If you haven’t seen the decorations by now, you either live in a very remote part of the country or you are not very observant. Every single mall in town is decked out in Christmas- themed sketches to celebrate the birth of an infant who was born in a town in the Middle East. Many say the infant was born in a manger and grew to become either the son of God, a major prophet, a philosopher or at the very least a respectable personality in the league of Confucius or Maya Angelou.
This means there are a flurry of activity as people break for the festive season. Christmas clothes, especially for children, will be bought in plenty. Livestock will die in almost genocidal proportions, as goats, cows and chickens will be slaughtered to celebrate the birth of this Middle-Eastern villager. For those who are still trying to figure out what is likely to happen at this time, here is a guide to making it through the holiday in one piece.
1) Learn the Shahada
We must all recognise that Kenya is at war. Although, there are more than one billion peace-loving people professing Islamic faith, there is a tiny fraction that misinterprets the faith to wreak havoc. A true Gor Mahia fan must suffer, usually when a few fanatical supporters take it upon themselves to vent out their anger when the club loses a match – which unfortunately taints what is supposed to be a beautiful game. While we are about to celebrate the world’s longest festive holiday in the Christian calendar, you are advised to memorise the Shahada – the first of the five pillars of Islam – for your own safety. Well, you just never know when radicalised faithfuls might strike. To enhance your survival, you might want to learn a few other tenets of the Islamic faith, just in case a gun-toting fellow requires more.
2) Eat, for you shall be broke in January
During the December festivities, people are usually advised to spend their money sparingly. After all, gluttony has been described as one of the seven deadly sins alongside wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust and envy. Gluttony is, therefore, a bad thing and I strongly advise against it. But, the goings on during this time of the year is very different.
Even before celebratory mood of Christmas fades away, January comes knocking – in Nairobi, we call it Njaanuary. This is the month when many Nairobi folks suffer the most unimaginable hunger, and they just cannot wait for the month to come to an end. This is because their pockets suffer major dents after merrymaking, which is closely followed by paying rent and school fees. In fact, your one-year Christmas savings doesn’t help because the holiday expenditure almost always eats into your regular income making food a luxury in the ‘longest’ month of Njaanuary.
Therefore, my advice is: Eat as much as you can in December, so that your body has enough reserves to survive the coming month of hunger.
3) Watch out for the Mistletoe
Christmas was invented by Caucasians, and it came with several traditions that we have been incorporating into our own celebrations. Every shop that can afford it has, or shall be sporting a portly image popularly known as Father Christmas. The local version of this character is usually a young man with a poorly painted look of white beard, who in other times of the year is called Zangalewa Man. The only difference is during this season, he is dressed up in a red suit as opposed to his usual pseudo-military gear. Whilst this one has already been incorporated – haphazardly I might add – then we might want to watch out for other traditions.
I have in mind the mistletoe, a plant hanged in the house that is famous in this period as it allows people to kiss under it. While we are not too sure of the magic in the plant, you probably want to be on the look out. Watch out for people walking around with shrubs, and kissing people randomly. And when you ask, in dismay, why they are doing it, they point innocently at the plant they are holding over your head. This is because they might be holding a bougainvillea flower claiming it is a mistletoe. Be ready to defend your honour when you see the ‘mistletoe’ around.
Venue Review: Hillpark hotel, Upper Hill
This hotel was the hottest spot a few years ago when it was hosting the popular TV show, Slimpossible. That was the latest I could remember about the hotel as I made my way to the place on Sunday afternoon. The hotel is in Upper Hill, near Nyayo Stadium. At the gate were several guards conversing and they appeared friendly – something I appreciate at this time when insecurity is on the rise. I had my first drink at the bar and restaurant, just by the entrance.
I quickly noted the place is disability friendly. I walked in to enquire where I could watch the match. A waitress in a yellow top and black trousers ushered me into a room at the back where there was a TV. As I was about to settle down, I quickly decided to sit outdoors and have a drink as I enjoyed the fresh air. After all, the sun was scorching. I settled at an outdoor shelter with a canvas roof, and ordered my cold Tusker, priced Sh250.
As I sipped my beer, I looked around the surroundings and noticed the area had a few tables and an incline, and also has several options for a discerning punter. The incline comes in handy because the hotel sits on a hill. For those who choose to sit indoors, the area has two rooms where punters can hide away.
As I chatted with the waiter, I enquired about their swimming pool. With the holidays already here, I want as many options as possible for the young person who stays in my house. I was informed there is also a pool bar. I made my way there and saw an oval-shaped counter with high bar stools next to a pretty small pool. I was informed the prices of the booze are the same, and swimming charges for children are Sh300 and Sh500 for adults, which is fair.
A quick recap of the venue
Good: Decent service and décor, has outdoor and indoor drinking area, clean washrooms, disability friendly and TV for the sports fanatic
Bad: One can easily slip and fall on the incline, especially after having one too many
Verdict: A good place to have a drink as you watch your kids swim.