Thursday, 5 March 2015

50 Random Things About ME

A close friend of mine recently posted this on her blog and I just loved reading through it! There were a few things there that I didn't know about her either...guess that's what all these topics are for.

I told her that I liked her post and she challenged me to do the same. So here goes, 50 (hopefully) random things about me:

1. When I was younger, I wanted to be a linguist when I grew up.

2. Currently, I speak 3 languages and none are my mother-tongue :P

3. I had classical piano training as a child.

4. I sing -I'm a natural soprano.

5. My first pet was a goldfish.

6. I once thought a chicken that had stayed in our house for weeks on end was my new pet. Until I came home one day and my "pet" chicken was in the fridge.

7. I've been wearing spectacles since I was 7 years old.

8. I had braces for 2 years in high school.

9. I attended 5 different primary schools.

10. I was lead actress in most of my primary school plays.

11. Often soloist for the traditional dances too :)

12. I helped write a play for our high school Christian drama team -and again, was the lead actress ;)
(okay, I'll stop bragging now)

13. Most people do not think I'm Kenyan because of my name.

14. I'm a coconut -black on the outside, white on the inside. You can call me an Oreo too. ;)

15. I have a number of aerobic routines forever etched in my memory -courtesy of attending my mother's aerobic classes with her.

16. I used to tell people that I had this German stud at home with the warmest brown eyes -and people thought he was a person :D

17. I name my water bottles. Well, I used to when I was in high school...not such much now.

18. My favourite bottle was a lilac one. I named her 'Nina'. Nina had a boyfriend -strong, black and handsome 'Sifa'. He was my closest friend's bottle.

(Jeez, this thing is hard!)

19. My first crush was in Standard 1.

20. I had a crush on a guy named Harry, and soon after J.K. Rowling released the first Harry Potter book. Coincidence? I think not!

21. I believe my fingers are beautiful. Even the one that never quite recovered from it's stint as a sausage finger.

22. My first ever anime love was Usui Takumi from Kaicho wa maid-sama.

23. And my first ever J-drama love was Hanazawa Rui from Hana Yori Dango.

24. Last but not least, my first ever K-drama love: Gu Jun-pyo from Boys Over Flowers.

(Rhoda, do you see your influence? ;) )
25. I'd like to travel to all the continents before I die. So far, I've done one (not counting the one I live in)

26. If I was a teen/young adult in the 80's -the disco era- I think I would have been out dancing every night. Explains why I really like John Newman's Tribute album.

27. My longest-lasting friendship is now in its (approximately) 24th year.

28. That friendship has (unfortunately) been mostly long-distance. It didn't start that way though.

29. My family has moved house 8 times -one house has been moved into twice.

30. I absolutely love musicals. If I lived in America, I think I would be on Broadway.

31. My great grandfather was of Borana origin. Explains our unusual looks when our direct lineage is Bantu. O.o

32. I love the British accent. Especially the high class clipped accent, not so much the Cockney one.

33. Which goes to say that I love British movies.

34. Actually, let’s just say I like European movies. I don’t watch as many of them as I would like to though

35. Greece is one of my dream travel destinations. Ah, the food, the culture, the scenic coasts, the chiseled men…

36. I’m fascinated by white people’s eyes. Some of them have such vivid colours that they seem unreal!

37. I have two doctor aunties. Their names have really opened doors for me on hospital visits ;)

38. My dream house is one that’s been designed by my father and his elder brother.

39. I have more pairs of earrings than I do shoes. And bags. Probably clothes too…

40. My first pair of spectacles were …umm, octagonal (I think) and striped in the Kenyan flag colours.

41. My first Labrador encounter was pure magic. They were our neighbour’s dogs at my father’s house-on-the-cliff. When the tide was out, the dogs would cross over into our compound (that was the only way to access it through the beach) and come play with us. And when evening came, before the tide rolled in, they would go back home, all by themselves.

42. I love the ocean. I believe water is in my essence. Figures since I was born in Mombasa.

43. Funny thing though, I was afraid of the water as a child. I only began to conquer my fear at around 8 years of age.

(Haiya, I’m almost done!)

44.  I love the smell of leather straps on watches. Especially when the strap ages….mmm. J

45. I don’t feel complete without a watch.

46. I love stories on mythologies, magic and the supernatural. So all the TV Series, movies and books on those topics fall into my ‘love’ category.

47. Sometimes, my mother, my siblings and I will put on an accent and speak to each other in it for as long as we can before we crack. It helps if we’ve been watching something that had characters speaking in that accent. :D

48. I'm quite taken by certain smells/scents. Sometimes, they can even take me back to the day when I first encountered that particular smell/scent. 

49. My first musical instrument was a small drum I got as a child from some 'Santa Claus' at an event. It was a really smelly drum. I think they didn't clean the leather properly. I didn't play it cause of that smell.

50. I played the drums for the praise and worship team at a church I used to go to. I was surprised to find I was good at it. I really miss playing the drums. 

Aaaaand, I'm done! That was fun! Hope you enjoyed reading through those random things, I know I enjoyed writing them. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Stop. Listen.

Consider these two responses

Person 1: I have a lot going on in my life right now... I'm not sure I can handle that as well.

Person 2: I don't have time for such nonsense.

Which of these two people would you immediately understand and/or identify with?

Who do you think has 'more reason' in their answer?

If you're thinking person 1, you're wrong.
The answer is: neither of them.

You see, words have over time acquired certain implications and meanings that they may or may not have had when they were first created. There's no way of knowing for sure, this thing goes back to the creation of language....long, long, looong ago.
So why would you give Person 1 sympathy or understanding and not give the same to Person 2?

Don't you think that they're both saying the same thing? Or is it because Person 2 said 'I don't have time' and 'nonsense' that we immediately jump to conclusions?

Look, both of them are really saying, 'I can't do that' OR 'I won't do that'. All Person 2 did was go ahead and add how they felt about what they were being asked to do. They were being brutally honest. 

And what does brutal honesty get you? Nothing good, most of the time.
And we wonder why people would rather lie.

So what am I saying here?
I'm not sure I really know myself. Perhaps it's just that we need to take time to stop and listen more often than not.

Maybe then people would not need to continually repeat themselves.
Maybe then people would begin to feel heard.
Maybe then...maybe.

Stop. Listen.

PS: I'm very proud to say that the pictures and edits are my own. Quotes have been attributed within the edits :)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Transition into 'real' adulthood

I'm at that point in life where you can no longer hide behind school. First degree is coming to an end and the whole world expects you to be thinking about what career path you'll be taking soon.

The question I've been hearing more often in the recent months is, "Hujamaliza shule bado?" (You're not done with school yet?)
The follow-up is usually, "So, what do you want to do after that?"

Let's be clear. As much as I've experienced a lot of change in my life, I am still not very comfortable with it. I'm scared as hell about this new life transition. And I'm hoping and praying my fear won't make me self-sabotage.

In a bid to cope, I've decided to come up with a few little reminders to keep myself going. Some are quotes I've picked up from my friends, both fictional and real.

1. Change is inevitable. And a lot of the time, it's not too bad. So embrace it, don't fight it.

2. A lot of the time when it comes to big decisions, the right decision and the wrong one look the same. It's only when you take time to scrutinize your decision is when you see you made the right choice.

3. Be YOU.

4. If you're scared or nervous, feel scared or nervous. Then move on. Don't let your feelings make your decisions for you.

5. Breathe. It'll be okay.

6. All is well.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Chronicles of my four-legged friends

I'm amazed at myself.

I have had this blog for nearly three years now and never have I dedicated a post to my favourite pet in the world!! :o 
Weeeell, I do have one post from 2012 where I wrote about my (late) brown-eyed German stud. I miss him so much. Here's a link to that story


In between the time I took to write this post, I came across an article in The Nairobian (yes, I read it). The article was about annoying habits Kenyans have online and one of them was that they post about their pets. The writer of that article was under the heavy opinion that all Kenyans who posted about their pets were being fake. He or she believes that Kenyans don't keep pets. Domestic livestock doesn't count. :P

I am Kenyan. Pure-bred, born and raised in this beautiful country of ours. There are pure-bred Kenyans like myself who have dogs or other pets that become a part of the family. My own grandfather always had dogs! Nobody in the village would dare step into his compound after the dogs were unleashed. Those things looked like wolves! They may have had husky blood, now that I think about it.

This is a husky.. Guka's dogs looked something like this.
 I got my first dog when I was around 9 years old I think. My mother got it for me partly to deal with the crippling fear I had for dogs at the time and the other part because we finally had the space. And so my first canine love was Snoopy, a cute but shy (like her owner) brown mongrel.

Snoopy may have not been the bravest dog (kinda reminds me of Courage the Cowardly Dog actually) but her loyalty was the kind people die for. She was afraid of loud sounds and of being away from us for too long. Yet whenever any of my family members would walk to the bus stop, a half-hour walk away, Snoopy would escort us there, against our orders. She would trot behind us, stop and cower when we'd yell, "Go back! Home!" Sometimes she would even turn as though she was going back home. However, the moment we would face forward, she'd follow us again. Once we would get on the matatu, Snoopy would immediately turn around and run home.
        At first I was worried she would get hit by a car or something on her way back home without us, but everytime I would come back home, she'd be there waiting. She helped me learn that dogs are not so scary once you get to know them. She got sick and passed away after my family moved house and couldn't keep her anymore. I still think she died of a broken heart.

My next dogs came in twos. We inherited Stella and Neo from my father's colleague. Now those were some HUGE dogs. It was not cowardly to be afraid of them at first sight; it was smart. At the time, my father drove a Toyota Prado. Stella and Neo's idea of welcoming you home was jumping up on their hind legs and looking into the Prado. Yes, that's how tall they were. They could actually look into the car when they stood. And I never really found out what breed they were, but they were definitely pure-bred of whatever that was.
Stella's coat was patterned black and white, sort of like the cows we used to look at in picture books as toddlers. Her son, Neo, was a beautiful jet-black dog. Those two were a formidable force to reckon with. They taught me the practicality of "not knowing your own strength".
Neo was lovable and playful; when he would see us skipping rope, he would come and jump over too. It was fun at first, until he would make it impossible for us to play at all! Stella was older, so she was more laid-back in her affection-showing behaviour. Towards the end of our time together, she got some kind of bone cancer. She was in so much pain that eventually the vet advised we put her down. Neo took a long time to get over her death. When she didn't come back from the vet, he sniffed the whole car and compound looking for her. He spent most of the following nights whining quietly to himself. And much later when he seemed to have forgotten her,  if someone mentioned her name, he would look up thinking she was around. As a thirteen year-old that was painful to watch. It taught me that animals process death pretty much the same way we try to as humans.
We moved house again and left Neo with our neighbour. Again, I was left feeling awful for leaving behind our dog, but I was just a child, I had no say in the matter.

Then came my German-stud, Leo. I got to experience a bit of his puppyhood; missed the rest 'cause of boarding school. My family gave him the name Leo because when he was a puppy, his paws grew faster than the rest of him. Mum said he looked like a lion. So he became Leo the lion :)

German Shepherd puppy

He looked something like this :D But he had a beauty spot on his face

Leo loved baths. He loved water. His favourite thing to do was pick up the hedgehogs that roamed around in our compound and carry them around in his mouth. I think he did it 'cause they reminded him of his ball. Leo never learnt how to fetch, despite his 'obedience training'. The ball game was always violent: throw the ball, Leo runs to get it then he runs around you while you try and snatch it from his mouth. And he would not make it easy for you to do that.

Perfectly describes how Leo behaved! LOL! 
Once more, our family moved house, but this time, my brother could stay with Leo. That didn't prevent him from falling sick though just like Snoopy and Stella. When they put him down, nobody wanted to tell me. Eventually, my mother found a way to tell me.
I called him my German stud because he was a pure-bred German shepherd and he had the most beautiful, intelligent brown eyes, not to mention a ridiculously wide smile when he opened his mouth.

Isn't that eye good to look at?
Last and not least, came Tiny. We thought Tiny would be good company for Leo. She was a mongrel -mixture of many different breeds. Tiny slept in my bed for the longest time as a puppy. She had large floppy ears in relation to her mousy face. Tiny was nothing but trouble. She took the longest to learn not to pee in the house. She and Leo did NOT get along well. Worst of all, she kept running away to be with her siblings (they were in the neighbourhood) and often took Leo with her. I'm sure Leo followed for her sake but still. It scared us everytime we would come home to find the gate ajar and dogs gone.
This was Tiny :)
One day Tiny ran away and we didn't find her. Eventually, our gardener told us that he had seen her with some other people who lived nearby. We decided to let them keep her.

Currently, I live in apartments that do not allow pets. When I move out, I'll probably end up in another apartment that does not allow pets. I'm not letting go of my dreams though. When I get the space and resources, I plan on having a Labrador and a German Shepherd. I want my children to learn how to live with animals; to be appreciative of the rest of nature. Thankfully, the man I am looking forward to marrying shares my dream. ;)

Here's to having pets, learning how to live with animals and appreciating nature.

Labrador Retrievers in their natural colours

 *All photos are courtesy of Google Images except that of Tiny.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Au Revoir

I first listened to this song on my iPod (the old-school first generation version) so I had no idea what the song was called. I just knew I totally loved it.

We all have those moments when we're not ourselves and those we love aren't either. Call them bad days, being 'under the weather', whatever you want to call them.
Point is, life happens. And that is what this song is about.

The violins make the perfect beginning for a song of this magnitude. Good job One Republic!

Today I'm not myself
And you you're someone else
And all these rules don't fit
And all that starts can quit

What a peculiar state we're in
What a peculiar state we're in

Let's play a game
Where all of the lives we lead 
Can change
Let's play a game
Where nothing that we can see
The same

We'll find other pieces to the puzzles
Slipping out under the locks
I can show you how many moves to checkmate right now

We can take apart this life we're building
And pack it up inside a box
All that really matters is we're doing it
Right now
Right now

Friday, 3 October 2014

Holy Ground

Courtesy of Google Images
I have never really liked the idea of shoes on my feet. For some reason, from when I was very young, I preferred to walk barefoot. It did not matter as much that the stones were hard or the ground was hot...if I could get away with it, I would walk barefoot. As a child, my mother would often send me to the kiosk. And every time, I would dash out of the house before she could stop me and force me to put on some shoes. The kiosk was never too far away, so not much damage was inflicted. Still, the number of times I got thorns in my feet! :o

Yet, I would still go barefoot whenever the opportunity presented itself. Somehow, by being barefoot, I felt like I was in better control of my body. I could run faster, cycle better and even navigate the path in a more confident manner. Eventually, as I 'grew up' and began to heed my mother's ceaseless orders that I "put on some shoes!", my barefoot adventures became less and less frequent.

What got me along this line of thought was a post a good friend of mine put up recently. She was talking about some of the things she loves. Since I want to do justice to her words, I will quote exactly what she said:

"I love being barefoot in the grass! (It's what I do when I'm nervous, angry or out of sorts.  Makes it all better) "

My friend's update reminded me that I often find myself doing the same thing when I am in grass. I'll take off my shoes and just let them sink into the grass. 

Courtesy of Google Images

Then I started thinking about the Bible story of Moses' encounter with the burning bush. For those not familiar with the story, this is basically what happened. 

A man named Moses was tending his sheep as he always did in a desert area. Everything seemed as it usually was, until he came across a bush that was on fire. His attention was drawn to the bush; not because it was burning, but because it was not being consumed by the fire. Now that's something you do not see everyday. So, of course Moses moved closer to the bush...probably to try figure out what exactly he was seeing. But as he got closer, the Bible says that the voice of the Lord spoke to him from the bush. 

 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

(You can find the full story in Exodus Chapter 3)

Whenever I have heard this story being told, preached or shared, the manner in which it was told always gave me the impression that Moses was told to take off his sandals because they would 'dirtify' (for lack of a better word) the holy ground. However, when I started thinking about how much I love being barefoot; how it helps me feel one with nature; how there are others who feel the same as I do, I began to think that perhaps I got it wrong. 

What if, when God told Moses to take off his sandals, it was not because the ground was too holy to have shoes on it? What if, God told Moses to take off his sandals so that he could experience God with ALL his senses? I believe that God works through many things, including nature. And when we wear shoes, our connection with nature is interfered with. So it is possible, that God wanted to commune completely with Moses.

Now I'm not saying that shoes have no benefit at all. If that was the case, they would never have been invented in the first place. What I am saying is that once a while, it would do us all some good to take a walk barefoot. Be it in the grass, the sand, the water or even inside your house.

 I know that from now on, I will never judge or condemn myself when I do not feel like wearing shoes! 

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Driver vs. Pedestrian

There seems to be an 'existence-long' feud between pedestrians and motorists. I've always wondered about it and it was not until I recently started driving that I began to understand. At least a little bit of it.

During the just-ended semester of school (I say 'just ended' because I'm currently on holiday, yay!), I would drive on two days of the week and use public transport/ walk for the remaining days.

I'm sure everyone who's ever driven in Nairobi knows how stressful it can get. Now picture a young lady (who looks like a teenager) driving a small, old Toyota Corolla. It's like driving around with a big sign saying, "Here, bully me! I'm a pushover."

As a pedestrian, I used to wonder why many drivers would not stop at a pedestrian's crossing, let alone think about it. Now, I'm not talking about when traffic has just been released by the policeman and all drivers are making a mad dash for it before the fateful raised hand traps them for another half hour.
No, I'm talking about normal traffic on a normal road, that has a clearly marked pedestrian's crossing. Whether the people who operate automobiles on our roads went to driving school or not, is a matter that is constantly under debate, at least in this city.
Even then, surely, doesn't common sense tell you that those white lines on the road mean something? Isn't there a voice in your head that says, "Hey, look, someone's crossing, maybe we should slow down and try not to kill them."

Then I started driving and I realised why drivers in Nairobi are always inching closer and closer to you as you try to cross the road. After sitting in snail-paced traffic for a while, free moving traffic is like a drug. It exhilarates you, makes you happy and you don't want it to stop. That literally means that you do not want to stop.

Then you come across some person walking across the road like its the widest thing they've ever crossed. And these are able-bodied, healthy-looking people who have no excuse to be crossing at the pace of a chameleon. On that note, have you ever seen a chameleon walking? It slowly raises its leg, then pauses with that leg still in the air, does some shaky-leg kind of dance before it eventually puts its leg down. You could pull out your hair if you are forced to watch a chameleon move from one spot to another.

So picture that frustration as a driver. This pedestrian forces you to slow down; takes away the high of the free-movement you had been enjoying. Then most likely, you find yourself crawling along again.

So what does the driver end up doing? Everytime they come across a pedestrian crossing, they zoom past, even when they can see that poor pedestrian stranded in the middle of a double lane.

Mentality in Kenya too

And what does the pedestrian end up doing? They time a car that looks like it may stop and they dangerously step onto the road, challenging the driver to run them over by looking them straight in the eye.
It doesn't always work. That's when we hear of the infamous hit-and-run accidents.

Ah, he sees me... I dare you to hit me! I dare you!

So I thought about it and I believe there's a way we can all make life easier for each other. These steps are not foolproof, neither will they bring world peace or anything like that, but they are helpful.

1) Follow the rules. And I mean ALL the rules
 It's that simple, yet not so simple at the same time. Yes, I know, contradictory. But if both pedestrians and drivers followed the rules, the roads would be a much kinder place. This includes keeping your eyes on the road, Drivers.

2) Pedestrians, cross the road quickly and with keen attention. 
This will preserve your life, literally.

3) Drivers, stopping for a few seconds to let someone pass won't kill you. 
If you're late, that's not anyone else's fault, so why make them pay for it?

4) Everyone, take it easy.
Life goes on, regardless of how bad a day you're having. You create the kind of day you have. So don't let all the road rage get to you.

I know this isn't easy. I'm still trying to apply my own steps in my own pedestrian-driver dilemma. But that's what life is about; creating and re-creating.

Have a safe time on the road :)