Only in Kenya

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ma3 Ride to Remember not to Forget

Kenya can be clearly divided into two sections: those who hate ma3s, and those who ride them. I used to hate them, until I got to ride in one and experienced how entertaining a ride on one can be.

I first got to the Doonholm round about stage a few minutes before 8am. It was so crowded you couldn't get space to cleanly plant your shoes.

Some ma3s came from the Umoja side, which we all lengad despite them charging just a pao. Kisa na sababu? They shukisha you in the thick Bus Station's commotion. Emba and Savo ma3s are our preference. Even if charge 30 bob and sometimes 40 bob, they'll ferry your behind hadi commercial (the original one).

Time was on my side so I decided to chagua the right ma3: alloy rims, the rear being larger than the front so the gari looks like 'inakunywa maji', and at least some ziki - I'm paying ten bob extra or maybe double so the ride better be finer.

Many ma3s passed and most fell short of my expectations. The few that got at least 95% were full before I could put away my marking pen and paper. Seconds flew by, followed by minutes and in no time, an hour was gone. As sudden as Nairobi rain, the fares dropped to a max of 20 bob for the Nissans and 15 bob for some 'I was once there' ma3s that usually ply the inda route. These are metal frames on 6 wheels that used to ply Buru 58 just when people discovered a ma3 can have more than one colour. Ten years later, they're back to one colour - rust. The risk of tetanus dictates you avoid such.

Pooo-riiiiii! A ma3 hooted as it checked into the stage. The kange' shukad and some two guys hung on the door. "Commercial mbao,Stadi kumi!" they chanted. I was one of the first people in, and I quickly secured a seat next to the dere (ndio nifike mapema). My first instinct was tujifunga my Michukis but mine had turned brown. Anyway, he isn't even Transport minister any more.

The two 'hangers' were each given a blue by the kange' and we sped off at like a sok, up the railway flyover. At the peak, the dere all of a sudden reduced his speed. I was like kwani? Tumesahau mtu? I was told there were cops with speed guns ahead. I actually saw them hiding in a ditch on the left, mulikaring deres who were going beyond 50kph (speed limit on the entire Jogoo Road). How do they expect you to maintain that speed limit on such a smooth section of road? (On the other side of the road, guys were clocking 120) Some guy in a Levin zoomed past us; muffler sounding like the guy had eaten something bad. The ma3 dere just laughed. And sure enough at Bridge View Club, we found the Levin parked at the side of the road, and a guy pleading for mercy.

Immediately after, the ma3 dere was back to 90kph.

At St Stephen's Church, we found a jam. Cops were checking Michukis and excess passengers. I quickly fastened my brown one coz a dirty belt is better than a dirty police car. Behind me, I heard the door open in the jam, and looked back to see one excess female passenger being thrown out.

We passed the police check and the kange' waved at the cops. I don't think the cops saw the chic who was running at the back of the ma3, crying for a fare refund, coz they just waved back.

Anyhow, got to town in one piece and changed from ma3 hater to ma3 taker.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Peculiar Kenyan Calling Habits

In Nigeria, a mobile phone call costs about 16 times what it does in Kenya. (but don't quote me on this). I guess that is why we have what Kenya's highest individual tax payer once called peculiar habits

SFX: Phone ring.
MVO: (feels nothing because the number is foreign and its at 11pm) Hello?
FVO: (In a speed that will rival those Ngong Racecourse commentators) Mama John, ni mimi (Nani?) Credit yangu inaisha. Sasa, nilienda kwa stall ya Nyawura lakini hakuwa. Kwa hivyo ile blouse nilikuwa nibadilishe sikuweza. Sasa, (bleep warning you have 1 minute of talk time left), wooiye. Si unipigie please!
SFX: Pregnant pause from 'Mama John'.
MVO: Ulikuwa unataka kuongea na nani?
FVO: Baba John, mpatie Mama John simu.
MVO: Huku hakuna Mama au Baba John.

At this point, you'd expect the lady to hang up. Despite calls in Kenya being cheaper than in Nigeria, her credit is running low, remember?

FVO: Huko ni wapi?
MVO: Si kwa akina John.
FVO: Ahhh, haki pole. Nilikuwa nataka kuongea na Mama John. Una namba yake?

There are exactly 2,345,908 Mama Johns in Kenya, excluding those without cell phones.

MVO: Hapana.
FVO: Si uniangalilie tafadhali.
MVO: Sawa.

At this point, 'Mama John' places his phone on his bedside table and proceeds to sleep, wasting our caller's credit. She doesn't deserve any.