clothing outside your house hoping that gospel superstar and omo ambassador Emmy Kosgei will come through to offer you the latest cleaning sensation.

Clothes will be washed and ironed just before leaving the house. It will mean that one has to wake up an hour in advance to ensure they get their look sorted, but it can be done.

Venue review: The Quins Bar, Ngong Road

If there is one thing the Nairobian loves, it is jumping into the most hip trend. The last few weeks saw the elevation of the Kenya rugby fraternity as they beat big teams in the sevens circuit.

Being a typical Nairobian, it was only fair that I join the rugby mob to get a bit of their winning mentality. This saw me at the home of the Harlequins Rugby Club which is at the Rugby Union of East Africa grounds on Ngong Road. My official excuse for being at the pitch was to watch a match between the hosts and the visiting Nakuru Rugby club.

When I arrived at the grounds, the teams were still warming up. I took this opportunity to go to the back of the stadium to where the Quin's bar was. For a place which houses a rugby association, I have to say I was mightyly impressed.

The place seemed to have gone undergone an extreme makeover since the last time I was there years ago. There was a counter with two TVs screening the rugby game from other parts of the world. This was one of the few places where you are more likely to watch rugby than the English Premier League games.

The beer from the friendly waiter came at Sh200 which is quite high. The waiter was dressed in a uniform that had the words, 'Rafikiz pub' as part of its embroidery and he informed me that the Quins pub was actually being run by the Langata Road-based venue.

It made sense as the layout here was very good. There were some couches with many little pillows and the usual high seats that would allow one to drink for long periods.

I eventually went to watch the game and returned when the whole crowd was boisterous. The crowd consisted of rugby fans and these were mainly urban professionals in their 20s to 30s.

At some point patrons almost lost their cool for not getting their preferred brands when they wanted them. The management needs to plan on how it will satisfy customers even when after matches, when there are many people.

The washrooms were quite good and it is easy to get out of the venue in an emergency. A quick recap of the venue;

Good: Accessible even by matatu, clean washrooms, cool crowd, excellent decor

Bad; Pricey, service is not very good especially when there are many people.

My verdict: The Harlequins are not the dominant force in Kenyan rugby but they still have a decent pub to watch the game.

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