The government of Kenya recently published a report detailing the status of her counties. As is expected, Nairobi county came out on top with only 4.1 per cent living below the poverty line, with each household’s expenditure totalling Sh2,913 a month.
Now that Sh200 is the standard price for your regular booze in this city, and people drink until the wee hours of the morning over the weekend, you know that many spend much more than Sh2,913 on drinks in one night in a bar.
Of course the government’s narrative has led many people to believe that Nairobi is the best place to be. If you live here, anything can happen – that is, if you believe everything you read and see in the media.
You could be sitting in a matatu seemingly minding your own business, but silently analysing the message on the stickers in the vehicle such as: “Beware of Pickpocket”. As you look at the red-eyed person seated next to you, you wonder if he could be the pickpocket. But no, it is the President promoting the cashless system for the matatu industry!
While the thought of sitting next to the President even for one day might seem real, the truth is that the head of state sits next to company executives, and always has his security details in the matatu. You can only board such a matatu if you are part of the company’s security detail or you work for the company promoting the new service. So, stop fantasizing sitting next to the most powerful man in Kenya – it is a mirage, and your coming to Nairobi does not mean you stand a chance.
Or you could be sitting on a bench in the CBD quietly reading warning signs that say: “Don’t sit on the flower pots”. It makes your mind wander, and you can’t help but think your governor and his team must be working really hard. Then you see a fellow wearing a scary mask accosting you. Like any right-thinking individual, you take to your heels. But you get a fright when the guy in the mask goes after you, reassuring you all is well while pointing at a camera, and asks you to give it a thumbs up.
It was all a prank and you were caught unawares! Does Naswa or Prankstars programme ring a bell? You just became a ‘celeb’. You will be shown on TV. You became ‘famous’ just by sitting on a bench. Who are you to complain? What they don’t show you on TV are angry residents who at times unleash terror on the comedians for intruding their privacy.
Another misconception about Nairobi and its ‘amazing’ life has to be our international leanings. Residents of this town love creating impression they are not backward, and sign up in droves for any new concept that is introduced in the world. For instance, Earth Day when people the world over are asked to switch off lights for a certain period to protect the earth from global warming. In a short while, you see Kenyans take to social media with the topic, which then goes viral. The problem with this kind of campaign is that few Kenyans are on the power grid, and are used to frequent outages. The idea that one voluntarily switches off the lights, when they are a rare commodity is a big joke.
To top it off, should an internationally renowned celebrity pass on, you quickly see Nairobi residents flood their social media pages with condolence messages to mourn the person’s demise. Whether it is Maya Angelou or Dr Myles Munroe, the tributes stream in fast. Anyone who didn’t know the deceased feels left out and out of touch with the world. The downside is that despite many Nairobians being clueless, they still post information that is downright embarrassing. Those in the know post tributes such as: “I came, I saw, I conquered” – Dr Myles Monroe, “Your wisdom shall be missed – #RIPDRMylesMoroe”, “I know why the caged quail sings – Maya Angelou”, “We loved your wisdom our Black American sister” and so on.
These posts show that as much as some Nairobians keep up with time, a good number are most of the times clueless – even with the advanced technology, just like residents in far-flung counties.
Venue review: Sizzling Spices, Parklands road
It was on a Friday evening when I met up with a good friend of mine at a restaurant on Parklands Road. The restaurant is in a two-storey building, painted in orange and brown colour. The restaurant is on the ground floor and bar is on the first floor. We made our way to the first floor, which unfortunately our friends in wheelchairs may find difficult to access, as the building does not have ramps.
The bar is partitioned into several areas where one can have a drink in private. The pub has a dance floor and a DJ booth for those who love to dance to the beats of their favourite music.
We settled on the seats on the balcony. From there, we could see the parking lot, which was fully parked, and the main road.
Most of the vehicles in the parking lot are a common sight on a typical Friday evening.
The restaurant specialises in Indian, Chinese cuisine and Koroga, which some know as cook-outs. I wasn’t here for the food but the drink.
However, we ordered a meal. I was impressed by its quality as it was very well prepared.
The cold Tusker placed on my table by the friendly waiter cost Sh230. For a pub in Westlands, it was fair.
There were a few TV screens mounted on the walls all around the bar.
This is good news to those who want to catch a football game over the weekend. The punters in here were an interesting mix, mainly comprised of Asians, which made sense as Indian cuisine was part of the dishes served here. I also saw young people – commonplace in pubs – cladded in sagging jeans and baggy T-shirts, also having fun.
A quick recap of the venue:
Good: Great food, good location, decent décor, great service, dance floor, clean washrooms,
Bad: Disability-unfriendly, emergency exits not convincing,
My verdict: A decent place to have a meal and a drink whilst waiting for Westlands traffic jam to die down on a Friday evening.