I don’t know how they convinced me to leave the house last night. I was curled up, comfy, in my chair, working on the application for the Hope Center, when I was lured by the serpent to eat the of the fruit of the tree: “Indian Food and Bowling.”
I looked out the window, and saw torrential rains, streets flooded, I saw a baby kitten flying off a tree branch, before it could be rescued by a local fire-fighter. Why I left my comfortable room, to go into that meteorologist’s wet-dream?
duh! Indian food. And bowling.
See, another difference. In the States, weather like this would call for branding by each of the networks. For example: CBS would call this ‘Rain Storm 2006’, while NBC would call it ‘The Monsoon of 2006’ and use a different font, while Fox would call it ‘If Corporations Were Regulated Less, This Sort of Thing Could Be Prevented’
But in Kenya, it’s just rain.
I got in Mena’s car at 6:30pm, anticipating the slow burn of chili peppers sliding down my esophagus while I thrust a 16 pound plastic ball towards an innocent crew of red-necks. It was ok, because, the bowling alley was 15 minutes away. We’re about to leave, when the door opened. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with the term “sitting bitch”, but someone in Nassau County in the mid 90’s made up this silly term for sitting between two people in the back seat of a car. If you’re in that position, you are “sitting bitch” and before I knew it, I was being told to move over and in comes this woman whom I’ve never met before, she’s soaking wet, and with every second that door is open, there are buckets of water being thrust at my face, and I’m being squeezed in between this wet stranger, and my wet sister, and then I said “It’s ok, because: Indian Food. And bowling!”
And it turns out we had to make a few stops: to drop off the wet stranger at her place, and then Grace wanted to go home and change. By the time all this was done, it was 7:30. But it was ok, because at 7:45 it was all about, you guessed it. Indian food.... and, wait for it… BOWLING.
We’re driving, driving, driving, then we’re not driving anymore. We’re actually at a dead stop. What’s going on? It’s ok, just a little flooding, rain panic, no big deal. 8:00pm, we’re in the same spot, not moving. 8:07 rolls around and I start to panic. I became that annoying guy in the back seat. “Why aren’t we moving?” as if the driver knew something I didn’t. In these situations you have to kill the awkward silence, but why we chose to use annoying questions to do so, is beyond my scope, so you’ll have to ask your parents.
Nadia and Grace are yelling at the poor guy who’s driving “Why didn’t you take the other road?” “What is going on?” “Hop the divider, turn around!” and I’m like “Leave the poor guy alone.” It was like being in a car wash, when gallons of water are being hurled at the car from every direction.
Yet a car moves a lot faster at a car-wash.
At 8:30 the car started to move! It was over, the traffic let up! I’m sure the explanation was simple, it was probably an accident, or a downed tree. And as we approached the bottleneck of the traffic we realized what the problem was. A police officer, with no concept of traffic patterns or etiquette was directing traffic, for he stopped right before our car. And his strategy:
Traffic Strategy: Stop the cars for pedestrians for 10-15 minutes, and then let them drive for 10-15 seconds.
This is not an exaggeration, folks. Ask Mena if you don’t believe me (his number is 011+254735-979795) And it seemed that all the cops in Nairobi had developed this same award-winning strategy, for it was like this at every major intersection.
At one point, I think I had some sort of mid-life crisis, where I started questioning the existence of all that was right and good on the planet earth. But then the traffic would move again, and hope was alive, and world-peace was again, a possibility.
Somehow or another we made it to the final destination. I had been in that car for 3 hours, and we only travelled a few kilometers. And for those who don’t know a kilometer is half the distance of a mile (more or less). But it’s ok, right? Because of that Indian food… and bowling… and bowling…
So it kinda stung when the owner of the bowling alley told us to return to our homes because the bowling alley was gonna be closing early tonight because no customers had shown up. I wasn’t sure if he was aware or not, but we were actually there as actual customers.
I fell asleep in the car on the way home, and the gallons of water became pitter patters of what I used to call ‘rain’ back in the United States, and all, again, was well in the world.