It is the time of the year when Nairobi folks are not seen flocking the pubs and talking loudly about how badly their rival football team or politician is doing compared to their favourite one.
It makes perfect sense of course. The few days before the end of the year were an orgy of everything that could be done to a human body. Those of a religious bent were seen partying for the Lord in the religious events that have been popping up all over the country for Christmas.
Even the New Year eve was not spared as the biggest shindigs were in fact of the kesha variety. Those who were of the 'world' were of course seen shuttling to different parts of the country ( Mombasa and Naivasha were the most popular destinations for the Nairobi folks).
Social media pages were flooded with images of the amazing time that people had wherever they were. Pictures of exotic meals be it sea food or nyama choma were posted newly-created Instagram accounts.
A special emphasis was put on the mode of transport used; aeroplanes, boats, boda boda etc. Also in plenty were images taken in the evening, usually of the calm before alcohol madness took over and folks did things that they later regretted.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and the religious and the heathen returned to the biggest city in the region with depleted bank accounts.
Some of those who had it the worst were parents. Not only did they have to pay rent, find transport and buy food like everyone else, they also had to deal with their young ones' educational needs.
The most stressful part of that dynamic is that in the new Kenya, the younger the learner, the more stressful it is to put them through school as prices go through the roof every day. Even worse hit are those who have more than one child.
The first day in school is exciting to parents as it is to kids. In a bookshop queue, you cannot miss this conversation; Parent one: “Wangari is so grown up! I am looking forward to seeing her in big school!”
Parent two: “Yes she is. Although she does look a bit young to be in school. Parent one: “Yes. She was just so clever so they decided to move her to class one.”
Buying books and uniforms for these first time parents is quite exciting as they have been planning for this for a long time and they will not miss out on this big day.
The same cannot be said of parents who have been there for much longer and buying books and uniforms is nothing other than a very expensive chore. Discussions in the line can be just as interesting and would go like this;
Parent 1: These people are just ripping us off. How am I supposed to pay for books and uniform for someone who is six and ten at this time? Buying books for Sh15,000 for a ten year old is daylight robbery. What are they learning there apart from addition subtraction, multiplication and division.
Parent 2: I know! I have two kids as well. One is six and the other nine. Actually, do you have books that your kids no longer need? I could buy them at half price. Don't be surprised if these parents start negotiating about the books they have in their homes to save cash.
The parents don't just have to deal with their young kids. They also have to deal with relatives who think that they are the only ones with the most problems in the world.
So this poor parent who is considering starting a website to exchange books with other parents will haved receive a call from an uncle. This uncle will give a litany of complaints that will make the poor nephew understand why the leader of an Asian country allegedly fed his to vicious dogs in anger.
Unfortunately, the fellow cannot feed his uncle to dogs as he can't afford dogs and feeding them at this time of the year. How are you coping with the new year, parent ?
Bonds restaurant, Elgon Road, Upper Hill
Last month was quite a good December when Nairobians had a ball as they reflected on the year that had just gone by. Not to be left behind, I took my significant other to one of Nairobi's places to celebrate the good times before the 'brokeness' of January that would inevitably come to haunt me. We went to a place called Bonds Restaurant in Upper Hill.
To get to this place, you need to have a car. Either that or you may be forced to take a cab as matatus close business very early in that part of the city. There's ample parking though.
If you don't have one, however, you may be forced to use cabs in the later parts of the evening as public transport in that part of the evening runs out quite early. The venue is one of the biggest in town and provide several options.
There are several bar counters and two little eating areas as well as several rooms which can be hired for those hosting events. A waiter informed me that the people who hire out this venue are either corporations or people who are hosting parties to celebrate birthday, graduation or other achievements.
The washrooms that I saw here were quite clean. The one thing I noted that is very rare in Nairobi restaurants is a loo customised for patrons in wheelchairs. It was in between the 'gents' and 'ladies'.
We sat at one of the counters and ordered drinks. Tusker was going at Sh220 which is not so hight considering that the management of this place has invested quite a bit in décor and other amenities.
The patrons here were mostly of the mature variety which is what you get when you are dealing with people driving themselves to a venue. It was a mixed crowd of both men and women. Two cooporations were hosting functions at the venue.
A quick recap of the venue:
Excellent décor, great service, disability friendly, clean washrooms, a mature crowd.
Inaccessible by matatu at certain hours, it is a bit pricey.
Ideal for those going on a date or for individual parties