I call you Babi-Msoto…
See, the thing with me is, I like my life simple. I hate unnecessary complications. I dress like a homeless woman. And I mean that quite literally. And it’s not eti I can’t afford anything decent to wear (OK, that’s also debatable) but I always just feel like I don’t have to impress anyone. Except when I’m going to make a very important presentation to very important people, maybe then I could roll up in an official trouser down there and a tie up here and maybe comb my hair. I don’t date simply because I don’t have time for stupid questions like, “Where are you? Who are you with? When will you be back?” blah blah blah. Also, I’m still one of those old school chaps who believe if you have to like me then like me for me. If you want to be taken out for movies at iMax and dinner at Sankara then drinks at B-Club before you even consider replying to my texts then, sorry Jaber, I’m the wrong person for you. Shinda hapo.
When I cook, I only use onions and tomatoes. I don’t have time – or the patience – for all that nonsense you guys dip in food. Mara dania sijui pilipili hoho sijui royco akiang’owa. If you ever, by any chance, visit my digs, never expect to find a fridge or a bottle of juice or wine or spaghetti or gas cooker or even cologne. The only notable things you will ever find here are tissue paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, a mattress, and a box of matches for when my boys show up and they need to smoke some weed. The only food available for consumption here is Chapo-Madondo. If you’re reading this in a matatu right now on your way to my digs to visit me and, for some strange reason, someone somewhere lied to you that you would find sijui beef stir fry and tomato soufflé rice here, tafadhali shuka tu kwa hiyo gari sasa hivi na utafute zile zinaelekea Villa Rosa. Roho Safi!
People ask me why I love Chapos so much and I simply tell them that that was the best meal I grew up eating. Granted, some of them think I eat Chapos daily because I’m a broke ass bachelor and, well, they could be right. I mean, I pay my own rent and buy my own clothes and drink fine whiskey with my own money, I surely couldn’t afford a plate of beef that goes for Ksh. 70, could I really? Truth is, growing up, we only ever saw Chapos during Christmas and those Chama ya Wamama things. The diet for the rest of the year would read something like Ugali-Mboga, Omena, Rice-Ndengu, Boiled Maize and Black Tea e.t.c. Hell, I didn’t even know what the hell a burger was until I landed in the big bad city. Stop laughing. And don’t stop reading just yet, I’m going somewhere with this.
So when last week my bro’s best friend called me and said eti we go to Caramel Lounge in Westie to sample some cocktails, I was a little surprised. Me? Son of a mere teacher? A guy who dines at Mwikali’s and complains when the bill comes to Ks. 55 instead of Kh. 50? Go to some hotshot joint with the name of a chocolate brand? Hah! First of all, the cheapest cocktail there goes for sijui Ksh. 700 a glass. And ten glasses of that stuff couldn’t even get a perpetual drinker like myself high. Meanwhile, there is a joint just down here next to my digs where a measly Ksh. 200 is enough to get me wasted and walking on all fours. Do you get where I’m coming from? So I told the chap I was dead ass broke. But he insisted. He taunted me ati when will I ever go to nice places like those, that I should treat myself more, and that man cannot live on Chapo-Madondo and cheap beer (or keg) alone. I said I was still broke and nothing he could say would change that. But that, maybe, if he was paying, I’d come through for him next time. He said Sawa. Sasa si at 8 p.m. on Wednesday we meet at University Way, jump into his car and drive off towards Westie.
There’s three of us in the car; the chap, goes by Brian, some mami he brought, goes by Triza, and then there’s good old broke son of man here. Triza is in a dotted top and a figure-hugging skirt that stretches to just above the knees. Brian is the one guy with the worst fashion sense I have ever seen. True story. I mean, even with my pathetic wardrobe, this guy still couldn’t match up. He wore some blue promotional t-shirt, faded jeans that looked larger moving down towards his feet – sort of like those bell bottoms my old man used to wear back when he was still the shit – and these rubbish sandals that he kept saying were gifts from majuu. Dear Kenyans in Diaspora, when you send gifts to your relatives and lovers back home, kindly specify whether they are meant for fully sane grown ass men or chaps suffering from 18 BC diseases that make them unable to wipe their own behinds. Ni hayo tu!
Every other day, Monday all through Friday, from kitu 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Caramel Lounge has a happy hour where all drinks are slashed by half (And, get this, the price of beer during the happy hour is Ksh. 250. I mean, the hell is this, State House?) Then Wednesday is Ladies’ Night. Technically, what that means is whatever drink the lady orders should also be slashed in half. So we tell Triza to make our orders and the waitress – some yellow yellow mami with gorgeous eyes and round lips and a tiny nose – says ati only the mami’s drink will be slashed, ati ours must come in full price. Because we’re men. We say Sawa and retreat back to our corners. And here is where life becomes very unfair. Triza orders a mojito and is added a free glass of white wine, on the house. Alafu I ask that waiter when Men’s Night is and he says there’s no such thing as Men’s Night. I swear the next woman I hear making noise about ‘Gender Inequality’ will wake up the next morning missing a tongue.
Brian and I order this cocktail named ‘Dawa’; consisting of Ketel One Vodka, Honey, Fresh Lime, and what feels like a whole truck-load of sugar. I drank two of those babies and left that place feeling even more sober than I had come. Meanwhile, Triza had only gone upto like halfway of her mojito when she started saying all manner of incoherent words. Like, you know when you’re a baby and you have stuffed food in your mouth and someone asks you something that requires an immediate answer and you have to reply with all that food still in your mouth? Exactly. So we told her to slow it down. She said she wasn’t drunk. Ati, “Mimi siwezi lewa na vitu vidogo kama hizi.” Then she got up and headed for the Ladies and she almost hit her head against the walls and we just laughed and took slow sips from our Dawa.
The Gents at Caramel are so polished, yaani I didn’t even know what to do or where to pee or where to wash my hands after peeing. For someone who comes from the ghetto like myself, that place looked like some dinner setup bana. The sink didn’t even have a tap, how the hell was I supposed to wash my hands? Because Brian comes from Nyayo and they have wi-fi in the house, he thinks he’s a babi. Sasa si he sees me struggling at the sink and he comes to help. Ninja starts spanking the tap like it’s some freaking spoilt child, but still no water comes out; which was confusing because this guy had been here before. I know because some waiter recognized him and Triza soon as we walked in and said, “Mmerudi tena? Karibuni.” So how the hell does he not know how to operate the damn thing? Brian, no shade Baba, but there’s only one likely scenario here; you’re one of those chaps that walk into the loo and do their business and then walk right out, without as much as a glance at the sink. Lok pachi Baba, mago dwanyruok!
At the end of it all, we just placed our palms at the mouth of the tap and water came trickling down softly. Then, and here’s the icing, after doing your business and washing your hands at Caramel, you don’t wipe your hands with sijui those tissues you see in most restaurants in town. Hapa there are synthesized white towels, a lot of them, arranged neatly above some shelf next to the sink. You wipe your hands with one and toss it into the bin. Imagine bana. Wueh! Mimi this life I can’t.
The real drama came in when the bill was set on the table. But Brian told me not to write about that. That some very important people in his life will not be pleased reading about it. But the real reason I won’t write about it is because the next time Brian and I meet, I’m drinking on his bill. Isn’t that right Brian? If you bail, and this is not a threat or anything, rest assured that bill paying maneno can make an entire blog post. Hehe.