I am in Mombasa, the glorious wonderful city by the Indian Ocean. Where salty warm waters lap at my swollen feet, because this heat is reminiscent of hell and my body just does not know how to handle it! I refuse to have my mood dampened by unregulated temperatures, and focus on what brought me here. Complete release, an attempt at reliving my energetic youth, to drink myself silly and party my nights away.
I will gladly announce that I failed miserably at both.
I am older and wiser; and can hold more liquor than I care to display, but this heat will simply not let me achieve a state of complete drunkenness. My attempts nevertheless grow more spirited with every passing bottle.
So we are residing in Nyali, such a beautiful side of town. Our residence has us passing outside what I was led to believe is Bayusuf’s estate. I tell you, prosperity is important, and so is longevity if it comes with wealth. He has a Mosque inside his compound, and irrespective of how slowly I insist we drive by, I can never clap my eyes on that property long enough to see what else is inside. I have always been fascinated by big things ( I will allow your mind to wonder in whatever direction you please with that statement), I remember putting up pictures of trucks on my wall back in high school. Mann trucks, Mercedes Trucks, anything that shook the earth when keyed to life had my attention.
I wondered if Bayusuf would have prospered if he had sired only daughters. Bayusuf and daughters just doesn’t have a satisfying ring to it, Bayusuf and Sons simply sounds complete. Would his daughters if any have carried on his legacy? Would they have prospered? I wonder.
If I had daughters would I have them drive trucks? Yes
Would I fix marriages with the sons of Baysuf for my unborn daughters? Yes
Would I lurk outside Baysuffs gate until they finally gave in? Yes
Am I drunk right now? Yes, I mean no, honestly … I am working on it.
Swallows an unladylike mouthful. WHISKEY . IS . LIFE!
My attempts at painting the town red have me hiding from the sun and pretending to swim. Pretending because I am far too lazy to be bothered to swim the length of the pool, the most I can do is dog paddle, then sink at the shallowest corner and deep my head under water. When that becomes tedious, I sashay to the baby pool. Holding my head high like Cleopatra on her way to soak in milk and honey, because she and I understand one thing, LIFE IS NOT A REHEARSAL! If I want to chill in the baby pool, by Jupiter I will chill in the baby pool. Slathered in a bottle of Nivea’s SPF 1000, clad in a polka-dot fatkini, wide brimmed hat and Gucci sunglasses, I settle my generous behind into the waters that even after being displaced only cover my bosom. Yes, this is the life!
Mid afternoon obviously calls for a siesta, which has me waking up sometime after 9 p.m. hungry as a model. A quick shower later, wearing as little as possible and not a lick of makeup on my face, off we go to hunt for some local dishes. I love me some biryani, the real biryani. The kind that this hotel cannot achieve; because such titillating goodness can only be found in the streets. The non-Michelin star cooks succeed at their trade because they love to cook, and will spice everything they way they ought to, the way their mothers taught them how to, the traditional unchained method. Food on the streets is cooked from the heart, and it warms my innards just enough to have me addicted and avail me the opportunity to flash my middle finger at all that five star blandness. Give me artery clogging scrumptiousness any day!
After driving around and finding most of my favourite spots closed for business, I realise that it is a Monday, and not everyone in this town is on holiday like I am. Upset but not outwitted, we try for the popular spots, only to find the same dismal disappointment. Even Bob’s was closed, so we were referred to a dimly lit restaurant with green eerie bulbs and clients with hooded eyes. If my stomach wasn’t rumbling so loudly, I would have chosen to sleep hungry, but even my worst enemy does not deserve such punishment. So we pull our seats and try get the attention of a waitress.
The thing about the coastal region is everything slows down. EVERYTHING. I kept flagging down waitresses, all of whom flashed me what I think was their teeth, and walked by. The only good that came from all the waving was my armpits cooled down, finally found some use for my wings. About a half hour later, one arrives and smiles ever so sweetly and asks what we will have. A round of cold sodas, ice cubes, water and food. She says they do the best pork in town, we order for some, to be accompanied by French fries and Ugali, which she calls Sima (shoot me now! I do not care for Swahili lessons at this moment!)
I did not expect the food to arrive any time before dawn, so I busied myself watching my surroundings and wishing my skin would remain this clear even in Nairobi. The ladies here have such amazing skin! It must be from all the sweating, and not constantly wearing makeup. They are very beautiful and soft spoken, and all those other things that rumour has about coastal women. These ladies also dress very decently nowadays. I see several women come and go. They are all clad in cute dresses, or pencil skirts and heels that I would wear. Do people here now work night shift instead of 8 to 5? Which would make sense because this heat is good for only two things, sleeping and then sleeping some more.
I realize that even if these women were going to work, surely, there have to be some men folk also on duty. My attention immediately spikes, I feel like Sherlock with no clues but armed with resolve and smart ass responses. What the devil is going on here?
It is one girl after another, all going into the bathroom in jeans and whatnot, and coming out looking like they were going for interviews. I am talking well-dressed girls, even the thick ones emerged looking like they had strapped on spanks and brought some order to all that jelly. Surely, which employer is this? I follow one girl to what appeared to be her end destination. She stood alongside her equally well dressed “workmates” and I assumed that the bus would be by any minute to take them to the factory or call centre, because they were many.
I waited and waited. No bus, no food on my table. What there was however, was an increase in traffic along the street outside this restaurant. My smartly dressed girls would kill the chatter when a car drove by, one would break away and approach the vehicles, the conversation seldom lasting more than a few seconds. Then it struck me like a punch to my ribcage, these were not “good” decently dressed girls! They were ladies of the night!
Who changed the bloody dress code? Have I been living under a rock?
I was so shocked I temporarily forgot my hunger and irritation at the terrible service we were getting from the smiling Coastarian waitress with her perfect Swahili.
Whatever happened to call girls wearing nothing more than matching ribbons? Did they stop chain smoking and looking like drag queens on Meth? Did the allure of too much skin die? Have people stopped being attracted to “bad girls” and now want to be associated with the not so obvious? Who changed the effing rules?
In an era where being normal is too mainstream, and everyone wants to be different in order to get ahead; how is it that the oldest profession is peddling backwards to remain relevant? Is hiding the obvious in plain sight the only way not to judge a book by its cover?
My food has come!