Monday, December 31, 2012

Final Reflections (For 2012)

It is that time of the year when we all reflect on the year that has been and try and put together what we are looking forward to in the new year. In as much as I'd like to avoid this, I discover that I am no different from the rest of ordinary folk and my mind inadvertently gets drawn to this exercise.

My first instinct was to think that this has not been a very good year for me, because it really has not. It has been full of a lot of frustrations. But then when I think about it, I realize that there are actually lots of small moments of joy. Sometimes we tend to look at only the big things and base our successes and failures on this, and then we miss the lots of small beautiful moments, which when placed together, overshadow the unhappy dark moments.

For example I think that I ought to be thankful for just being alive. This year I lost my grandma early in the year, and my first cousin mid this month -- so I recall their bodies lying in their coffins and think that I should be happy just being alive! I also thought that I had experienced a bad year professionally, especially at my former place of work. Since I started working some 11 or so years ago, this year had been the most challenging, and the one without joy. But then I think I was able to transition so quickly to another workplace  when I made up my mind to move on - a luxury that very few can afford to have. Yes, I had to take a pay cut but how many people actually earn a living from work? Many are without jobs or livelihood. And I also remember that any depressing moment in the office is quickly forgotten when I get home to be with my daughters...and their mother of course! Thinking about their mother, I know of a number of my friends who have had serious problems with their relationships, some have even separated this year. So I am glad that "me and my wife" are still going strong!

Ok, I will not dwell on the struggling business or debts that threatened to go out of control but looking forward to 2013, there are very few things that I would wish for:

That I continue with my current mantra "Just Do It! It is easier to get forgiveness than permission" - this has served me quite well in keeping me moving forward.

That I actually make time to get back to reading -- and reading all your blogs that I enjoyed reading in 2011 and the first part of 2012 before I fell off the blogosphere

That I look happier than I looked this year!

Ok, there -- I have done my part in reviewing the year and sharing resolutions!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Strangers Care...

I have been off the blogs for some time now, mostly as a result of intoxication and laziness ..eer, well, mostly a combination of work and personal issues, not to mention writers' block. Being the type of person who does not open up easily or does not consider self to have lots of followers or something like that, it therefore comes as a surprise to me when I get emails, twitter DMs and Facebook inboxes from people who I only know online and have never met, inquiring about my well being. I mean some of these people are actually from other continents and countries. What am I supposed to make of that?

In the past I have mused about online friends, you can read that HERE, and also talked about the loneliness that can plague a soul in these time HERE, so at least this comforts me that there are actually some people who can notice that I am missing online ( I hope not only people I owe money to) and bother to try and found out what happened to this soul. Not that I probably make much of a difference but...

I am posting this from Dadaab refugee camp, the biggest refugee camp in the world with close to 500,000 Somali refugees. The last time I visited here was in 2010 and thought that it was my last visit here. I even blogged something about that HERE. However returning back here and thinking about the refugee population in a way makes you get a bit sober about life and appreciate the joys and privilege of living in a stable country. After the last elections we went close to civil war in this country, and this year the politicians continue with their tribal laced rhetoric aimed at dividing citizens and lining their pockets with votes, if such a phrase exists. Sometimes you shudder to imagine that the world you know could be lost and, if you are lucky enough, end up in a refugee camp. I get outraged when I see the pictures that come out of Syria as the rest of the world wines and dines....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Point to Ponder: Some (Un)conventional Wisdom

Friends, something I come across my inbox a while back (yes - once in a while I do read those forwards emails, only that I never forward to 10 friends as demanded and yet I am still alive!) A jobless man applied for the position of "office boy" at Microsoft. The HR manager interviewed him then watched him cleaning the floor as a test."You are employed" he said. "Give me your e-mail address and I'll send you the application to fill in, as well as date when you may start".The man replied "But I don't have a computer, neither an email.""I'm sorry", said the HR manager, "If you don't have an email, that means you do not exist. And who doesn't exist, cannot have the job."
No email, no existence

The man left with no hope at all. He didn't know what to do, with only $10 in his pocket. He then decided to go to the supermarket and buy a10Kg tomato crate. He then sold the tomatoes in a door to door round. In less than two hours, he succeeded to double his capital. He repeated the operation three times, and returned home with $60. The man realised that he can survive by this way, and started to go everyday earlier, and return late. Thus,his money doubled or tripled every day. Shortly, he bought a cart, then a truck, then he had his own fleet of delivery vehicles. 5 years later, the man is one of the biggest food retailers in the US.

He started to plan his family's future, and decided to have a life insurance. He called an insurance broker, and chose a protection plan. When the conversation was concluded, the broker asked him his email. The man replied, "I don't have an email ". The broker answered curiously, "You don't have an email, and yet have succeeded to build an empire. Can you imagine what you could have been if you had an email?!! "The man thought for a while and replied,  "Yes, I'd be an office boy at Microsoft!

"Moral of the story:1. Internet /email is not the solution to your life.2. If you don't have internet / email , and work hard, you can be a millionaire.3. If you had received this message by email, you are probably already an office boy/girl, and not any close to being a Billionaire.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On The Live Band & The Winning Streak!

I know I must have quoted this passage sometimes back when I endeavoured to do 2 blog posts in a month, but I will not mind quoting it again:

“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 Driszchilo

The reason I come back to this post is not because I managed to achieve some lofty feat that I have aspired to or because I got some deep philosophical insight into some thing, rather it is some mundane stuff that I have been upto to. The band I got to see live and the winning streak I got to cheer.

Last Saturday I went to listen to James Ingram. When I was young, sometime in the 80s when all we listened to was one radio station, I heard James Ingram’s “There’s No Easy Way” to break someone’s heart and got fascinated by the song and later his music in general. Those who know me know that I never get excitable by stuff like shows but when I heard James Ingram was coming to Kenya I decided that I must watch one of the musicians I grew up listening and loving. Most of them are now dead (Luther Vandross, Andy Gibb, Michael Jackson, two thirds of the Bee Gees, Whitney Houston et al) and one day I will be old and wondering that I never got to see any of my “idols” perform. I am past that age where one aspires to go to the US or Europe (yes, with old age indeed comes some wisdom), and so I might as well never get the opportunity to see these people who defined my childhood (and yes, teenage romance) live in action. I knew 5k was a bit on the high side but was not going to miss the performance and soon an old romantic and his money were soon parted.

I must say I actually enjoyed the performance and even murmured along in places where I could no longer remember the lyrics.

The other half of this quotation is about the winning streak. For local football lovers, there is only one team that has been putting on the winning streak in the local league. I have done my vocal cords an injustice with the amount of football songs I have been subjecting it to over the weekends (as they say, even old cats drink milk) but one thing is for sure, if we do win the league, I will say I was there. If we don’t do it, well we came close enough and I enjoyed the ride. I have heard the young ones say the slogan nowadays is YOLO (You Only Live Once) and I do like to think of myself as being young at heart. I might not be having the energy (or time) to appear more regularly on the blogs but that is not to say I am not enjoying myself. Go out there and enjoy yourself!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Of Coming Back (for lack of a better term)...

It has been a while since I was here, a combination of several factors. First, I have been on the move, it terms of jobs. I have said good bye to Media Focus on Africa and been welcomed at FilmAid, where I actually used to work before I moved to Media Focus. That of course meant being super busy as I wound up my work at Media Focus and therefore meant less time for blogging. But I must admit that I have also not really felt up to it. It has been one of those days (many days) when you promise yourself that you will drag yourself to the computer and jot down something, but then you dont. But hey, blogging is not a matter of life and death. Unless you are being paid to do it! Oh, and the Olympics of course! Why should I sit down jotting something for the blog when I could be watching the Olympics? And I think I could say that I am proud of having been converted to a new sport as well, whoever thought that one day I would be glued to my television set watching diving? The greatest moment for me was however on the track, especially the men's 100m! And of course to see David Rudisha break a world record on his way to winning the 800m. On another note, I also lost my phone and my valuable contacts to Nairobi's smart...thuggish ones. I feel victim to one of the oldest tricks in the book, a trick that I am very conversant with, but then instincts are instincts, not brains. I was in traffic, going through my twitter timeline (the traffic, as usual, was at a standstill) when someone banged the car from behind. I turned my head back, instinct, and before I knew it, another hand was inside the window making a grab for the phone. I did not have a chance. I don't care much about the phone, it was pretty old, but the contacts and data. Note to self: stop relying too much on technology and look up the word "back-up". I will not promise myself much for now, in terms of writing, but once I ease myself into my new work station and get my life back on a rhythm, I am sure I will be back.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Point to Ponder: Of Coca Cola, Juggling, Family and Work

Some of us who have been castigated for spending more time at work at the cost of being with family like using the argument that success at work will guarantee future benefits and time with the family. How does the family expect me to provide them the finer things in life, let alone the basic needs, if I am not able to advance myself at the work place? How will I afford the best colleges for the kids, one or two holidays outside the country if I am but an average worker? Those making the noise should therefore cool their heels and wait till that time when we will be able to afford the time with them as they want. But as I have since discovered, it is not all that simple, and recently I received a timely reminder when someone posted this image on my facebook wall.
For those with sight problems it reads: "Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop any of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will bever be the same. You must understand that and strive for it. Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest." I might not necessarily be able to tell how genuine this speech is (with the internet you can never really tell what is fact and myth nowadays) but this speech certainly struck a chord for me. I hope it communicates something to all my fellow workaholics out there! In the meanwhile, I will leave this lying around the office where the bosses can "accidentally" discover it! In other news, it has been raining the proverbial cats and dogs in Nairobi. We generally don't trust the meteorological department here, that is why this picture brought a big smile on my face

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Facebooking Till Death Do Us Asunder

A few weeks back I reflected on what kind of 'alone' life we live that someone can lie dead for 3 years undiscovered. As fate would have it, I then ran into a story of someone who commits suicide in front of friends. Well, maybe not real friends but rather facebook friends. Claire Lin was a Taiwan woman who committed suicide while chatting with friends on facebook. Lin's facebook entry shows her chatting to her friends and alerting them of her gradual asphyxiation. Her last words in Chinese, were: "Too late. My room is filled with fumes. I just posted another picture. Even while I'm dying, I still want FB (Facebook). Must be FB poison. Haha."

Read the full story here

What I found strange was that this was not a troubled teenager but rather a 31 year old woman. The article suggests that she had issues with her boyfriend who was the one that found her dead the next day. Also it was strange that none of her friends contacted the police though with the virtual nature of internet, one cannot probably be sure of someone's location or indeed if they are serious in their allegation.

For me the issue here is maybe that while social networking makes us feel connected, maybe we really are not. What's your take on this?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Meaning of Being Lonely?

Imagine you get home after a tiresome day, grab something to bite and then settle down on your favourite chair in front of the television to catch your favourite program. But then you have a medical condition, could be a heart condition or something related, you pass out and end up dying in front of your television set. And for 3 years, nobody really misses you, your decomposed body gets discovered years later after your landlord gets concerned about the rent arrears. This looks like an improbable scenario, right? Wrong!

Sometimes last year I came a sad story about Joyce Vincent Carol, a young woman who, in 2006, was found in a London bedsit, apparently having been dead for about 3 years. Her skeleton lay on the sofa, the TV set was still on, on the floor lay a pile of unopened Christmas presents, washing up was heaped on the kitchen sink, a heap of post lay behind the front door and food in the refrigerator was marked with 2003 expiry dates. I read the story with great curiosity, eager to find out how someone could be dead in a house for 3 years without anybody discovering her. Did she not have family, friends, colleagues who missed her? People who tried to call her and became concerned when they had not heard from her for days, weeks or months? Friends who came to see her at home?

The story I was reading, appearing on The Guardian was written by Carol Morley and it is about her journey to find out more about her, a journey that has been captured on a film Dreams of A Life.
I encourage you to read this interesting piece here

For me however, I found it hard to comprehend this and yet I am aware of how we are gradually moving from being communal animals to individuals who are disconnected from a sense of community. Where I come from, we sometimes complain about people ever being ‘in your face’ and want them to leave us alone. If you put off your phone for 48 hours and remain totally incommunicado, I can guarantee that there will be several visitors on your doorstep curious to find out where you are. We still take notice if the neighbor has been away for more than a week. This is why I found this story so compelling and so sad…

As you will read in the story, this was not a forgotten junkie, an overdosed addict, an isolated heavy drinker, she was not an old loner without family… she was someone who had dated, socialized, worked in London firms and mingled with “celebrities” and met and shook hands with one of the most respected icons in the world…

I don’t know what there is to learn from this story (and please feel free to share your views) but I just felt I should share this…

PS: I recently came across an interesting programme on BBC Knowledge where a firm tries to trace relatives of mostly people who have passed on without wills but left a fortune. The idea is to trace people who can inherit the wealth. I find it quite disappointing that there are usually cases where they cannot connect the deceased with anybody alive or dead....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Eagle When She Flies

Today is the International Women Day, so I share this old song with all the women who visit this blog (and the men too).

And please share which other music you have come across that celebrate the power and resilience of women

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reflections on Valentines Day

Earlier this week I did a post on my reflections on Valentines on the Project 44 blog. First time I was being a guest blogger those I could not understand why someone would want my pedestrian writing on their blog. I also hear I could have been hard on the ladies. For those who missed it on the Project 44 blog, click on the image to the link to Project 44 and leave your comments there (or here if you prefer).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fire and Ice

Recently while chatting to a colleague about relationships, he mentioned that he is not in a relationship because he has not met a woman who shares in his tastes or is at his intellectual level. He went on to say that he hopes to one day meet a woman who shares in his hobbies and interests so that in future he will not get bored with or of her. This got me thinking about my own relationship and realized how different I am in some aspects to my wife. This reminded me of a poem I studied in college, Fire and Ice, by Edmund Spenser. OK, I know that interpretations are varied, and some will claim that it is about unrequited love, but the good thing with me is that at times I choose to interpret things the way I want to. My interpretation (I recall, contested bitterly by students and the teacher then) is that opposites can live together. So here is the poem, and let me know how you'd interpret it!

My love is like to ice, and I to fire:
how comes it then that this her cold so great
is not dissolv'd through my so hot desire,
but harder grows, the more I her entreat?

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
is not delayed by her heart frozen cold,
but that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
and feel my flames augmented manifold?

What more miraculous thing may be told
that fire, which all thing melts, should harden ice:
and ice which is congealed with senseless cold,
should kindle fire by wonderful device?

Such is the pow'r of love in gentle mind
that it can alter all the course of kind.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

4 Pointer For A 19yr Old Wannabe [Back Then]

Yes, I know it has been awhile but will nevertheless not bore anybody with any details on why I had gone awol in the blogosphere. I might not have left much evidence behind but I was able to peep (and on a few occasions leave some comments) on some of your blogs but for those I never geto to say happy new year to, well here it is: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

And because a new year brings with it great expectations and some of us even go as far as making resolutions and creating visions and philosophies for the new year, this year I decided to do the opposite. To go back in time - not physically but in doing the so called resolution thing.

Sometimes in December I went to visit in my rural home. And while there, I came across some gem. My dad, while getting rid of junk from years gone by, had unearthed an old piece of paper dating back to the year after I had just finished high school. In this paper, I had typed (using a typewriter as it would be years before I actually touched a computer) four slogans that I thought will carry me through college and life. So many years later, holding this yellowish piece of paper than my youngest brother had managed to save from an intended fire, it downed on me that these four slogans are still relevant to my life, in fact even more so today now that life has over the years made me more cynical. And so for my 2012 reflections, I go back in time to when I was 19 years and say that, several jobs, a wife, 2 kids, wider girth, and many a grey hair later, this is what I still want to have in my life:

1. Easy Does It
"Problems or any crisis that needs solutions should be approached with a relaxed mind. Patience is a philosophy of living, to be learnt slowly and absorbed into our hearts and minds. Avoid hurry while sorting out issues as this may only resort to confusion and tension hence making the whole situation worse - easy does it".

2. First Things First
"Many of our confusions and frustrations are due to our failure to deal with tasks and problems in the order of their importance. It does take discipline to put aside the things we would rather do, and attend to those of first importance first. But the rewards are great, we get things done, we enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and we learn to face issues with a real sense of value and purpose".

Image from here

3. Live and Let Live
"This is a reminder that most of us need often. We need to make ourselves realize that we are not equipped to judge or criticize others for what they are or for what they do. Our only concern should be our own conduct, our own improvement, our own lives. Each of us is entitled to his own view of things, but we have no right to inflict it on anyone else. If there are differences of opinion, treat them objectively without offending anyone through criticism.

4.Let Go and Let God:
"Everyday there are decisions to be made adn problems to be solved. When you notice irritations growing into tensions, tensions into near panic, and old fears returning, this is the time to stop short and turn to God. You can do nothing anyway, and you will find that if you supply the willingness he will supply the power".

I don't know who the authors for these were as I was probably typing them from some book but if it happens to be your relative or something, kindly let me know and let's avoid this SOPA/PIPA thing :)

Here's to wishing you all a great 2012 and hope you will continue reading!