Friday, February 11, 2011

"The one where I get arrested."

"I should have prayed this morning."
Those were my thoughts as we were ushered into the dimly lit holding cells at the High court. I had rolled off bed after hitting the snooze button five times and thought of how I was running late hence had no time for an elaborate morning prayer. I think I better start from the beginning...

We were stuck in traffic this morning at around 0720 hrs right next to car & general in industrial area. I was reading Heck: where the bad kids go and didn't notice the traffic cop approaching the mat. No other passenger seemed to notice him either. And if they did, they must have assumed he was on a routine check of the driver's documents. The cop talked briefly to the driver then walked round, opened the door and took the kange's seat. That's when it hit me that it had been a long while since I had last seen the kange.
"Peleka Gari Industrial area," the cop ordered.
The guy seated next to him requested we alight so we can get another mat.
"Mushuke mwende wapi na nyinyi pia ni mabusu. Mumevaa mshipi?"
And so we were all driven into the cop station -a stone's throw away from Car & General- where five uniformed officers -two gents and three ladies-were waiting for us. Oddly enough, I was not ruffled. A little irritated, but unfazed even as they herded us into a shabby looking office that looked more like a changing room; with uniforms hanging from hooks on the walls. I figured worst case scenario, they'd keep us waiting and let us go with a warning or ask for a bribe. The fact that they had not taken any of our personal effects was also comforting.
"With those women out there we're going to be here a while; waona vile wameshiba? Have a seat and relax," A handsome guy with a blinged cheeky smile informed me from the bench he sat on. He had been in our mat. I later found out his name is Em. And he'd been there before. Twice.
"What happens now?" I asked, as I sat next to him.
"Those women will insist we be taken to court," Em explained.
"Makadara?" asked the guy seated on his right. He was young, probably age mates with Em and dressed for the office (no blazer or tie). He later introduced himself to me as K.
"No idea. I've never been taken to court."
The door was padlocked from the outside and was opened a total of four times.
The first time was to bring in the second -and huuuge- assorted bunch of traffic law offenders; from matatu crews to other passengers who had also not bothered with the seat belt.
The second time, one of the female officers walked in to take the names of all those who had not worn seat belts. Most of the matatu crews seemed to know her for they crowded around her, some tried to sweet talk her into going easy on them. She handled them with the exasperated patience of a mother with unruly kids.
The third time, was to summon Em. Apparently he knew the OCS, the lucky bugger. He flashed us a smile and left. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the power of having friends in high places. I was so envious of the extra spring to his step; my insides churned green as I wished we could trade places if only for that one day. K scooted over, "You were going to school?" he asked.
I get that a lot. It's the converse sneakers & jeans look. People find it hard to associate it with an office. My cross body book bag doesn't help matters. We casually talked about our work places and traded stories of hilarious tales of friends who had had minor scrapes with the law; from being drunk, disorderly & disturbing public peace, to refusing to pay bus fares. And how it was going to be their turn to laugh at us. K was a cool guy. Easy to talk to and smiled with his eyes. A few minutes to Nine, the door opened for a fourth time. We were ordered out and bundled into an ancient matatu that nearly tipped over when it took on the Nyayo round about...
*Sights and sounds*
My holding cell mates were an interesting assortment of people:
There was C: We had been arrested together. She was a pint-sized young lady. Cute with doe-like eyes that made me want to hug her and tell her it was not so bad. She was scared, but not losing it.
S: She'd also been at industrial area. She was a simple lady, philosophical when I talked to her and had a quiet strength that I liked. She was to become my holding hands partner later on.
Mama Kanjo: Not her name but she told me she worked for city council as she sat down next to me. She was matronly and chatty. Talked with her hands, constantly touching my arm as if to emphasize a point. She had been arrested in Pangani also for not wearing a seat belt. Next to mama Kanjo was a slender, gorgeous lady in a trouser suit. The only time she spoke was to tell us -after mama Kanjo asked her- that she had been arrested because some money went missing at her workplace. What amazed me was that she didn't look worried at all...
A lady in a short denim skirt stood by the door constantly talking on phone in a manner that would have grated on our nerves had it carried over the din. I christened her Petunia. She was loud and a touch neurotic. On the bench across from me, was a serious looking woman I called Umbridge. She looked peeved and stiff the entire time we were there. Not even once did she relax or smile. Next to her was a lady with braids who had been arrested together with mama Kanjo; happy lady with a loud hearty laugh and finally, at the corner was a pregnant lady who had been arrested in Kilimani for abusing a cop.

I sent a text to R. "I'm in a holding cell @ high court. Didn't wear a cell mates."

R immediately called back. "You're such an ass for letting me know now. You ok?"

I grinned. He'd said ass in Kyuk. And no, he hadn't been referring to the donkey. "I'm good."

"They'll fine you 1k max. You have that on you?"


"Cool. I'm on my way." He clicked off.

Mama Kanjo was hilarious and kept us entertained. We didn't even notice time go by till a cop opened the door some minutes to 11a.m and told us to step out. The guys were already out in the hallway lined up. We lined up infront of them and paired up. After being briefed on how to behave when court was in session, we were ordered to hold hands then trekked up the stairs towards traffic court n.o 7. People stopped to stare and I didn't blame them. We were an odd mix of a hundred or so people, in pairs and holding hands. Once inside the court room, we waited quietly (with cell phones swtiched off) for an hour before the magistrate finally arrived...

*Court room lessons*

With no distractions, the waiting drove me nuts. It gave me too much time to brood. Made me restless as I thought of all the things I could be doing till a voice in my head pointed out that I'd be seated at my office desk drinking mud like coffee as I mumbled at the computer screen. Once in session, I got insight into the downside of matatu business. And it's not for the faint-hearted. I witnessed the extent at which a mat owner can get burned. Case in point; there was a Nissan mat owner who had five of his mats impounded. Reason? they were operating with defective parts (how a cop can pull over a vehicle & be able to tell it has defective parts puzzled me). The fine? 7k to the driver for driving a defective vehicle and 7k to the owner for allowing a defective car to operate, PER vehicle. If it's a bus, the driver and the owner are fined 15 k each per vehicle. Citi hoppa had a total of 12 buses impounded for having defective parts. And oh, for using the wrong route, there was a Nissan driver fined a whooping 20k. The figures made me wince. Personal car drivers were not spared either and their offenses varied; from driving with a mutilated driving license, jumping traffic lights to obstruction.

Important fact to note: The prosecutor is nothing like the one on Be the judge. The guy mumbled like he wasn't sure of what he was reading. I couldn't understand half of the stuff he was saying (the magistrate & court clerk seemed to have no trouble though). Worse, he kept picking his nose every time he spoke. And constantly dozed off as the court clerk droned on!

By 2 pm, the session was over. I caught a peek of R waving at me and grinning like crazy from the open doorway. He enjoyed this way more than was legal. Now we had to wait for the cashiers to come in and wait some more for our names to be called up to pay the fine. I kept thinking I needed an iced coffee badly. That and a cold shower. It would have been a long wait too had R not talked to the court clerk. I don't know what he told her (he knows her; long story), 'coz she called my name and asked for the fine before disappearing into an office outside. A few minutes later, she was back with the receipt. And just like that, I was finally free to go. I said by goodbyes to K, S and C and quickly left the court room.

"Outlaw," R teased with a smile.

"And sooo not Sons of Anarchy."

"Tell me about it."

And I did.


NB: The above is a 10th February entry retrieved from the cutting room floor after much internal deliberation

Thursday, February 3, 2011

60 shots o' rum with Nyambura...

Shiko-Msa and Cold turkey have been wondering what's up with the non-writing...

Lately I've been in a dither about what to write. You see the little voices vacationed in Shiko's area code over the holiday season. And while gallivanting there they indulged in a few (and 'a few' is loosely used here) colorful sippy sippys, you know; the ones with the little umbrellas. And before anyone could say "Mombasa raha!" they all went toooooes up...

We've just stepped into February and them voices are still struggling to get rid of the haze. Shiko has been kind enough to give them a spot o' hair of the dog-disguised as a fun tag.

So ladies and gents, I present to you 60 seconds (ahem: minutes) with Nyambura:

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be Slash.Then I realized there could only be one Slash so i moved on to wanting to be a teacher. And yes, I stole the classroom chalk, wrote on bedroom walls and bullied the younger siblings into being my pupils. Then one day I watched these totally cool female Taiko drummers on Japan video topics (on KBC once upon a time) and realized I had to be a drummer...

Fast forward to many many years later...

I still worship Slash. And kids have fortunately been spared the trauma that comes from being taught by yours truly. However, I do drum. In my day dreams that is. And In that oh-so beautiful jam session, I'm Carter Beauford.
(to truly understand why I'm floored by this guy, go to You tube and check out DMB's live concerts vids)

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

"...Have they chopped off your hands? Have they fried your brains? No? Good. Now get up and go back to the drawing board..."

What's the best piece of advice you ever gave?
Best? Sadly I don't seem to have an inner Sensei or Yoda to unleash on people...

What do you most enjoy about your job?
I could say that it has exposed me to the physical beauty of Kenya...well, there is that. And it's a beauty so wild, majestic & staggering, you want to get lost in it. But what always leaves me awestruck, are the crazily fascinating people I meet and even work with...their stories...their passions...

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
I can throw a dinner party yes? Cool. Now here be the guest list.

-Slash (don't get me started on him 'coz I could go on all day)

-Bill Cosby (Just the sight of him has me busting a gut...and he's pretty wise too)
-Vladimir Putin (Is it just me, or does the guy seem like the sort that eats and sleeps in a state of hostility? I want to see him in relax mode...maybe even pick his brain...)
-Hugh Jackman *swooooon*
-Cap'n Jack (yes, THAT one)
-Bernie Stinson (His 3-day-wait dating rule- because Jesus waited 3 days to resurrect-among other theories ought to be fun dinner table convo; especially taking into account who's in attendance)
-Keith Richards (Now here is a guy who knows how to create his own excitement-healthy or not. And I'll get to ask him about the curious fallin'-out-of-a-tree Fiji incident...Call me nuts, but that's the kind of stuff I'd want on my life's little happenings list at age 63...without the head injury of course)
-Shonda Rhimes (For creating the world of Grey's)
-Oprah (she'll get everyone-including Putin-talking and in line)
-Dr. Seuss (If he can make it in ghost form. He'll eternally be the most freaking awesome writer in my books)
-Jon Stewart (He of the biting wit and the brilliant rally to restore sanity)

...and no R, you don't qualify as a guest. You're always coming in through the kitchen door and peeking into saucepans anyway so you're practically family....

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

I'd tell you know...

Who is the most important person in your life?
There are several someones; family and a few friends who keep me smiling and grounded...

What's your worst regret in life?
There was a time I used to wish I had applied myself more in high school; from academics to the extra curricular stuff. Here's the funny thing about regrets though; I'll start feeling bad, wishing it hadn't happened or that it shouldn't have happened THAT WAY, but then I've got the flip side. And the flip side throws me into this totally different path that turns out to be a huuuge blessing...

Who is your role model?
Hmmmm...people I find inspiring...well, there is my mum, whose amazing strength I strive to have...
And then there's Gabbz. He's been my tight bud and neighbor since high school. He's got beautiful faith in the people he cares about, he's driven but doesn't lose sight of the big pic. Plus, for an awesome guy he's pretty humble...

If you could be one person for a day, who would that be?
Sydney Bristow. I get to be a double agent, kick serious ass while rocking crazy wigs and still get to go home to chill out with loved ones. Plus, I could always bribe the screen writer if need be...

And guys, Salt may be hot looking, but in a fight, I'm betting Sydney would wipe the floor with her. HA!

Mob wendos,