Monday, August 17, 2009


In Nairobi we take greetings for granted, I can give you that. The fact that I nodded at you today doesn’t necessarily oblige me to perform a gesture in form of a greeting on the following day or from that day onwards. Its just how we live, it doesn’t mean I have a grudge against you, it just means we missed eye contact. That means we move on! So pardon me.

Yes, I do nod… that’s a form of greeting. I mean, you can’t be too careful these days, a Latino President caught that virus! No, not HIV, that H1N1 flu virus. I read some tweet suggesting hugging but I don’t swing like that. I don’t like getting all touchy especially around my abdomen. Plus, I hate when someone rubs my back when we hug, thank you very much, I’m warm enough. Its like they want to make sure their ‘dirt’ sticks on you, uh-oh. I’d rather wave, or just holler your greetings. Hugging is over-rated, even strangers want to hold me!

The hardest people to handle when it comes to greetings are those people you are not used to, you are not friends, you don’t even talk with each other but circumstances put you both in the same place everyday and you have to say hi to each other... the awkwardness brewed up by the situation can be so overwhelming!

Maybe I just leaped out of stone age but do you remember the days when there were greetings for different age groups? Like you wouldn’t just approach your dad and say “what’s up?” Where did those days go? Forget it I think I know… to the dogs.

I’m saying this because I came back home from college one day and found new security guards (don’t call them watchmen, some of them really sensitive) at the gate. They are not familiar with me so I see them looking at me funny but I know that they are just doing their job, so as I approach I holler my greetings in case they have something to ask me.

“Habari yako?”, I mutter.

He still gazes at me. He sees that I’m sure where I’m going, then he replies;

“Poa, Poa!”

I was dumbstruck. I just walked by feeling like the Flintstones.
That day I learned a valuable lesson. These men are not that old, they are just grown.

On another occasion, I come home at night. It was dark and again I have this thought that it would make their work easier if I make my voice heard so they can identify me by it.

“Niaje?”, I say as I hurriedly pass through.

“Wewe ni nani?”

“Screamer”, I replied.

“Unaishi wapi?”

Right then I knew I’d used the wrong greeting. I had better chances of passing without all the scrutiny if only I had kept my mouth shut. What? If I say “Habari yako”- you are not that old and if I say “niaje”-I’m a suspect?
That is so unfair. I had to answer a dozen more questions like I was some sort of criminal before I walked into the estate. On that night I learned another valuable lesson; to just keep my mouth shut until I’m talked to!

I don’t know if this is relevant but on that night my jeans were sagging, I had a cap and I carried a backpack.

7 Educated Opinions Yet:

Mama said...

Heh! Niaje? Where did you go? LoL at your 'watchies'!

I sooo hear you on this post, kusema ukweli, Kenyans are not clean people, there is no water. Is it too much to ask people not to stretch their grimy hands in anticipation of a greeting? I have always hated shaking people's hands but now I hate it even more!

Our Kid said...

Surely, why do watchmen hate being called watchmen?

Security? He he. That would be the day. At least watchie sounds funky.

joyunspeakable said...

Sanctum, everything you do for people or with people has capacity to put you on trouble. I live carefree. I dont have to greet u if i dont feel like and vice versa. Listen to ur inner voice. Sometimes all another person needs to cheer up is to feel they've had chat with you.

Anonymous said...

This part of the world watchmen are called security. And by the way bumping fists has never been more convenient. You know why? Unlike handshakes, or hugs, there is no lingering. You just bump and move ahead. It is more hygienic but I won't disagree with you more, waving is way to go.

Screamer said...

Mama I never really left. I know that you moved to a new house and that you are planning to quit your boring job. I hear you want you want to venture into catering? I hope that’s you and not Shiko-Msa, you know I get mixed up.

Our kid, beats me too. But you should know, I’m your number one fan! Always cracking me up. I hope you already have money because if you don’t, you should get someone to pay you for that good stuff you come up with.

Joyunspeakable I’ll keep that in mind, listen to my inner voice. I can’t believe the love I’m getting after all this time I’ve been dormant. But I go by the name Screamer, Sanctum’s the blog.

Bomseh, I hear you. But I can’t help but wonder which part of the world you live in. All this reminds of the CIA, when they coined the phrase “executive action”

Shiko-Msa said...

hahahahaha. I've also recently moved to a new house, blogwise and in real physical house. So there's still some confusion for you.

You have been gone too long and you have been missed. No the few characters on twitter do not cover for your blog hehe.

I'm lazy at greetings and sometimes just raise my eyebrows or smile. Handshakes are a different ball game around here. It's humid and some people's palms are sweaty, and you do not want to shake a wet hand.

The three hugs left right and left again i could shoot someone for those.

Mama said...

Screamer, tiz Shiko who moved house to a 'blog.butterfly' platform, I am still put in blogger.

I quit my job and no I am not venturing into catering.

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