Life in the Big City

I have never wanted to live in the big city, ever. Even my parents and friends always knew the big city wasn’t the place for me, at the time. I remember when my ex-girlfriend would ask me which town I would like to settle down in later in life, I’d be torn between Nakuru or Embu but with a greater preference for my hometown Embu. I have always wanted that peaceful and less busy life that Embu provides, though it lacks the great opportunities that are in the offing here in the City under the Sun.

Since moving here one year ago, I have seen and gone through a lot. But most of all, observed quite a few peculiar things that I was never used to back in the countryside. You might perceive am a countryside “shagz-mondo” kind of a person and I really don’t blame you. Like I said, I always loved the peace and quiet back in “the village”. So these ‘peculiar’ things are what have really baffled me and am wondering, are we living in two different worlds?

  1. Red Light Means Proceed/Go. Green Light Means Stop

11949849751056341160traffic_light_dan_gerhar_01-svg-hiThis is the strangest thing I have actually noted. My elementary school teacher taught me there are three traffic lights; red, orange & green. Red meant stop, Orange wait and green to proceed. But here in the Great City it’s actually the reverse. On numerous occasions while on transit from town to the house or the office, the light indicates Red but the traffic cop is ushering us to proceed. Really? That’s strange I murmured the first time I saw this. On the next exit, it indicates Green but we’ve been stopped. Owkey….! It begs me to ask, what’s the sense behind having cops in almost all major roundabouts creating more jams than overlapping matatus? Does it mean traffic lights are no longer of use to us? Mmmh…

  1. Nairobi isn’t a big city after all.

nairobiNow this will totally sound ‘shagmondo-ish’. All of us countryside folks have always believed that Nairobi city is a very big city that it would take you days to traverse it all. To my dismay, Nairobi city is actually small. I always had this fear of getting lost in the big city because of the numerous streets with rather odd names in some that run into each other. Being here for the six months, I particularly know 75% of the city. And it only took me a day with my best buddy to walk around it, while shopping for my brother’s wedding gift. But I gotta say, Nairobi County is really big.

  1. There’s a PSV for every corner of the City
Phantom that plies the Rongai route

Well this is expected, being a big city with millions traversing every single corner of it. Where I come from, there’s only one bus that commutes twice in a day (this actually tells you I come from really far, diaspora i.e.). It leaves my village for the town at 5am in the morning before coming back again at 11am and leaving back at 1pm. It will finally close shop at 8pm. Something to note is if you working in the town, you got be awake by 3am so that you get the bus before leaving and you’ll be back in the house some minutes before 10pm. Living here in the city, I’ve realized I can go anywhere I want in the city. Go to Kencom or Railyways bus stages and you’ll literally find a bus/matatu for every place you can think of in Nairobi. And most of all, there are some really sick matatus. If you want to see one, go to Diaspora (read Rongai)

  1. Nairobi Folks are Over-Curious

This is the funniest observation. And it’s worse over weekend. Whenever I head to town and pass various spots, I will always find crowds of people staring at something (talk of vertical disability hehe). When I shared this observation with one of my cousins, he affirmed by telling me a story. Once while he was in town, he decided to test the curiosity of Nairobians by stopping all of a sudden, looking up towards one of the skyscrapers, without uttering a word and covering his mouth with his hand in shock. Other people started stopping and asking him what was happening. Within minutes a crowd had milled around my cousin trying to understand what my cousin was so curious about (though I can’t remember what happened after this). Such kind of a crowd is pretty rare back home because they only appear during market days or if some prominent is addressing the people or giving out rations of food to the locals.


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