Avaes Mohammad

Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Kenya: KARIBU SANA (070409)

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

070409 KARIBU SANA

Taxi Driver [while shaking his head]:

Ve-Ve Ve-Ve Ve-Ve Ve!!

[stopping to look at my mum and I with a look of sculpted shock]

Thirty Se-ven Years!

[Solemn pause, maintaining the look of shock and complete lack of understanding]

Ve-Ve Ve-Ve Ve-Ve Ve!!!

[Beat]

Zamaani Mama Zamaani (An age madam…an age!) .

From passport officials to taxi drivers and waiters. A sweet shock, and warm, genuine welcome. Karibu Mama! Karibu Sana!! Welcome Madam…Welcome Very Much! Its quite the prodigal son treatment for my mum, the Kenyan daughter. And its lovely for me to see. To see all manner of people welcome my mother back so warmly and at the same time to see my mother beaming and embrassed simulatenously with all the joy she feels. Embarrassed that she ever doubted her welcome.

Mum’s family we’ve met in Nairobi have already been so loving and genuinely warm towards us both. They’re a great laugh and me ma’s on top form…she’s like a teenager! Giggling, joking and the life of the party! We were picked up at the airport by a cousin of hers she’d never known before. Or maybe the cousin was just too young a child when my mother left. She’s called Naseem. ‘Naseem Aunty’ and her husband collected us from the airport and we’ve been staying with them and their two lovely teenage sons. It’s strange to assume a relationship with strangers based upon family ties. But with this family it’s also very easy. They genuinely seem glad to meet and welcome us and for us all I suppose, it’s an opportunity to develop a new relationship. We’ve got on so well, we’ve invited them to accompany us in Mombasa. We’re leaving for Mombasa tomorrow.

It rained as we left Nairobi airport so we’re considered exceptionally lucky visitors. People have been praying for water here for a while now. There’s a real shortage and in the poor areas there simply isn’t any.

Nairobi’s amazing. Very beautiful. The flora and fauna are breathtaking. There’s a pomegranate tree at the back of my aunts flat. An avocado tree at the front and a mango tree as you enter from the gate. All manner of trees, plants and flowers I hadn’t seen before decorate even side of the roads. Plants and flowers like from the greenhouse of Kew Gardens.

But there really is so much to just take in now. Slowly does it. Rough, rocky road surfaces (some not all), traffic that seem to actually want to kill you, debilitating heat, pollution…having spent time in Indian/Pakistani cities, it feels a little familiar. There’s genuine fear about crime…having spent an afternoon in Liverpool once, I feel strangely familiar with this notion too.

There is a noticeable divide in social lines that’s based upon race here. There is a rising black African middle class, all state officials seem to be black Africans, but so do the servants that are employed by members of my mum’s family to come clean their homes every morning. I’m told it’s not just black people but some Asians do it too. Whoever’s poor enough to want to do the work.

There’s a lot for me to take in about Kenya.

What I’m especially loving is the food. There’s a unique cuisine here that’s a blend of African and Indian food. We’d have it as quite a special event as I was growing up….I’m loving having it all around me…Mogo (deep fried cassava chips…served with tamarind sauce, or chilli and lime), Keema Chapatti (like a keema and egg pastie), and my favourite, Hamri Baraazi (doughy deep fried sweet bread type thing, with beans cooked in coconut…divine!)…the food is better in Mombasa apparently…bring it on!!!