Last week on a sweet Thursday afternoon I packed my bags. I am not a travelling chronie because of this crazy feeling in my stomach, and killing nausea that hits me whenever I travel. Trust me that feeling is such a killjoy. You can’t enjoy your journey like everybody else, you can’t sit up and look at the lovely damsel seated next to you, you can’t take a selfie and upload it on IG or Facebook with hashtag #RoadtoNanyukimanenos. Worse still, you’ll feel like shitting somewhere in the middle of the journey, somewhere in the forest where stray Lions from the nearby Samburu Park are roaming. The driver thus cannot halt the vehicle so that you hit the bush for a relieving long call.
Once I was travelling from my cradle-land (kisii) to Nairobi on a very sunny morning, a few years ago. There were no luxury buses like Transline because everybody else was travelling back to the city after the New Year and Christmas Holidays. Buses were therefore, booked a week earlier. If you got any means of transport to the city, you had to take it by any means, even if it meant sitting next to a stinking goat or crocodile or on top of a sack full of potato peels. All that mattered was you to get to the city, away from the forlorn village, with drunk lechers, beggars (back there everybody is,especially if they know you come from the city), muddy paths, horrible veggies and get to the city where you would eat your burgers with gale, walk in clean streets with beautiful women and unfortunately, the crazy jam. It is here that I met an old mzee before I boarded some lazy-ass bus that looked nothing of a public transport means meant for human passengers, but a mix of poultry, livestock and human passengers. We got talking.
I told him I needed to book a seat near the window to catch some fresh air due to my condition. He told me that his son had the same problem, one which used to make his journey a nightmare. He went on telling me that his son licks some damn lollipop when on transit. It helps, he said. So I borrowed the ordeal. And that was the beginning of my road to traveling orgasmic feeling.
Armed with my lollipop, I boarded a mat to Nanyuki. Having conquered my sickness, I was jolly about the journey. I sat next to this mzee, one who looked like he was waiting for Jesus to come for the second time, and he wasn’t looking like he would give up. His hair was still full. But very grey, like it was home to rust. He had transcended many centuries, because he looked so. His suit had nothing like fashion, well, maybe sometimes back it had.
He could only speak kikuyu, the only thing that seemed to matter in his life. He had a bag. A small one which had two roasted bananas that were naked and wrapped in a white paper bag like the one for Mumias sugar, and some wood too. Two pieces of wood, the size of 30cm ruler in length and a mathematical set’s width. Don’t ask me why he had them, because I also asked myself what the hell he was going to Nanyuki to do with the wood. He ate the bananas, and I could feel my throat go dry on his behalf.
Being that he spoke kuyu, I had no chance to open my mouth. I engaged my eyes instead, studying not his peculiar behaviour but the immediate surrounding. I could see vast lands as I exited Nyeri County. Lands that seemed to have no owners. Lands that I could grab, and become a private developer, so I thought to myself. Lands that all the refugees from Sudan could settle and still leave junk of it unoccupied. Lands where the displaced post election violence victims could be settled. Yeah, vast lands that turned my heart to a land grabber.
I always thought that we had the best view of Mount Kenya from Karatina. The truth is I was wrong. I have never seen something fascinating like it as I travelled to Laikipa county. It was a sexy view. The mountain looked chaste, in its full form, with the peaks full of ice. Looking over it, I felt like I hearted it. I lost myself in its view, and my thoughts floated up the mountain. I imagined how it was like climbing up to the tip and gliding on that ice, or maybe skate. Or just hung from one Lenana peak like a chimpanzee with one hand while the other taking a selfie. That thought brought me new horizons to beat, to climb the mountain soon. It reminded me of movies I had watched, whereby I witnessed climbers die while trying to reach to the top of Himalayas. Frozen water (ice) made their lives end brutally. They slipped and fell on the backs smashing their spines or heads. And that was that. The good thing is that blacks don’t do such shit like chasing down death to where it is waiting like the damned whites who chase death all the way to the grave.
That was the glorious Mt.Kenya. It turns me emotional.
You all have heard stories about Nanyuki. Many lovely stories in fact. Such as Nanyuki kuna raha, Nanyuki iko na wazungu, enda ujishindie sponsor. Well, I finally landed there. A small city that is poorly developed, with poor planning in its heart. When it rains, it becomes ‘wet.’ If you want to see the aesthetic beauty of any town, go there when it is raining, and at night, because it is then you’ll comprehend its ability to give all the pleasures of a good town. And that is what I did, landing when the clouds were experiencing heavy menstruation.
The structures are poorly erected. Its is the only place you have to look for a cyber cafe like you are in pursuit of a stunning girl whose beauty enhances your breathing cycle.
The city has many somalis, and kuyus. Somalis whose main job is to chew miraa and kuyus whose job is touting….and wazungus whose main job is to loiter around town and down the road you will have to spot a kisii with a heavy wheelbarrow, peeling some sugar canes for an impatient customer. Wahindis and Kalasingas own stuff, of course with big kuyu business magnates. Street urchins roam in this city in plenty.
One thing I discovered is that Nanyuki dies at around 8.30 pm. Beyond there all you can find are pubs and clubs spinning back, swaddled on the dark early night to begin the reign. At this time all shop owners will be at their homes, legs on the table, a remote on one hand, watching papa shirandula. It is the only programme that seems to excite old folks, plus Mother in law, programmes that don’t look like a day in the beach for me.
While main businesses close down so that owners can go and rest after a bounty hustle, life is teaming up in the streets. If you live near town and happen to look into the feeder streets through your window, you will see them. Hookers. In those tiny apparels, 7 inch stilettos, marching to town to open the market. Their hustle resuscitates at this hour. While others move into pubs and clubs, many are those who will parade along the streets to show what their mamas gave them. Sadly, they will be auctioning ‘it’ for just a few bucks.
Again Nanyuki is expensive. I bumped into a certain shop sometime in the evening. I had piled up binge appetite for eggs that day, and would absolutely die if I slept minus those eggs.
“Kuna mayai?” I inquired from the shopkeeper enthusiastically.
“Eheeh.” He answered queerly.
“Unauzaje?” I asked now very cocky.
“15 bob moja na ya jogoo ni 20 bob.” She said.
That answer did not meet me very well. I am used to buying eggs at measly 10bob. In my pocket I had 50 bob which was tight budget I had made (3 eggs- @30 bob and nyanya for 20 bob). The prices at the shop altered the budget. I sighed heavily in disbelief and moved to the next shop thinking the first shopkeeper was demented only to confirm that all of them were. I sulked. A lot. And left.
I once went to buy greens only to discover that I needed more than 30 bob to get greens enough for my stomach. I also sulked, a bit though because I don’t have those days that I really look forward to enjoying greens. Not in my right mind.
If you happen to pop into a joint to grab something quick, like soda, your pocket reduces by100 bob. 300 ml soda, in the glass bottle costing 100. That is like a full London in Nanyuki. I bet Nanyuki was meant for the whites, not us. The only thing that makes you love Nanyuki is that when you are in town you do not feel like you are choking from fumes. The town is spacious and does not need any lighting on a cloudy day for you to see the streets properly. Beyond that, everything else is misery, from drunks urinating the streets, organizations who have never heard of public relations, untamed chokoraas ranting all day in the business centre, kuyus smoking everywhere and every time and ladies who have nothing to show.
I have to confess that there are no beautiful ladies in Nanyuki. Never came across any. okay, maybe a few, but not those which can make one break their necks. Even the waiters who are supposed to be better off are looking more like Museveni. So men don’t loiter in the streets often. No good ladies to ogle at. But if you have realized something, wazungus have a poor taste for ladies. We forgive them because they are different. They can see beauty where I can see beast. Isn’t that fascinating?
And then there is Nanyuki Mwisho Wa Reli. I sought to know how it came to be. There are many narratives around, as I came to know. One opines that when these wazungus arrived in Nanyuki, it was very cold. So cold that they had to think again if they really wanted to continue with the rail. And they needed to warm themselves. This damn mzungu with the map of the rail used it to make fire. And just like that, they railway construction stopped…
Another narrative claims that the mdosi met a very good hooker (as they say mji wa raha). He hit her up and got intoxicated. So he decided to hide the plan and that was it.
The rail just hangs there like a haunted cliff that has never been noticed. Like it is crying of being abandoned at that point without completing the journey. It is just there.
That is Nanyuki for me.
(I am past the word mark. Next week I’ll be doing something on the just ended Laikipia Fashion Gala, touching on models and a bit of fashion.