Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Books

I have a hard time finding books that keep me intrigued. One thing I love is finding a really good book. It's difficult sifting through all the Dan Browns and Danielle Steeles out there. Basically this is a call to anyone who has any attachment to Kenya or Africa to read this book.



Even if you don't know anything about Kenya, this is one of the best books that adequately describes the sometimes indescribable chaos of Nairobi and Kenya. Not only that but it is one of the most compelling stories about corruption to the highest degree, implicating the President with fatcs and records. It's the largest story of uncovering and publicizing political corruption in African history. This book was banned in Kenya when it was released and has recently started trickling into the country. I'm really happy I got my hands on a copy.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A conversation with a low level hustler



Setting: Uhuru Park, a large city park where people go to sleep, pray, and talk. I was sitting under a tree reading on a hot day.

“Oohh Hello my friend!” said as a thin twenty something year old boy walked up to me enthusiastically.

“Yeah Hi” I replied not so keenly, wanting to continue reading.

“So how do you see Kenya? What are you doing here?“ This is the lamest and most common greeting of degenerate hustlers trying to chitchat with tourists.

“It’s fine. I’m reading here.” This is apparently an invitation for him to sit down next to me.

“I see I see. My friend. I want to talk. To you. About something.” I could see he was nervous.

“Tell me.” I knew I wasn’t going to get rid of him until I indulged him.

“You really look like nice guy. I want to trust you. Can I trust you?” He said looking at my eyes. He looked like the antithesis of trust. His face was really sweaty. You could almost hear the sun roaring.

“It’s arguable.” You can say whatever you want and they just keep going. It’s like talking to a recorded message.

“I have something very really so special. I want to show you.” At this point he reaches into his pocket with two hands and fumbles about anxiously trying to open a little Velcro pouch. His shaky hands empty the contents of the pouch out into one hand where I see he has collected some things that are supposed to look like diamonds, but look more like broken glass.

“Are you seeing this?”

“Keep talking.” I knew this was going to be good.

“You really are nice man. So I want you to see this. Diamonds. Real. So nice man. I am lucky and I finded them. This is worth much money. I know. But my brother I have a very big problem.”
He was struggling so hard to get through his new repertoire. Either that or he was overly dehydrated. It was probably both.

“My problem. Big one. My brother in Cairo. I have to see him now. Today. Or tomorrow. I can not leave with diamonds. And here no one I can trust. But you looks like such nice man.”

After this was the part where he was supposed to tell me that in his desperate situation he wants to trust me and leave me with the “diamonds” while he goes to Cairo and pick them up when he returns back to Nairobi. Only after I give him some cash, negotiated at a crap price, thinking I’m going to make a killing cashing in the diamonds. But I wanted to get back to my book so I decided to cut in.

“Look. You’re young. You’re obviously new. You need to practice your lines first. Say them over and over. Then put those rocks in something that looks classy. And if you are doing this you need to be wearing nice clothes.”

Long pause. The sweaty face breathing heavily.

“Yes.”

“I’m reading.”

“Sorry sorry sorry” Most hustlers to swear up and down their problem is real as are their diamonds, gold, counterfeit money, etc. With out any persistance the haggard boy got up and walked away leaving me in the shade.

I got hustled once, in a different African country (not naming names). I lost 10 dollhairs. I bought a bottle of scotch off of a junkie. It looked like scotch anyways.

I looked across the park from under the tree where one can see the parliament buildings. That’s where the real hustlers are.