Thursday, December 1, 2011

Points to Ponder - On Waking Up, Courage and Happy Vegetables

As we move towards the end of the year, I am finding that I require more effort than usual to get out of the bed and go to work. My mind and body needs a break but work schedule does not allow it. I generally feel disinterested, and even tired, and cannot do the stuff that I would ordinarily do effortless, without some concerted effort. But to keep me going, there are 3 brilliant points to ponder that I have kept in mind. So let me share, you never know who else might need a push as I do at the moment.

Courage is no more than cussed stubbornness, and I have plenty of that. It means getting up each day and doing what you have to, going on when circumstances let you down, pushing ahead when others hold you back... Lamar Dodd

I have always felt that the moment when first you wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the 24 hours. No matter how weary you feel, you possess the certainty that anything may happen. The fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not one jot. The possibility is there. Monica Baldwin in I Leap Over The Wall

People need trouble - a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do, I don't mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy - William Faulkner

I actually think I want to be like this!

Do you have an interesting passage that pushes you on when you don't feel like it? Please share

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walk With Kings But Don't Lose The Common Touch

Hmm, here is a story that last week opened my eyes to how different we are and how we can easily assume that all of us are intrigued by the same stuff. Last Saturday I decided to meet a friend for a drink in town. He had in his company two (beautiful) ladies with whom we chatted with about the various topics that people who have just met for the first time over a drink chat about. Politics, celebrities, weather, music and other stuff.

The conversation however took an interesting turn when, talking about public transport, I mentioned that I once had a conversation with someone who grew up in Nairobi but had never been in public transport until she finished her college education. I was thus surprised when one of the ladies confessed that she had never been in public transport (bus or matatu). I was a bit curious and tried to inquire whether, growing up she had never been curious and had the urge to jump into a matatu or bus and go whenever. No. Yes, I am aware that there are people who have been born into privilege but I assumed that even if your parents had you wrapped under a cocoon of privilege, there will be that "rebellious" streak to stray and see the "other" side of the world? How the rest of the country lived? No, she said, why should she see poverty? She asked. I was lost for word. Whenever I travel to any city or town on business, I usually refuse to be confined to my hotel room and conference facilities and try to go the "masses" side of town, to witness the pulse, the color of that town as I know these are not found on the posh side. No, she said, she is never that curious, not in the least interested.

This is in no away an attempt to judge someone or try to be pious and call others vain, just one of those times that I remind myself that we are different. As for me, "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Blog, Immaturity and Blood

It has been a while since I was on this blog, or any other blog for example. I will not bore you with details of how busy my life was but in between the everyday "busyness" of life, I found time to discover one very interesting blog, Project 44 - Eve and Adam. I have previously seen the people who blog there leave comments on my blog and even though I had meaning to click on their link, for some time I never got round to doing it. So one day I clicked on the link. I say the blog is interesting because it is not common (at least for me) to find some local bloggers objectively discussing issues of relationships in a reasonable manner. Most of the local blog posts I come across on these issues tend to be about whining about how (especially marriages) are a dying institution and mostly highlight the negative. But maybe that is what readers are interesting in reading. So for me it was like a breadth of fresh air to come across this blog. Please pay them a visit, you will not be disappointed.

One of the posts I found interesting was a post about maturity. This got me reflecting about how many times I have exhibited behaviour that might be termed immature in my own relationships. Ok, maybe I should not be writing this, but now that I am writing this...These are some of the immature actions I have cast upon my loving partner who seems to have the patience of a Hindu saint.

One of the most silly thing I have done in the past is sulk. I know some will say that sulking is for women but truth be told, for many years I have been a sulker. When I was in school I would sulk for some time when I fell out with a friend, at times go days without speaking to him. On reflection, I only sulked if the offending party was a friend I held dear. If we had an argument and I felt nothing, then you did not mean anything to me. I have had misunderstandings with partner and I have sulked. I can say that there have been times when I have gone for days without speaking to my partner. When we finally spoke, we could not remember what was the problem in the first place. Nowadays I understand the immaturity of not wanting to speak to each other.

But perhaps one of my most immature actions took place in the middle of the night on a lonely road. We were from a night club and my partner and I had an argument. The argument continued in the car and at one point feeling I could not take more of this, I just slammed on the brakes, stopped the car in the middle of the road at 2am and decided I was going to walk the rest of the 10km home. My wife thought I was joking but I walked on, until she traced me 20 minutes later. I will not comment on how the situation was resolved but later I could not help thinking about I had exposed both my wife and I to danger, considering that this was a carjacking prone area. There has been other incidents, like damaging something but let me not expose my myself. All I can say is that I have now matured enough.

Still talking of maturity, what better way is there to show maturity than donating blood? Recently I met a team of young people who have decided to contribute to society by developing a blood donors database. I know this does not sound like a lot in the West or more developed countries with efficient blood bank systems but here it is a big deal. Going by the name of Wanadamu (literally meaning people of blood but also intimating humanity), their idea is simple. Wanadamu is an initiative that aims at bringing together donors and patients requiring blood by maintaining a database of willing donors. These donors are then contacted on demand, should an emergency blood appeal be made. It also avails the convenience to donors of knowing that they will be called upon as and when required. Enter your name and contact details and blood type into a database and when there is an emergency need of your blood type in your location, you could be contacted to donate blood. During this month of heroes, they are encouraging Kenyans to be heroes by donating blood to those in need. For me, this is something that we should all get involved in. Please click on this link to register and pass the info round. The objective is to have a minimum of 1000 donors in each of the 47 counties.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Play and A Song

My last post indicated that I was going to be watching a play (Wanjiku's Dilemma) by my good friend Oby Obyerodhyambo. Well, I can now confirm that I did go on the opening night and I was not disappointed. And because I promised one of my readers that I will get back to her about what the play is about, here I am (with help from the play's synopsis.

The moot question that ‘Wanjiku’s Dilemma’ explores is, ‘Why would anyone remain in an abusive, dysfunctional relationship?’ This resonated well with me as it is something I wrote HERE awhile back. Oby asks why it is that someone in an abusive relationship cannot simply tear away and leave if they are getting a raw deal, if they are disrespected, humiliated and trod on? What makes a person stay soaking in the pain and suffering? Is it a nagging thought that things could get better if they stayed just a little longer or that walking out could expose them to even worse? What if the aggrieved party decides to ‘do something’ to free themselves from this bondage? Something finite, something definitive, how will onlookers and spectators, who have watched the humiliation all along, judge that action? Will they approve, appreciate and understand? Will they forgive, if that act calls for forgiving?

In the drama Wanjiku is accused of a capital crime; one that her advocate Tunu is determined will not stick. Tunu believes this is a case célèbre that she has waited for all her life as a human rights lawyer to make a point and set a legal precedent. She is determined to use all the tricks in the book, and out of the books to make the point. This is what worries Alice, her mother, that she is too personally involved in the case to assume the objectivity that an advocate needs for clarity. I have watched Oby in action for a number of years so it was not a surprise that he tries to present powerful arguments by both sides and cajoles you as the audience to try to solve this dilemma. The play is a riveting mind-teaser and Wanjiku’s dilemma is shared by the audience all through. Dilemmas have no easy answers and Wanjiku’s is no exception. The acting was quite good for an opening night and the director, George Mungai, did a super job. If you are in Nairobi and have not watched this play, make a point to. It closes on Saturday at Phoenix.

That was about the play, now about the song. Kenyan Mom is a wonderful blogger and if you want the quirky side of mothering in Kenya, please follow her blog, you will not be disappointed. She also gave me some pointers / inspiration through a blog post that got me blogging with more happiness but she does not know that. Sometimes back, she decided that she could randomly assign me a song. I did not pay much attention to this song but I found myself listening to this song by Bob Carlisle over the weekend and enjoyed it so much that I thought I should share it here with friends. Enjoy Butterfly Kisses.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wanjiku's Dilemma, A Play By Oby

Something to look forward to in the coming weeks, a play by my friend Oby. Gives me a reason to go back to the theatres

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Martina

The previous weekend I travelled to my rural home where I got to meet my paternal grandmother. My grandmother is called Martina. I don’t think anyone is quite sure of her age but it commonly assumed that she was born in 1910, which puts her at 101 years. There is however a strong suspicion that she was born slightly earlier but nobody is too sure. She often jokes that God has forgotten about her, that is the reason why she has not passed on while all her peers have moved on. She says that at times she tries to catch God’s attention so that God will go like, oh, she is still around! Then her days might come to pass.

Because I arrived late on a Saturday evening, I did not get to go to her house till the following morning. Her house is bare. There are a couple of seats in the living room and then an old bed in her bedroom. Nothing else. It looks like she does not own much and yet last year when I visit her she told me that she is very wealthy. This is because she has children and grandchildren who have made something out of their lives (though I have to admit some of us are a bit crooked and we have had our issues! ). At times I think that I don’t have much but when I look at her…

My Grandma, martina

About 17 years ago when I was preparing to go to college in distant lands, I went to see her to say my farewell. By then she was very weak and could hardly see and I believed that I was laying my eyes on her for the last time. Five years later when I came back, she could see quite clearly and easily recognized me. Her memory was still great and she walked around and even attended to the shamba. Now she can hardly see and cannot move on her own. Someone has to lift her from bed and once she has been set somewhere she will not move until someone carries her to another place. When I visited her the other week, she could not recognize me. Usually she’d hear my voice and quickly recognized ‘her husband’. Not this time. My mum spoke to her for about 5 minutes before she recognized her. My dad came in and just by speaking one word, she recognized him. Of course that’s her son.

I have asked myself whether I’d like to grow that old. Be in a state where all if not most of my current friends and relatives are gone, where I’d struggle to move and recognize my family…at times I tell myself no, but then recognize it is a blessing….

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why I Need A Good Recommendation!

The other day I was chatting up a friend who has been out of a job since late last year. I was surprised she was still out of a job as a few weeks earlier I had been told that her former employer had been interested in re-hiring her. So why didn't they re-hire her? I posed. Apparently she had received one bad recommendation from her former immediate supervisor. It was not the kind of recommendation that that said she had been incompetent or something like that. Actually the general recommendation was decent but her supervisor had pointed out one negative thing about her performance. Two other recommendations from within the same department had actually been glowing. Because of the one negative, she did not get the job. The supervisor later admitted that if he had known that the one honest appraisal would cost her the job, he would not have written it down as he would have liked to continue working with her. Who knows? She apparently will now find it very difficult getting future employment within the UN system.

This led to another discussion about how someone else had been employed in the same organization and had apparently done such a good job that the supervisor and the organization were greatly impressed. He was earmarked to be a star and many saw him soon taking over the running of the department. Then word came in from HR that after some months of investigation, they found out that the college he had gone to was not officially recognized and therefore doubts were cast on his qualification. They were all sad to see him go and everyone agreed that it was sad to lose such talent.

I am writing this because at times I wonder when should qualifications and rigid rules on processes give way to common sense and experience? I have employed someone with an academic background on science (Botany to be precise) on a community education dealing with social and health issues and he turned out just fine. I ignored the academic background and instead focused on experience. If you have the right experience and aptitude for a certain job, should the fact that you don't have the correct academic background or one bad recommendation out of several good ones stand in your way?


Image from Internet

In other news, commitments at the work place has meant that there has been no time to go over your blogs of late, so don't worry if you have not seen me visiting your blog. I will be passing by soon. In the meanwhile let me sign off and get back to work, before I get a bad recommendation.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On Friends, Compliments & Sincerity

Recently I happened to be asked to act an emcee(it was put in a such a way that I could not decline). I said yes and promptly forgot about it until a day to the event. Then I was surprised with some "talking points" that I was supposed to memorize. I was even given exact lines to introduce some film. I still took everything for granted until the last minute when backstage, I saw all these people that were to make some speeches busy rehearsing their speeches. It was then that it occurred to me that I needed to be rehearsing and that there was no room for mistakes. This made me tense throughout, a situation that was made worse by the blinding stage lights. Needless to say, I got through it unscathed, meaning I did not introduce people using wrong names and did not refer to the US Ambassador as being from Iran or something like that (the highlight for me though was having to help Alfre Woodard down the steps - they kept reminding me how to pronounce her name. Would she have strangled me if I got it wrong?)

Anyway, the point of this is that after the event I was obviously concerned that I might have made a fool of myself on stage. But as usual, friends came and patted me on the back saying stuff like 'that was good' etc. It is actually only one person who upon my probing told me that I looked rather nervous at the beginning...This made me reflect on how many mornings that my wife asks me how she looks like in a certain attire, and without thinking, murmur that it looks ok. In deed, how many times do I pass compliments without actually meaning it, just because I am expected to be nice. I see a musician friend of mine perform and clearly the performance sucks but I just say "well done, that was brilliant!". I think being sincere in compliments is perhaps not as easy as it sounds, most of the time we will not tell our friends the truth. Perhaps it is only husbands who get to hear the truth from their wives concerning their dressing, something that at times we do not take lightly!

Finally, "Real friendship is exchanging secrets, rolling over like a puppy and exposing the soft underbelly. You tell your friend the truth, and you feel the friendship growing - like a bank account - with each upfront opinion you give, with each honest answer you hear". Adair Lara, Cosmopolitan

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boy and Seven Things

It has been a while since I posted anything here, this is what happens when you get quite busy and don't have much to write about...ok, I have stuff to write about but just have not had the time. Anyway, a few days back I got to watch Taika Waititi's film Boy, and I will not be exaggerating when I say this is one of the best films I have watched in a long time. I am not saying this just because I had the privilege of meeting Taika and hosting him on a Q and A session after the screening of the film during the launch of the FilmAid and Film Forward / Sundance Institute festival in Nairobi but if you have ever seen a film done so simply, with crazy illustrations and fantasy yet still serious enough to drive home some universal values, then this is it.



If you can get your hand on this film, I definitely recommend it!

While I was away, one Woolie did a blog post and decided to tag me on it. Now I have been tagged on these kind of posts before (I must say am quite indifferent to this types of posts) and generally ignored them with the exception of one. Anyway, I thought why don't I indulge Woolie because she runs a good blog and so here I am (rather sheepishly I must add - no pun intended Woolie). These are the so called rules

Thank and link back to the person who posted you the award.
Share seven things about yourself
Spread the Love and honour
Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

I have actually done the first one already I think. I will do the second one and then pretend I did not notice the last two. Seven things about myself

1. I don't believe in organized religion (but strangely believe in both the creation story and the fact that the world has evolved over 4.5 billion years)

2. Contrary to perception that all Luos are in love with fish, it is one of my least favorite dishes

3. I am quite shy and fear being in front of crowds - despite the fact that I have been a stage actor, storyteller and recited poetry to packed auditoriums. I am quite lousy at making friends as a result.

4. My secret ambition is to be a writer - everything else is just but marking time (over 30 years and 2 kids later!)

5. I find snakes beautiful (but would still love to eat one cooked in a proper way! - ok, just kidding about the eating part)

6. I once starved that I ate bread gone stale with mould and untreated water

7. I really did not believe I could come up with 7 things about me

Now y'all can tag yourselves and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eggs and Math: Life is Now Cool

It is not uncommon for us to look at the young people, and especially kids growing up today, and quip on how easy they are having it today. We often speak with some nostalgia about how life was tough back in the days and how we walked for five kilometers to school, were canned by teachers, showered with cold water and endured bullying. Or how we only ate one meal while today our kids have access to sausages and eggs in the fridge the whole day. Of course when our parents sit us down, they paint an even tougher pictures, walking for twenty kilometers to encounter some tough colonial discipline masters.

Of course at times we exaggerate. Anyway, to give a picture of how life has evolved over the years and become more easy, I recently came across a demonstration of this fact illustrated through the teaching of maths. Below is a rather hilarious depiction courtesy of a Peter Murimi who sent this to my inbox. Amuse yourselves and let me know if you think these stories from the past are often over-exaggerated.


History of Mathematics in Kenya



Last week I purchased a drink at a supermarket for shs. 55.00. The counter girl took my shs. 100 note. I then pulled shs. 5 from my pocket and gave it to her. She sat there holding the tiny coin, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me a shs. 50 note, but she hailed the supervisor for help. Why do I tell you this?

Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1980s:

Teaching Math In The Early 1980s

A farmer sells a tray of eggs for shs. 100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In The Mid-1980s

A farmer sells a tray of eggs for shs. 100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or shs. 80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In The Early 1990s

A farmer sells a tray of eggs for shs. 100. His cost of production is shs.
80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In The Mid-1990s

A farmer sells a tray of eggs for shs. 100. His cost of production is shs.
80 and his profit is shs. 20. Your assignment: *underline the number 20.*

Teaching Math In The Early 2000s

A farmer exploits a flock of chickens with a selfish, profit-driven motive.
As a result he makes shs. 20 for every tray of eggs he sells. What do you think of this way of making a living considering increased animal rights advocacy? (NB: There are no wrong answers and if crying for the miserable chickens makes you feel ok, go right ahead).

Teaching Math From 2010

(Not to be attempted by pampered private school brats). Same question as number 5 but if you have special needs or just feel you are a victim of tribal/political incorrectness, social class, historical injustice, gender etc, then don't answer and the correct answer will be provided for you.


Cartoons from Cartoonstock.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

Small Talk, Plastic Smiles

Many people who meet me for the first time say that I am a quiet person. My wife often tells me that her friends say that her husband is the shy and silent type, never speaking unless spoken to. And that even then, my responses are short and curt. She tells them that they don't know Charles. Those who know me better hold the opposite view. That I am talkative, full of opinion and argumentative. I quietly smile to myself when I hear these comments.

To be honest, my problem has always been with small talk. I find myself in many situations where I am just there, with nothing to say. It is for these reasons that I hate cocktails or networking events where I hardly know anybody. I find it quite difficult to walk up to a stranger and start chatting without any specific agenda. When I was a kid, whenever I joined a new school, I would keep to myself for sometime,not really mingling with other kids until much later when we got to know each other well and I identified those that I thought I shared with a common interest. When I actually think about in now, both in my primary school days, high school and even through college, my friends were drawn from a small circle. I was not the type who was friends with the whole school.

This set-up suited me fine until I started to get into management positions. When I worked for FilmAid as the Programme Manager for their Kakuma programme, I suddenly found myself being invited to events simply by virtue of my position to represent the organization. Now I had to serve some bitings and wine and mingle with other heads of organizations and government people and make small talk. I survived this however because Kakuma was a small community and everyone soon got to know everyone. Furthermore, I more or less interacted with these people in the course of my day to day work. After a few weeks I was familiar with everybody who mattered. But after sometime I was moved to the Nairobi office as the Country Manager. Now I was being invited to all manner of events to mingle with new sets of Country Representatives, Government people, donors ambassadors e.t.c. And because these were not people I saw on a daily basis, the conversations became even more difficult. I remember once being invited to an event at the US Ambassador's residence and discovering to my horror that I knew almost nobody at the event (luckily my wife had tagged along). I was relieved when later in the evening I met two guys I knew and they were able to introduce me to more people.


Networking in events has always been the most difficult part of my job descriptions. Don't get me wrong, I can seek out an organization that I think will be useful to me, make formal contact and discuss business. Later we might even become friends. I am talking about the appearing in an event and suddenly laughing and being familiar with everybody type of networking. I find that it involves pretense and wearing a fake smile. After some time my jaws begin to hurt.

When I moved from FilmAid, I thought I was now going to spend most of my time implementing projects and doing less plastic smiles. But with transitions in the organization, I once again find myself having to do this. As I write this, an invitation to an event at the end of the week has just landed on my desk. But as is the story of my life, I just have to keep learning, even if it learning some of the stuff I find ridiculous. I wish I was my smaller brother Biko...He is the type who walks into a room full of 100 strangers and in less than 10 minutes, he knows all of them...and they know him!

Image courtesy of this site

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blue Or Pink, Does It Matter? Should It?

It is difficult gossiping with your spouse when you are both busy with work and have two demanding daughters at home. So my wife and I find getting stuck in the evening traffic as the best time for spouse gossip. So here we were stuck in traffic the other day when my wife starts telling me of some of her friends’ desires for kids. Apparently one of her friends was looking for someone to advice her how she can conceive a baby girl. So far she has four boys but she is desperate for a girl. Short of knowing the sex of the child at conception and deciding to abort if it is not the favorable gender, I really have no answer for this. A while back she told me about another friend who upon noticing that my wife had a “cute girl”, was now also looking for a girl. I think when some women see kids happily playing around they start to suddenly crave for a kid like one would crave for a chocolate or something like that. Then there is also a fellow we both know who has 4 girls with his wife. He also has ‘a few’ other girls with several mistresses, girls he has apparently sired as he desperately looks for a boy child. He is a good businessman and I think he might be looking for a son who will one day inherit his wealth.

My wife herself has on several occasions talked about her desire to have one last kid, a boy, despite my insisting that the two girls we have should be enough. The times are becoming difficult on the economic front and I am also not getting any younger so when this comes up I usually remember to make an urgent call and conveniently extract myself from that conversation.

Anyway, for me the question is whether it really should matter whether you have a son or girl. I know that this is a big issue in some cultures, like in India where cases of girl infanticide are high. Sons are there to keep the family name and line, to inherit the family business. In India they also bring some wealth into the family when they marry as it is the girl’s family that pays the dowry. In my Luo community, it is your sons who inherit the land. But today I see young men who refuse to get into the family business. Others make their money and buy land in Kitengela, opting to make their homes in other places far from their ancestral land. So in this age and time does it really matter that you have girls only? For me it does not. When my wife was pregnant we even declined to know the sex of the kids in advance. I like that moment when the doctor tells you it is a baby girl. Was I disappointed when the doctor told me the second kid was a baby girl? Well, because I was in the delivery room and saw my wife’s delivery run into complications, I was more worried about her health and recovery…and then about the huge hospital bill that we accumulated  Took me days to notice that we now had two girls, and I am happy with them!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Big Brother And Other Rubbish

Being on vacation for the last three weeks meant that I finally got to spend some time watching TV, daytime TV to be more precise. And so as I surfed the channels one lazy afternoon I came across a show called “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, or something to that effect on the E Channel. I have heard the Kardashian name floated about though to be honest I did not know whether it is a name of a rock band or sibling actresses. And out of curiosity I decided to watch. I sat throughout the show for a full 30 minutes and at the end of it I still could not fathom what it was all about. I tweeted something to that effect hoping someone out there would enlighten me, hoping that the problem was with me, that I was getting too old and could not understand such shows. All I heard back was that one of the Kardashians (or was it all of them combined?) reportedly made $65m last year. Was this from the people watching that show? Then there is Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood, Girls of the Playboy Mansion and its offshoots etc.


The Kardashians image from the internet

Later that night I tuned in to Big Brother Africa, and it is supposedly the amplified edition, whatever that means. Since this edition began, I had never watched any episode and thought “let me see what the fuss is about”. All I saw is some guys and ladies just talk, talk about nothing. I tried to find out if I could get a sense of purpose to their conversation, some storyline, drama, plot…nothing. So why do people watch BBA? I tried to single out the Kenyan representative, more to find out if there was anything of substance she was contributing to the show. Was there anything new I could learn by listening to these participants/contestants? Nothing. Again, maybe my expectations were too high? I recalled hearing some radio presenter on Capital FM urging Kenyans to get behind their representatives and admonishing those who might want to make fun or mock their representatives. She just stopped a sentence short of calling such people traitors. I can understand supporting the country’s football, cricket or athletic teams at international tournaments, but this? I will not mind being called a traitor.


Image from the internet

It looks to me like nowadays we are content to sit back and watch people just go about doing nondescript stuff like waking up, taking a shower, gossiping and having sex. I don’t mind seeing someone taking a shower if I am expecting something dramatic to happen, you know, a killer appearing in the bathroom with a knife and setting the stage for an intriguing whodunit drama to follow. I like my entertainment the old fashioned way. I like some drama, a suspense filled plot, witty lines from standup comedians that provoke laughter, logic defying action stunts. Stuff that make you know that someone somewhere put in some effort to create a show. But this? Is this not voyeurism? There used to be a time when a sex tape involved porn actors, but nowadays it is celebrities that you find in them. Might be isolated now but is not where these type of shows are leading us to?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Death Of Childhood, And The Culprits

When I first moved here in 2008, I worried about how my daughter would make it to school now that we had moved further away from her school. I inquired from the school my daughter attended about the pick up times for her. I was told she has to be at the road by latest 6 am for the school bus to pick her up. My calculation told me that this meant she has to be up by latest 5.30 am. Now, I am in my 30s but waking up at that time is a great challenge to me, so what about a 5 year old kid? I promptly withdrew her from that school and now she wakes up at around 7 am in order to be in school by 8 am. Actually it takes her 5 minutes to walk to school.

But if you wake up by 5 am, you will see hordes of kids at the gate waiting for the school bus. And I am talking about kids as young as 5 or 6 year olds! I find it totally unacceptable that kids that young should be subject to such 'torture'. Most of these kids get back home late in the evening, so in other words, they operate like working adults. When I was growing up, we began school at about 7 years old (we did not have stuff like baby class back then!) and most kids went to a school just around the corner. In fact we could count the kids who needed to take a bus to school as they were very few, but today the ones who school nearby are the exception (I am talking about mostly middle class Nairobi). Most of the time, both the kids and parents are too tired in the evening to engage in any meaningful activities to build their relationships. There is no difference between these kids and the adults that wake up at the same time to go to work.

I read something interesting about television and childhood as well (John Corry, My Times).
"Western civilization took centuries to develop the idea of childhood. But television has erased it in a few decades.

What a child once learned through reading was roughly commensurate with his ability to process the information. In the television age, however, we all get the same messages. A child of five and an adult of 40 can see the same images and hear the same words simply by pushing a button.

It shows in our behaviour. Children and adults now dress alike, talk alike and play the same games. The concept of childhood is vanishing."

My verdict is that this type of competitive schooling (mass factory schooling?) and television (mass media?) is denying the kids their childhood.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Make Your Own Breaks - Points to Ponder

The thing with taking some leave days is that on the first day you decide to sort out all your documents that have been lying all over for the whole year. Well I finally started my long awaited 2 weeks leave days and figured out, "let me deal with my clutter!". In the process I came across these notes I made about 12 years ago and decided to share them as I found them so relevant to my life today. This is about making my own breaks, from Tom Morris' book "True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence

1. Define your goals - the quest for success always begins with a target


Image from Internet

2. Seek out those who know more than you - plan to network with those who know more than you


Image from the Internet


3. Pursue your vision with stubborn consistency - the biggest difference between people who succeed and those who do not is not usually talent but persistence


Image from the Internet

4. Make an emotional commitment - without a deep commitment, it is difficult to pursue a dream


Image from the Internet

5. Review and renew your goals



Image from Internet

Do these make sense or is it just one of those so called wisdoms that are spewed at us by motivational speakers and writers?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hitting Her, Again...And Again

Over the weekend, a story developed in which a television journalist, Wambui Kabiru, was found murdered in her home. It is widely suspected that it is her husband who killed her and now he has gone missing and the police are looking for him (by the time I am writing this). I know a lot has been written and said about domestic violence, and gruesome pictures have been posted to warn or shock women into getting out of abusive relationship so I will not say much about it. Neither will I condemn her husband as I, like many other people, don't really know what went behind closed doors so everything is speculation for now. However what I ask myself is what drives men to hit their spouses?

I have heard bar talk of men boasting that you must hit your wife/girlfriend occassionaly just to establish who is the "man" in the relationship. I have heard stories of women who believe that being hit by their man is a show of affection. But as a man, when you are all alone with your private thoughts, how do you feel knowing that you repeatedly hit your spouse? Even if it is only once?

Some years back, I was involved in organizing an art/performance event in which my wife belonged to a team that was due to perform. She was extremely late and the order of events kept changing because of their no show. When she finally showed up, I met her at the entrance, and she correctly judged that I was livid with her. I stretched out my hand to grab her, my intention being to quickly usher her inside so that they could get going. She cringed backwards, thinking that I was going to lash at her. I was so scandalized that such a thought even crossed her mind, given that I have never hit her.

I tell friends, if someone hits you once, they will most likely do it again. For me, meting out violence on your spouse is the lowest level a man can get to. It is actually lower than the lowest level!

-

(image from http://www.zazzle.com/ )

"There is a subconscious way of taking violence as a way of expression, as a normality, and it has a lot of effects in the youth in the way they absorb education and what they hope to get out of life."
– Salma Hayek

"Long term domestic violence: Being abused in this manner is like being kidnapped and tortured for ransom but you will never have enough to pay off the kidnapper".
Rebecca J. Burns ...TheLastStraw - support in the aftermath and during abuse

“If the numbers we see in domestic violence were applied to terrorism or gang violence, the entire country (US) would be up in arms, and it would be the lead story on the news every night.”
– Rep. Mark Green

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Found Photos: Haiti

Going through photos in my computer and I find these. Then I realise it has been a year since I was in Haiti. It was a very intense experience for me, going there just after the earthquake and seeing the people struggle to rebuild their lives. I wrote a post about my experience here , here and here.

So for now I leave you with some more pics of what I saw there!


Port Au Prince, people struggling to rebuild their lives



Public transport in Haiti, equivalent to what in Kenya we refer to as matatus. Here they are called tap tap, apparently from the noise the tout makes by tapping a coin to the body of the bus as they signal the driver to stop

The Sri Lankan UN soldiers that manned Jacmel. I became good friends with the commander as he loaned us a truck for the film screenings


Yes, space for putting up tents was at a minimum, so some put up tents in the middle of the road!




Jacmel




Port Au Prince




FilmAid screenings

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Of Weddings And How I Got Married (Or Was Married Off)

Ok, this is how it works here: Boy meets girl and soon proposes to her. He is either rejected or accepted. If accepted, girl insists on a memorable wedding ceremony. My phone rings and I am informed that a committee is being put in place to organize the wedding. As a committee member, you are committed to contribute a certain fixed figure, let's say 10,000 shillings. You can even be compelled to spend a certain amount of money on the attire to wear that day. You are also required to mobilize friends to contribute to this wedding on top of being assigned some work, like organizing transport for all and sundry, making sure food and refreshments are catered for etc. By the time the wedding is done, you have spent unquantifiable amount of time on this wedding, not to mention a fortune. And because you will have fallen short of the money required to pull it off, the bride and groom could have borrowed money to finance the shortfall. When back from their honeymoon, they will be scratching their heads on how to deal with the debts.

This is a typical scenario of weddings in this country. Except the part where I receive a call to be a committee member. This is because my relatives and friends know better than to call me to be part of a wedding committee. They all know that I will either decline, or if forcefully prevailed upon, I will simply go awol/mia. And I normally have my standard line: I have not had a wedding ceremony, not because I don't want to but because I cannot afford, so why pay for someone else' wedding? Of course even if I could afford to I would not want to (but my wife does not know this). It is a discussion that I have agreed to disagree on with many friends but my position is that one should organize a wedding that they can afford. I have never seen the need to burden everybody else with the cost of a lavish wedding if you cannot afford it.

A lavish wedding does not necessarily make a marriage. But all the glitzy images of weddings on TV are making all the women yearn for the same, not necessarily knowing that those are either the filthy rich or it is just a soap opera set. I know most of the women will vehemently disagree with me, but my wife will not. She will look at that budget and tell me, why don't we buy a piece of land and build a house? I did not need to have a lavish wedding to marry my wife. I did not even go down on my knees to propose. None of us wears a wedding ring.

After going out with her for sometimes, I simply told her that if it too late to get back to her place she could spend the night at my place (with some selfish intentions I must admit). But because she did not want the rest of the people at her place to know she had spent the night at my place, she would get up to go home very early in the morning. The only hitch with this arrangement was that I did not have the keys to the compound gate and because we did not want to wake up the rest of the people we shared the compound with, she had to jump over the fence. I think she got tired of jumping over the fence every weekend so she eventually just moved in. And then I was forced to explain to her folks why she was living at my place. And here we are many years later. With two kids (my first born came as a result of the fence jumping episodes).

This weekend I attended the wedding of a dear cousin. All I did was show up at the wedding and enjoy. She did not invite me to be in the committee, which was a good thing as I might not have had the guts to say no given that I hold her in high esteem. I wish her all the best

I would be interested in hearing your take on weddings...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kris & Rita: Fallen Angels

I recently came across this video. When I was a kid I liked this song, we had a cassette album of the UNICEF concert and this was my favorite song in it. Now it sounds a bit cheesy because I am older but anyway, I just thought I would share it



And for those who love to sing along, below are the lyrics as well!

Fallen Angels

It's sad to see we may never be the way we were before
We don't believe in the magic of the music anymore
And everything's older now and colder and grey
Oh darling I believe there's got to be a better way
It seems to me we've forgotten how to let our feelings show
We seem to be so much farther from the dreams we used to know
And too many more my friends are dying today
Oh darling I believe there's got to be a better way
Listen to the fallen angels learning how to spread their wings
Now will they make it all alone
Look into the children's laughter tell me what tomorrw brings
For those so far away from home
I can say I'm not sorry for the things we tried to be
But I'm afraid what we're headin' toward is up to you and me
(Cause we got a choice) the future is ours to see
(We got a chance) to change today
Oh darling don't you believe there's got to be a better way
Cause we got a choice (the future is ours to see)
We got a chance to change today
Oh I believe together there can be a better way
Oh if we believe together there can be a better way

Monday, March 28, 2011

African Time Be Dammed

Many years back (when I was a boy), a group of friends sat around the dinner table discussing future careers as we prepared for our final exam paper in high school. We then figured that instead of waiting for years going through college then looking for work, we could start making some money immediately by registering a company and starting some business. We named the company M-10, because we were 10 kids from Maseno School. All this over dinner, and before dinner was over, we agreed on a date, place and time to meet once done with school and back in the city. This was interesting because those many years back, we had no mobile phones and none had heard the term email. Some of us had fixed land line phones in our homes but we would generally be incommunicado for the next few weeks until the rendezvous date. Surprisingly, all 10 of us made it to the rendezvous (we eventually registered the company and made some money till college tore us apart).

But why do I write about this incident? Because today I find it incredulous that years ago we honored such meetings so faithfully without the use of the sophisticated gadgets that we now have but today we cannot keep simple appointments. A meeting scheduled for noon will start two hours late after a series of text messages indicating people are held up somewhere, something urgent came up etc. notwithstanding that some arrived on time for the said meeting. I am not even talking about school boy rendezvous here, I am talking about professionals attending official functions, husbands meeting their wives for lunch etc. The infuriating part is that we have so internalized this that we casually refer to it as African Time, without batting an eyelid.


Recently during an event that my organization had organized, I called one of the high profile speakers to find out where he was because we were ready to kick off(actually were about 15 minutes late). He casually replied that he was about 1 hour away and did not think he would make it in time for the event. And this is from someone who has made a career pointing out the inefficiency of our governments.

If I remember correctly, there is a quote by Shakespeare that goes something like "I wasted time, and now time doth waste me..." Enough of the rant.



Keep time

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Girl You Never Got To Say The Right Words To

Something that I came across that I thought worth sharing:

“If you do something that turns out wrong, you can almost always put it right, get over it, learn from it or at least deny it. But once you have missed out something, it’s gone. There will be the girl you never got to say the right words to, the band you never got to see live, the winning streak you never got to cheer, the brilliant retiring professor whose class you never took, the relative you never got close to. It is a long list no matter what. Try to keep it as short as possible.”
- Gordon Drizchilo, quoted in University of Pennsylvania Daily Pennsylvannian

Reflecting on this, I tried to imagine that one day when I am old, retired and seated under some tree in my rural home, will I look back on my life and regret stuff that I should have done but did not because I was either afraid to do or had developed some convenient excuse? Or will I tell my grandkids that when this and this happened, I was right there in the mix? I have come to realize that sometimes I can be a bit conservative and build excuses for not doing certain things that I ought to do. Sometimes I can come up with an idea that I think is really good and then over the next few days, before sharing it with anyone, poke holes into it myself and prove that it ain’t anything brilliant so I shelve it before I actually share it with anyone. I tell myself that the world is full of many bad ideas and it does not help for me to add another bad idea. Yet I also know that at times, for example I have written a proposal that I myself is not convinced with only to see others get excited and invest in it – with me left wondering what the fuss is this all about. In life we can be our own harshest critic.
And was there a girl I never got to say the right words to? Well, let me just say that I have spent some time trying to write some fiction. As I have said above, I believe there is a lot of bad fiction about, some of which I have actually paid to read, and I keep thinking that it serves nobody any good for me to add to the clutter. But maybe with the inspiration I have seen from the quote above, I can give it a try and share it with others? And as Gordon has put it, if it is bad, I can at least deny it!

Is there something that you looked back on and said I wish I had done this?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Points to Ponder: Filling the Unforgiving Minute...

Just to make one thing clear, I am not a fan of Rudyard Kipling from a political point of view so my admiration for this poem should not necessarily be taken to mean I admire the man's policy on colonialism. But I admire his poem "IF". I first came across this poem when I was in college and going through some hard times. Within a short time, together with my housemates we quickly memorised the poem and each person picked the line which resonated with them at that time. Today I read a blog post about boredom (Meanderings and Reflections), and later I thought about the line If you can fill the unforgiving minute; With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - When I read this line back then, I made a vow that if I lived true to it, then I will always be doing something meaningful with my time - a vow that has been forgotten and broken thousands of time. So today this line becomes my point to ponder for the week. I have also posted the full poem below for those who have not come across it, or had forgotten about it. I would also like to hear back from you on which line resonates with you!


If - Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!




Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sealed With A Loving Kiss...

Maybe it is old age creeping up on me. I just recently found out that it has become almost impossible for me to comfortably get a piece of A4 paper and a pen and write something decent in a legible handwriting. In fact, with age (and I am yet to hit 40 where supposedly life begins) my handwriting is becoming worse and worse, to the point where I can hardly read my own handwriting! Ok, let me not be so melodramatic, about 10 years of typing on the computer has made my handwriting almost non existent. And yet it has always not been so.

Growing up I was a prolific letter writer. I wrote and received lots of letters from friends and family. During my college days, there was no email (at least not in the form that we know it today) and a mobile phone is not something one came across casually. I never even imagined that the word sms will become part and parcel of everyday vocabulary. Letters are what kept me in touch with family and friends. I took A4 foolscaps and wrote long letters, in clear legible handwriting. Stories were told, love professed and frustration and advised meted out in handwritings. There is nothing I enjoyed like the sound of the post man calling out my name at the gate, or turning the key into the post box and finding it full with letters for you. It was equally disappointing when you found the post box empty! Nowadays I just text, write an email, tweet something or tag you on a photo on facebook.

And over years, I kept all the letters that I ever received - right from the teenage crush I had to my dad asking me to take my college studies seriously to encouragements from my sister. Aerogrammes, stamps from different countries, envelopes of different colours and designs...When I was much older, at times, during moments of boredom when one ransacks stuff in the house aimlessly, I would open some of these letters and read them. Some were from friends now dead. Others funny. Others sealed with lipsticks from long forgotten girlfriends(Dearest Charles, SWALK -Sealed With A Loving Kiss...). A couple of years back when I was moving house, I discovered that my wife had burned all my letters. She said it was a mistake but I always suspected that she did not want old relationships sitting somewhere in the house as we began a new life...



Kids, this is what an aerogramme looks like!


PS: I wonder whether my dad still has the old telegrams I sent to him while I was in college. Almost all of them had just three words. SEND MONEY URGENTLY. I wonder whether kids nowadays know what I am talking about...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blast From The Past - Books To Re-Read

The thing with having a demanding job, two demanding daughters and a host of blogs to read is that one rarely has time to read books. This, coupled with having picked up a few boring books over the last few years has meant that reading has become even more tedious. Especially reading fiction! I was today reading the blog Beanbag Tales on some of the books on love that the blogger will be reading this love month, and suddenly I remembered some of the novels I considered classics when I was growing up. I started reading very early, when I was 8 years old I was stealing Enid Blyton books from the local library, and by the time I was about 12 or 13 years I was done with the Hardy Boys (and *whispering* Nancy Drew) series. I will not easily admit it when questioned by I even read the James Hardley Chase and Mills & Boon series and by the time I was 15, I could not read any novel below 500 pages. But it was when I had all the time in world -- that is college -- that I really did indulge myself in reading. I read an average of about 3 novels a week, especially during the hot Udaipur summers. The following is a list of titles that I read then that I considered the mothers of novels (classics excluded) and that I have decided I am going to read again this year -- about 13 years later!



I read this book in 1995, and then read it again that same year -- The only other book I ever read by Anthony Grey was Peking but it never came close to this. Surprised I have not heard of a movie version of this.



The image of Howard Roak was in my head for days after reading this book. I never read it again but last year I got to read Atlas Shrugged. I still prefer The Fountainhead



I got this novel just after I had finished high school, and this was because they were showing the series on television but the TV timing was not good for me. I don't know whether I will find it a bit cheesy now that I am no longer a teenager but nevertheless let me give it a try. I never read any other book by her so I don't know if she was a good writer...



I read quite a number of books by Erich Seagal but this was the standout. It was the monsoon season in 1995, I had no option but to stay indoors and read and this book happened to be laying about...



I was never really a fan of Harold Robbins but after graduating from the James Hardley Chase type of books, this was the first "big" book I read, mostly the book placed under the table during Maths lessons. Good thing I was seated at the back of the classroom. I also never let people in on what I scored in Maths....



A friend gave me this book but I did not think it was worth reading and kept it in the house for a few days. I only picked it up because I had run out of materials to read. Let's just say that I found it hard to put it down after a few chapters. I remember dreaming about the characters in my dream. Does anyone know if it was ever made into a movie?

I would also like to get some recommendations from you (for fiction that is) on books that you read years ago and would love to read again...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Online to Offline: Can Online Friendship Be Real?

A man (not sure about women) usually reaches a certain age when it becomes difficult to make friends, unless of course you are in a job that requires you to make friends (maybe security intelligence?). In fact when I think of it, after college, the friends that I have made have mostly been work related, either because we worked for the same company or our work brought us together. And when I started having a family of my own, dividing my time between my wife and kids and my employer made it even more difficult to have friends. I have actually moved in and out of a few neighborhoods over the last few years and each time I have moved, I have discovered that I am hardly leaving any friends behind.

The art of making new friendships have however been given a new dimension by social networking. At first, I was not enthusiastic about social networking and saw it as another of those internet inventions that is designed to take away valuable time that I could have been spending reading or doing something more meaningful. In fact, I argued a lot about the notion of actually meeting people online and thinking that it could lead to any meaningful offline relationships. No guessing then for my feelings about online dating and the likes. After a lot of encouragement from a friend, I got into MySpace sometimes in 2006 and after a few weeks I had even forgotten my log in details. I was then harangued my a number of friends and eventually got into Facebook sometimes in 2008. What Facebook did however was to bring up all the school and college friends I had even forgotten ever existed. Suddenly I was having friend requests from people I had not even thought about for 15 years. It helped renew some old acquaintances but for a majority of these, after the first greetings we have barely communicated except wish one a happy birthday when Facebook reminds you it is their birthday. So I wonder whether it is really worth it in the first place. For me, Facebook is more about maintaining friendships not making some new ones. Sometimes people you don’t know will send you a friend request but I am never sure whether to ignore or accept.

Last year, after reading about all the hype about twitter, I decided to give it a try. After a few days I almost gave up but once I found interesting people to follow and learned what retweeting meant and how to shorten url links, I found it was actually more interesting than Facebook, that is in times of meeting new interesting people. Unlike Facebook where you have to accept friend request before you know this stranger who has decided to connect with you, with twitter, you just followed someone, decided it was not worth it and promptly unfollowed. Within time you actually start making conversations with people whose interests cross with yours. I was thus actually surprised when I found myself actually meeting some of the friends I made online and that turned my earlier belief that you cannot make offline connections with people you meet online.

I still believe that online connections should largely remain online (I am conservative like that) but if perchance you think you have made some interesting connections that can go offline, why not?

"Real friendship is exchanging secrets, rolling over like a puppy and exposing the soft underbelly. You tell your friend the truth, and you feel the friendship growing - like a bank account - with each upfront opinion you give, with each honest answer you hear." - Adair Lara, Cosmopolitan



A former schoolmate recently posted this photo, which we took about 19 years ago, on Facebook and tagged us. Suddenly characters emerged after 19 years to post comments. That is what Facebook can do. I will of course not point out who is me on the photo.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Points to Ponder – My Take 3 on Staying Married

“You need to ask yourself whether you want to be right or stay married”, one of my friends remarked as four grown up men discussed marriage experiences while observing pigs on a pig farm. We all had interesting takes on how our marriages have survived and how our parents have stayed married for what seems like an eternity while we divorce left, right and center every other day. This was good advice to me as I grew up believing that I was born never to lose an argument, a belief that has fortunately been tampered by age now. Nevertheless I have still been known to try to prove that I am right when I get into an argument with Janet! I did not mention it then (maybe for fear of sounding like a sissy) but for me, there are three quotations/phrases that I learned some times that I have always held dear when it comes to the “business” of being married. I don’t necessarily practice them faithfully but so far I think they have served me well (maybe my wife could be thinking otherwise?). And they form my points to ponder for this week:

“Most people get married believing a myth – that marriage is a beautiful box full of the things they have longed for. Companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you take anything out. There is no love in marriage; love is in people and people put it into marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages.

A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising – keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.” – J. Allan Petersen (Homemade)

The second passage:

“When I was in college, one of the professors said to us, his students, ‘the secret of successful marriage is this: marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. A 50/50 proposition is one where nobody is giving anything.

‘Rather, the secret of a happy marriage is 60/40. The husband gives 60% of the time and expects the wife to give 40% of the time. The wife gives in 60% of the time and expects the husband to give in 40% of the time. In a 60/40 proposition, you don’t clash in the middle and say, “now it’s your turn”. Instead you intersect and overlap because you are each giving 60%’” – Robert Scinller, Be an Extraordinary Person in an Ordinary World (Fleming Revell)

And finally:

“Those who want to become happy should not marry. The important thing is to make the other one happy. Those who want to be understood should not marry. The important thing is to understand one’s partner.” Hermann Oeser

And that is all I have to say on that before I start getting mistaken for a marriage counselor!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Imani Finally Goes To Class, But No Shaving Off The Dreadlocks!

She had been excited for the better part of the month, especially after Christmas, knowing that she will be joining big sister in school. Not that Imani had any idea of what school is like, but to her the whole idea of a bus picking her up in the morning and returning her home in the afternoon like her sister is what was exciting to her. My thoughts about school are well documented HERE (and of course everybody knows that I feel nothing much towards exams as well)but nonetheless for the sake of peace I have had to take them to school at an early age. Anyway, I digress, so, last Tuesday was Imani's first day in school and though these pictures don't reflect her excitement, she was as excited as I will see her in a long time.




Tamia gets ready to take her little sister to school

I don't recall my days in nursery school but I have often been told that when I was first taken to primary school, I ran away from school on that very first day! A few canes from my mother ensured that I stayed in school (and I think I spent the next 12 years in class because of the looming threat of punishment). It is now 30 years since that day and Imani follows in my footstep!





Imani ready for the ride to school

I heard she cried on the first day because she wanted to be in the same class as her class 2 sister. Today morning she cried insisting that she wanted her sister's books. Sometime I try to explain that they are in two different classes, about 4 years apart, at times I give up and hope the mother will sort it out. For now she finally understands that she needs to be in a different class but the fight over books and diaries will continue for some time.



Finally in class

There has been messages brought home by her older sister that we need to get rid of Imani's dreadlocks, they are not allowed in school. I want to see how long we can get away with ignoring that...what has hair got to do with learning?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Attitude!

"How strange it is, our little procession of life! The child says, 'when I am a big boy'. But what is that? The big boy says, 'when I grow up.' And then, grown up he says, 'when I get married'. But to be married, what is that after all? The thought changes to 'when I am able to retire.' And then when retirement comes, he looks back over the landscape traversed; a cold wind seems to sweep over it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone. Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of everyday and hour."

I got this passage (Stephen Leacock) from an old note book today and it seems like the perfect point to ponder on in setting the tone for the new year. I am not a new year resolutions type of person because somehow they just never work for me. I prefer to think more in terms of general philosophies and say that this is what I want to embrace in the coming year. And for 2011, the idea is to do away with any excuses and just get on with living and doing stuff that I will always have an excuse for postponing. No more waiting to save money, waiting to get in shape, waiting for the right time....as the Nike slogan says, I will JUST DO IT! And folks that is my resolution for the new year.

At the beginning of 2010, I wrote about changing the nature of my blog, writing for myself. Did it succeed? I don't know but it suddenly made my blogging better! And on that note it has been wonderful having you all on my blog in 2010, and likewise I have discovered and enjoyed so many blogs! I hope for more in 2011!!