By Winfred Nyokabi
I hail from a small village in the armpits of Laikipia that sits on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. This means I get to see many tourists and especially from the clan of less melanin or as we call it Mbari ya Nyakieru.
A couple of months ago I found myself inside one of those metal tubes that go in the sky and somehow landed in the land of cayenne pepper namely Hungary. Being that Laikipia is still home to the white settler, I can speak English of nose pretty well.
But this was going to be a big disadvantage for me here since I was faced with a language that has zero similarity to anything I have ever heard. All the Nyakieru I have interacted with before spoke the Queens language and that was the idea I always had. So I land at the airport and the first person who comes to me asks if I want a bus, in a musical language that I start tapping to the beat.
Nairobi, commonly known as Nyairofi where I come from, has all sorts of buses. You decide the one you want by simply listening to which will break your ear drums less painfully. Here, the public transport is on a timetable and chronologically numbered with each stop displayed on a screen inside.
When you get late even by 30seconds, it means you wait at the bus/train stop for a considerable amount of time until the next one is ready to take off. There is no hanging conductor hitting the sides of the bus to signal it to stop. Rather, you press a button when it’s time for you to alight.
The biggest drawback of this if that:
One; All the houses look similar and two, the names are like music to the ears. The call for passengers in the stage to a certain bus is unheard of here. You simply look at a board and know which is your bus and on which platform it will be waiting and the time of departure.
Whenever I want to just dash somewhere quickly, I miss the availability of nduthis [bodaboda] that will be parked everywhere ready to go. The convenience of sitting in the house and ordering nyamachoma through my trusted bike guy is now a distant memory.
I have become a better runner from all the times I have to chase after a bus or a train. By the way, here Michuki rules are a fictional story. All public service vehicles are fitted with a provision to hold on when you are standing because the bus is too full.
I was used to walking to and from school as we eat ngiyei from the bushes or the mahura when cactus starts flowering. Now am suddenly faced with pavements that are cemented everywhere including the flower beds. Since I see all the movie stars get into the house and just jump on the couch or the bed, I somehow assumed there is no soil/dirt in these woods. Finding dust on my reading table was more of a cultural shock than sun that has no heat.
PS// the worst part is when cupid starts aiming, and I remember my vocabulary has 20 words of magyarol and I just let the perfect creation of God just pass me by. Am still learning how to not leave the house when am ready but rather to confirm the bus timetable first.