The first week of work is done. Apparently in Kenyan culture, Saturday is a work day. Well, half a work day. Note to self: before beginning to work internationally, always inquire as to how many days a week one is expected to work. I ahd thought it was just a joke they pulled on the new mzungus.
But I arrived at headquarters and the place was buzzing like normal. Not that I’m too miffed, considering I’ve got no car, have yet to be paid, all my belongings are in two suitcases, and my dwelling is surrounded by an electric fence.
Even though I have Sundays off I’m probably gonna spend them working since I’ve got lots to do. Besides if I wanted fun and excitement, why would I have left Vegas?
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When I was in Japan last year, one of the strangest parts of the culture was whenever I got a bunch of japanese girls in the picture they’d flash a peace sign. Still haven’t figured that one out.
A close second would have to be the drinking. In the hours after 8:00, ‘Salary men’ (working stiffs to us round-eyes) would stumble out of bars and restaurants, still in their suits and carrying brief cases, pissed out of their minds. Sure, this sight could have been seen just about anywhere in Europe or The States, but in Tokyo, it was totally customary to go get tanked with your boss. Not a hey-did-you-meet-the-hot-new-marketing manager kind of drink with the boss, but a full on drool-on-your-tie-urinate-in-public drink with the boss.
After working 14 hours, sitting though a meeting that detailed all the things I had to finish, the same guy would call up and say, “Hey. Let’s go to Roppongi!”
In my last job, some coworker said something along the lines of, “one thing you’ll out find about all the ITs, is that they can really party!” We could, in fact, do a little crazy partying.
Now my brother once said to me, after attending a Geology conference, “The thing about geologist is that we know how to drink.”
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The MIS director asked me yesterday, out the blue, “do you like to drink?” I had figured the housekeeper found the case of scotch under my bed+.
“My dad’s British, my mom’s Australian,” I smirked. “I was born with a hangover. And a low birth weight*.” He laughed and told me we were gonna have a good time since I managed to get the Linux PBX system working (the UDP port range open was incorrect). He told me to be ready at 7:00PM.
We end up leaving at a quarter to eight for reasons which warrant their own post. I’m excited to get out of the compound and see some of the scene. I had no idea what to expect.
So the MIS director, the Assistant Controller and myself drive through downtown Nairobi. The roads are a cross between that when you cross from PA to Jersey and actually notice the road getting worse and the arc de triumph roundabout since there aren’t really, uh, lanes. But you get used to it. I spent most of the time cracking jokes and looking out the window.
We drove for about an hour, to the hinterlands of Nairobi, a neighborhood with pharmacies and markets and corner stores, but uneven, rocky, rust red, dusty roads. We picked up the guys’ wives and aswas the first time I realized how out of place I was.
The five of us arrive at dinner at the Safari Park Hotel. Walking through the mostly open air hotel, we were guided around the back past the pools crisscrossed with bridges. We turn a corner and the show had started.
As we sat down, I immediately felt uncomfortable watching the dancing performed sitting with 2 couples of native Kenyans. But the soups and salads were served, I realized this show was no more a cultural display of Africa than Cirque de Soleil is representative of the Québécois.
As the drink orders arrived I looked about in horror at my novice business move. I was the only one to order an adult beverage. My was mind racing, rehashing the talk of boozing and stuff, wondering how I could have made this mistake.
The conversation was awkward at best, but we were silenced as sizzling hot cast iron plates we dropped onto the wooden placemats infront of us. My co-workers smile as they had been here before, but I had no idea what to expect.
Men brandishing sword like skewers jab the cast iron plates and begin slicing off chunks.
“uh, what animal is this?” I inquire.
“Pork” the guy replies.
But pork was followed slowly by beef, lamb, goat, chicken, ostrich, and camel. The camel was a bit chewy~.
As the Feast of Seven Beasts progressed, I realized everyone was just pacing themselves. The night turned out to be a fun evening, and after we closed the palce at dinner we managed to get to a local bar that had, of all things, karaoke.
Now I’ve sung karaoke on four of the seven contients.
My life’s dream is nearly complete.
*I never actually said this. Believe it or not I was actually a big baby. Hard to believe, I know
^ i made this word up
+there’s just a bottle in kitchen#.
~The goat was quite delicious.