The first thing you learn when you moving house is that, you will never find a perfect house. There is always something amiss. And if you go searching in the company of a woman, it is a totally different experience. They are very picky and you will triple the patience of Job to handle their many nonsensical demands.
For some reason, women pay special attention to the bathroom and toilet. The bigger the better. Best if the two are separated. This is hardly the case for Nairobi’s money-hungry, stupid developers. Men don’t care about the space in the bathroom and toilet. As long as it is big enough for his ones and twos (peeing and shitting). As long as there is enough room for hand movement during a quick wank, any bathroom would do. But women have a near mystic attachment to their toilets and bathrooms.
The house you get is either good and on the wrong floor (5th floor) or right floor (1st or 2nd) but poor in design. Many developers save millions by skipping on wardrobes (so that carpenters too can make clothes’ stands). I have seen wonderful houses without wardrobes. Or the toilet always looking like it was made with fifth-hand bowl that not even Harpic can salvage. Sometimes, you don’t have a balcony or you have but on the dusty side of the house. So dust you can start a garden there. Anyway, why do Nairobians insist on the balcony. All I see in balconies are those things that cannot fit into the house; the jerricans, mattresses, that extra bed, you name it.
And when you move in, things start coming off. Mostly the toilet flushing system breaks down on 13th day. Only 0.1 % households I have been to, that had full functional WCs. When they work, the flushing system is mostly weak to wipe out any sticky mess that you leave at the bottom of the bowl. Sometimes it is too close to the sitting room. So much so you can’t risk doing your twos there, lest you let out earthquakes from your bowels that will stink all the way from Mlolongo to Kinoo. We are all familiar with that walk of shame to the sitting room can ruin your confidence for good. Who came up with the notion of toilets in the house? In the village, the toilet is 30 metres from the homestead. And you will never value the fruits of independence from the Britons, until you have relieved yourself without any inhibition.
On the surface, moving house is an anthropological exercise. You learn so much about people’s temperaments. You deal with the agents who have sewages for brains. Out to con guys so coldly, so heartlessly. Then you have the pickup guy who despite having agreed will insist that you have too much stuff, you have to add a few hundreds. When you vehemently deny, he will not speak to you until you finish unpacking and he will ensure he knocks the TV or the fridge against the wall for good measure.
Then you have the agents who want that stupid fee for signing some lease agreement that you are sure will never help you. And if you are moving to South B, you learn the infinite stupidity of Nairobi’s most evil lot: landlords and agents. South B, despite the relatively older houses, presumably owned by senior citizens who should have made their money in the past has some of the greediest human beings.
On Sunday, I moved house for the fourth time since I finished campus, some three years ago. It was a draining experience. And take it from me, moving with a mkokoteni is expensive than when moving with a taxi.
Now, the first house we ever moved to was in Umoja, Innercore. A two bedroom flat, just by the road. Me and my homeboy Banad had gone house hunting in Zimmerman, Roysambu, Kasarani (naturally they are the estates for starters out of college). We got a good house in Zimmerman, but it was expensive even though sitting on a swamp. I saw the mosquitoes in their open market in the nearby stagnated water, and they looked menacing. Kasarani proved too unattractive for us.
Then at Roysambu we found a 4th-floor, 2-bedroom apartment, with a monstrously humongous sitting room that would take us 15 years to fill with furniture. Then, when haggling for the details, the caretaker called the owner, who asked us what was our occupation?
“We are two, straight from college, searching for a job.” I told him.
“And how will you manage to pay the rent?” he asked, the skepticism in his voice palpable. A good question.
“Mmmh, we sure can afford. And we will get the jobs,” I pleaded.
“Then you have to pay rent for at least four months upfront,” he firmly said in a discouraging voice.
“You are a piece of stinking sh*t.Nkt. Go burn in hell.” I nearly told him. On realizing that we were dealing with a middle-aged arse-ho**, we left without as much as backward glance. Look, we were from UoN. And you don’t just talk to loaded ex-comrades like that.
On that Saturday, living on borrowed time at our campus room, we ventured to Umoja and found an available house. The kind caretaker who showed us the house was not as inquisitive. By the way in Umoja and the entire Eastlands, Landlords are not as greedier as the so called Lang’ata, South B or South C. The house in Umoja was a 2-bedroom. Tiled. Big enough kitchen. Water 24/7. No wardrobes. OK, you can’t have it all. Besides, we were rushing to Naivasha with other friends. So we paid the rent and the deposit through MPESA and left.
I stayed in the house with my housemate for seven months. My housemate took the room directly above the highway and every morning he was awoken by the sweet hooting of Citi Hoppas picking passengers. A little price you pay for taking the master bedroom. My room on the end was permanently dark, given it was on the windward side of the apartment. I will not mention the small experience we had when some women stole the sugar, the perfume, blue band and shoe polish in the wee hours of of that first weekend.
Now in that flat, I scarcely ever knew more than two or three neighbours. Our next door neighbour was a fattish, Luo man (he always wore a clean Gor Mahia T-shirt). Constantly he had young women in his house, you know the smallish kind of women you neither can tell whether they are of age or teenagers. But he had a family. I saw one or two toddlers. He had those badly designed, but extravagantly tasteful sofas. Often he said hi. There was also some lady, in her 30s. I often saw her escort older men in old Mercedes and Land Rovers.
One Friday night, at around 3.38 am, I was awake and decided just to stand by the window and ponder about life and the country’s GDP (I’m lying; I was having my usual bout of insomnia). I stood by the window and looked down. Two floors down, in some kitchen, there was some man who I could only see his grey boxer. As you would have noticed, normal, straight bachelors often bother having curtains in their kitchens. He was boiling two eggs. Then in walked a naked woman. I could only see her thighs, and partially, her round, taut bum. They stood there. Probably reflecting on the electric sex they just had as to warrant boiled eggs. Or they were about to have.
It struck me that life is unfair. There I was without sleep, no girlfriend, and down two floors some man had a naked woman to himself. I watched them, expecting that they will do something as bad as have the overrated kitchen sex. I’m told women like such random surprises and sex in cars is their number one fantasy. In the kitchen no.3. Few have sent me signals in cars that I totally miscued, but either way, at my height, it is impossible. But I digress. The two didn’t do much. They broke their eggs. Switched off the lights and left. I went back to hug my pillows.
I temporarily moved to Dohnholm. It was a decent, spacious house. I liked the house very much. I can live there once again. One night, as I rinsed some glass in the kitchen, I saw a man only in inner-wear in bed caressing his balls. The girlfriend or the wife had tied some leso around her body, covering her boobs up to her thighs. From my view, the thighs were superb. My type. She was clearing some clothes from the bed and seemed to having some animated talk with the man who seemed casually disinterested. Kind off, she was nagging him. She kept looking outside. I switched off the lights so that I could follow what they were up to without realising that I was up to something from the next apartment. The man was not listening to her and she was getting agitated. She picked her toothbrush and angrily walked away. The man pulled over the blankets and covered himself.
When she came back, she took off the leso, revealing red innerwear. Damn, she was sumptuous, despite her foul mood. She looked at the window and realized there were no curtains. She took something heavy, like a blanket and angrily covered the window, effectively ending my reverie. I realized that I needed a steady girlfriend on that day. But I moved out of the country for a great deal of that 2012.
When I came back I was back to the Eastlands. Thing with the Eastlands is that it can be addictive. The new apartment was good. But directly beneath it was an evangelical church that every Sunday at 5.58 am, blasted music to my chagrin. I used to be mad. Given a grenade, I would bomb them. Picture this, you partied the previous night and only came home at 4.47 am. An hour later, before you even catch some good sleep, someone is blasting jumpy gospel music and the congregation is already jumping and shouting Jehova’s praises. What compounds the problem is that yourself goes to church on Saturday. So there you lay, the hangover already taking its toll. You feel like someone is sewing in your head using Singer sewing machine. I moved.
Next stop, Imara Daima. I have previously written about Imara Daima here. It is a sleepy, boring estate. There was more. In my next apartment, the biggest nuisance I ever dealt with was the neighbour who lived in his own house in the adjacent house. The fool kept chicken and in the morning I was always awoken by his cocks crowing and many a time it took the missus calming me and stopping from throwing a stone to the compound in protest.
As I have mentioned, I sleep late. Usually 2 or 3 am. Now, no sooner I sleep than the stupid cocks start their cock-a-doodle-doo. Trust me; I have never been madder and angrier. If you are a light sleeper you probably know the difficulty of courting sleep. Often, I’m forced to read molecular science and astrophysics to dull my brain into sleeping. I hated the matronly lady from that compound. Often I have felt this this compulsive urge to tell her to the face that she sucks. Big time. And I once wanted to report her to the City Council.
I stayed on the top most floor. Across the floor were two women. In their late 20s or early 30s. Mostly single. For over a 9 months, I have never seen a man walk out their houses. One of them is plump, but with a permanently naughty smile on the face. Sunday mornings, she excites my morning when she wears an extremely body-hugging dress as she washes her clothes. Boy, does she have a body to die for? Often I humour myself that she does that to entice me. Although plump, she looks the type, who can be extremely flexible in bed, given she is either Luo or Luhyia. Her facial disposition is Luo. Her legs, certainly Luyhia. May be she is a mixture.
The other is fairly light-skinned, always in a foul mood. I have never determined whether she is beautiful or not. One morning she looks extremely beautiful. And in the evening, when tired and drained, combined with her foul mood she is not all that. But she has a terrible attitude, either she is a snob or shy. Or even a misanthrope. I have seen her talk with the fat one, but she is quite reserved. More worryingly, she blasts music on Sundays. And she only plays love songs. You know the Westlife, Brandy, BoyzIIMen type of music. Whoever who hurt her, should make up with her. She deserves a man. The forlorn look probably is from a dry spell.
My caretaker in this apartment was very interesting. A young man who had the best conflict resolution method. You went to his room, fuming…
“My sink is blocked and the water seems contaminated…” You shout at him.
“Ooh, let us go and have a look.”
When he arrives, he will give the sinks one thoughtful look and exit telling you that he will come to fix it. He never comes of course. And you have to fix the problem yourself. There was a helplessness about him that instantly made you empathetic after that good formula he has of solving problem.
Now, in the new house, I just realized that the roof of the two bathrooms are coming off. The bathrooms and the toilets while separated, water from the bathroom definitely spills over to the side of the toilet and there is no let out, it stagnates. What that means, once I shower, I have to mop the floor. Who schooled these architects?
I’m yet to know my neighbours. Though on the first night I moved there, I saw some really beautiful, tall lady, climbing the stairs. But as it happens in life either she is some yuppie’s chick. She looked the snobbish type. Or I will wake up tomorrow and find her pulling out of the parking with the mercedes and that will automatically disqualify any stupid intentions I may be harbouring.
What is paining me is that no landlord has ever returned my deposit. Anytime I give it out, I assume that it is a sunken cost. And I know many Nairobians who gave up. We all hope that, they will burn in a place hotter than the chambers that will torture Hitler…