Ten signs that you live in a village, next to the city
As a great author once said, we all live in Nairobi, but some of us live more in Nairobi than others. There are people who claim to live in Nairobi, but they have to take three main roads to get home. I’m talking about these Rongai and these Ruiru suitors.
Here are 10 signs that you live in a village next to the big city, but not in Nairobi itself.
1. No food delivery
You know you live far away when food delivery apps don’t want anything to do with you. As soon as you enter your location, the app goes to sleep and shuts down, as it is cheaper to send a bag of Mwea rice than a bucket of chicken wings home. At best, you have to buy this pizza yourself and the pakata on your lap like a toddler.
2. Extreme weather
If you get the kind of weather that preceded Noah’s Flood; if your area goes from so muddy that it can pass for a riverbank, to such extreme cold that you lose the ability to grasp things… live on the outskirts. And if when it starts to rain your safest bet is to hurry home because the nearest shelter is a grocery kiosk with a wooden roof, wewe so wetu, please.
3. You know your owner
Those of us who live in cities know very little about our owners. The owner of the property is usually an obscure figure, a name behind a company that represents a company that manages the property on behalf of a company with which he is affiliated. But those on the “outskirts” have probably stumbled upon their owners upon exiting a shared bathroom. Here’s a good tip; if you send your rent to a Kimani wa Something, you might as well stop telling people that you live in Kanairo.
4. Matatus in no hurry
There is a Sacco matatu crisscrossing the road to your excavations. Two, at most, and one goes to Limuru so it’s not really for you. Your matatus are the ones whose drivers sleep while they wait. No drivers spanking on rusty metal frames. No little boys attacking you with cries of “Wawili iende”. Just a bored man reading a newspaper in the passenger seat, waiting to make the first of two trips that day. And on his return, this matatu sleeps in his grandmother’s enclosure.
5. Stray chickens
It is true that Nairobi is home to many cows that raise their hooves to stop traffic as they cross Mombasa Road. But there are corners of the city where pets graze freely. Where chickens flirt and ride by the side of the road, and where dogs named Bosco urinate freely on utility poles. People who can hear roosters in the morning shouldn’t tell people they live in the city, ama?
6. Butcher’s shop / hotels
Your butcher also acts as a hotel and the butcher is also a veteran of whispering nyama choma. There is a hallway leading to a small haven behind the building, from where you can still hear the sweet Mugithi music floating along the same air currents as the aroma of the sizzling matumbo. At this point of meat, they use the old-fashioned scales, the ones with stones for the weights.
7. Children actually play
If you look out the window and see children playing, it could be a telltale sign that you are closer to Nakuru than to our beautiful city. Don’t ride a tricycle, notice; don’t play soccer or lean over an iPad to watch cartoons while a bored housekeeper watches from a distance. No, actually, playing, ripped clothes and all, running around playing movie scenes and shouting Diamond’s words. Barefoot. Healed knees. Runny nose. They are village children, sir, and you are their neighbor, another villager.
8. Shopping complex
A good sign of your proximity to the city is the ambition of the architecture. If you see skyscrapers in the distance, congratulations, you are one of Sonko’s orphans. But if the tallest building you can see is a shopping complex over there, then I have news for you. If this complex, all four floors, has a supermarket with eight shelves and a biological CCTV camera (a woman called Wambo), and this complex functions as the benchmark that you give the guys at bodaboda, then deep down you know the truth.
9. Your rent seems reasonable
You pay rent and you still have money. Your rent is “included,” which means you don’t pay for water, and security includes a gate that’s locked at 6pm sharp. Your house is huge too. Huge living space with enough room for a dining set, a bedroom that can hold more than a bed, and none of that joining the bathroom / toilet. You probably even have a nice balcony where you can hang your underwear without judgment. All for the same ridiculous price someone in South B pays for their internet. You know what they say. Life in the village is cheaper.
10. People whistle when you tell them
When people ask you where you live and you tell them, their eyes appear as if they had just seen their M-Pesa statements. And then they whistle like they just saw the M-Pesa transaction fee. They didn’t come for your housewarming party as it would require them to make arrangements for sleeping and take a day off. “Unakuja kunitembelea lini?” You ask them, and they quickly change the subject.