Saturday, December 24, 2016

Airport Woes

'The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officers, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English Somalis classes at night, the distance I am from home.I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here'-Warsan Shire

It has come to my attention that I look real foreign to Somali immigration guys and maybe timid because how else do you explain the number of times they tell me to stand aside as they  finish checking travel documents for other passengers and then call me at-last to ask me crazy ass questions.I do my research before going anywhere on what immigration requirements are, therefore I always know the pre-requisites like if they need you to have a letter or they need you to have an amount of money and always I am prepared but alas I am mostly told to step aside and wait for everyone else to be cleared 'sad story of my life'.

The only place I travel to often is Somalia and it's for work,the thing with me is people will say hi in Somali and I will answer and they will chit-chat and my struggling Somali will give me away and they will ask my name and I will say Rahma. This is the conflicting piece of information to them my name is Rahma and I speak broken Somali (for now) because one of my top resolutions for the new year is to learn and speak fluent Somali.What brings the conflict is how can she be Rahma(a name so common amongst Somalis), speak such Somali and look so distinctively Kenyan because Somalis have this notion that they are Arabs :-D :-D,like seriously this people think they are not Africans!

Obviously I wear my Hijab so I am Muslim that is clear and maybe Somali,so to confirm if I am Somali the immigration guys will speak Somali to me and when they realise you are struggling then they start using words that are deep just to alienate you :-( and when I say I don't understand they always ask me to step aside,why me? what have I done to deserve this?. This I am used to, honestly I will be surprised if it didn't happen,like did I become prettier or did I start looking Somali.

So this guy today has the audacity to ask for my passport and it's a domestic flight(from one town in Somalia to another), for every single person he only checked the tickets,stamps them and keeps them,see I already knew this and kept my ticket safe so when it was my turn I handed him my ticket and expected no drama but boy didn't I know I was in for the biggest drama of the year. he looks at the ticket,then at me and goes like give me your passport and I make nothing of it because I have a valid entry visa but he doesn't stop and asks;'So what brings you here' and I say 'I work here' he keeps quite for a bit and then drops this line;

Immigration guy: 'You work in Somalia and yet you don't speak Somali?'

Up until this point I wasn't up for a fight or anything but when he said this,he irked me so bad and by bad I mean I forgot Mogadishu,Somali,Somalis think shooting people is nothing and just wanted to fight and tell him how he is the one that is over-stepping his mark.

Me: Excuse me?

The guy has no chills, he repeats himself.

I could have kept quite and let it be but I was just so angry because he had no grounds I had a valid visa and he insults my Somali and all the efforts I have put to learn and speak this language however broken mine is for now.

Me:What is wrong with you? pretending to check you computer yet we all know you have no record whats-over and what you want is money and you think I am scared of sleeping in this airport or you deporting me....................................... a crazy crazy rant.

A crazy crazy rant.That I regretted soon after and almost apologized but stopped myself because he was wrong I wasn't.

Word of advise to anyone who reads this and happens to travel to Somalia/plans to travel to Somalia.

1) Never speak out loud when you are angry or irked,it's ok to think anything you want but just don't say it.

2) Have your valid visa always and if by mistake the guy stamping visa on entry has the wrong dates like in my case instead of one month he stamped for two months,don't think you are lucky just have this corrected it might come back to bite you.

3)Young immigration guys are hell,so if ever you saw someone young-ish at the immigration desk,come prepared for their big egos and always be the bigger person.

4) Brush up on your Somali and speak the little you know like you own the language.

5)Confidence is major key,if you are not in the wrong you are not in the wrong but also remember that ego thing, deception will win this for you. Know you are right but massage the ego of that immigration person.

6)Whatever you do,do not fight or talk back because an hour at the airport can make you re-think the need for a rant when you actually do not know anybody who can get you out of a fix but if you do know someone put those guys in their place for all of us.

Also Somalis are the kindest of people,I should know this because I practically live here :-) :-), like it a lot and that Warsan quote I used it's because I really like her and it has the word immigration in it because we all know she is talking about the REAL thing and not this my drama.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Afghan House

Very Afghani if you ask me,look at the owner, he sure is representing his country,
'I gave Farid some money and he went out to get food. He returned with four sizzling skewers of kabob,fresh naan and a bowl of white rice. We sat on the bed and all but devoured the food. There was one thing that had not changed in Kabul after all: The kabob was as succulent and delicious as I remembered'-The Kite Runner

I am always looking for new experiences,not outrageous ones obviously but what's life without trying out new stuff, pretty boring if you ask me.I also find time and read for fun as often as I possibly could and I have  over time read all of Khaleid Hosseini's books and therefore in relation to the topic at hand- Afghani food, I would like to believe that I have 'first hand' information because  three books is no joke ☺☺.My brother and I had set out to go to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and then go to the Giraffe Centre after but we got lost so many times and by the time we found the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust it was past 12 PM and we all know that if you want to see the baby elephants/elephants at the DSWT you have to be there by 10.30 am because they allow visitors for only 1 hour that is between 11 am and 12 noon. To make our trip to this other side of the city worthwhile in addition to the Giraffe Center we decided go to the Hub as these two are in same neighbourhood.

The Hub

The artificial lake at the Hub

Lights :-) :-)

The amusement park at the Hub
I used to think how lame it is to go visit a mall,just for the sake of visiting a mall but the Hub changed my mind because now I might just start going to malls to explore them.

The Hub is so so beautiful and especially at night/early evening when the lights come on,it has an artificial lake, beautiful lush grounds,many shops, so many places to eat; all the cuisine journeys you want to take,they have your back! Indian,Italian,cakes,Middle-East and many others I am sure, all the good things in one place. Also if you have children all I am saying is find time and take them there and specifically to the amusement park and trust me this will be the only thing they will be talking about for the longest time.

The Chicken Biriyani

My  brother who is a certified Nairobi foodie based on the number of places he has eaten at and the comments he makes on food, If I didn't know him I would have thought he is a judge on some cooking competition.He had the chicken biriyani and thought that though good,it’s no where near the swahili chicken biriyani. I also think very few food items compare to the swahili biriyani. You know the way swahili biriyani has the rice and the stew that has boiled eggs in it,the Afghan one has no stew whatsoever and no egg,what's biriyani without these two.Swahili biriyani Oyee!!!!

The Bolanee.


Sauces to eat with the Bolanee.
I had the Bolanee which is naans stuffed with mixed spice potato and onions served with a tomato chutney mainly because I am not much of a meat eater,I really wanted to try the Mantu which is traditional beef dumplings but changed my mind because beef/any meat really isn't much of my thing.I later read reviews and saw that everyone thought they are the best on the menu.I liked the Bolanee,they were tasty and very Afghany ☺, how do I know? you ask; the only food story I clearly remember from Khaleid Hosseini's books is Nana teaching Mariam how to make bread/naans in A thousand splendid sun therefore any food that has these two qualifies to be very very Afghany.

Chances of a lot of us going to Afghanistan are very slim, what the Afghan house offers is a taste of the country through their food without you having to do any travel, would I recommend it,yes I would but I will say stay away from the rice dishes because really rice is rice and try something new ☺☺.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kiss + Tell

Betty and her many fans.
I had a plan and everything of how I will kiss a giraffe or giraffes, take these killer pictures and write a post titled Kiss +Tell. I didn't know how difficult it is to actually kiss a giraffe and that said giraffes are celebrities, everyone wants to feed them and take pictures with/of them,so my plan clearly didn't take everything into consideration.But for future purpose I am now well aware and if  when I go back to the giraffe center again,I might just 'kiss' one.

The Giraffe centre is a non-profit making organization whose main objective is to raise the number of  the Rothschild giraffes that are endangered,in-addition to this the centre aims to provide conservation education to school children and all the education programs offered by the centre to children are free of charge :-) :-)

The Giraffe centre experience

Feeding the Giraffes

Me thinking-Gosh this is harder than I thought.....................

.................................and me knowing that Betty is very friendly.
Some of the Warthogs at the centre.

One of the biggest thing that you get is to see giraffes at really close range and to even feed them.

Maybe it's only me but Betty looks really thin or maybe giraffes are generally thin but maybe just maybe the management of Giraffe centre should reconsider having them and their feeding as an attraction because seriously those pellets are too small and they basically spend the whole day being fed pellets and maybe they don't get enough food, can you imagine going hungry in a place where there is a lot of food as the centre has a forest and trees are giraffes' food.Funny thing is there is this one poster that reads that each person should feed the giraffes one handful of pellets only as they are on a diet :-D :-D.

The Talk

What she is holding is a warthog's skull, it's brain space is so small hence it's very very very poor memory, like it could be running away from danger and 5 minutes later it forgets said danger and stops to graze, that bad!
Everyone knows about the big five right? but I am sure not many people know of the little five.Allow me to introduce them to you,they are; elephant shrew, buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle( I learnt this from the talk at the Centre)

I am not too sure,if they have organised talks each day or we just got lucky but this talk was really informative.The lady who gave the talk covered a lot of things during her talk like the different species of giraffes found in Kenya and the things that distinguish each kind from the other,why warthogs and giraffes are close friends in the wild,warthogs and their small brain problems, a lot of useful information but the highlight has to be that the females have hair on their small horns and the male ones are bald and this what distinguishes them, also that in the giraffe world as in all other worlds the female is king as she is the one responsible for looking for food,guiding the group when they are migrating and even fighting enemies.These females are doing us PROUD.

Conservation support

This picture was created by a student as an entry to one of the Center's conservation competitions.

Waste bins-Clearly they practice what they preach :-)
From the talk I also learnt that the centre is very keen on environmental conservation and hold competitions on conservation for school children and the winning school wins a trip to the Nairobi national park and sites around Nairobi to see pollution and it's negative impact first hand and that on Thursdays( I am not too sure if it's each Thursday or some specific ones) they allow school kids to get into the Centre for free and as if this is not enough they occasionally organize trainings for school teachers on issues around environmental conservation :-) :-).

The Nature Trail

The joys of seeing a water point.

The Natural trail is especially dope because it tells a story of how Nairobi,the whole of it was trees and truly a place of cool waters where Maasai pastoralists could bring their livestock when times were bad in Maasai-land(I joke) but it's so so pretty and each tree has a small board on it showing the name of the tree in English, it's scientific one and it's names in different Kenyan languages and what the tree can be used for.

If you are in Nairobi and have some free time and want to see giraffes and even touch them, then Giraffe centre is the place to visit.They charge 250 KES per person so I figure it's not too expensive either and totally worth it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Nairobi Railway Museum

Railway transport seems to be the future if the noise the electric rail in Ethiopia has created is anything to go by as railway transport is said to be efficient because it is not prone to delays that come with road travel as a result of traffic jams and is cheaper, yet us guys have a railway museum, yaani we have already gotten  ahead of the future and even archived it ☺☺.The construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway forms a big part of  Kenya's history- The man eaters of Tsavo anyone?? hoping this rings a bell, if not then you should definitely plan and go to the Nairobi Railway museum and you will learn/be reminded of the important role that the construction of the railway played in Kenya's history.

“It is not uncommon for a country to create a railway, but it is uncommon for a railway to create a country.”-Sir Charles Elliot,

When I first read this on one of the walls at the Railway Museum,I thought 'oh well,does it mean before the construction of the Railway there was no Kenya as a country',apparently there was no Kenya at-least not as we know it now.........................!!!!!!!!(alama ya duku duku na mshangao) because I was so defensive when I read this and spent time with Professor Google after to find out how true this is and she says 'Kuna ukweli kwa hiyo stori'.

One of the flagship projects of Kenya’s Vision 2030 is the standard gauge railway whose first phase is a railway that connects Nairobi to Mombasa in addition to reducing the amount of travel time and cost of travel hopefully the railway takes all those heavy tankers off the road and hence ensure roads are saved from damage and therefore no potholes and then the government will have an additional thing to brag about and most importantly to use to somehow justify the huge amounts spent on the construction of this new railway. Clearly we are not done with railways despite having a railway museum.

The Railway Museum is divided into three parts.

The Graffiti

A lot of the images I had seen before going to the railway museum were of the wall graffiti at the Railway Museum but you will surprised when you visit because I expected a lot of graffiti, but it’s just on the side fence as you get in,are they nice yes,but I think a lot of people sorely focus on them and make it seem that the railway museum is full of graffiti because I actually asked 'So where is the other graffiti?'

The Gallery

A bicycle that was used by the railway inspector,

A type-writer

A calculator

The plates and cups the Queen used when she took a train ride.
If history is your thing, then the gallery will make you really happy, there are pictures that explain the different stages of the construction of the railway and they even have this story of how a 25 year old Queen Elizabeth found about her father’s death when she was in Kenya and was made acting queen while she was in Kenya. Also on display are plates, cutlery and seats she used when she took a train ride,so how does a queen’s chair feel, you have to visit to find out :-)

The make-belief train station

Benches to sit on as you wait for 'your train.'

I honestly thought  the trains at the museum were built specifically for the museum in the same way people recreate stuff that are copies of the original to show you what the original looks like, but no, all the trains,train station benches,railway tracks and cabins are real and were once in use at-least this is what I found out although some looked too shiny to be artifacts.

A visit to the railway museum will take you down history lane to a time when trains had decks for passengers to see lions and other wildlife as they travel,the struggle that people under-went to construct it-a big number of the workers died :-( whilst constructing it and much more.If you love history then you should definitely visit, bonus point is you can actually recreate for yourself how an old train station felt like by sitting on the benches and then getting on a cabin to get a feel of how a train ride felt like despite the cabin not moving ha!