Around the neighborhood…

The neighborhood our apartment (or flat as it’s called in this former British colony) is in is called Milimani. As far as I can tell its populated mostly by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent all of whom have gated complexes with semi-private security guards guarding whatever valuables lay inside.  Our set of flats has a gate, which is always open, and a watchman/babu* who kind of guards our valuables but mostly a) plays with the neighborhood children, b) waits outside for the electrician (we’ve had power problems), or c) hangs out with the night watchman who seems to arrive at half past 4. But hey, they were kind enough to remove that bat I injured, so I appreciate their presence.

Most of the time we don’t really see our neighbors except on our way to work in the morning when I see their exceptionally cute children waiting in their ridiculously cute uniforms for the matatu (shared van ride – Kenya’s version of public transportation, seats 11!) ride to school. However! If you are outside at just the right time, when the sun has faded and its gotten a bit cooler, but before sunset you will see them. Them? The power walking sari ladies! Usually is 3-5 women who wear full on beautiful saris accompanied by brand-spanking new tennis shoes and they are on a mission. They power walk around the block and don’t even break a sweat! Seriously, it inspired Ray and I to go running yesterday and those ladies didn’t bat an eye at us.

The other thing I’ve noticed about our neighborhood is the dogs. Everyone has guard dogs. Guard dogs that bark. All the time. You would think, as Ray pointed out, that they would get used to the passing motor bikes, bicycles, tuk tuks, and matatus. But perhaps they are bred that way, to always be alert.  For a while Ray and I had never actually seen any of the dogs that made the racket, certainly they sounded like the meanest Dobermann or German Shepherds you could imagine. But the other day we saw one! Attached to the chain link leash and being walked by a very serious looking, be-uniformed security man was a white miniature Pomeranian.  I’ll never know how those owners keep that coat so white in this land of dirt and dust, nor how one trains a Pomeranian to be guard dog, but we’ve nicknamed it “Killer” and try to stay away from it!

The best part of apartment, though, are the kids; they are little but many. At least 5-8 of them under the age of 8  live in this complex of flats (approximately 6 apartments). From the hours of noon-sunset the stairwell, ground floor and garage are their turf. When we come home from work at 5pm through the gate that is never locked they can be seen, like clockwork, riding bikes, running around and generally messing with each other. This usually ends in tears; 4-5pm is generally the crying hour. But the funniest thing is whenever Ray and I walk in they stare at us intently and then offer to shake our hands! I’m telling you I have shaken the hand of a two year old multiple times now. Its quite soft. So I’ve taken to calling them “the ambassadors” for their formal handshakes and general welcome to the neighborhood.

*Swahili for grandfather

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. We here at the Hyatt are enjoying your posts. I would suggest that you post a date with your messages. All in all we are learning a good bit of how life goes on in Kenya. I think I told that I passed my drivers test. I even called you yesterday on your 858number and let a message. Spoke to Micah yesterday and she seems to be happily settled down in the outskirt of Denver. School starts again soon for her. I urged her to continue writing her blog. She has a way with words. Did you get the pictures I sent you Rachel? My care giver from the Philippians is returning today with a new Barone shirt and some shell necklaces. How about taking some photos of the children you described in your complex. The hand shakers. Love from Papa

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