Monthly Archives: September 2012

Love and Romance

I watched ‘Dark Shadows’ yesterday. It was hilarious as expected, although I found it spookily dark. YouTube the trailer if you haven’t watched it.At some point, Johnny Depp meets a girl called Victoria-Vicky in short, but he can’t bring himself to call her Vicky. He says:

‘Victoria, a name so beautiful I could not bare to part with a single syllable of it’

Yes! Aiish! That line caught me I must confess, so STFU if you were about to make some wisecrack. That line is remarkable, feelings so deep can only be expressed in dramatized movies.

Imagine (if you’re a girl) you meet this guy at Kenchic (ok Brew Bistro):

You: hi, my name is Wang’ondu but you can call me ‘Ng’ondu’
Him: ‘Wang’ondu, a name so mburifu…etc’

Tha line defined the movie for me. Ha! But then I remembered, I had watched this kind of dramatic emotion in Pakistan. Over there, modern-day 2012 romance is as dramatic as that line. Just imagine watching people spewing forth such romance right before your eyes! It will soon make itself apparent to you why soap operas are so popular.

Pakistan is a place where your girlfriend threatens that she will end her life if you do not return her love (maybe you’d been quiet a few days). She will weep and wail as she threatens to marry another man.
To be fair though, the latter threat is not so far-fetched. Arranged marriages come at you suddenly and unexpectedly. I remember once I didn’t see a Pakistani friend of mine for maybe 2 weeks. When I finally bumped into her, she told me how she was on her way to the salon cause her engagement was that Saturday. Eh, wow…congrats!?

Anyway, to my point, only in Pakistan did I see a girl run a fever because she was sick, sick in love. She was about to be separated from her lover, and she couldn’t bare the thought (though the guy did speak Spanish). She actually fell sick…as in that stuff happens.

‘ maybe your tongue will taste my tears
While your sweet words will sooth my ears
And with my face I’ll touch your hair
It’s fragrance shielding off despair’

You think people that come up with such things are high, maybe they’re just Pakistani.

This is not a modern-day thing, it goes back into history. These people are built for it, genetic stuff. Urdu music will feature lines like:

‘each breath is a conversation with my beloved’

…what! My friend! Game, swag and season tickets to Blankets & Wine are no match for someone that can construct sentences potent with such desire.

‘may this entire world kiss your footsteps’

I know I have had my share of Alehandro moments. When I was 9/10,  really liked this girl from Sunday School (now a hot woman) so I called Bob Kioko on Capiro FM on the landline and dedicated 3T’s ‘I need you’ from a secret admirer. Imagine listening to Kiss and hearing a ‘secret admirer’ dedicating a song to your 10 year-old niece. Scandal!

Ati ‘ I need you and I wanna build my world around you’. X 2 (ad-libs)

Then when I was maybe 13, I liked this other girl (now a good friend who probably doesn’t remember 😉 ). I dried some rose petals, painstakingly wrote her name on each, stuck them to a birthday card and delivered it on Sunday morning with a chocolate. she just said ‘thanks’ and nothing else like I’d given her a butterscotch peremende. Hahaha, oh man!

Back to Pakistan. On my short trip to the mountains (btw, I’ll dedicate a page to this trip, pics and videos too) I was a casualty of one of these feeling and violent Pakistani romances. This guy in our group, had fallen for my Polish travel mate.

‘she cared not for his eating habits
She cared not for his pink hat
She cared not for his lack of mastery of English language
Oh man, she said, I could never fall for this guy’

He said:

‘if you get lost in these mountains, I will die here with you
You are not alone, I am always watching you (stalker?)
Let’s get lost together, till the light comes pouring through’

The poor guy even sent a delegate

‘a polish gent we bumped at the campsite into
And quick the lovestruck made his plan
He sent the man to declare his love in Polish
But yet, she would not endure him’

At the end of our trip, the polish girl and I are asleep on the 28hour bus back to civilization.It’s a tricky road, literally blasted into the mountains, so it’s narrow most of the time and has a drop maybe 200m to the bottom. It’s also extremely beautiful, like I said, I’ll dedicate a page to it.
1.5 hours into the journey, theres a car hooting madly behind us, it pulls alongside the bus and the driver signals the bus driver to stop.

‘out of the car came the wannabe lover
In his pink-hatted glory he clambers
Onto the bus to his sleeping polish beauty
He awakens her to bestow gifts of a gemstone and Kashmir fabric

And a ka t-shirt for me as I sat there seeing but not believing. You can imagine following someone from nairobi all the way to naivasha to say goodbye one more time and deliver a gift…that’s intense.

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The High, So Called Wanderlust

A couple of weeks back, I met a girl on the Internet. She said she was American, and was coming to visit Nairobi. We met up, had dinner and she spent the night. She left early the next morning, and I have never seen her again. I met her on Couchsurfing.

From the outside, Couchsurfing is a social website. A website designed to connect travelers with people willing to host for free and vice versa. As a host, you put up your ‘couch’ on the website, couch here loosely meaning wherever the guest will sleep, be it an actual couch, mattress, your floor, guestroom etc. You also put up a description of yourself and your preferences/rules eg no smoking in the house, your preferred gender, how many days guests can crash etc, it’s pretty detailed. As a traveller, you search for couches in your destination town, look for a profile that matches your requirements (both couch and host) and you send a message introducing yourself and asking to crash the couch in question. It’s all free.

From the inside, Couchsurfing allows you to experience the difference between tourism and travel. Couchsurfing gives you the opportunity to interact with real people in your destination. Not to sound lofty, but Couchsurfing is one way to make travel, however simple, a spiritual exercise. Granted, sometimes meeting someone on the Internet sets expectations that aren’t met, but it’s part of the fun. Hotels and hostels are the same everywhere, only differing in standards, but people everywhere are not the same, and that’s exciting.

These past 3 months back home in Nairobi, I travelled via Couchsurfing. From my guests (I didn’t at first make it completely clear to my parents that these were strangers from the Internet) I got to see Ethiopia and the Oromo from a girl that spent weeks with them in a tent in the middle of nowhere. I got to see how you can get robbed in Berlin yet sleep at the Kenya Railways Museum completely untouched or bothered. I heard about hilarious ‘NGO’ workers in Israel who spend their time growing and smoking marijuana. I also heard how easily you can fake flight documents in order to get a much needed VISA. I travelled yet I was always home.

As a kind of safety feature, it’s custom on Couchsurfing to leave a reference after your experience with a guest/host. This reference can be seen by everyone, since no profile is closed within the website (unless you choose to which then makes it hard for you to find a host/guest). Very rarely, you will find some negative references. Usually they are extremely funny, you’ll see things like ‘he brought a stranger to my house and had sex on the kitchen floor’. Most though are mild, like ‘this person is dirty’. There are strict rules against unwanted hitting on members, but you know guys, it sometimes happens. Among the few complaints, I am yet to see a guy complaining that a girl host/guest hit on him 🙂

Anyway, a few hours back, I got a call that I might be traveling on Sunday. I look forward to the adventure of meeting kind strangers and trusting humanity the way you do in new environs.

If I don’t travel on Sunday for whatever reason, well at least I have this to remind me of my high right now.

Ps, my travel philosophy is currently heavily influenced by

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