Monday, July 23, 2012

Gentlemen of Jazz - Sierra Lounge

The Sierra Platinum Lounge pulled a novel one on the Kenyan scene and held a Jazz night this past Saturday. The Gentlemen part of it sounded spectacularly interesting so I though why not? A couple of girlfriends and I made it a plan.

I'm not much of a socialite but the idea of an evening jazz event complete with dinner struck me as a non-jeans event. So I went out of my way and picked out a dress (I never wear dresses other than at weddings and even then it's with effort) for the evening. As I was feeling very un-me-ish (what with the dress and all) I got there on time. 7:30pm sharp which was the time the event was slotted to begin.

My first impression of the venue was disappointing. The chairs had been arranged  the way they would be at a press conference; lined up facing the stage. I'd expected table seating. Then the venue is filled with pillars that seemingly erect themselves when your not looking blocking the view of the stage.

With my initial frown out of the way, I sat me down next to my pals and ordered up a drink. Being your average Kenyan I was very watchful of how the drinks were being dispensed. You see the admittance promised dinner and drinks so I wasn't sure if it was 1, 2 or 3 per person. Again as an average Kenyan, you can imagine the pulse of joy that hit me when I realized it was an open bar. They could belt out all the crap they wanted in the name of jazz but I'd still be happy.

It quickly became apparent that a jazz event is not the venue to snag yourself a man in this country. Absolutely all men present (save perhaps for the waiters) were accounted for. The one guy who seemed to be staring inquisitively at a far away spot in the horizon thus garnering himself an air of sophisticated mystery was probably just short sighted and trying to make out the band. And besides, his chick turned up before long.

So the first guy on stage was Anto Neo Soul. He has a good voice and sings well. For me, this was overshadowed by the way he went ahead to lecture us a number of times. First he called out the guys for not making an effort to dress up. Then he called all of us out for daring to speak in a pedestrian manner while attending a jazz event .. He called for more sophistication from his audience. Then he told us he was famous coz he's in Shugga ... Ita waaaaiter!!!

Next up was "The Itch". These guys blew my mind! I'd seen the main singing guy (who's name I can't recall or find online) walking around the lounge and had thought that he looked familiar in a commonplace manner. Kind of like that face that's always there at some music event or other. When he stepped up to the mic I realized that he was very far from the boy-next-door. And the way he carried those notes with eyes shut and head thrown back in total engrossment, made him very sexy indeed with his small shirt, fitting jeans and loose dreadlocks (Spinster focus!). I was happy. There's him but there's also the band. The way those guys played made it clear that they had a very personal relationship with their instruments and their fond interaction had payed off. I'm a rock fan myself and what those guys did on stage satiated my rock loving soul.

Maqbul was host and that was a good thing as he has an easy sense of humour and a great deep voice. So he informs us that Change Quartet (which had been my star attraction to the event) had changed its name to something that sounded like Gabon (maybe Cabon? Quoi bonne?) So seems they lost one of their number being the sax guy. And seems said sax guy pulled a dramatic move little before they were to get on stage. The show must go on. That being said they were OK. Couldn't help feeling a little sorry for them. Especially since they were playing immediately after such an itchingly brilliant performance.

For the Kenyans I must explain this. Dinner was made up of an array of bitings. I know that when I say this, what comes to mind are fish fingers, chicken wings and prawns. No. I think that what they served draws from the very etymology of the word - a bite. You'd get those Chinese ceramic soup spoons with a carefully measured cube of say pork on it. Then there was the fishy thing I came to learn was lobster. The oily thing I came to learn was lamb & rice. And a wonderful soup. To my great chagrin, these small servings filled me up. And besides, as a kawaida Kenyan, drinks through an open bar are far more impressive than food.

All in all I'd say it was a worthwhile evening.


I find that a lot of my friends have gotten themselves into relationships. Contrary to what I may have expected of myself, I'm not actually jealous. It's sad being left behind in the "not-picked pile". Sort of makes me think of that movie that would always come around Christmas time about a train that carried orphans across the US in the hope that they would find families to adopt them. I think everyone gets taken in the end, but I always think how awful for them as they go along and contemplate their fate! What if they're never picked? Anyhoo, back to the line of thought, I find that a number of my friends seem to have settled. They didn't find the man/woman they would have wanted, so are making do with the ones they're with. (Of course some are ecstatically happy with partners presented to them by cupid himself .. (*curses under breath*))

I find this so very sad. I know I'm probably a hopeless romantic but, No! People shouldn't settle for anyone else than their hearts desire, should they? My pal recently told me he's aging (he's in his early 30's) and his Mama is convenient. He doesn't have the energy or the time to go around searching for a soulmate, so he's settling. We'll be taking mbuzi's soon. Another lady I know says she's now looking to be kept by an older married man. At 40, she doesn't still harbour dreams of finding her own man.

How do these relationships progress? Does say the Mama in my pal's case know that she was just at the right place at the right time? If she does, does she care? Is she just so glad to have a man that she let's this slide? Does this come to affect their sex lives with each partner seeking fulfillment elsewhere? Is this the phenomena that keeps Jimmie Gathu gainfully employed in his'Fikiria' campaigns? Again for the other lady, is there a shelf life? A sell-by date? What is one to do if they find themselves rapidly approaching it?

In a slightly related story, apparently women in the southern part of this continent find women like me (and as such most women in Kenya I guess) very selfish. How dare you declare you want a man all to yourself? What about your fellow sisters? Have you no concern for them & society as a whole? There are not enough good men to go round! Mscheeeew!!!

I say live & let live!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Gym

I recently went back to the gym to try and get rid of Pot. Yes Pot is described as a proper noun as it's the one companion (second to God) who I can confirm has been a real presence with and (in profile) by me for the better part of my life. And the thing with Pot is that at any given time he always seems larger than he was before. So my friend's advice was to befriend Pot as he shall certainly always be there.

Anyhoo, I went back to the gym and was immediately struck by the culture shock that always gets me there. You see I went to the kind of high school that enshrined privacy. Our showers were closed stalls with 3 walls and a door and we had doors to our loos. The only person who ever saw your boobies was the school nurse when doing her intrusive kneading & pinching in the name of a pregnancy scan. Because of this background, you’ll never find a picture of me jumping over a barrier without my undies like a certain ex-tabasamu celebrity who will remain unnamed (reason being we don’t know said name). The point here isn't so much chastity as it is propriety.

In the gym, I will not be the one prancing from the steam room in nothing but the skin on my back and sitting around chatting idly with the rest as I wait to cool down. Yet this is exactly what happens. Women of absolutely all shapes and sizes throw self-consciousness to the wind and bear it all, all the while conducting conversations on the latest political intrigues! Aaaahg! I don’t care to see your backside or so much skin in one room! I’m happy to sweat it out in the aerobics class followed by a non-traumatizing shower!

What I’ve come to do is block it out. I try very hard not to look at people in the nude. I’m a little anti-social in the gym I guess as in the process of avoiding eye-contact, I keep my eyes firmly on my gym shoes (which have a stain at the bottom right corner). How do I change in & out of my gear? I actually seek out a stall to change inners as necessary. I’m the one who carries a few items of clothing to the shower to change once done (and thus spends more time in there than is strictly appropriate). I’ve noticed a few hostile looks (“Kwani anadhani ana nini hatujaona?”) but let me be me and I shall let you be.