Wine and Spice and all things Nice

Posted on April 10th, 2018
Categories: News

For a wine lover such as myself, it is always a pleasant surprise to find a classy, trendy, well equipped yet reasonably priced wine shop in Nairobi. And its not just wine! From good quality and exotic spices to paella kits to gin and whisky to artisan olive oils, from detox tea to “youth” tea, from entry level wines to Cavas to premium wines, and since I never grow up, my favourites – gin fusion teabags, gin botanicals and cocktail making gift sets… Makkin Gourmet shop has it all! It’s a lovely place to browse; I felt like I was in a European or South African shop, and the temptation to buy, well frankly most of it – is huge!

             

             

After browsing for a bit, I met with the brains behind the concept – James and Cynthia Makumi. James and Cynthia started Makkin in 2010, selling decent Australian wines from little premises at the Lavington Green shopping centre. Fast forward nearly 10 years and their passion, knowledge and experience has resulted in large premises in the new Lavington Mall, with a selection of carefully hand picked family estate wines amongst all the afore-mentioned goodies. In James’s words: “if we won’t drink it, we won’t sell it”. Their mission statement is: “Our focus is to be a leading provider of fine premium wines and spirits while providing exceptional quality products and services. Makkin continues to stay with family owned wineries and distilleries as we continue our unwavering quest to bring in more extraordinary wines and spirits”. They certainly convinced me! In their quest James and Cynthia have established personal relationships with many of the (mainly) Spanish vineyards, whose proprietors come out to Kenya to visit them and to conduct wine tastings. Apart from Kenya, the Makumis also have relationships with and bring out wines from Australia and The Napa Valley in California.

Makkin organise wine tastings and events to share their passion and to educate people about wine. They sell to hotels and restaurants as well as individuals, and will deliver for an order or a minimum of 12 bottles. But I would recommend visiting the lovely shop and seeing for yourself!

To learn more about Makkin Wines and their selection, click on the below listing:

http://www.wordofmouth.co.ke/?s=Makkin

From Suzie – pet grooming with love

Posted on April 10th, 2018
Categories: News

 

Well – I think that the before and after photo says it all!

I heard about Suzie from a friend and decided that my poor, shaggy 13 year old terrier desperately needed some TLC. At the cost of Ksh 4,000/= one of my family members was very sceptical, muttering “but we can just wash her”, under his breath. His tone changed 100% when he saw the result.

I have never seen pet pampering with such a lovely, unassuming approach. “Pepper”, who had never been groomed before, was nervous at first, but settled into being washed, blow dried, clipped, cleaned, cut and touched with care and respect. Suzie really took her time, she was at our house for about 2 hours, going about her work with quiet confidence, and making my pet look and feel amazing. She truly is acting 10 years younger, and being able to see her face properly has reminded us about how pretty she really is!

Susie loved pets from a young age, and slowly drifted into grooming as a profession. Her love shows in the care she takes, making sure that your pet is comfortable and she will stop to take breaks if they are feeling shy or frightened.

I would whole heartedly recommend Suzie’s services for any pet lover who wants to make sure their pet looks and feels their best!

 

Suzie in action!

  Super happy Pepper with spring in her step!

To read more about the services Suzie offers, and to contact her, please refer to the Word of Mouth listing, below:

Pet Grooming by Suzie

 

 

 

The Vietnamese Kitchen at Nothing Like It Hardy

Posted on March 6th, 2018
Categories: Uncategorized

The Vietnamese are here… cooking, cutting, colouring, contouring – its all happening at Nothing Like It Hardy!

Cut & colour? Some microdermabrasion or a tattoo? A blow-dry which will make you feel a million dollars? Why not throw in a Vietnamese foot massage, and top it all off by some delicious Vietnamese food? 

I went for an early supper to try out the latest venture of the Vietnamese “gang” at Nothing Like It last week. In between cutting and colouring, blow drying, foot massaging and tattooing, the resourceful David is managing a Vietnamese kitchen with Chef Luam.

The food is incredibly tasty, simple but authentic, fresh and healthy. We had some Vietnamese “pies” to start with, deep fried but filled with delicious vegetables and served with yummy dipping sauces. For main course our party tried different dishes, from curries to stir fries to Nam Pho soup with noodles and beef. We also had some divine fresh spring rolls which are served with a tasty chilli sauce and soy sauce, so good that I had to go back and order more for a take away a few days later!

All the food is freshly prepared and served either at tables in the small restaurant which has been set up outside the Salon, or you can order a take away provided that the restaurant is not too busy at the time. The venue is open and airy with enough tables to cope with the lunch hour rush. The ambience is relaxed and the food is served on lovely white bowls and plates. Juices and fresh drinks are available to complement your meal.

The opening hours are 11 am – 7 pm with last orders at 6 pm. And the prices are incredibly reasonable – I totally recommend giving it a try!

 

 

 

Carrefour opening at the Sarit Centre

Posted on February 28th, 2018
Categories: News

Carrefour set to open fifth branch at Sarit Centre mall

CARREFOUR OFFICIAL JEAN YVES GENIES (RIGHT) WITH CUSTOMERS DURING CELEBRATIONS TO MARK THEIR FIRST ANNIVERSARY IN KENYA IN MAY 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
CARREFOUR OFFICIAL JEAN YVES GENIES (RIGHT) WITH CUSTOMERS DURING CELEBRATIONS TO MARK THEIR FIRST ANNIVERSARY IN KENYA IN MAY 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

Carrefour, whose local franchise is held by Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim, three months ago opened its fourth store at the Junction Mall, which was previously occupied by struggling rival Nakumatt Holdings.  Its other branches are located at Thika Road Mall, Two Rivers and the Hub Mall.

The retailer is set to shift to a bigger space at Sarit Centre’s new wing scheduled for completion at the end of the year.

“We are elated to be making our entry into Westlands area, which we consider to be very strategic for our business. The Carrefour store at Sarit Centre, gives us an opportunity to present our differentiated services to thousands of customers who visit this mall every day, due to its prime location,” said Majid Al Futtaim, Kenya country manager, Franck Moreau.

“We are privileged to have partnered with the mall owners before the completion of the new wing, making it possible to influence the design of the space to suit our specifications and international standards.”

Scammed – the perils of super-fast mobile money transfers by Africa Expat Wives Club

Posted on February 28th, 2018
Categories: News

Warning: You too could be conned…

So last week (during half term) I was scammed. Or more correctly, a member of our domestic staff was scammed…which then hit me in the pocket.

It happened just as I was piling granny, granddad and 2 slow moving teenagers into the car to get to a hair appointment. Jared crossed the garden, on the phone (a pretty snazzy Samsung smart phone I noticed) – looking very concerned. Frightened even. It turns out he was on the receiving end of a panicked phone call initiated by a man ringing on behalf of Jared’s son’s school. It went something like this

I’m calling for your son’s teacher (named X) as he doesn’t have credit. Your son (named Y) is in Kenyatta hospital, he’s had a very bad accident at school (school name Z), he’s broken his leg badly and also hurt his head. And there’s internal bleeding. He needs to go into surgery right now. We are at the hospital. You must send money immediately so that he can go into theatre.”

Jared looked like his whole world was collapsing and, I panicked too.

“What’s happened?” I asked and Jared started speaking fast.

“They said to send money, they said my son is in Kenyatta hospital. He’s had an accident at school.”

At this point I wanted to help and fast, so I transfered money from my bank account into my mobile phone/MPesa account, ready to send on to him.

Don’t worry Jared, I’m so sorry. I’m sending you the money for the operation, then you must go quickly to the hospital.

I was about to transfer a little more than the amount requested to Jared’s phone/account (to allow for additional hospital costs) – but then Jared said, “the man said to send the cash to this number.” I follow instructions and send cash immediately. The money left my phone and was received by an Edward Martin Mung’atia – which seemed like a valid/traceable account name. Jared nodded then prepared to leave the house fast.

It takes less than a minute to press send on a mobile money transfer. That’s the beauty of phone banking. Very quick, no hassle transactions from the phone in your hand.

Meanwhile the car is full of my own family members wondering what the heck is going on and we’re all now late for the appointment. I speed off with them all in the car feeling shaken and also processing over the information that I’ve just received. As I convey the story, it just doesn’t seem to add up. How could a boy of under 10 have such a serious accident inside school? The description sounded more like he’d been hit by a bus. And how come the school didn’t call the father before going to hospital and preparing the child for surgery? Surely they should have phoned sooner? Or gone to a nearer hospital? Meanwhile, Jared was repeatedly trying to call his wife but the call just wasn’t going through so he headed toward the boy’s school (closer than the hospital) to try and get more information.

I literally think that we’re going to have to pray for this boy,” I tell everyone in the car (my father-in-law is a religious man) “it sounds like he may even die.

When we reach the hairdresser and I’ve calmed down a bit, I call my husband and tell him the story.

Are you sure it isn’t a scam?” He says immediately. I was honestly blown away by the suggestion and thought, could it be? But at the exact same moment, Jared is calling me too.

Madam, quickly reverse the transaction, it was a conman, I’m so sorry, my son is fine.

Relieved that the boy is fine. Annoyed that I’d fallen for such a scam, I immediately called our house helper to try to reverse the MPesa transaction on my behalf (I’d left my Safaricom phone at home).  She reported back that my Safaricom line had been ringing off the hook since we left, with this guy screaming down the phone trying to get her to send more money. She had explained to him that it was not her phone so she couldn’t help – but by now her suspicions were definitely aroused. She said that the man on the other end of the line sounded hysterical and had wanted her to act fast – but alarm bells were ringing for her.

Of course the money I sent had been withdrawn immediately so the transaction couldn’t be reversed. I was only glad that I had left that phone at home, so hadn’t been compelled by the scammer to send more cash. The con is that they try to extract as much money as possible over a short amount of time, before disconnecting the line.

The conman had known Jared’s name, his son’s name, the name of his son’s school and his teacher’s name. In retrospect, it was the cruelest ruse. In the face of being told that your only child might die – do you quibble?

Oh, so my son is about to be rushed into surgery is he? So how do I know that you are telling the truth? Prove it?”

So after this bruising episode I reported the faker’s number to Safaricom (who said that the case is very common and that scammers are using dead people’s identities to set up fake phone accounts). Then Jared went off and reported the incident to the police (who said this kind of case is very common and nowadays con men hang around schools and estates collecting names and information off local residents and kids to use in scams later).

Story 2:

A few days afterwards, I heard of a similar case. A man gets a call from someone purporting to be from his mobile service provider saying ‘turn off your phone for 2 hours for a 3G update to take place’. The receiver of the call is rushing to a meeting so powers down his phone immediately, but then after 45 minutes and once he’s stopped rushing, he grows suspicious and switches his phone back on.  When it comes back to life, there are multiple messages and missed calls from family members asking if he’s okay as well as a few missed calls from the con artist who said  he was from his mobile provider.

The man in question called his parents, who were beside themselves with worry and immediately asked if he was okay. In fact his dad was already at the bank about to transfer money to an apparent kidnapper who said they’d abducted their son. The scammers had even gone as far as making it sound like a victim was crying out in the background and the parents had assumed it was their grown-up son. Once the man reassured his parents that he was perfectly safe and hung up, the scammer started repeatedly calling the business man back, presumably to ensure that his line was busy and ideally run down the battery on his phone – while trying to continue the scam with other relatives. Later, when the man reported this incident to the police, he was told that there are many scams like this one around.

***

I know about those annoying, scam text messages where you are asked to send money to a stranger –but  emotive phone calls making use of a lot personal information are something else. Especially sinister is the apparent ease at blocking phone numbers, making it impossible for victims of these scams to verify whether the story being spun is fake or not. I was gullible and should have waited before sending money – but when you are under time pressure and high emotions are involved, it’s hard to take a step outside the situation and look at it objectively. Plus, as a long term resident here, I’ve been asked to help in some pretty dreadful scenarios in the past – so in that way, the story didn’t seem completely implausible.  Anyhow, it’s worth knowing, the mobile phone scammers have taken it up to another level, so try not to be fooled.

Featured image: Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

 

TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings February/March 2018

Posted on February 13th, 2018
Categories: News

 Where to start?

You might re-call in my last column that I just couldn’t help myself, and for the first time ever dipped my big toe into the political morass that is currently enveloping Kenya. Most thankfully agreed and found it a tad hilarious, which was the intention. However there was one reader who got really really upset, and literally blew a fuse. He didn’t so much take aim at yours truly, at least I don’t think he did, but more from the perspective that our political system had deprived his candidate of the Presidency.

I think I’ll keep the big toe firmly in its intended place of residence in future.

We drove to the coast on Boxing Day, drive-time from our home in Tigoni to our favourite all-time coastal destination Watamu in just 6.5 hours. No traffic, the tribe asleep most of the way – the pedal to the metal most of the way. Coming back was a completely different story. A terrible drive-time of 10.5 hours.

The government in its wisdom and to somehow address the road carnage on our roads, made the knee-jerk decision to ban all buses from travelling at night. I didn’t quite realise that this is what most of them do. How many of them plied the Mombasa – Nairobi road, was another huge surprise.

Trucks on the highway we can all deal with, they are slow, cumbersome and manageable, but the buses – whew!

There were so many of them, all travelling at some speed – while waiting to overtake trucks, you had to be really careful – a rear-view mirror filled with bus, and they wait for no one, indicator on or not.

If it’s not the roads or the unroadworthy public service vehicles then it’s the bloody incompetent drivers. Who invariably have bribed their way to obtain a commercial licence. With apologies to the majority, who thankfully know what they are doing.

Combine all three, and its mayhem. More regulation, more enforcement, but more of the latter for starters.

The planned new US designed, built and funded four-lane toll road from Nairobi to Mombasa is definitely something to look forward to. Evidently work will start on it later in the year, if press reports are to be believed. From what I understand it is to be a new build entirely, with the old road retained, as you have offer folk the opportunity of an alternative route without tolls.

I’m told the new toll road will have a minimum of interchanges. So, perhaps a 4-5 hour drive without too much stress is in our futures.

 Can’t wait!

While in Watamu I experienced first-hand the new sea-wall outside Hemingways. It is not to everyone’s taste, especially at high tide when you have to seek higher ground, as there is no beach left to walk on. Hemingways management gladly allows you access to a path higher up the sea-wall. There were a few hiccups over the holidays but quickly sorted. I’m told it is all still a work in progress and that the engineers predict that the beach will return in a short period of time and we will all live happily ever-after.

Talking of Hemingways, we stopped in for a cocktail or two at their fabled beach bar. The make-over, which has seen them closed for the past 18-months, is very impressive. We loved it and the price of said cocktails was in line with other establishments nearby.

We enjoyed New Year at Ocean Sports, a great evening followed it has to be said by a bumper New Years day party that ticked all the boxes. Rumour has it, that a new owner believed to be sympathetic to the very ethos of the place is as they say ‘on the way coming’. Full credit to Fabien and his team for a brilliant couple of parties.

Also in my last column were words to the effect that we were looking to move Travel News Kenya on to new prospective buyers. Well, it didn’t happen at least as of this moment – there isn’t an interested dicky-bird in sight. One prospective telling me ‘Why should I pay? I can start from scratch.’ Yeah right.

A lot of kind words from you readers has half encouraged me to continue and not to push the sale button too hard.

Kenya’s tourism is on the up.

There are not many beds left in the Masai Mara this coming migration season and camp and lodge operators are reporting a steep and steady increase in the amount of enquiries received, which in turn ultimately lead to bookings for most of the safari circuit.

The coast which has been in the doldrums for quite sometime seems to be awakening from it decade old slumber. Still the best beaches anywhere….

Long may it all continue.

to read the latest version of Travel News, click here: http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

 

For the expats out there – please read this before you think about acquiring a pet while in Kenya.

Posted on February 13th, 2018
Categories: News

TNR Expats & Pets SM

The Truth and Lies of Lie Detecting – by Len Nieuwoudt

Posted on January 22nd, 2018
Categories: News

A popular lie about lie detection is that it is able to detect lies. In fact, lie detectors, or polygraph machines can’t detect lies, but actually measure nervous excitement. Why do we say a polygraph can’t detect when someone is lying? Because that would suggest that every person is the same, and there is one magic ingredient engrained in all of us which, when triggered, acts as a dead giveaway. It’s simply not the case.

A polygraph machine operates on the premise that if a person is telling the truth, he or she will remain calm. We always hear about polygraph tests all the time in court cases, police investigations and even when someone applies for a job. The goal of lie detection is to test whether a person is telling the truth or not when answering specific questions.

When someone sits down for a polygraph test, three to six devices are attached to the tips of his or her fingers. A polygraph is a piece of equipment, which records numerous “poly” signals deriving the devices on a single piece of moving paper, or the graph. These sensors normally record the following:

  • The individual’s pulse;
  • The individual’s perspiration;
  • The person’s blood pressure; and
  • The individual’s breathing rate.

At times, a polygraph can also record aspects such as leg and arm movement.

How Is A Polygraph Test Conducted?

When a lie detection test starts, the technician usually asks four to five simple questions as a way of establishing the norms of the individual’s signals. The real questions then follow. Throughout the questioning process, all of the individual’s signals are recorded on the graph paper.

Both throughout and after the polygraph, the technician can study the graphs to determine whether the individual’s vital signs have changed exponentially on some of the inquiries. Generally, a big change, like higher blood pressure, sped up heart rate or increased perspiration can be indicative that the individual is lying.

When seasoned and professional examiners makes use of a polygraph machine, they can rather accurately detect lying in a person with incredible accuracy. However, as the examiner’s interpretation is subjective, and due to different individuals responding differently to lying, a lie detection test isn’t perfect.

Why Would You Want to Employ a Polygraph Test in Your Business?

Many employers use polygraph tests in their businesses, for many reasons. It’s not to say that you don’t trust your workforce, or that you suspect them. You could even use this method as part of a recruitment drive when looking to hire candidates who will be in a position of authority, or who will be working with sensitive information for your business.

There are a number of other reasons why businesses use polygraph testing in their operations too, including:

  • Having sufficient suspicion an employee was involved in illegal activity;
  • The employee in question has access to the property where the incident took place;
  • The employer is struggling with an increase in alcohol, drug or fraudulent behaviour within the company;
  • The employer is in the process of promotions to management positions and needs to know that they can trust employees with high-level confidential information; and
  • To instill a high level of honesty within the business and to enforce the company’s policies and procedures with regard to company information.

It’s important to note, under no circumstance can you force an employee to take a polygraph test unless they give written consent. In asking if they would take the test, you need to inform the person that it’s voluntary, and they can stop at any time.

The results of the polygraph test can’t be used as the only evidence when trying to prove guilt, it needs to be used as a means of confirming the evidence you gathered already. As there are currently no laws protecting employees when it comes to lie detection, these results alone will not be sufficient in a hearing.

As the rate crime is increasing, businesses all over the world are doing everything they can to ensure the business as well as its intellectual property is protected. One of the ways to achieve this is to introduce the use of lie detection into the work environment. This helps make businesses a stronger unit in an insecure world and sift out any nervous excitement that might be hindering business operations.

Author Bio:

Len Nieuwoudt’s years’ of experience since 1989, in the SAPS(South African police Service) and the security industry his company Secure Polygraph Solutions was established in 2012. When Len isn’t performing lie detector tests he like to ride his bike on long journeys in and around South Africa.

Let’s SHIFT…..

Posted on January 19th, 2018
Categories: News

 By Tazim Elkington

As I sit here pondering what to write, my mind brings up the question again and again on ‘What comprises being Kenyan?’This question has been swimming in pools of many waters. The need for clarity and direction is imperative as we embark on this journey towards a more uplifted Kenya for Kenyans. Let’s carry on the discussion in defining a common platform where we operate from as Kenyans. There are constant, consistent ongoing debates on how individuals ought to do this, that and the other. How and what the politicians, religious leaders, the donor world, civil society, private entrepreneurs, legal firms, grassroots organisations and umpteen groups, need to do it differently.

We need to end the old siege of bombarding ourselves with an unending stream of reasons/excuses as to why it must be done one way and not another. The finger pointing blame game has passed its ‘sell by date’ and it’s now time to look for effective and efficient ways to ‘become, feel and be’ truly KENYAN!

A topic that invariably comes up at every 2nd conversation is what are the limitations that face us and why are we stuck in 19th century mode on various aspects. What do we need to do to propel us into the 21st century and get with the program? Before I get into what I see and feel, let me make my stance clear. There are many topics, aspects and discussions I get involved in that are taboo in many circles. Until we understand and realise that without conversations, communication and discussion – nothing changes, we will not change that which limits us. There are 2 sides to every coin and in following belief systems, some are expansive and some extremely limiting. We have innumerable traditional, cultural, religious, status, class, social, tribal, gender equality, community and family belief systems. This can cause much confusion if we stick to a belief that was necessary 100 years ago and out of date today as an example.

Because something has been done for 2 or 3 generations does not make it automatically right. What may have worked and the reasons why are based on a different way of life many moons ago. It is not only important but necessary that we question where a lot of our beliefs come from. Many are based on oppression due to the colonised mind that created us, people of colour, as the secondary or insignificant human ready to salute to superiority. Many beliefs are based on people living in small, tight communities as the population was sparse. People had to create these close-knit circles for survival and keeping the wealth amongst a people. Countless beliefs also came when orthodox religion was brought to us from different parts of the world. These religions took away our inherent belief in nature, in the rain, mountain, river, sun, moon gods and made us bow down to a MAN who runs a ‘house of God’. The umpteen mistranslations of the verse based on personal bias cannot be qualified or quantified. Some of our beliefs come from those in authority that want to keep us locked into belief systems that provide them with the power of control over our lives.

Two very destructive patterns that I have observed since my return home last year are: The Poverty mindset and the Culture of Silence.

In conclusion, here is what I know. Until we start changing some of these so-called disruptive bad habits and patterns, until we take responsibility individually and collectively, become accountable, face consequences regardless of good-bad or ugly, replace those who have no values with those who do, we will keep chasing the same ghosts of the old constitution. To implement the new constitution we need to ward of some very old un-serving limitations that are not current. Time waits for no woman or man! Let us start by taking out the spokes in our personal wheels, start redefining and re-evaluating where we operate from individually and look at how best to create a NEW KENYA from ME to WE!!!

Goodbye 2017 – Blog by Bikozulu

Posted on January 18th, 2018
Categories: News

 A hysterical blog post by a Kenyan Blogger – http://www.bikozulu.co.ke/

Goodbye 2017

I didn’t post anything last week because I was thinking. I was seated at my desk at home, leaning all the way back in my chair and staring out the window dreamily. I have a massive wall to wall window that overlooks the verandah of the neighbouring apartments. There was a bird standing in the opposite balcony. She had just done her nails. She was leaning on the balcony, balls of cotton wool stuck between her toes, rifling through her phone. I could hear her nails dry. She couldn’t see me through my sheers, but I could see her which technically made me a peeping Jack. She had on her house clothes; tired-looking track bottoms and a well worn t-shirt. She had a physicality about her that seemed to magnify in the sun.

My mind drifted. I thought to myself, I would like to run away to some place. Some place far away. Some place with a beach and an old boat with paint peeling off the sides. A boat that is constantly moored at the shore and gets slapped slapped by waves. Sometimes children play in it. Sometimes it gathers puddles of water when it rains. Other days a bearded, wiry old man sits there, sucking on a homemade cigarette wedged between his bony fingers, looking out at sea through eyes that look cataracted. A boat whose owner nobody knows. A boat without a name.

But I can’t run away to a place like that now because our coastline is now choked with Nairobians on holiday. Do you know the most common thing guests at hotel buffets at the coast say in the mornings now? Come on, don’t be lazy, guess.

“You look familiar.”

And this is when you are waiting for your waffles to be done. Another person from Nairobi in his beach shorts. Now you have to stand there with your waffles growing cold as you guys run through all the places you might have seen each other.

Maseno?

No, I was in Moi…uhm, Caribea? [It always goes back to bars]

No, I don’t go there, well maybe once for Gogo’s birthday last year.

Gogo? The one who sings?

No, that’s Gogo Simo. This one is Gogo, just Gogo. He’s a farmer, or rather, he farms for people who are too busy or too posh to get mud on their shoes. His company is called Tukalime.com

That’s an interesting concept. [He turns to the chef] Yes, omelette…. everything but ham…just a little green pepper. Yeah, that’s enough. Make it well done. [Back to you] Do you work at KCB?

No. Do you?

No. But I bank with them so I thought maybe you are a teller.

Haha. No. I don’t count money. I spend it.

Haha. Boss…

[His face lights up and he snaps his fingers]Queens? You go to Queens?!

Er, No.

[A baby shows up and starts pulling at his shorts] “I want more juice! I want that green juice!”Is that your daughter?

Nah, I don’t even know whose kid this is.

[The little insists] “Dad! I want that green juice!! That one!!”But she is calling you dad…

I have never seen this child in my life. She’s been following me since we checked in jana.

Aaah, then let’s move away from her.

So, no. Coast isn’t what I was thinking about. That boat without a name might be there but so are people who go to Queens.

I swung away from the window and Whatsapped a friend.

“If you were given one chance to run away, where would you go?”

I stared at the message. It remained grey tick for a over a minute, so I gave up waiting and swung back to the window. The bird with balls of cotton wool between her toes had gone, carrying her drying nails with her. My view was now a white wall, reflecting the sun. The sun shone brightly but not harshly. I nibbled on my pen. Then I heard a message come in.

“Phu Quoc,” she wrote.

I quickly Googled Phu Quoc: Small island off the coast of Cambodia, in the gulf of Thailand. Damn. What a coincidence. It seemed like a place that would have an old boat moored at the beach.

“I think this is the kind of place that has a boat that nobody uses,” I wrote.

“Ooooookaay…”

“A boat without a name.”

She started typing. Then stopped. Then started typing again. Then she typed and typed and I wanted to ask her, what the hell are you typing for that long, a dissertation? There are people you can’t chat with because they write long blocks of chats instead of chats in each line. They make chatting so arduous because you have to sit and watch them type a bloody scroll. Does it kill people to write one line then another then another? Then what’s with the stopping while typing? Type and send. Type and send. Type and send. Goodness!

She was still typing. Then she stopped typing. Finally her message came in.

“Imagine I can’t swim?” she wrote. Goodness grief! She typed for three hours to write she can’t swim? I bet she also can’t ride a bicycle. Or make good dough for mandazi. Or can’t whistle. There are people who can’t whistle; they fold their tongues out and try very hard to whistle but only air comes out. And you say God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

I wrote: “By the way, how long can you have balls of cotton between your toes before the polish dries?”

“What??”

I put away my phone and turned to the laptop and wrote about the highlights of my 2017.

Here we go,not in any order of importance.

Tamms
Here is how I knew Tamms is slowly getting into that womanhood zone. I was in a bar on a Friday night. About 9pm Tamms Whatsapps me and says, “Papa, my stomach is paining.” She had been acting very needy because her mom had travelled and she was feeling abandoned and so she kept saying her stomach was paining. She took Relcer for her hyperacidity and I told her to sleep early and dream of nice things like strawberry. Now she was texting again.

“How bad is the pain on a scale of 1 to 10” I texted back, “1 being ‘not bad’ and ten being OH MY GOD, MY STOMACH HURTS SO BAD I WANT TO REMOVE IT AND PUT IT IN THE FREEZER!”

“What do you mean?” she wrote back curtly.(Either she has no sense of humor or she never wants to laugh at my jokes.)

“I mean, how bad is the pain, darling?”

“I want to go to the hospital,” she wrote back.

I whatsapped her mom because mothers know what should be done. “Take her if it will calm her down,” she texted back. I was secretly hoping she would say, “It’s fine, she just needs to sleep, if it persists in the morning take her.”

“Okay, dress up, I will be there to pick you up at 10:15pm,” I Whatsapped Tamms.

Then I went back to my drink. At 9:45 pm she Whatsapped me.

“Is there jam?”

“Jam for bread?”

“No, traffic jam.” (See? I can never make her laugh.)

“No, why, darling?”

“Because I’m waiting.” (She’s as impatient as me.)

I wanted to write to her, “What time is it where you are? Because where I am – IN KENYA – it’s still 9:45pm. But that would have made me a bad father. So I downed my drink and went and picked her up and we went to Aga Khan’s pediatric clinic and at the nurses station they took her vitals (all fine) and asked her to go step on the weighing scale. The male nurse was an enthusiastic, young, cool guy, probably fresh out of nursing school. Great with children too. He even made Tamms chuckle, which is something I do once a year if I’m lucky. Maybe she was just chuckling to play me against the nurse or maybe she just found him funny. Whatever it was I was going to be a bigger person because I had had two doubles, so I was in a very happy place.

Anyway, we went to that weighing scale and she chucked her shoes and stepped on the scale and it read 50kgs. I wanted to say “Darling, just how heavy was your dinner?” but I didn’t. Here is the thing, she asked me how many kilograms she was and I told her 50kgs and for a brief moment there I saw in her eyes what I believed was panic or disappointment. “Is that a lot?” she asked casually and I said, “No, that’s okay, I’m 87kgs, that’s a lot.”
“But you are big,” she said and it didn’t hurt my feelings one bit because I had had some whisky and I was in a good place with my 87kgs.

That 50kgs then hung between us like an unspoken taboo. Nobody wanted to touch it. It hung in the car as we drove back after midnight, her snoring softly on the passenger seat and me afraid to drive over 50km/hr.

MY BEST FEEL-GOOD STORY OF 2017
I wrote this story about my grandmother on IG/Facebook in May. She’s knocking on 90. I wrote about how she thinks I’m a boss at Nation. How she thinks I know Raila personally, like I can call him. How she is convinced I know many important people. I said how I shamelessly and unapologetically perpetuate this belief of a poor old woman. I tremendously enjoyed writing that piece. They are pieces I write with immense love. This piece about her was one of them.
One of my cousins told her I had written about her on this strange thing called the internet and now “eeeeeevrrybody” knows about her, she is famous! She called me so happy and excited, to ask me if it was true that I wrote about her on the newspaper (she can’t wrap her head around what the internet is) and now the whole world knows about her. I lied to her again, I said “Yes it’s true, the whole world now knows about you.” She laughed so much and felt so good and I felt so good. I think at her age it is such small things that give her a reason to smile in her world of arthritis and aching back and an empty homestead with only her cows and framed pictures of her children on the wall (half of them dead) for company.
Today I will be seeing her in shags and I will show her the story from my Instagram and read her all those comments. So please if you want to send shout-outs to my grandma, do so here Instagram posttell her she is still young and beautiful. She will love that. Who wouldn’t?

MY BEST BUSINESS DAILY INTERVIEW – 2017
Joe Mutugu, CFO, Old Mutual. HERE. Business Daily Africa

He’s a recovering alcoholic who was peaking in his career but then plunged into the watery arms of alcoholism and then dusted himself off and got back on the horse. He allowed himself to be vulnerable during the interview. And when we really got into it, he was so raw and honest talking about his problem with booze and how it felt to be down and out. There wasn’t enough space to capture this man’s essence in 1000 words. He needed pages and pages because he’s like tons of us; functional alcoholics who wear suits and because we drink single malts our problem isn’t termed as a problem.

Speaking of booze…

“DRUNK”
I wrote a small book. I spent a year writing it. I respect people who write books, because that shit sucks everything from you. It’s laborious.In fact, it’s like labour, because you forget how painful it was and you keep going back like I want to do in 2018. You can buy the book here Fireplace or here Amazon I will be printing a few copies because some people say they can’t read books on devices comfortably. They want to smell the characters. Look out for that.

BEST TRAVEL DESTINATION
Nobody in their right mind goes to Europe for the beaches, not when we have Watamu. But should you ever find yourself in Barcelona and you have a day to kill, take a train to the small coastal town of Sitges, an hour away. It’s a small charming seaside town with little cafes and restaurants and narrow cobblestone streets that open to the beach area. We sat in the verandah of a makeshift cafe at the beach. Before us were tourists and locals sunbathing and reading in their loungers and recliners. It seemed like a normal beach tableau, save for one thing; nobody was wearing a bra…including the men who should have been in bras. If you go with company and you are a breasts-man you are in trouble, buddy. Because then you have to pretend that you aren’t noticing the myriad breasts walking up and down the beach, from the ones pointing up at the sky from their the lounge beds to the ones pointing true north.

I didn’t like the beach because of those topless birds, I liked it because they served fantastic grilled sardines and prawns and amazing burgers and our waiter was ever so curious about Africa. I drunk bourbon, ate enough sardines to start a fish farming business in me and napped on and off until sunset.

MY WORST INTERVIEW – 2017
Most people in the public light have two faces; there is the face they show the media and then there is the face of who they really are. The most deluded of these people are those have forgotten to separate the two and, as a result, have come to believe they really are who they show the media. These are people who have bought into their own façade. What this means is that an ugliness normally simmers just below the surface of this charade. This particular woman was one them. She said things on the record then she went home and freaked out and demanded to see the copy before it ran. She threatened us with lawsuits and bullied us and became this extremely ugly person who was a complete departure from the person I had met. Hers was a textbook case of delusion of grandeur. I hardly regret meeting people I run into in the course of work, but I deeply regret meeting her. Her story is the one story I am embarrassed to have my byline run under and I emailed her and I told her as much.

MY BEST BLOG STORY God is a Gentleman loved writing it because I didn’t know how to write it. I felt unworthy to touch her story. And when Lydia came to Java to meet me – with a face carved by the merciless knives of her tragic past – I suspected she didn’t come alone. I think God sat there next to her to listen to her account because sometimes when I think of God I think he likes to show off just a bit.

MY MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT DURING INTERVIEW- 2017
I went out to Kaddu Siwe Ssebunya’s house in Karen to interview him. He’s the president of Africa Wildlife Foundation. Very fresh and sharp Ugandan guy. There are massive and tastefully furnished houses that never feel like home. Kaddu’s wasn’t one of them. It was that kind of house you want to and say, “I could live here,” because it has a warmth to it. It’s a home, not a house.

So we are in the middle of the interview when his two children troop in from school (it was their holiday break) herded by a young and strikingly beautiful lady. They are those children who go to those posh schools. They were so self-assured and well-spoken. You know them, those children who make eye contact? The children hugged their father and he introduced me to them and they all had small excited banter before leaving.

Anyway, we go back to the interview and I ask Kaddu, “was that your daughter?” and he grins and says, “No, that’s my wife.” You could feel my foot getting shoved into my mouth all the way from the end of the Southern Bypass. “She is beautiful and so youthful!” I muttered. He laughed because everybody wants to know their woman is arresting. “I married well,” he said modestly.

I wanted to hide behind one of his paintings.

TURNING 40
I carried my own bottle of whisky onto this yacht in Santorini, Greece. The yacht sails around the neighbouring islands the whole day, stopping by some islands for people to swim and what not. It was the morning of my 40th and I didn’t want to partake of the complimentary beverages offered on the yacht – basically beers, wines, some odd spirits etc. I was the only black skin there, and I got on board with my own box of Glenmorangie tucked under my arm like it was an important map to a treasure island.

Boy didn’t the mzungus stare?!

I didn’t care. I was 40 years and two hours old, I had paid to be there and I wasn’t about to drink complimentary whisky that I wasn’t going to enjoy. I sat next to this siren on the deck, lying down, drinking, going down to fetch food, drinking, listening to music. Midway through, an old couple (Americans) started conversing with me. The nice lady said her husband loved whisky so I poured him two fingers. He loved it. Then these two Asian/ American couple started a conversation. She said, “He knows all about his whisky,” which is like saying, “He has been staring at your whisky since you opened it, won’t you pour for him a bit? He is embarrassing me.” So I poured some for him. He loved it. Later, at lunch downstairs someone said, “It’s his birthday, he is turning 40!” then the whisky lovers thrust their glasses at me for a fill. Then they sang that silly happy birthday song and I blushed a little because I hate that kind of attention, but I was 40, when else is a group of white folk going to sing a happy birthday song for me on a yacht off the beautiful islands of Greece?

There is a moral here. If you drink lots of whisky in the sun on a moving boat, you will imagine that boat will never dock and when it does, you will step on solid ground and you will turn to the person next to you and ask, “Wait, do you feel the earth move?”

LONGEST ASSIGNMENT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN
I visited Maseru, Lesotho in May. I was staying at this hotel called Avani Lesotho and Casino. It started raining when I landed. It rained the whole of that afternoon which meant I couldn’t go out for my assignment because the hills were muddy. Thankfully the hotel was very posh and my room was something so I stayed in and sat facing the Caledonspoort border of South Africa beyond the hills. At night I went to the bar and had dinner and eavesdropped on boring bar conversations of chaps in seminars . It rained the whole night, which meant my assignment was impossible during the morning. Next morning, I walked for an hour down to their small CBD to roam about in the very slight beautiful drizzle. I bought tracksuit pants in a local store and walked back to the hotel. It rained all afternoon and I wrote up in my room then came down later and flirted with Fifi, a female staff member, who possibly saved me from going brain dead from boredom. My assignment, by this time, was dead in the water. Then a Kenyan lady I had interviewed ages ago – Mary Njoroge – saw my IG post and said, “Biko, I work here! Where are you!” I was super excited; Kenyans!!! Kenyans! It was like seeing a ship after bobbing at sea on a small dinghy with no water or food.

So they came to my hotel and we had dinner at the Chinese restaurant next to the Casino. The next day I flew back with no story to speak of.

KIM STARTING SCHOOL
You pay a tidy sum of money for them to go and colour within the boundaries, sing, slide, eat and then nap in the afternoon. They wear oversized shorts and these colourful bags and Bubblegummers which are the ugliest shoes children will ever wear because they look like unfinished sea vessels but they are hardy. Besides, those kids don’t to go school to catwalk, they go to sleep in the afternoons.

And it’s beautiful to see them start and catch colds and flu from other people’s children and when you go to pick them up they look like the school has a mine where they are forced to work for free. The best part is when you find all of them in the corner of the classroom, sleeping shoeless, some snoring, others’ legs spread wide, a clutch of little people starting life with power naps.

WALKING WITH LIONS
You can pay some money to go to Johannesburg and walk with lions. I don’t know why anyone would do that. I did it because I was getting paid, otherwise I wouldn’t have. I’m black. Plus, World Animal Protection (WAP) doesn’t like it when people walk with lions or kiss giraffes, or kick stray dogs. I bet when they saw that picture of people burying dogs many people at WAP got migraines the whole week. Some took leave to go pray. Would I walk with a lion again? Yes, if they can spell my name.

WORST DAY IN 2017
I woke up one morning to find someone had tweeted (twat?) me: Toni has married Birdman. I remember thinking, “Nooo, she can’t do that. She can’t marry that primate.” But she did. My day never recovered from that news. Neither have I.

THANK YOU
Thank you the editors here, Linda, Mutanu and Ochieng for cleaning my mess here with your big hearts. Thanks to my dutiful travel agents Wahu and Catherine of Saffara Travel Ltd, for always pulling a rabbit out of the hat. Wahu particularly for being ever so patient about my obsession with Exit Seats. Thank you, Jo, for being the unofficial eye in the sky and for always calling my bullshit. Thank you, Vera and Alex of Moran Capital Management for always knowing where to place my eggs because left to my own devices I would fry them.

BEST PEOPLE IN 2017
You guys. No, I mean it. You could be doing a million things with your lives on Tuesdays but you come here and give me your time and it’s mostly a laugh. I appreciate your numerous emails and your wide ranging comments. I know everybody despises the first-to-comment brigade but come on, every family have that special child and it’s our duty to show them love and to continue praying for them.

As per our tradition, I will give you an opportunity to ask me anything between now and 5pm today and I will answer. Nothing personal surely. Don’t ask me what you wouldn’t answer yourself. So then, no mention of foreheads.

Assuming that this post has been posted at 10am sharp, I’ve probably just landed in Kisumu and I’m probably driving to shags as we speak, so I might not respond immediately to the comments, but when I arrive in shags (which is NOT Kisumu!!!) I will sit under a tree and get cracking on my laptop.

Thank you again for reading and for being absolute sports, have a wonderful holiday and stay safe. Shall we meet here again on the 9th of January, if God agrees?

So long, fancy pants.

A heart warming story of overcoming adversity in Kenya

Posted on January 17th, 2018
Categories: News

I met a homeless addict and recognised my childhood friend

By Megha Mohan
BBC Stories
Wanja and Hinga eat lunch together. Hinga's eyes are bulging and he looks emaciated and disturbed.Image copyrightWANJA MWAURA

A chance meeting between two childhood friends helped one begin a journey back from drug addiction after many years living on the street.

It was early October and Wanja Mwaura, 32, was on her way to the market in Lower Kabaete, not far from Nairobi, when she heard someone shout out her name.

She looked up and was surprised to see a tall man with bulging eyes, an emaciated frame, dirtied black overalls and an equally stained thick woollen hat, sitting on the side of the road. She did not recognise him.

But when Patrick “Hinga” Wanjiru, 34, introduced himself, Wanja says she found herself in shock. Standing before her was a friend she had known since she was seven years old.

“Patrick, or Hinga as we called him, and I had met at primary school in 1992,” says Wanja, who is a nurse from Kiambu County, just outside the Kenyan capital.

“Hinga used to be a great soccer player all throughout school. We nicknamed him ‘Pele’.”

Wanja and Hinga sit on the side of the road, she is touching his head.Image copyrightWANJA MWAURA

Hinga was estranged from his parents and lived with his grandmother in a squat. When she couldn’t afford to pay his school fees, he was forced to skip classes. Eventually they were evicted even from the squat. But against all the odds, Hinga did well in his exams, until his grandmother died – then he dropped out of school and his life began to take a downward trajectory.

Hinga started abusing drugs, first marijuana and then heroin. He spent hours sifting through garbage to find things he could sell on the streets.

Hinga and Wanja lost touch.

Wanja and Hinga hug in the street.Image copyrightWANJA MWAURA

When they met again, more than 15 years later, Hinga had been homeless for more than a decade. He looked nothing like the childhood friend who had once been known as “Pele”.

Sensing Wanja’s dismay, Hinga reassured her that he had only wanted to say hello. She asked him if she could buy him lunch. At a local cafe, she ordered the dish she remembered had been his favourite years earlier – pork ribs and mashed potatoes. She said he appeared distracted, unable to finish sentences.

“I gave him my mobile telephone number and told him to call me if he needed anything,” Wanja says.

Over the next couple of days, Hinga borrowed phones and would regularly call his childhood friend, often just to hear her voice for a chat. He told her that he was committed to getting clean from drugs.

“I decided then, that something needed to be done to help him,” Wanja says.

Wanja and Hinga sit on a desk indoors as she teaches him from a book. Hinga is smiling.Image copyrightWANJA MWAURA

Taking to social media, Wanja appealed to her friends to see if she could raise funds for drug rehabilitation.

“Rehab here is very expensive and I had no ways of raising funds on my own,” she says.

“We set up a crowdfunding page, but we only managed to raise around 41,000 Kenyan shillings (£300) initially. However the cost of nine days rehabilitation at Chiromo Lane Medical Center in Nairobi was more than 100,000 KES.

“I wasn’t sure how we would be able to cover this.”

But Wanja had promised to help Hinga, so she took him to the centre anyway, unsure how they would cover the cost.

Wanja and Hinga hug. Hinga has completed his 9 day detox and looks healthier.Image copyrightWANJA MWAURA

A spokesperson for the rehab programme says Hinga was a dedicated patient, who committed fully to the nine-day detox.

Within days Hinga had gained weight and his concentration improved. Wanja took to Facebook to speak about her pride at her friend’s transformation in such a short period of time.

“A week ago Hinga and I couldn’t hold a normal conversation without me trying to hold his head up with my hand in order for him to concentrate. Today we can have a normal conversation with him confidently looking at me,” she wrote.

Mombasa businessman Fauz Khalid spotted Wanja’s public post on Facebook and said he wanted to share the story on a wider platform. He posted the photos on Twitter and his post has now been shared more than 50,000 times.

After that, the Kenyan media began to cover the story and Chiromo Lane Medical Center agreed to waive the entire fee for Hinga’s treatment.

Wanja says this was “a blessing”, but she was keen for her friend to undergo a more sustained recovery, and is now raising funds for him to follow a 90-day programme at The Retreat Rehabilitation Centre, where he is currently staying.


Heroin in Kenya

  • It is estimated that between 20,000 and 55,000 Kenyans inject heroin but Kenya does not have a government-funded rehabilitation facility
  • According to the International Drugs Policy Consortium, heroin was used first in cities which were transit points (such as Mombasa) before spreading to Nairobi and other parts of the country
  • The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse, a Kenyan government research body, says it is monitoring 25,000 intravenous drug users around the country – the number of people who snort heroin could be even higher, according to the Anti-Narcotics Unit officials
  • Most of the world’s heroin is produced in Afghanistan, and reaches markets in Europe and North America via Central Asia and the Balkans – but the quantity of heroin seized off the coast of Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania has increased exponentially in the last eight years, leading the UN to conclude that the “Southern Route” is growing in importance

Wanja and Hinga, who is giving thumbs up sign and looking happy sitting on chairs at rehab centre.Image copyrightWANJA MWAURA

“Unfortunately, there is still great stigma around drug abuse in Kenya,” Wanja says. This may be one reason why the government doesn’t provide free drug rehab treatment.

“Rehabs are expensive and out of reach for many people, not only in Kenya but also the greater part of Africa. I am committed to crowdsourcing so I can support my friend at this time,” says Wanja.

“Wanja is an angel sent from God. I owe her my life. She has stuck with me more closely than a brother or a sister,” Hinga tells the BBC.

On Twitter several users echoed this sentiment. Abraham Wilbourne‏, a financial analyst from Nairobi, told Wanja “You have a seat in heaven!” Many called her a “mashujaa”, which means “hero” in Swahili.

“People say I changed Hinga’s life, but he changed mine too.” says Wanja. “I realise now that a small act can change a person’s life.”

Join the conversation – find us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat and Twitter.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-41715839

RAZOR GIRL book review by Claire Minns

Posted on November 24th, 2017
Categories: News

 RAZOR GIRL by Carl Hiaasen

The author, Carl Hiaasen, was first recommended to me by Dudley, one of my more erudite London friends – the sort that have at least four books on the go. He told me that he first read one of Hiaasen’s books while on a flight to somewhere. He nearly fell out of his seat with laughther and consequently upset his gin and tonic, which we all know, is not a laughing matter.

I’m not usually drawn to comic fiction but Carl Hiaasen is a master story teller, albeit quirky with crazy plots, crazier characters and anti-heroes. They are crime novels but “not as we know it”.

Razor Girl is set in Florida. In fact all Hiaasen screwball adventures are based in the Sunshine State where the author was born and raised. Another Hiassen trait is his dramatic openings. They “hit you like the first blast of hot sticky air on a Florida morning” as far as the New York Times book reviewer, T Rafferty is concerned.

Razor Girl doesn’t disappoint.

This hilarious tale kicks off with a redhead who rams her car onto an unsuspecting motorist whilst simultaneously shaving, what polite society would describe, her bikini line!

Notwithstanding this madness, Hiaasen further includes characters such as a personal injury lawyer hooked on deodorant with Viagra properties, a guy who steals sand to replenish beaches, plus various mobsters and dubious Hollywood agents.

Razor Girl may not be to everyone’s taste but it will certainly put a smile on your face.

If you are having trouble finding books for your children, Carl Hiaasen also writes children’s fiction. Do not fear, however, the plots are not quite as risqué as his adult versions! One such book that had my 12 year old thoroughly engaged was Chomp.

The Art of Self-Exploration by Tazim Elkington

Posted on November 2nd, 2017
Categories: News

As we discuss exploration and its myriad faces in all and every aspect of life, discovering and learning are the direct outcomes of any new encounter we choose. Suffice to say that we have evolved to a place where the need/want and requirement to go within is now becoming a big part of our culture. What does it really mean to begin the journey inward to the self? It is an Art that begs demystifying as there are so many forms and methods that offer the possibility of self-exploration.

What is the necessity for doing this? Why is it no longer acceptable to exist on auto-pilot? The responses to these questions are simple; we cannot afford to live a mediocre, conditioned, imposed life anymore. As the world evolves at an exponential rate through technology, art, business, globalization and beyond; we must take responsibility of where we each operate from to accelerate the momentum and evolve consciously. These are not just words on a page and a woo-woo way of thinking. This is a reality that requires individual commitment towards the higher and collective good for humanity at its most primordial and advanced levels.

Each one of us is made from the same stuff and what differentiate us are the realities we create in our mind. These are translated through our five sensory perceptions added to the sixth most important sense – the mind. This beautiful place in our brain that is the storage converter of all our experiences and input endeavors to seek its own truth continuously. How incredible is it that we now understand that being conscious can boomerang and multiply the process?

As we seek a better understanding of the sixth and infinitely most important sense, the mind, we create a pathway down the road less traveled. Our five senses, as important as they are, unbridled can cause absolute distraction and in many cases destruction. They keep us engaged in everything outside of us. The needs to taste, smell, hear, see and touch are pleasure centers that keep us wanting more and more. There is rarely an ‘enough’ or a ‘stop’ sign as we perfect the external input that temporarily satisfy our beings. We ‘feed’ each of the senses with all that we possibly can to avoid disillusions and dissatisfaction internally.

Taking into account that the mind is the hardware, how and what do we feed our minds? Do we take stock of what it has been fed? An alternative perspective would be to consider the parallels of the mind with the digestive system. When we eat, there is the digestion process and the body takes what it needs for the various components for physical growth and wellbeing. Then it eliminates what it does not need.
With our minds we keep eating everything and how do we eliminate that which does not contribute to our personal growth and evolution?
The process of self-exploration is therefore not only a necessity but a dire need to create a ground of wellbeing within ourselves. There are various ways in which to begin the process. Questioning what you believe is a great space to start. Everything that we have ever experienced has emotions tied to each experience. We either want more of that which makes us happy so we keep trying to recreate those experiences and do our best to avoid the emotions that cause distress. Why is then that we have more of what we don’t want and less of what we want? It’s the emotional entanglement that keeps us suspicious and entrenched in our pasts and creates the war between what we want and what we don’t.

Meditation, a secular non-religious practice of going inwards in silence, creates the space for us to unwind and de-stress. This gives the mind the possibility to go within and start eliminating daily stresses as well as de-layering the cognitive way we operate. This is one of the key elements to creating a quiet and restful space in the mind. In the complexity of 14 hour days and instant 24/7 downloads as well as constant activity where do you find the space for the mind to be mindful?

Tazim Elkington – The Indian Black Butterfly!

Paradigm Shifter, Trainer, Writer, Speaker, Hypnotherapist, Poet and Qreator of the ‘Q Factor’

Checkout my website: www.tazim.net – Video: A proud Kenyan woman

Mobile: +254-714-434-574

Truth is when what people think, say and do are in harmony!

 

The Book Club   –   Claire Minns

Posted on October 24th, 2017
Categories: News

So many books, so little time”. Frank Zappa.

One of the first recorded book clubs or societies, as they were referred to then, was formed in 1868 called Sorosis – not to be confused with cirrhosis, an affliction that could be quite apposite after attending too many modern day book clubs! However, I digress.

Sorosis was founded by a female columnist, Jane Cunningham when she and some of her colleagues were barred from a New York press event honouring Charles Dickens. Consequently, inspired by Sorosis, women across America began to form similar literary societies.

Jump to the Nineties, 1996 to be precise and we witness the advent of the Television Book club famously started by Oprah Winfrey where she selected on air, a book each month for viewers to read.

Following on in her footsteps, at the beginning of the Noughties, well known daytime presenters Richard and Judy in the UK also started a book club – the rest, as they say is history.

Today, women are no longer barred from many events or places except gentlemen’s clubs such as Whites of London and Kenya Fly Fishers Club’s annual bread chucking competition, sorry, dinner at the Muthaiga Club.

Instead we meet because of a sense of comradeship, love of reading and yes, if we’re honest, a spot of imbibing.

My husband still mistakes our book club for a wine club. As one male jokester quipped “My wife joined a book club. They primarily read wine labels”.

Nevertheless, aside from indulging in a glass or two and convivial bonding, one of the principal advantages of the book club is being introduced to a book you wouldn’t have ever dreamed of choosing.

One such book was recently foisted on us. It was about North Korea which didn’t sound too enticing. But it was. An engrossing, albeit harrowing read that has stuck with me. It’s called The Orphan Masters Son by Adam Johnson and incidentally, won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 2013. I would never have found this gem without my book club.

There are various modus operandi for book clubs. The most common usually involves around six to eight members who try to meet once a month. Each member takes turns to choose a book to be read and discussed at the next mutually agreed date. If the book choice was a success we discuss it for at least 20 minutes or so before turning our attention to other vital issues such as whose child got into the first team, or which Ottolenghi recipe is most favoured! If the book choice has bombed then it might just command a few minutes maximum of our deserving deliberations – cruel, but fair. Whoever chooses the book buys them for their group.

Receiving a pristine new book each month is a real treat. To feel that wonderful anticipation of a riveting read, after glancing the glowing reviews on the back cover.

Usually I rely on a Kindle to satisfy my reading addiction, mainly due to the ease with which you can acquire any book when there isn’t a Waterstones nearby! In contrast, it’s a pleasure to have a physical book that once read, you can then put proudly on your bookshelf.

I leave you with a quotation from the late, great Groucho Marx:

Outside of the dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read!”

Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt October – November

Posted on October 11th, 2017
Categories: News

  YES!

The powers that be at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport have totally re-organised their parking regime with effect from 1st September. It all (well almost all) makes sense. You’ll re-call my whinge about the brand new multi-storey car park at the airport in the last edition, which was reserved for staff only. Well that’s changed. I hope in some small way that my whinge might have made a difference. There I go blowing my own trumpet, now where did that turn of phrase come from?

The term in its present form is 19th century. Anthony Trollope, in his work Australia and New Zealand, 1873 observed: “In the colonies… when a gentleman sounds his own trumpet he ‘blows.’” That is clearly commenting on what must already have been a well-known phrase, although there aren’t known printed citations to support that from before 1873. The use of ‘blows’ is interesting too, as that matches the current US use as a slang term to describe anything bad or worthless.

 I do go on….

The multi-story car park is now for the exclusive use of us mere mortals, all 4 levels and 1,253 parking slots. Hallelujah! Some other parking lots have already been closed, to include the long-term and staff parking between terminals 1B and 1D.

The central square parking lots will close on 30th September (interestingly 120 parking slots here were reserved for Kenya Airways staff – no wonder it was full most of the time). The parking lots near terminal two are now for staff and taxis only.

Parking in front of the multi-storey car park usually reserved for the red number plate brigade and the self-importants is now closed; except for emergency vehicles.

New drop off and pick-up areas for all terminals have been introduced and are limited to a maximum of five minutes – no parking or waiting permitted. In other words you have to be actively picking or dropping and nothing else.

Mingi thanks to the Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director/CEO Jonny Andersen and his team. It seems our international gateway to the world is at last heading towards its true potential.

While I have his attention one last whinge, why are the escalators post immigration clearance at departures been out of order for the past nine-months?

The pride of Africa – Kenya Airways has been in the news a lot lately, from creditors being coerced into converting debt into equity to finally gaining clearance for direct flights from Nairobi to the US. Although I have my doubts whether this long thin route would be profitable in the mid term. Perhaps KQ’s Skyteam partner Delta Airlines will launch the service it had previously announced from the US. Never the less these flights will be music to the ears of Kenya’s tourism industry as it will to our business community.

Their new Polish CEO is bringing in a management team from his own village which is a little disconcerting. There surely are lots of bright young Kenyans out there, that if considered would shine.

I’ve been doing a lot of travelling, perhaps too much of late. A couple of trips to the UK, some train travel which was nice for a change – and enduring some pretty awful weather on both trips.

Next up is a trip to India, which I was in two minds about until the last minute. Coming from Kenya you require both yellow fever a polio inoculations, I didn’t have the later and was time barred as you have to have had the inoculation 60-days prior to departure.

Armed with a little grease money I went to try my luck at a hospital of note in the city, in an attempt to get the shot back-dated. I saved myself the embarrassment when I was cheerfully told that I couldn’t have the shot (it’s a sugar cube actually), as I was over 65 years old. Another hallelujah moment – not being over 65 but not requiring the shot.

I’ll be visiting Delhi for a couple of days, I’m fascinated by the British architect Edward Lutyens who designed a host of government buildings in New Delhi to include the India Gate, the Jaipur Column, the National Archives of India, Baroda House, Raipath (‘Kings Way’ an east-west ceremonial boulevard), Rashtrapathi Bhavan (the former Viceroys home, now the residence of the President of India) and Janpath (‘Peoples Way’ the main north-south road through New Delhi). I’m looking forward to seeing them.

He is rumoured to have designed a number of buildings in Nairobi, but I can find no conclusive evidence that this is fact.

Then it’s onto Chandigarh in the far north of the Punjab before continuing onto Kasauli a former hill station in the foothills of the Himalaya’s to stay in a wonderfully named house called ‘Windsong’. It belongs to an American Sikh friend of mine – we are both trustees of a global benevolent fund and will be joined by our leader who is from Norway. There is work to be done and no doubt there will be time to enjoy the sights and sounds of this part of India.

Then it’s onto Hyderabad for the Skål World Congress where Mombasa will be confirmed as the venue for its 2018 World Congress. Kenya in the limelight again.

Hurrah!

For the latest edition of Travel News, click here: http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

October-November Cover 2017

 

Why MEN should do Pilates as well! – By Your Trainer Karina

Posted on October 5th, 2017
Categories: News

Why MEN should do Pilates as well!

What is it with men? Every time I talk to one about Pilates I get that funny smile, like I am not quite taken seriously….. and then the comment: “oh, that is that special training for women” or even better “for pregnant women”. Guys – Pilates is for men too!!! In fact, it was created by a man – Joseph Pilates!

Over the years quite a few men have found their way into my studio, either for mat classes or to work with me one on one on the Pilates machines, and were always very surprised at how hard it can be. Most of them left the studio drenched in sweat!

So what is Pilates? Pilates is a full body workout that focuses on the Core. (And to kill another myth while I am at it: your core-strength has nothing to do with the number of sit-ups you can do!) Every exercise is performed with a maximum of control, with focus on every muscle that is working and steady breathing. The wonderful thing about Pilates is that it can be taken from beginner’s level to a very advanced and challenging level. Some of the world`s best male Athletes have discovered the benefits of Pilates for their athletic performance. Here are some reasons that will hopefully get you started as well:

Core Strength

As you work through the movements or hold certain positions, a lot of control and stabilization is required which comes from your core. Hello Six-pack!

Discover new muscles

During a Pilates workout you`ll work a lot of the smaller muscles, which usually do not get a lot of attention during general workouts. The increased strength in those “under-used” muscles can reduce your risk of injuries. Furthermore, your posture will improve and your body will be more aligned.

Flexibility

Men are usually less flexible than women, but that does not mean that has to stay that way. “Strengthen and lengthen” – increase your range of motion which will make you more subtle, and not just for your exercise routines!

Body Consciousness

Pilates will bring a new awareness to your body which you will benefit from in your other workouts. Do not just focus on the amount of weight you can lift – in Pilates you will have to slow down to isolate specific muscle groups and feel the effect it has on them.

Stress Reduction

As I said before, Pilates asks you to slow down. Focus on your inhale and exhale – stay within your body and leave the stress of your everyday life outside. You will leave the studio feeling the workout and at the same time relaxed, centred and elongated.

Pilates is a workout you can always fit in, no matter how tired you are. It will make you stronger for your runs, get rid of your back pain or compliment some high impact sports. Give it a try. I look forward to seeing you at my studio.

Your Trainer Karina Hübsch

 

School’s back in – by Africa Expat Wives Club

Posted on September 19th, 2017
Categories: News

School’s back in. Spare a thought for the newbie mums…

New mum Nicola has 1,000 questions but most important is that the kids are settled.

It’s a sunny, clear morning as Nicola and her daughter cross the spacious school campus to reach the classroom. Bye Mummy,” Emma says, giving her mum a squeeze, “perhaps you’ll find some friends today too?

Emma’s form tutor steps out of the classroom, gestures for Emma to come inside and gives Nicola an indulgent grin. “New mums tea this morning is it?” Nicola blushes as Emma skips happily into her brand new classroom, immediately joining a chatter of happy children who are gathered around an interactive history display. “It’s in the main hall. Don’t miss the samosas by the way!” The teacher says kindly.

Nicola takes a breath as the school bell rings. The family’s arrival in Nairobi from the UK during the summer holidays presented a fairly steep learning curve for Nicola.  First she had to get a handle on the slightly erratic local driving and then learn to navigate her way around the neighbourhood. The children had fed giraffes, watched baby elephants being bottle fed and picnicked inside the national park but what they were all looking forward to most was the start of school.

Nicola and the kids had had a full tour around the campus during the holidays. They loved the outdoorsy feel of the school with big, bright classrooms and once on the school mailing list, Nicola had received a flurry of breezy, information packed messages reassuring her that her children would be in safe hands.  Meanwhile, settling into home life was more of a challenge. Nicola had been happy to accept a slightly dilapidated rental property for the sake of a sizeable garden but had not anticipated fine dust like cocoa powder that got everywhere, frequent power outages and a property manager who refused to pick up his phone to sort out the dodgy electrics.

A week into starting school and while Nicola’s children have settled in to their new lives like ducks to water, Nicola is feeling slightly bereft.  She’s looking forward to the opportunity to meet some fellow mums; not least in order to find out which teabags to buy, why some supermarkets are poorly stocked and ask how anyone manages without plastic bags.  Not to mention the million questions she has about drinking water, house staff and recommendations for a good exercise class or hairdresser.

Nicola enters the hall and is welcomed by the registrar. They start chatting about where Nicola is from and how her children are adjusting to the new school. Another woman, Cathy, walks in. She’s an old Nairobi hand and can’t help herself from chipping in. “Oh hello, are you new?” Cathy says, eyeing up Nicola’s name badge.

Yes,” says Nicola, “well, we’ve been here for a month now.

Oh brilliant, I’ve been here for nearly seven years. You’re going to love it. I’m not new but my second child has just joined so I thought I’d come along for the tea.  I know most of the teachers and they’re all great. So how are you finding it?

Good,” says Nicola, “the children love it but it’s been a bit harder for me.” She’s about to launch into her raft of questions when she’s interrupted by the Head Teacher tapping a microphone.

We are delighted to have your children at Hillcrest and I know that they will all be very happy.” The Head Teacher says. Nicola grins at Cathy. She’s glad that she’s found such a good fit for her kids. It’s certainly one less thing to worry about.

*Hillcrest International Schoolswhich includes Early Years, Primary and Secondary campuses is one of a group of high quality, British curriculum schools in Nairobi.

For more information on Nairobi schools, click here:  Moving here? What to expect from Nairobi schools.

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Tazim Elkington – The Indian Black Butterfly!

Posted on September 11th, 2017
Categories: News

Paradigm Shifter, Trainer, Writer, Speaker, Hypnotherapist, Poet and Qreator of the ‘Q Factor’

“Truth is when what people think, say and do are in harmony!”

Tazim is the embodiment or living example of an inspiring and authentic life being lived. The talented “paradigm shifter” is credited to motivating, stimulating and encouraging many groups and individuals in society today with her unconventional strategies to living a more fulfilled and rewarding life. I recently attended a Roatary Club Lavington talk given by Tazim – it was incredible how the crowd started off with a level of apprehension and by the end, Tazim could not get away! We even tried a small hypnosis relaxation process – which left some sleepy, others amazed and most curious!

With her natural global and local appeal, Tazim has a gift for connecting with people from all ethnicities, ages, creeds, and sees every human being as the individual and unique human being they are. This is a woman who has a powerful presence, in the boardroom, in the village, slum or any social gathering. Her presence speaks the right to freedom, balance, peace, joy and endless application of fulfilled potentiality.

She’s a natural and trained public speaker, a mother and a grandmother, and has learnt a variety of methodologies and concepts over the years. These have propelled her to create her very own unique transformational systems that break the limitation and boundaries that restrict individual freedoms. Tazim’s words go straight to the heart and resonate with every human being. She is a ‘figure and personality on the move’.

Tazim however is known for her gift of writing her collection of pros entitled “Song of the Soul”. Her work is an expression and connection to the inner self. Deep, real, meaningful and enquiring. Extracts of her work have previously been published weekly in the Standard newspaper under the title ’Just a thought’ by Tazim Elkington. Tazim graciously suggested that we load these up onto our Word of Mouth page – go and have a look!

Tazim began helping people shift paradigms by applying lessons she had learnt from her own life. She has a very strong and almost psychic instinctual understanding of the human spirit. She works with organizations to support them in finding their balance and vision. Her letters of reference from corporates and individuals are so personal and impressive, to have made those connections,   truly shows her ability to understand each and every individuals needs. She works with individuals in order to help them understand their power and accept the gifts of life.

She works with communities to help them realize their common ground and build a fulfilled and sustainable future for all concerned. She creates customized presentations, concepts and suggestions to suit specific needs. She typically uses a combination of many philosophies in her work resulting in her own unique healing and progressive techniques that can be applied to any situation.

The Indian Black butterfly is all about revolutionary social change one person at a time. From one-on-one interactions, workshops, seminars and various unconventional methods to reaching and creating lasting change and fulfillment that is impactful and sustainable. The “Q” factor is literally infectious and can be applied on a personal, relational, professional and organizational level to a collective scale. The methods are distinct, unconventional and unique in nature and unlike any self-help, personal development, organizational change you have ever read, experienced or heard of. The Indian Black Butterfly is constantly changing and evolving to meet new and current emerging circumstances. Tazim seeks to educate and elevate the experience we have of living meaningful lives and achieving desired goals. The Indian Black Butterfly is fearless, accountable, quantifiable, colourful, clear, de-layering, quick, current, applicable, simple, effective, long lasting and most importantly REAL.

Take action for an unparalleled journey of self-discovery, awareness and achievement. Wow – what a breath of fresh air, an inspiration and amazing lady!

For more information, please contact Tazim on phone: +254714434574 or email: [email protected] or visit her website www.tazim.net.

Irene Auma – an inspirational lady bringing yoga to the slums

Posted on August 30th, 2017
Categories: News

 

“I believe in contributing to the wellness of all beings across the world by using the transformative power of yoga”

 

Irene Auma is a Certified Baptiste Instructor and graduate of the first team of Africa Yoga Project. She has additional certifications in teaching kids yoga with Next Generation Yoga and Yoga for the Special  Child.  Irene believes in contributing to the wellness of all beings across the world by using the transformative power of yoga. She feels everybody should practise yoga because it heals many wounds and promotes unity, connection and being of service around the world. The Slums in Nairobi can be lacking of possibility potential.  By bringing yoga into the Slum communities, we have brought in new possibilities for many. The most important thing yoga has taught Irene is standing for the possibility of each of her students and serving her community. Irene believes doing yoga together in the community motivates her and she can not give up. Her motto is: “I stand on hope”.

  Irene has some very impressive qualifications and experience, as listed below:

QUALIFICATIONS:
Baron Baptiste Yoga Teacher Training Level 1 (2009, Diani, Kenya) Baron Baptiste’s Leadership Workshop (2010, Nairobi, Kenya)
Baron Baptiste Yoga Teacher Training Level 2 (2013, Tulum, Mexico) Next Generation Yoga Teacher Training For Kids (2013, Nairobi, Kenya) Yoga For The Special Child Training (2014, Nairobi, Kenya)
Baron Baptiste Yoga Teacher Training Level 3 (2015, New York, USA) Yoga Behind Bars Teacher Training (2016, Seattle, USA)
Prison Yoga Project Teacher Training (2016, Maryland, USA)

EXPERTISE:
Vinyasa and Power Yoga
Private instruction and group classes
Yoga for children and Yoga for the Special Child Pre-natal Yoga

EXPERIENCE:
Africa Yoga Project Resident Instructor: Guiding groups of new and experienced yoga practitioners at the Shine Yoga Centre.

Community Yoga Instructor
Teaching community groups of various backgrounds (corporate, prisons, schools)

Private Power & Vinyasa Instructor Guiding individuals on proper alignment and growing their personal practice.

Private specialist Instructor Conducting Pre-natal Yoga sessions for mothers and yoga with children.

Pop-up Yoga Classes
Teaching fun and entry level classes at malls, festivals and various other spaces.

CONTACT Irene on 0720383725 or e-mail: [email protected]

Testimonials:

“I have studied yoga on 3 continents and Irene is the most outstanding yoga teacher I have ever encountered”.

“She teaches with radiant energy”.

 

Escaping The Norm – By Tazim Elkington

Posted on August 16th, 2017
Categories: News

It is comforting when one looks back at life and feels they escaped from situations that could have been daunting, dangerous or disruptive. It is far from comforting when one thinks of lost opportunities, relationships gone awry, so-called bad choices or miscarried ventures. How we view our experiences is based on the courage and resilience we have built along the way. It is easier to blame others or the circumstances to escape from accepting life as it is.

Many believe that money creates a hassle-free life. Others believe religion is the saving grace. Some believe that life happens and they have no choice and others believe we are in complete control of our destinies. Then there are those wise ones who know that unless one takes responsibility for every experience, emotion, thought, action and outcome there can be no freedom in this life.

Escapism is the theme of the 21st century with many finding comfort in various belief systems and others in addictions. However, a lot of people are beginning to question their existence and reasons for being on this planet.

Escaping from our realties is about dodging the truth about ourselves. More often than not I hear many say ‘I hate being alone’ or ‘I cannot sit down for a moment’ or ‘ I don’t know what it means to STOP’
We have forgotten how to ‘be’ and instead of human ‘beings’ we have become human ‘doings’
This takes away from what we are placed here on earth for. Life is fleeting and we have the opportunity within this small window to really live our lives. Instead the need for distraction is becoming uncannily foreign to our natural state of being and becoming the norm of our existence.

Marketers are the epitome of escapism. They know how to manipulate, convince and divert the minds of the masses. From the latest designs on billboards, a flashy car, monetary promises to losing weight, finding the right partner and the list goes on. One does not need to look far to find a reason or need to escape as we are surrounded by whatever takes our whim.

The problem is society does not accept strong individuals with their own views because they do not follow like sheep. They want sheep that will stay in their flocks, not question authority and therefore be controlled and serve obediently. However, those who question authority and the “order” of things, those retain their dynamic individuality are like the lions who walk alone.

Lions are free from conditioning and move freely conscious of their true identity without having to look for anything outside themselves to find comfort. The truth is everyone is born a lion but conditioned to think like a sheep. Lions don’t need to escape the truth of themselves, they are free within.

Here’s my challenge to you, what can you do to awaken the sleeping lion within? Can you escape the so called norm’s today to a quieter, more centered place inside calling out to you? Can you hear the lion’s roar as it asks you to come home to yourself?