Other Pastimes

During the holls, especially, tulikuwa na mob time on our hands. When we fikad seco we felt sweet ati we were too old to play, so people took up the pastime of re-telling movies – mnakumbuka those groups of people hurdled round one person telling everyone, scene by scene, about a certain movie. Yenyewe we were bored kabisa. I kumbuka someone relaying Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. Hah-hah when I finally watched that movie I was like woah! Jameni people had story-telling skills.

Chicks also began to write their own novels. There were so many people writing novels lakini there was a waiting list to soma them. We used to soma kina Sweet Valley High (a series about twins, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield andikwad by Franscine Pascal – amazing the details I kumbuka), Sweet Dreams (different teen romances), Mills & Boon, Harlequin (like Mills but more daring), Temptations. Aah those vitabu were ufala kabisa, yenyewe when you grow up you realise that romance sio kama hivo. Hakuna mambo ya square jaw bones na chiselled arms. Sijui one kitabu was called “Pink Champagne” and we were marvelling ati “ai, pink champagne? Hatujawai kusikia mambo kama hayo.”

There was also Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. In one special edition they all met!!! Nancy Drew was dating a guy called Ned (he didn’t like anchovies on his pizza), na walienda hapo na pale wearing dark clothing, solving crime mysteries. They were like teenage detectives, much like Famous Five (maze I somad all the Famous Five books repeatedly, I could do a mtihani on them) – they were always going for picnics in Kirrin cottage and drinking “ginger beer” with their mbwa Timmy. Oh na pia Danielle Steel novels were popular – I remember watching a movie version of one, ilikuwa slushy sentimental kama those progis the Bold & the Beautiful/ Sunset Beach (for boys there was Wilbur Smith).

When people started writing their own novels they were almost always romances, na ziliandikwa kwa exercise books – hata zile za squares. The people in those novels were all white (haiya?!) and they had a Dynasty-style life; when you fika in wazunyes’ countries you realise hakuna kitu kama hicho, yote ni fiction. One day in seco a teachay caught someone writing their own novel during her lesson and she confiscated it. Maze the teachay somad the novel in the staff room and although she somead the chick to stop writing novels during lessons she threw in a complement. I’d love to soma those novels now, maze I hope those chicks are still writing.

In tao there wasn’t really much to do – but can anyone kumbuka that video arcade on Moi Avenue? There were pinball machines, fruit machines, and such like; ilikuwa packed kabisa, just thithino pekee. In tao there were also cinemas – aah when the movie Break Dancing tokead my big cuzo took me to see it (kumbuka Shabba Doo and the characters break dancing on the ceiling). Lakini for the most part cinemas showed movies from years before (mambo gani hayo?)

In chuo like after exams there used to be a company which showed us movies on projectors. Those movies were so bizarre (I recall one involving an evil bat) or they were deemed inappropriate for some age-groups, so half the school would be nyimwad the movie. I remember, when a kissing scene was about to appear, the projectionist would ‘thogotha’ the reel and we would miss the scene. Aah we used to tusi him for that. I also kumbuka our headie refusing to show the Naked Gun movies cause he thought it was about nudity (ushamba kabisa hapo).

Mnakumbuka how, in tao, people had loads of time to spare, even if they had jobo or biashara, so like you’d see people standing on avenues just talking for almost an hour. Kweli there is no hurry in Africa. There would also be those “meetings” that grownups had (“let’s meet and have tea/samos”) in cafés which would endelea mpaka lunchtime and into the afte. I used to penda them, I recall ordering all sorts of things – apple pies, carrot cakes, cream donuts, whilst the grownups endelead talking. People also used to go to other people’s offisis and just chill/ kunywa chai, thus taking the saying “haraka haraka haina baraka” to the limit.

Also in tao people would stop to watch a commotion, like in a mini-riot (mnakumbuka “mob justice” sides of River Rorry). There were preachers who used to set up a pulpit on a street and people would stop to listen, putting mashilingis when the preacher said “give and you shall receive.” There were also those waganga-types who would sit somewhere, draw a circle round them, and tell passers-by ati if anyone walks into the circle they’ll contract a disease. Yenyewe people would go out of their way to avoid the circle, hata karibu they were kanyangwad by passing vehicles.

Aah I almost forgot ASK show (‘Agricultural Show of Kenya’). Hakuna mtu ambaye alienda Show ati kuona agriculture. It was an opportunity to go on the merry-go-round, that ‘train’ for kiddos, the jumping bouncy-castle thing (woe if someone’s shoe-buckles tore it). Merry-go-round was a must, but it had a long, long mlolongo, mpaka you could waste the whole afte just waiting for your turn. When you did get on, the whole thing was dizzying mpaka I decided never to go again. In Show there were also tents with “wonders” – as in “ingiene hapa kuona half-man-half-goat” or “hapa ndani kuna magic extravaganza.” There was also the Tatoo in Show, but that started in the evening (or the day-one wasn’t the real thing). Yenyewe Show was not a safe place. There were storos of kids getting kidnapped in 1982 na several years later they were patwad selling mandao in Dagoretti Corner.

People used to ajiriana to meet in Show (ati “tukutane on KCC stand” – the KCC chapos with ghee were tamu kabisa) lakini ASK was so big and there were so many people. Lakini it was great makosa not to make an effort dress-wise ‘cause come Monday kiddos would say “I saw so and so in Show dressed like a shao.” Aah maze if you turned up wearing those Bata rubber shoes you’d be enjoyed kabisa. Every year people would get excited about Show, na kama you weren’t taken there by your paros it was big deprivation. The food used to be taka-taka of every kind, from those sweet-foam thingis (candy floss), to packets of chips which were floating in oil, to nyam-choms (but the nyam-choms in Show were ngumu).

When NBA started being aired on TV, backe became the in-thing. Basketball pitches started appearing on every Esto and all the teenies would dress up like Michael Jordan (complete with head-bands). Chicks would sit on the sidelines and squeal. Then there was Rudge (rugby); guys used to eat protein with bidii so they could join the team. Sports were aplenty (like hockey was played in chuo and in Esto fields). For chicks there was rounders – to paraphrase Comic Book Guy in the Simpsons rounders is the “worst game ever.” I hate sports with a passion anyway. However, mob times sports “lessons” involved being told to do ten laps round the field (aah bana, not ten laps again) so even rounders was a welcome change.

Also there was the pastime of going for picnics in Uhuru Park. If a hawk didn’t kamata your ham sandwiches it was sawa. Some people were brave enough to hire and ride a boat in the Uhuru park pond-lake – heh! If the thing fell over those people could catch Bilharzias. In places like Uhuru Park, Jeevanjee gardens, KICC, kulikuwa na Crusades every weekend. Maze those things were packed, and sometimes there were preachers from West Africa telling the congregation about how they used to eat people but now they were okolewad (haiya I saw a news-piece about something similar recently). After hearing such things watoi couldn’t sleep that night.

Other pastimes included watching Esto dogs fighting, going swima (in YMCA mnakumbuka ‘Teacher Tom’? He was a Frenchman who had been in Nai sijui since serikali ya gereza so he talked Swaha and he was always swimming backstroke), going to Kenya National Library (hah-hah those books are apparently still ibiwad) or MacMillian library (remember that kienyeji song-video shot outside MacMillian with the lyrics “she wore black and blue”?).

Lakini thinking about it we actually had many games and pastimes to choose from.


At 10:15 pm, Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

Yippie...I made it here first (again!)

The few years I spent in Kenya were spent in Eldoret and the whole detective novel craze was just as big in Eldy

Man I read all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Secret Seven and Famous Five.

In fact I just didn't read them... I lived them...pamoja with another blogger Kaki, and two other girls we formed our own sijui Adventurous 4. We used to hide in bushes following random strangers because we belived they were criminals.

At times we would just wander off the beaten Eldoret tracks in search of hidden treasure.

Lakini Mills & Boons and those other romance novels I never got into.

I just jumped straight to Stephen King and other scary stuff - but you couldn't read them in school or the CRE teachers would call you a devil worshipper.

Thanks again Mem.

At 10:21 pm, Blogger Adrian said...

you continue to amaze me with you memory. yaani the things you still remember, unbeliveball!

funnily, i didn't get to know kina hardy boys and famous five till i fikad these sides. but then i somad those things thoroughly!

hee, ati show? i kumbuka eating candy floss every year there and also getting some funny "sunglasses". yani those kiddo sunglasses with a yellow frame and green plastic glasses.

i remember going to sarit and later to yaya center to play all those games. my dentist was a mhindi near sarit, and everytime i was taken there i wouuld make sure to be taken to the games after.

i seriously hope you don't run out of memories!

At 5:22 pm, Blogger nick said...

1.oh yeah those super mysteries were tha bomb all buddies would be aroound
hardy boys:chet morton wit his beat up jalopy,biff hooper,phil cohen,of course joe and frank (who forever were 117 and 18) their girls iola (R.I.P) and ...cant remember...their boat...
nancy drew: Bess, and thh ka-tomboy what was her name george!!! oh and her housekeeper who took care of her since her mum passed away
2.Oh yes pop in and nairobi sports house where we'd play games like MK and shinobi..
3.Breakdance i watched it 25 times and still have the albums till now

At 3:23 pm, Blogger M said...

@Mama J -- Adventurous Four?! HA HA HA!!! 10 nil, that one has just won!!!
@Nick -- I was the undisputed authority of all things Hardy Boys. I read them all, plus the case files and am in a position to tell you that Joe's girlfriend was Iola Morton and Frank's was Callie Shaw. Their old lady was Laura Hardy and their old man was Fenton Hardy.

As for Nancy Drew i toleratd her until i read those Nancy Drew and Hardy boys super mysteries! With the author being Carolyn Keene i was not suprised that Frank and Joe became total idiots, with Nancy Drew doing all the thinking (and at times, the fighting too!) Ashindwe pepo!

Then there was Alfred Hitchcok and his 3 investigators

And not to forget Tintin and Asterix, which i still read to this date. Asterix has some of the deepest jokes I have ever seen, like the names of the camps -- one was called Chewingum! LMAO!!!

At 6:11 pm, Blogger nick said...

@M oh yeah the super mysteries then case files...

there was a rumor that carolyne keene and franklin w dixon was none other than the same person

-oh yes callie shaw.

do u remember their boat was called "the sleuth?"

At 8:49 am, Anonymous Mentalacrobatics said...

Waa waa waa. Memory lane sana. Kwanza you are so right about everyone writing a story and those jamaas who could tell you a movie scene by scene. Did anyone every read the Nancy Drew when she went to Kenya on holiday and ended up solving some crime. Ati she took a “zebra coloured” taxi to her lodge from the airport. Imagine that Nancy Drew in the flying squad!
Thanks for this.

At 2:37 am, Blogger Jay said...

Heh heh I thought I was the only one who wrote novels!!!

At 1:27 am, Anonymous anonymous said...

guys writing there own novels - i remember that one, though i remember guys who used to write their own comics - action packed comics (+ sex)

At 4:13 pm, Anonymous Dimples said...

Gal, I love your blog. And I love the mystery part of who you are. That's part of our Kenyan upbringing. We don't tell all!

Your memory is great. You have just filled me with nostalgia.

aah, going to the "Show". The hot dogs were to die for! Nancy Drew - what I aspired to be! ooh, i loved her. I also wrote those novels too and I would hide them in our drainage system outside. LOL! but it was a funny one and if you put the folded books on top, they would not get wet.. anyhow, my brother found them, I was 13, he was 17 and it's still embarrasing!

At 8:45 am, Blogger gishungwa said...

the mills and boon, hardy boys the full shebang yaanin how can we forget all that innocence, kwanza mills and boon and Harlequins where there was one ultimate love scene. Kwani nobody read truphena the student nurse, wake up and open you eyes.
ASK in high school the OMega3 and vibratins you polish your moves for the ultimate showdown with boys of other schools.

At 10:50 pm, Blogger fayvalady3 said...

some anonimous person sent me to your site. nime enjoy sana. that arcade on moi ave was called playland, it was downstairs, next to burgerland.

kweli kweli people would fika jobo, hang their coat on the chair so coworkers would know wamefika, and then they would disappear all day, go visit relas, go shopping, run errands...

speaking of rudge, mnakumbuka harlequins and impala? and saint's black rock, during the late eighties early nineties.

who kumbukas those arch-shaped climbing frames at uhuru park. there were three of different heights, so the whole family could participate.

who kumbuka's that there used to be a KFC (kentucky fried chicken) chain, one in westlands, another on kenyatta ave right where wimpy was opened. again, the food was too good. KFC in the states has kuku that can make you sick from fatty layers genetic modification and grease.

getting saved and back sliding! and then all over again, was another thing i must have done 20 times. there was always that pressure of kuokoka. then when you backslid, you would go on a hanging frenzy, carni, Bubbles (i miss bubbles. anyone remember a shady joint that became famous called tree shade? oh thank you thank you memoire!!


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