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Category Archives: Review

Bittersweet; the pain and joy of being ~ Elizabeth Orchadson Mazrui

This will undoubtedly be the book I took longest to ever finish. Almost two years to be exact. Then again you cannot read poetry like you read prose, you need each poem to sink in, bed time is a good time or early morning. I prefer reading in the morning in the evening I tend to zone out quickly and start dozing.

So the book, yes, I have a couple of posts excerpts derived from it, here and here.

The pain and joy of being, it brings to mind two conflicting notions in your head like the yin and yang. But isn’t life so? A wandering journey through many unlike and unexpected things?

Elizabeth an art professor at Kenyatta University has a simple way of bringing across the message. Which makes the reading all the more enjoyable, yes there is the literal and figurative messages, but even with those ones you don’t need to knock your head as you try to crack the message.

Elizabeth talks about Love, Affairs, Loving the unavailable one, Heartbreaks, Nature, Africa, Motherhood, Womanhood. I think I loved the book all the more because I find it easy to identify with the themes brought in the book, well except womanhood haha (but you don’t have to be something to identify with it ey).

When I say I identify here is a verse in the pursuing the unavailable person No You have turned me Into a beggar of emotions Begging for your time Begging for your love Unreciprocated time after time If you have been in such a situation like I have, you read that verse and think, “damn Elizabeth do you read peoples lives?”. I will bet you if you get a copy you will find so many “that is me” situations throughout the book.

The book is available on the university of Nairobi bookshop UNES. I could not find a copy on either  bookpoint or textbook centre. It will prove a good leisure read if you do love poetry and the way it paints the world in words. See what I did there :roll:.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Books, Review, Stories

 

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Free shipping or is it?

In 2013 I had been trying to buy a replacement battery for an iPod I wanted to sell. I hardly listened to it anymore so why keep up things you don’t use right? Apparently all apple authorised dealers do not deal with spares for iPods this led me to go and start looking at alternative places to get my battery. Online stores. Several of the online stores with good reputation did not ship it to Kenya, this led me to searching alternative stores then I landed on DX.com which claimed it shipped orders to Kenya within 14 days. After three months of waiting I decided that I had been conned there is the time allowance when you have to decide to call a debt bad yes?
I was expecting something yesterday in my mail box and was pretty excited. I open my mail box and after sifting through a bunch of bills from previous owners of the box I find a brown padded envelope, you know those they mail things going long distances in? Surely what I expected was way bigger. On close scrutiny I notice it was mailed December 2013! It took a complete 1 year and 2 months! As I checked my merchandise inside it hit me, I had opted for free shipping. Well free is darned expensive, because I’m sure my iPod now has lost half of its value with things like PonoPlayer entering the market.
Well I learned my lesson, next time I’m clicking that free shipping radio button before checking out my cart I will be ready for a harrowing wait, and with patience not being one of my virtues I hardly see that happening… Don’t start preaching to me about the “we want it here and now” of the gen Y. That is just the way things are…

Free shipping? Beware!

Via WordPress android app

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Opinion, Review

 

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Lenovo S920

Afternoons after I have had my lunch (read CNN, chapo na ndengu), is the time I zone out, therefore to avoid sleeping in the office I will turn on the fan, take loads of water and start doing mentally easy tasks. Linkedin Pulse, read the newspaper, watch a youtube video, view bookmarks, which new album or movie to download, has my favourite DJs uploaded anything on mixcrate…. Etc GSMArena is where I stumbled that day and I started reading review about phones. I knew I wanted affordable but with decent specs, that is where I found Lenovo and a love affair began. I tried to see if I could get it locally, but even the Lenovo guys in South Africa only deal with the computers and tablets (you must have seen the yoga tablets on a billboard somewhere ey?). My friend Ogesh told me he could probably get one shipped if I wanted, but then the cost would make it less affordable than I was prepared for. This is what led me to India, I started off at flipkart and ended up on snapdeal, well thanks to Mercy, she is the one who gave those recommendations. She was doing her MBA there and during one of our conversations she told me how electronics were really cheap in India, who would pass off such a deal?

Apparently the SnapDeal do not accept money via PayPal, that left me with MoneyGram which apparently is cheaper than western union, again thank you Mercy :-). Okay let me not bore you with the nitty-gritties of getting the phone let’s get to business, I will  not go to technical stuff, you can find those on GSMArena or phone Arena, I am telling of my lay experience.

Performance

The phone is pretty good and launches applications fairly fast. Note, I said fairly fast. It is an affordable phone, so do not expect high end execution.

Display

Lenovo s920 has this huge 5.3 screen, which is HD yup, watching Nicki’s anaconda is pure delight on this phone 😀 do not judge me. If you are a bit careless like I am you might need to buy a screen protector, to avoid damage to the screen.

Dimensions

This phone is skinny, like skinny skinny Samsung can’t get near… It’s true don’t give me that look, this phone is lean no cellulite anywhere!

Material

The phone cover is plastic, which means if you drop it a few times you may be left with junk. The USB/charging port cover is also very flimsy. Mine got spoiled and the port is all commando naked! Lenovo, the hell was that, someone in R&D should answer for that.

Camera

Now this phones camera gives me pleasure for the three months I have had it I have taken 1200 pictures (I think I shoot at anything and everything), check my Instagram on the side for some. The video quality is pretty good too Savvy told me it was a bad idea to make a home videos so you may also never get to see the quality of its videos :-D.

Android System

The phone comes with Jelly Bean upgradeable to KitKat. For your peace of mind, do not, no, let me be clear DO NOT upgrade to KitKat! It sure looks good, feels good, you get more space, the camera gets digital zoom but for data hogs like me, the phone will stop being stable on 3G networks so you are forced to remain on 2G only.  I went to all the Lenovo forums but it seems the only saviour right now will be either a downgrade to jelly bean or to wait for an update to patch the mess from Lenovo. I am still waiting for the latter, which means I cannot enjoy Safaricom’s free YouTube offer or Skype/ Google hangout video with my friends to brag when crossing off a bucket list (selfies are not sufficient for bragging you need to see the expression on their faces, mostly it’s a you are crazy kind of expression), or those days you miss someone and a call is not enough you need a face to the voice… Okay I think I have hammered it in how the instability of the 3G signal sucks. So if you get a Lenovo, stick to JellyBean until kitkat has been tested and tried. They should have warned us KitKat was beta or something (see how I talk about beta like am a techie? Lol).

Verdict

I like stuff that can stay with me for a long while, so durability is normally a decision changing factor when purchasing things. Would I buy Lenovo s920 again? Yes I would, even better the 8 gigs version. Would I feel all adventurous and upgrade? Hell no! Will I keep it? Yes I will keep it, one flaw will not reduce my love. I will wait to see if they improve on it and as far as I am concerned I think I am now officially a Lenovo fan, Chinese or not (Did I just see Tecno guys smile? Yup, this is an affirmation there can be legit products from China).

Hopefully after testing their products in India, I understand manufacturers target India and China because of their wide demographics to test their products, I hope Africa will be their next big stop. I will be their number one fan, because if they work on their flaws which are always posted in the Lenovo forums, they might as well takeover the mid range market…

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Posted by on October 11, 2014 in Just Random, New waters!, Opinion, Review

 

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Happy Anniversary to us all!

I got this notification and then it hit me, it has been four years already since I started this dairy. Though I think most of the gang seems to just come read and leave quietly unlike before… but it all good. This is our anniversary cheers for the four years, cheers to the future, an interesting one I hope :-). Maybe to break the randomness in my writing, what would you love to see more from the mundane experiences I go through, please leave a comment, yes even you, my veiled readers, lose the mask today, it is our anniversary 🙂

Happy annivesary!

 

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Shopping online part two

Sometimes this year I had some bad experience with dx.com where I bought a replacement battery for my iPod but never got to see it. After numerous complaints and automated responses I finally gave up. I was bummed, but I was willing still to try out other sites and see how it would go. I am not a gambler, but I think my archetype would be that of a connector. If I discover something good I am that one person who will refer their friends, I am not mean with information. So sometimes this leads me to try risky stuff at times, the things you start by saying “I’ll try this one time and one time only”. Case in point would be last week when I went to my barber and I was convinced to exfoliate, the experience was more of someone sandpapering my face, no way I’m recommending that hehe. Okay let me stop digressing. I recently tried shopping online again, I found myself on eBay since all the other stores do not ship to Kenya.

Enter eBay

I got myself an affordable phone and I wanted a screen protector for it. Those are cheap phone problems, you have to find a way to protect your screen from scratches. After many trips around town looking for the right fit I could not find any shop which had screen protectors for Lenovo. This made me go online to look for a solution.  I found this tempered glass I really loved, tempered glass is better than the plastic film screen protectors they sell, plus the price was basically the same. First I went to my good old amazon.com, I add it to my cart but on checking out I find that it cannot be shipped. That sends me to square one again. I go to eBay and find several merchants in China selling the tempered glass I wanted. I look for the one with the most stars for delivering and order my screen protector glass. They said it would take two to three weeks I would pass by the post office to check if my consignment has arrived. Finally after four weeks I found it tucked in my box. I was so excited I nearly jumped… I guess not all the merchants in China are shady after all 🙂

Ps. Did I mention that even the phone was bought online? Maybe I am a gambler after all, a tiny weeny little bit. Which means I have warranty from India not Kenya, but that comes with risk ey?

My colleague bought a phone on Jumia and got it delivered in a day! Maybe that is my next stop… watch this space.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Comfort zone., Just Random, Opinion, Review

 

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360 days of autonomy

Me: Mom, I’ll be moving out next month

Mom: Okay

Me: I’m serious mom

Mom: Okay

(I had attempted this several times and it didn’t work out, I could understand her doubts, she probably never thought I had the balls to leave the nest)

****************

End of the month

Me: Mom, I have found that house I was looking for

Mom: Where is that?

Me: Along Thika Road (Anyone who does not live in Muthaiga or Garden estate uses this standard reply, lol)

Mom:  Is it safe?

Me: Yes it is, plus I live near a police station.

Mom: What about water?

Me: Water is not a problem.

Mom: Have you paid the deposit?

Me: I haven’t but I am paying so that I can move in on Saturday.

Mom: Why the hurry then? I am not throwing you out of here. Why don’t you stay until January and move out then? At least you will have saved something and these Friday outings you need to reduce too to achieve that.

Me: No, I think I am now ready, I have procrastinated on this for too long now.

Mom: Don’t be rash, think through it furthermore January is not far away.

***************

Me: Cuz, I plan to move out but mom is not too pleased, she would like me to stay until January.

Willy: Do you feel prepared to move?

Me: Yes I am ready.

Willy: Just do it, move!

Me: You know I don’t know how it will be like, starting off from scratch that is, I will only carry with me that suitcase of mine from mom’s.

Willy: Take it like a man, you will survive. But do not suffer in silence we got your back, let us know when you need anything.

Me: Thanks cuz, let me see how this turns out.

**************

It finally happened after a lot of debating I did finally move out. Over the last 360 days I have come to learn a lot about myself and my friends:

Autonomy

You know how you think, “I will get my place, do what I want, come in whenever I want without answering to anyone?” Well that is a fallacy, I still find myself leaving the bar early, haven’t left when people are cleaning and preparing to close down the place.

You find yourself thinking “what will I eat today, do I cook, should I buy some junk?” Thank God I can make a meal or two.

You know how when given money to go and do shopping you’d just buy things because it is not your money? That changes when you go it on your own, I make this list which I go with for my monthly shopping, I don’t even mind the amused smiles people give when they see me crossing off items. You find yourself thrifty; should I buy one piece Dettol soap or “buy the two get one free” pack, buy which brand of tissue paper. Well the thriftiness will only apply to items which you can be indifferent to the brand, even if Unilever increase the price of Vaseline I still buy it same with Cadbury’s cocoa etc.

You learn how to negotiate with the landlord when you want that extra shelf added. You also learn how to stand up for yourself when someone tries to screw with your stuff or space.

Gradual changes

If you move out like I did, without much of a plan, you need to brace yourself, changes will happen gradually. You will not be able to get everything you want at once, well that is if your budget did not cater for everything.

The things you need to use daily, gas, cooker, hot water kettle, iron box those are to be prioritized. I found that I had a list that ran into over a hundred items. My mother ensured I did not borrow everything; it’s not pinching but borrowing! You never realise how useful something as basic as a salt shaker or sugar bowl is until you want to use one.

My five-year old friend, John was reminding me of the one plastic chair I started off with and how it broke because I was fat hehe. The thing with gradual changes is you do feel the impact of every new addition, I remember dozing off on the couches when I got them…

Friends

The first few months living alone are the hardest. You find yourself in constant communication to kill off boredom; WhatsApp’ing when you make your first meal in your new house, when you do something new. If you are lucky you will have friends who will understand that you are adjusting. When people ask how you are adjusting, you will always say great. Your friends will know that is crap and they will drop in without caring that you don’t have seats and you make the most of the day from sitting on the floor, and that will not deter them from coming again even if it is uncomfortable sitting cross-legged for hours watching a movie from a mono speaker computer… Makena, Wambui, Kash, Kev, Marv, Henry and Tony I salute you.

These are the same people who show up and help you move to that bigger house; free labour no strings attached :-).

Girls

I told my mom how girls hear of where I stay and they pull a Houdini. She visited and told me how even her, if she was a girl and I tried hitting on her she’d never come visiting, not with that amount of dust such that someone from the bunduz would have less dusty feet and you are the one in Nairobi. Well that was in good jest. But yes, your home address does matter to many of the people I meet, someone looks at you and wonders loudly, “why couldn’t you just go to South C or Westlands?” that is the opportunity cost paid right there…

It finally dawned to me “come over for lunch” is not taken at face value but is interpreted in so many ways. So just don’t bother offering, keep that yourself, have one man lunches and drink your beer from the balcony as you watch out for peoples body parts that move when they walk, thank you for that line Chimamanda (Got it from Americanah).

Free food, events and more free food

You find yourself taking up all the events that come up through the weekends, watch a play, visit exhibitions, learn a new skill (I’m finally learning how to play the guitar [not to serenade anyone though]  and make the water my friend, apparently I fight with it too much that is why I cannot stay afloat with grace like Kev, how you make water that is more than a glass “your friend” is still a concept I am finding hard to grasp, but I can now do a back stroke while bear hugging a swimming board) and finally and most importantly free food opportunities that do come your way.

In regard to free real good food there is someone who deserves a special mention. How the universe engineered us knowing each other is absolutely eccentric, but if the end justifies the means, this is already justified (Disclaimer: Do not try this, I cannot guarantee similar results!). Valentines and new underwear or lack of thereof ignited my curiosity enough to want to know who this deviant was. If you are a guy wouldn’t you curious about a lady who doesn’t care about the commercialization of valentines? Dry Red wine for free food? I’m in! Apparently she can cook, things I cannot pronounce without embarrassing myself, so next time someone tells me she can’t cook, I will direct her to someone who has defended a thesis and can put together a pretty decent meal. Alex, your food could not afford to miss out on the highlights of my 360 days.

************

All said and done, it is a continuous learning curve. You learn to live with people around you. You get to discover yourself. And the finally get to break loose from your parents’ nest and begin being responsible on your own without need to be told what needs to be done or followed up on.

I hope the next 360 days, will be more of polishing up and fewer trial and error moves/habits. Since I now understand what works and what doesn’t.

 

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Americanah

“You know some people collect pebbles leaving out diamonds and they believe their pebbles are more valuable than diamond!” said Mukuna. We had been talking about books we were reading when she called my book a pebble and hers a diamond, I was determined to prove her otherwise or not.

 If you know me well, you’d know I am a sucker at dares, if you want me to do something I am normally likely to refuse you can phrase as a dare or challenge! The easiest way to get me into doing something is to tell me I can’t do it, it will nag me till I do it just to prove I can! No it’s not OCD and don’t try “Mackel you can’t buy me this” that is out. That pebble and diamond statement during my call with Mukuna made me ask my friend Chiry to lend me her copy of Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie and see this “diamond”, apparently the books I was reading were brushed off as pebbles.  Well the Barney in me decided “challenge accepted” I put a bookmark on my pebbles and started reading this book Americanah.

After reading the book like I was going to do an exam on the same, I do agree it is quite something, and I’m not admitting my current reading list is pebbles, no! Since there are many reviews on the book, I will give you more of a synopsis of the book, which weirdly enough I could relate to some extend.

Characters

The books mainly revolves among two main characters; Ifemelu (Ifem) and Obinze who meet at a party at their mutual friend during their secondary school years. Obinze was supposed to be setup with Ifemelu’s friend Ginika but he is interested in Ifem. As the party goes late in the night Ifem shocks Obinze when she ask’s him “aren’t we going to kiss?” She is too forthright which would get her in trouble at times; Obinze on the other hand is the calm collected guy is hard to read.

Love

Americanah delves on the relationships Ifem, Obinze and other characters develop. There appears to be true love, fake love and all sorts of love:

For instance in the beginning Ifem remembers of her relationship with Obinze and describes it thus; When you need what she’s unable to give and she needs what you are unable to give, it becomes the loss of what could have been! You spend too much time mourning what could have been and questioning what should be.

She wanted to give the relationship all that she had even in the small acts like holding hands, she held hands with him till her hands became gummy with sweat, “Just in case this is the last time we hold, let’s really hold hands”.

When Ifemelu met Obinze, she told aunt Uju that she had met the love of her life, and aunt Uju told her to let her to let him kiss and touch but not to let him put it inside.

Then I was really excited to learn that the love of ass is universal 🙂 “Sometimes she would dance in her underwear, wiggling her hips, while he teased her about having a small bottom: ‘I was going to say shake it, but there’s nothing to shake.’” When Ifem had gone to America and grown her lady bits she describes them thus, “She has soft round parts that shake when she moves” She teases Obinze when she returns to Nigeria about how show now has that ass he used to tease her of lacking back in the university days.

Ifem was too forthright, the honesty that scared her boyfriends, one day Obinze confronts her about another student in university to which she replies “I’m just curious about him. Nothing is ever going to happen. But I am curious. You get curious about other girls, don’t you?” Obinze is too shocked by the response he says no and stops talking to her for a while.

America

Due to the frequent strikes by university lecturers, Ifemelu is forced to stay at home. Her friend, Ginika talks of applying for her in schools in Philadelphia as though Ifemelu knew where Philadelphia was. To her, America was America. She gets a scholarship and lands a visa to go to America.

She goes to stay with her Aunt, Uju. She is shocked on her first night in America to find bugs existed there, “If she had been in their Lagos kitchen, she would have found a broom and killed it, but she left the American cockroach alone…”

People tended to treat her different because she was from Africa, they expect even things she never thought about like her name to have some form of significance than just a form of identification. When she share this with Ginika, she replies, “You could have just said Ngozi is your tribal name and Ifemelu is your jungle name and throw in one more as your spiritual name. They’ll believe all kinds of shit about Africa.”

Sexual exploitation

Ifem becomes desperate after a long search of work with no success and with rent, bills and books to pay for, she is pushed to the bottom of the bottoms, she decides to work for a tennis coach “What would happen with the tennis coach? He had said ‘massage’, but his manner, his tone, had dripped suggestion. Perhaps he was one of those white men she had read about, with strange tastes, who wanted women to drag a feather over their back or urinate on them. She could certainly do that, urinate on a man for a hundred dollars.”

She agrees to a sexual exploit that messes her esteem and drives her to depression, “She had lain on his bed, and when he placed her hand between his legs, she had curled and moved her fingers. Now even after she washed her hands, holding the crisp, slender hundred-dollar bill he had given her, her fingers still felt sticky; they no longer belonged to her. He lived alone, he probably had other women coming to his room to spread their legs for his stubby finger with its bitten back nail.”

Conclusion

I am disappointed by the ending though. Not every story ends with a happily every after, but what do I know? Obinze leaves his extremely attractive wife and child to go and start a fresh with Ifem when she returns to Nigeria, which to me appears to be forced to fit a happy ending.

You can grab your copy of Americanah at Bookpoint at KES 1550, you will not regret it.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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