“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt
This four part blog series concludes my PULSE assignment and is a reminder of the many facets of each day, each week, each story that I have shared, and the many that I have not. The theme for each of the next four entries brings to a conclusion all that has touched me, all that has moved me. I hope you enjoy reading these over the next four days as much as I have enjoyed writing them. So, here we go……
1. What will I not miss from my PULSE experience (not in any particular order)?
I will NOT miss the ants, and those pesty no-see-‘ums. My ankles took quite a beating sitting outside wearing flip-flops for breakfast and lunch. The pesky mosquitoes, taking my malarone everyday for nearly 200 days and spraying myself with DEET. The DUST, the dusty and smoky, and often foul and fetid air,
the red dust and the dirt, the poor roads, the all too many pot holes, speed bumps, lane crossovers, and traffic circles; the lousy roads to and from anywhere with or without cows resting just about anywhere without a care or worry, the road destruction/construction projects that only seem to be making matters worse without much sign that they actually will be getting better, the one lane highways where passing at your own risk is part of the norm, the unwillingness to make a change even though a change for the better could be a more efficient process and would seem to make sense. I will not miss customer service that does not service the customer; the ‘if only we had extra money’, the wanting of a hand out rather than working hard to receive a helping hand up. Speaking of hands, I will certainly not miss the PDNP (public displays of nose picking) and public peeing. The open burning of rubbish which includes plastic, batteries, light bulbs, all home trash producing toxic and noxious and obnoxious smoke and smells polluting our local and personal air space (cough! cough!). The poor air quality, those black plumes of exhaust from poorly maintained engines burning oil, the stench of the garbage dump right next door to the MegaCity supermarket complex, the “you can smell the cholera” foul smelling puddles alongside our walking path after a rain storm (cough! Cough! Cough!).
I will not miss “Mzungu, how are you?”, “I like it, I like it!”, I certainly will not miss the boda-boda and Piki Piki drivers who don’t use headlights at night, dusk or dawn and try to buzz you every chance they get, even when they have the whole road to themselves (Bleep You Boneheads!).
Locking up all of my valuables every day, securing my apartment as if I were holding onto gold bullion, the electric hot water on demand shower head—I guess I really cannot criticize the showerhead because it actually does work when I wanted and needed it to (except during a power outage when the only thing that does work is our flashlight). The very spotty Safaricom internet connections and frustrating often disconnected afternoon skype conversations; those 20+ days of water shortages at home and particularly at the office (our longest was 4 consecutive days without a single drop to flush toilets or wash hands), the random or scheduled (Tuesday evenings at 6:45) power outages (No.
26 27 27.5 28 29 30 31 31.5 32.5 33 34 35) and counting), the bartering system for anything in the public markets, the 240V and power strips and power adaptors for most devices. I will not miss driving on the left, passing on the right, and I will not miss the lousy drivers of any motorized vehicle, the crazy traffic snarls, the crazier traffic circles, the unmarked speed bumps, the ridiculous lane crossovers on the anti-parallel double highway,
the “damn you” Tuk Tuk or matatu sudden stops on the road to pick up someone without any turn signal indication, the one lane ‘major highways’ to and from, and drivers who drive and pass with reckless abandon even when there is a solid yellow line, and the total disregard for any intersection etiquette. I will not miss the quirks and noises the OGRA cars would make, the OGRA pickup truck always sounding like a ‘busy bed in a cheap hotel’ or the Green Machine that honks at all hours of the night and has to have the battery cable disconnected every time we park.
The wandering cows (the skinniest damn cows I have ever seen) and the goats, and the complimentary cow droppings and plops of poop of every kind randomly dispersed across Kisumu. And the chickens and that one rooster who calls out at 4 am or that 4:45 am call to prayer by the local mosque.
And most certainly I will not miss any of the barking dogs (the primary reason we had to move to another quieter apartment complex). I will not miss the OGRA office environment which does not turn on any of the few low wattage lights that it does have, has no air circulation, sitting on ergonomically incorrect pleather chairs giving me a daily dose of the sweaty ass syndrome. I surely will not miss having another Tusker (cold please).
And how can we forget, will any of us truly miss ugali, oily chipati, beans with rice and rice with an order of beans. I will not miss the PULSE phone (I know who used it before me because their phone contacts were not purged, so not only do I have their Kenya contacts, but I also have some good text message exchanges with some rather juicy gossip, for a worthy price that is). I will not miss the PULSE laptop that has a mind of its own and pops up boxes in Word or an Office email when least expected, or jumps to different sections of a text document quite spontaneously, or the shocks I get from my laptop when plugged into certain power strips but not others. Yes, the voltage is different depending on where I am and which power strip I use—the excess voltage causes the internal fan to vibrate such that you feel it on the keyboard and on monitor back, and when the circumstances are just right, I do get shocked on my wrists leaning on the laptop body or on my calves if I am wearing shorts and they are touching the metal frame of my lovely pleather covered office chair. Between the shower head and the laptop, I am quite happy to have missed the chance of a small electrical short that could straighten my remaining hair. See you tomorrow—I hope you won’t miss it.
Tomorrow’s Blog: “What I will miss the most from my PULSE experience”; to then be followed by “What I have missed the most”; and finally “What I will look forward to.” Stay tuned.