Today was a holiday (Madaraka Day) so I didn’t have to work. I spent the morning and the better part of the afternoon listening to loud music, cooking fried rice, and making notes for my class tomorrow. By the time I walked to the market it was almost 4:00 PM. There’s a funny phenomenon that happens in the developing world that you don’t really see in the United States: crazy people walk around town. I guess some homeless people are pretty crazy, but I’ve never seen it as bad in California as it is here. There are a few wazimu (“crazy person?”) in particular who I see often.
One of them really put on a show today. As I entered Tala’s market I saw he had placed a large stone and some trash on the road, and was running around with a stick. He didn’t have a shirt on, but had cut a hole in some large black trash bag or something, and was wearing that instead. Of course when he saw me he ran at me. I say “of course” because it seems like the crazies and the drunks are always excited in their own way when they see me. A few minutes later I was sitting at a shop talking to some dudes and the crazy guy came back. This time he ran into the shop next door and stole a cardboard box. The lady in the shop was yelling, the crazy guy was yelling, and pretty soon he ran out and threw the box. We all laughed and talked about how crazy he was, if he was really crazy, etc. Haha!
I was walking around in Tala’s market today with a buddy when some old mlevi (“drunkard”) with a guitar came up to me and started strumming and saying some crazy things. Then, all of the sudden, he mentioned something about La Bamba. The funny thing was, I recognized the beat, and it was right on. I waited a few seconds and then started singing, “Para bailar la bamba… para bailar la bamba… se necessita una poca de gracia.” To my amazement this guy instantly started singing along with me. He may have even known more of the lyrics than me!
The guy was even wearing a Sea World hat that said “Whale Trainer,” hhahahaah! That, and the fact that Despised Icon released some studio clips from the production of their new album, made my day today.
I had a funny experience in the market today: after work I went to buy some avocados and fresh corn for dinner. I found a group of mamas sitting near some vegetables so I greeted them and told them what I wanted. Just then it started raining so they invited me under their small shelter to sit on a bucket. I pointed to the maize, still in the husk, and said I wanted it but that I didn’t want to pick them off the cob. I struggled to explain this in Swahili, but I was getting close with the addition of some sounds and hand motions. I said I wanted mbili (“two”) corn and two avocados.
I again motioned that I didn’t want to pick the corn off the cob, and could she? When she understood she started laughing, then I started laughing. This attracted a small crowd of baby-carrying mamas, to whom the corn lady spoke some Kamba (the local language) and whose babies I greeted in said vernacular, and then broke the cobs in half and distributed them to the crowd for picking. As we were laughing and they were picking, I noticed there was quite a number of people eye balling our little corn-picking party. The team finished quickly and professionally (I tried it once a few months ago and I gave up, and roasted the corn instead). I gave them a bit of extra money for helping me pick the corn, and then we made some small talk and I said, “Thank you,” and, “see you later!”
These mamas are the backbone of Kenya. Kabisa (“completely”).