Like most boarding high schools, my high school had a mandatory one hour of sports every evening Monday through Friday, 4.30 – 5.30 p.m. We called it games time. There was a variety of indoor and outdoor sporting activities to choose from -badminton, table tennis, netball, volleyball, and the now extinct tennikoit. I loved tennikoit and moan its demise, alongside that of rounders (Anyone remember rounders, the distant cousin of baseball?). During the start of athletics season, all other sports were set aside and everyone was required to participate in athletics and field events, in order to pick teams that would represent the school in regional inter-schools competitions.
On one of those seasons, the school was preparing to pick a cross country team. We had a no nonsense games teacher by the name Mr. Wairia. With the exception of the sick, the dying or the dead (that was his usual call – “can I have the sick, the dying and the dead!”), everyone else had to run the selected cross-country route. Continue reading “Why I Run”
My first cell phone was an Ericsson 1018. I got it as a gift from a friend in September 2000. It did the two things that a basic phone should do – receive/make calls and send/receive texts. That was all. No bling, no madoidos. It was a heavy hardy piece that could easily double up as a weapon. In the 20 short years, 2G phones evolved into the smartphones of today, making my Ericsson 1018 the cellphone equivalent of the Neanderthal man.
It is not just the cell phones. Nearly every technological field has changed by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. Except one. Tooth extraction.
My first ever visit to a dentist is etched in my memory. I had watched as a mini crater developed in one of my premolars. I could not get it fixed soon enough because I did not have health or dental insurance. Cost of fixing a cavity was prohibitive. Government health clinics, which were affordable, rarely had residential dentists. Private dental practices is where the money was and nearly all dentists had private practices. My choice was between having a cavity in the tooth and having one in the wallet. Continue reading “The Dentist & Pliers”
I recently watched an episode on TV documentary series, Forensic Files. It was about this man by the name Madison T. Rutherford. He was a businessman from a small town in Connecticut, the kind of guy who can sell you snake oil. Madison presented himself to a family friend, an old woman by the name Brigitte, as this successful investment manager. He promised to make her money multiply like bunnies. Brigitte was a little naïve (or trusting – sometimes the line is very thin) and turned over her life’s savings to Mr. Rutherford to do his magic. He used the funds in dubious businesses that had the same success rate as quail or rabbit farming in Kenya. All the while, he sent fake statements to Ms. Brigitte that indicated that her money was growing. Continue reading “Teeth & Snake Oil Salesman”
Njoroge Mûndagĩtarĩ or Dr. Njoroge was my childhood family doctor, or more appropriately the village doctor. He was the doctor for the whole village of Shamata, in Nyandarua County. Njoroge was a huge man. It is possible that he was not a doctor, as in a holder of Bachelor of Medicine, but a Clinical Officer. Back in the days, it was rare to have a full MD attached to a public health clinic. In the village however, we make no distinction between a CO and an MD. Anyone in a white lab coat, eyeglasses and dangling a stethoscope around the neck is a doctor.
Njoroge was among three people in my village with whom it paid to be in good relationship. Unless, of course, you were planning on relocating. The other two were David, the Village Elder and Mwaniki Mûthigari, the local Administration Police officer. A village elder was and still is a powerful individual. He presides over simple civil disputes, for instance, whose cow broke into whose shamba and feasted on how many stalks of maize. He determines how much owner of the offending cow owes the maize farmer. Life is so much easier if the Village Elder has nothing against you. Unless you want yours to be the only cow with teeth that can chew a neighbour’s maize. Continue reading “Dr. Njoroge & Sis. Lydia”
Remember when vacancy announcements carried this line: “Apply in own handwriting”? Here is a question for all human resource folks and recruiters who required that an application be made in applicant’s own handwriting: exactly what do you look for in an applicant’s handwriting? Sure, some jobs require that one has a good handwriting. For example, clerks who made handwritten entries into those long black Government ledgers (think Ardhi House records) needed to write legibly. Or the calligraphers who inscribe names on pre-printed awards and certificates. It is a bit of a stretch, but may be good handwriting comes in handy for a cake decorator. But if a guy’s job is to crack eggs and pour them into the cake dough mixer all day long, it is hard to see the connection between his ability to write in cursive and being a reliable, self-motivated egg cracker! Continue reading “Handwriting And Cracking Eggs”
I love Desiderata. I have always loved Desiderata. If you grew up in Kenya during the 80s or 90s, you probably know Desiderata lines by heart. A framed copy of the famous poem, originally written by an American author Max Ehrmann in 1927, occupied a place of honor in many homes. I have a copy of it in my office. The wisdom in each verse is timeless. One of the lines reads: “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth”.
I visited my eye doctor a couple of weeks ago. To me, any doctor specializing with eyes is an eye doctor, I could never pronounce the Ops – Optometrist, Ophthalmologist and Optician. Ok, I can pronounce the last one, but I have no idea how each of these is different from the other. I just know they fix eye problems – collectively and/or individually. Continue reading “You Are Late To The Party”
I was recently asked by someone about how life is when one is in their 40s. Are there lessons I have learnt that I can share? My initial reaction was there was really nothing big about being in the 40s. Granted, one’s perspective about life is different when you are 48 compared to say, 25. Priorities and responsibilities change as we go through life. But is that not true for each stage in life?
The question got me thinking. One thing that stands out to me is how comfortable I am with who I am. I am comfortable with my background, my roots, my past experiences, and my current lot in life. I’m comfortable with the person I am inside and outside. I have a sense of harmony in the person that I am in thought and the person I manifest in action. I do not purport to be perfect. Far from it; I am perfectly imperfect. I am comfortable with my physical self – height, shape, size, weight (though my scale lies!! haha), race – name it. Continue reading “Welcome to Njeri’s Comic Relief!”