Downtown Nairobi: Adventures with Self-Employed Women

This week’s been pretty busy, so I havent done much but work. So I’m gonna write about Sunday instead.

I work up late on Sunday.

I did laundry, I posted to Feldheim and CHNEPR and watched the most of the movie White Chicks. Here was a film upon which a few weeks ago, I would not have wasted a day with a cold. However, since I was essentially stewing my dirty socks, I decided I hadn’t yet had enough depravity for the day.

It was actually a pretty funny movie. It had the makings of a great comedy, simultaneously exploiting and charicaturing the differences in gender, race, and social class. All interspersed with fart jokes.

I put the laundry outside on a ledge to dry, but had to flip em every now and then. I was playing my guitar, sitting out the agonizing the antics of the Wayans Brothers when one of the guards stopped in.

I can’t remember his name, but he was interested in the guitar. I tried some classic rock songs, but I guess ‘Stairway’ never really made it with the Masaai over here. It was then I realized the sheer absurdity of the situation: Me playing guitar…watching White Chicks…with a Maasai tribesmen…who guards my house in Africa.

We spoke different languages.
We came from drastically different backgrounds.
We still live very different lives.
But I think we were both wishing our laundry would dry a little faster so we could get on with our day.

After my friend the guard had departed and the thirst of the mid-afternoon sun had swilled my clothes dry, I called a cab. I asked the driver to drop me off downtown. He was listening to country music, and I recognized the song Amanda, but it wasn’t the Waylon Jennings version. The driver informed me it was Don Williams. We listened to the tape until he dropped me off.

Walking around Nihonbashi Tokyo I had never felt like more of an outsider in my life. That was until I walked around downtown Nairobi.

But what the hell.

I had to find a new flash card.

My trusty Olympus had been freaking out ever since I’d bought a new memory card in for my trip to SE Asia in February. I’d bought a gig card and was taking lots of pictures until—nothing. All gone. So I bought a new card in Singapore. That worked fine, until Scotland when it crapped out just as I was learning to shoot a rifle.

Someone else was taking the pictures at the time, of course.

I had changed out the card at a local Circuit City, but this one was working worse than the one I got in Singapore.

As it turned out, xD flash cards come in three types: M, H and regular. MY camera will only work with regular. I had to find a regular card.

Walking around downtown, though, I was sidetracked by bars. I even a had a beer at the Jockey Bar in the wowntown Hilton, which I’m told—much to the delight of Kim and Douggie—the nicest hotel in Nairobi. There, and at the I had conversations with locals, and realized that it was getting dark and I had not found the xD card.

But the smell of a grill, the sound live music, and the sight of outdoor seating sidetracked me.

I hadn’t even ordered my cold, crisp, delicious, Kenyan brewed Tusker when I was flanked by two women with braids in their hair. One of these delightful women had a yellow weave and was very intent on speaking with me. She struck me as particularly interesting, and I got her talking.

I learned about clubs called Pavement, Carnival, Florida 2000, Carnivore, and Casblanca

I learned about her son, Eric, who was seven.

I also learned that she was self employed.

Now, from my time in Vegas, I had learned that pretty women who are very interested in speaking with me happen to be of a certain profession. I knew from the the drivers at work the Florida 2000, know colloquially as F2, ws well known for women of the night. It got me thinking that mayb these women were interested less in my blue eyes than they were in the contents of my wallet.

However, yesterday at the office, I overheard a few interviews going on at the other side of the tent. Both applicant claimed to be running their own business for their most recent jobs. Maybe it’s a cultural thing here?

Maybe they were just nice ladies, with attitudes much like Latrell Spencer in White Chicks.

We may never know.

I ended up leaving rather abruptly, found the cross streets, and called a cab.
I ended up finding the xD card at the Ngong Nakumatt right near my place earlier this week.

But I’m glad I ventured out to look for it elsewhere.


14 Responses to Downtown Nairobi: Adventures with Self-Employed Women

  1. Matt says:

    I hereby request that you seek to get into more and more absurd situations with Maasai tribesmen. I’m sure by the end of the trip you can work your way up to singing showtunes…drinking a mojito…while jumping on a trampoline…with a Maasai tribesman.

  2. Jen says:

    Not to burst your bubble or anything, but I can pretty much guarantee that you’re assumptions about those two women were correct…while its true that many people are self-employed simply because there aren’t very many employers in Kenya and people have to do something… I never, ever, ever, ever in two years went to a bar with a white guy where he wasn’t immediately surrounded by “malaya” (There’s a good Swahili word for you…don’t use it in polite company, though)

    Another thought…your guard could probably find someone to do your laundry and possibly clean your house for you for a few dollars a week…support the local economy and all that, plus you don’t have to stew your own socks.

    Okay, only one more thing…down the street (west) from the Hilton across from the movie theater is the Java House…go there for breakfast sometime, it’s really really good. One of the only places in Kenya where they actually serve good Kenya coffee rather than just exporting it.

  3. […] I was thankful for my guide. We rode downtown, talking about our respective—and disparate—commutes to work. My guide told me she left her place by 6:30 only to ride for over an hour on one of the crowded hoppas. The attendant had this ticker device that looked like the ones train conducters of yore would’ve had. He wore a maroon uniform with brass buttons and looked like a train conductor. He collected our fare and went on chaining the door shut after each stop. We got dropped off near to where I’d adventured about two weeks before. After a little walk and some more chatting we arrived at the Alliance Francaise, which housed the theatre. Tickets were under three dollars. I almost felt guilty not paying more. […]

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  7. SirMarjalot says:

    I stayed in the Hilton one night in Nairobi on my way to Mombassa, it is a known haunt of Kenyan freelancers looking for some business with foreign tourists or businessmen, i kept bumping into them in the lift and the corridors, that night did try the Florida nightclub and again girls only interested in one thing really – your wallet or more precisely whats in it.

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