Ashokalypse Now! (Part I)

I’ve become an expert at killing mosquitos in my bare hands. I’ve noticed I have better luck if I use both hands and clap, so I come at it from either side, while it hovers over my ripe and unwilling flesh. Its gotta be the acoustics in this place, both outside and in, because I’ve become very sensitive to the way people walk, and the sound they make. I can tell exactly who’s outside my window based on the rhythm of their footsteps. Well maybe it’s cuz I’ve been locked in this room for so long, that my extra-sensory skills have improved considerably.

The Deadline

Deadline is approaching! Development should be done by March 24th, 25th, with a week of bug fixing and testing. It should be an interesting week, for sure. The program is going well, and it’s been really encouraging to have doctors and staff come by and check out what I’m working on, and have them say “that’s exactly what we need!!” But the BIG news is, the hospital is upgrading to high speed. Internet is expensive here, because there are no submarine lines, it’s all satellite, so we’re talking a thousand USD per month for a decent internet connection. We got the hook up with Africa On-Line, for a couple hundred a month for a 256Kbps connection – which acts more like a 64, but who’s counting?


I’ve never gotten used to the fact that whenever I say “hello” to someone, the response I get back is “fine”.


Last few weeks, I’ve been so damn busy, I don’t even rememebr the last time I had human contact… Oh yea, it was 9 days ago ;) Last night, Fady and I looked at each other and realized we forgot how to communicate with other humans. It’s amazing that after a month of so much learning and growth and human interaction, I’m spending 16 hours a day locked in a room, writing code, and I have to remind myself, that it’s for a greater purpose. It drives me, and I continue. But yeah, 9 days ago, that Sunday was definitely one that left an imprint of fond and sweet memories.

I had originally planned to miss church and do work instead, but rather I decided to just say a quick prayer, and leave before the sermon, but as the sermon started I realized, I couldn’t just leave during the sermon.

Then I decided to stick around and sneak away before the youth meeting, but when the boys from Kibera showed up and said “Paul, where is your guitar?” do you think I really had a choice?

Tap-tap-clap-clap-tap-tap-clap-clap  is the sound that was made as the games began. A friendly game of concentration. I start, I say my name, and the name of someone else in the circle. That person says their name and the name of someone else, and it continues. You have to be quick, alert, and can keep a rhythm going You’ll be surprised how uncoordinated you can be when you’re under the gun to be clever, sharp, and rhythmic.


Somehow, hours later, we sat in the parking lot, and started a Bob Marley sing a long. I kept trying to find songs that these guys might know from the states, to play. I find it ironic, that the average Kenyan does NOT know who Bono or U2 is. They know a lot of hip-hop and 80s popstars, but Bono, they just shrug their shoulders. You’d think of all the artists who would be known in East Africa, you’d think Bono would be one of them.

Well it’s too late, tonight… to drive the past out into the light…

We’re singing “Three Little Birds…” and its like one of those cheesy musical movie blockbusters where people hear the music, and leave whatever they’re doing to come sing the song that the main characters have started. But no one ever questions, “where is the full orchestra coming from”, rather they just sing in the streets like it’s a normal occurrence. That’s pretty much what happened here.

I had my guitar, and this one guy who was working on some construction, stopped and came over

“singing sweet songs, of melodies pure and true…”

A patient walked out of his hospital bed, with a bleeding eye (I kid you not, it was gross), and walked over and sat with us.

“this is my message to you-hoo-hoo”

It was a security guard, a postman, 3 kids, a lady and her son, a construction worker, a patient with a bloody eye, all singing Bob Marley at 3pm, Sunday afternoon. Nairobi, Kenya.  Then we got to the chorus:

“Cuz every little thing… is gonna be alright”

When a man on a bicycle was lookin over at us, holding a bag of glass bottles, and in an instant as we sang that line in the chorus, the bag opened from underneath, causing the glass bottles to get caught in the rear wheel of the bike, causing a major crash, and all you heard was the loud sound of glass bottles breaking.

Talk about a buzz kill.

And like that, the song was over.  Until Elly took the guitar and started singing a song to his son, Emmanuel. And when he started singing, the swarm of kids showed up. It was awesome! The kids just joined in started singing with Elly, and Emmanuel, the little guy with the panda-shaped backpack just kinda stood there, no doubt, proud that it was his dad who was the singer, who could play guitar.

Here’s the vid:

and the pic:

Click Here to Continue to Part II of the story

5 thoughts on “Ashokalypse Now! (Part I)

  1. ARRG! bah! here for real!

    i hope your happy. (sarcasm)

    i’m late to small group now because you’re such a good writer that i had to read your whole post and watch the video too.

    (( hug))

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