Monthly Archives: April 2011

Here and There: A Random Tuesday

So this past Saturday (the 23rd) was my 23rd birthday. Girls should not say their age, or weight. I’m willing to divulge my age though. Lemme share a few photos from that day, I had invited a few friends for a swimming day out.

Some friends and I swimming, in the deep end just so you know!
The cake, courtsey of many friends, Monch, Tristar4, TheKayrich and WallyB among them. Notice the name, it's like no one even uses my real name anymore!

Now this post is titled Tuesday and that’s what I’ll talk about. I kept checking my email every few minutes. I had attended an interview more than a week ago and I’d made a number of applications here and there and was hoping for some good news.

I know some people may be wondering about the number of interviews (two work interviews so far) I seem to have attended, but sometimes though you’re brilliant and talented, you can’t work anywhere. There is a right place, right time for you. Anyway, Tuesday morning I had yet another interview, this one work-related too.I’m expecting positive results as always.

I was back in town around noon and had to follow up on a registration hitch with KASNEB for my brother, who was reporting for his first day of campus. I wonder if I’ve inspired him to start blogging? He has five years of campus ahead of him.

As I passed by Agha Khan Walk in Nairobi, I couldn’t help but notice the number of (idle) people sitting on the raised ledge keenly watching anyone passing by. I managed to take a photo somehow, without anyone realizing it:

Notice the people seated, waiting for any object of interest to pass by. Usually, anyone walking past is an object of interest!

If you’ve had a busy up and down day in Nairobi during this hot weather season, you’ll know Githurai is not the place for a stopover on the way home. I tend to make fun of Githurai much, must be something to do with us being neighbours! Anyway, as I said earlier we buy some vegetables from this riot of a place and I told the driver of the matatu that I would be making a stopover.

“Uko sure ni Githu?” He asked, disbelieving.

I was seated in front with the driver and one other passenger so I was dealing with him directly, unlike when you sit at the back of the matatu and you have to poke (literally) the conductor so he can tap the matatu three times (more or less) then the driver knows to stop at the next stage.

I told the driver that yes, I was sure. I asked him why he didn’t believe I wanted to stop at Githurai.

“We hukai mtu wa Githurai…” – You don’t look like a Githurai person.

I was flattered. It meant I throw these middle-to-upper class vibes, which is a good thing when you have hopes of becoming East Africa’s president in 2032. People will not vote for a poor person! Okay, maybe they will but who doesn’t want people to think they’re rich even when you have no cent to your name?

I told him I was merely stopping over to buy some stuff and he nodded in understanding, saying Githurai people look more like him! Never mind Githurai and Kahawa Estates join somewhere, providing a smooth transition between the hoods.

There was a traffic cop at the stage and the driver had to stop some distance ahead. I can bet the matatu was violating all kinds of rules, from loud music to no speed governer.

I got home to no electricity and a phone with low battery. If you’re as addicted to my phone as I am, you become religious and pray earnestly for the electricity to come back. As I waited for my prayers to be answered, I got a new email in my inbox. It was from Strathmore University.

I had applied for a scholarship being offered by Safaricom, for a new Master of Science program in Telecommunications Innovation and Development that will be conducted at Strathmore Univeristy. I’ll blog more about it later. It was an acceptance email! I start my MSc next week.

The first good news in some time.

The downside is I had to postpone (hopefully) an internship opportunity with ILRI in Ethiopia. I was so looking forward to working in an international research organisation, going to the country directly north of us and having some shisha during my free time (why lie!). Ethiopia will have to wait till another time.

Looks like I’m going to be a student again!

I Love Kenyans

This ramble was inspired recently as I waited for the matatu to fill up one afternoon.

I love the guy that passes by, wearily dragging his cart but with a look of determination;

I love the teenagers leaving against the wall, two boys full of swagger probably waiting for their friend;

I love the woman who passes by, she looks like she could do with some fashion tips;

I love the young lady that struts after her, heels clacking on the pavement and white underwear showing;

I love the conductor with his self confidence and sexual appeal as he tries to persuade the pretty girls to board his matatu;

I love the man in official clothes who looks like he’s headed for a lunch meeting;

I love the Indian Kenyan guy who settles in beside me, his sleeves folded to reveal hairy arms and his eyes glued to his phone;

I love the couple in front of me, they’re whispering into each other’s ears and look like they need a room;

I love the girl that has just come into the matatu, weave on her head swinging from side to side;

I love the driver with his toothpick, he has just switched on the engine.

I love Kenyans, that’s all I meant to say.

23 on the 23rd

It’s not everyday someone turns the same age as their date of birth. Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and though I do not remember what I used to wish to have achieved by this age, I’m still happy with what I have accomplished so far.

As usual, this song always gets me:(Five For Fighting- 100 Years)

I’m 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I’m 22 for a moment
And he feels better than ever
And we’re on fire
Making our way back from Mars

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

I’m 33 for a moment
Still the (wo)man, but you see I’m a ?they’
A kid on the way, babe
A family on my mind

I’m 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I’m heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose yourself
Within a morning star

15 I’m all right with you
15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We’re moving on

I’m 99 for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

15 there’s still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

Tomorrow, I plan to go for swimming with some friends to celebrate this day. If you’re reading this you’re invited :-)

We share a birthday with many in the world, I’m sure. Include one @gracemwaura. Happy birthday deary.

The Google Android Phone : IDEOS U8150

This is a personal review of the phone. I have reviewed a few of the phones I’ve had, so far over 8 of them. The torches that could call and text were not reviewed, of course not. Check out the review of the Nokia C3 and the fake Nokla I had. Yes people, I’ve used Chinese products before, don’t act you’ve never done that too.

1. Smart phone

This is the first smart phone I’m having! The joy of having one… indescribable. The best thing for me is the ability to multitask. Which means I can be using multiple apps at the same time, without having to close the app to make a call, receive a text etc. Apps are left in the same state you left them, unless they are continuously updating themselves. You can have any number of apps running, minimizing them to go to other apps. The rest of the features are only possible because it’s a smart phone!

It runs on the Android Operating System (the best really), which is rivaled only by the iOS (for Apple products), Blackberry platform (not sure of the official name) and Windows OS for small devices.

2 .Applications

The Android market has got to be the biggest in terms of applications. I doubt Nokia’s OVI comes close! Anyway, here are a few of the many apps I have, and will be downloading more later:

Gmail: You can sign in with multiple accounts, and every time a new message arrives, you get an alert. So far I’m logged in to four accounts! Including my mum’s.

Email app: you configure any account with yahoo/whatever server

WordPress: you can blog straight to your wordpress.org blog or selfhosted wordpress blog. I mostly use it to read/reply comments. You can copy/paste text from a word document, upload photos and view blog stats.

Documents To Go: this is for reading your documents: Word, PDF, Powerpoint slides, Excel Sheets. With Word documents, it formats them for mobile viewing but it’s tasking viewing pdf because you have to scroll left-right and up-down to read a document. However, if it’s urgent it will do

OppenOffice: Same as Documents To Go

Bible and SDA Quarterly Lessons Apps: these two go together and you can browse the SDA Lessons offline. The Bible has to be online though. I’m yet to get the offline version

Google Chat: You can chat on the phone, for those with java phones you should try ebuddy

Dictionary

Places: this is preinstalled. Tells me exactly where I am via map/satellite. If there is somewhere I want to go, I get directions.

QuickPic/Pic Say: One to view photos, another to edit them. Does most things Ms Picture Manager does, cropping, light intensity etc

Snaptu/Twitter for Android/Facebook for Android/Tumblr/YouTube/Skype

News channels/Weather Apps

Voice search/ voice dialing: they are never accurate unless I’m searching the word FOOTBALL. Perhaps it’s my diction.

I could go on and on. There are thousands of apps in the Android market.

3. cheap

Imagine all that… for slightly over $100. It’s costing Kshs. 8500. I wanted the Nokia E63, which goes for about Kshs. 16000. Double this current phone. It’s definitely value for money.

4. stylish

It’s smaller than the iPhone, Blackberry, and the Nokia QWERTY phones. Slim and stylish. Comes in black/blue/pink/yellow.

huawei-ideos
huawei-ideos

I had a blue one but exchanged the cover with someone who had a pink one. He’s a guy and the teasing was getting to him.

5. 3G/Wi-Fi

In addition to internet access via 3G, it can surf via Wi-Fi. So if you’re at any hotspot (mostly in the office!), you can use the data-intensive apps comfortably!

Just Adding More Info About Internet Use

So with the wifi, it means that even if you don’t have a SIM card you can comfortably surf where there is a hotspot. Cool, no?

Second, there is an option of tethering. To tether is to surf with your comp, the phone acting as a USB modem. Whether using 3G or wifi. All you have to do is go to Settings> Wireless & Networks > Tethering and Hotspot > Turn on Tethering. Then go to your computer and voila, you start surfing right away. No need to edit any settings!

6. The rest that you shall discover for yourself

1GB memory card, synching of all your contacts (phone, email), multiple home screens that are customizable, threaded messages, Notepad, radio, music, Bluetooth… you know, the whole shebang.

Like all things, it has its downside:

1. Poor Camera

The camera claims to be 3 Megapixels, but my previous phone, a Nokia 2700 with 2Megapixels, produced better photographs.

2. Battery Life

This is the problem with most smartphones! You have to charge it twice a day with intensive use, once with average use and I suppose once in two days if your usage is below average. I charge it twice a day!

3. Data Intensive

With the high cost of data bundles, if you have all the apps running at the same time, you’ll sell your car to be able to afford maintaining the phone!

The trick is to shut down any apps that you’re not using.

It’s not really the phone’s fault that we can’t afford data!

Here and There: A Random Thursday

On Thursday morning, I went to a job interview. I woke up very early, probably the earliest I’ve woken up in a month so I could beat the traffic and arrive at Westlands in time. I think the interview went well, I don’t want to write about it in case I jinx it!

I’ve decided my two financial goals this year are to raise money for a motorbike and college applications. I’m looking for a university to do my graduate studies next year, and so far all applications must be accompanied by an application fee of not less than 100 dollars/euros/pounds. So if you intend to apply to 10 universities… do the math! Don’t even get me started on the tuition fees! As for the motorbike, I want something that costs 60-80K. Something gisty, and awesome.

A job will definitely come in handy!

Back in town, I ran into a former primary school classmate! It’s been about 10 years since I last saw her but she hasn’t changed a bit. She didn’t recognize me so that should tell you I did the changing for both of us! I remember she was one of the cool girls back then, I think I became one of her entourage! There was also another girl who was part of the sidekick group. One day, the popular girl went home sick and I was mean to the other sidekick. I still feel a bit guilty to this day, I hope she forgot about it!

We exchanged numbers and went on with our lives. We’ll probably never call each other unless there is need to. Life happens.

My Lunch

I had lunch with a friend at The Savanna Lounge on Loita Street. I thought about becoming an restaurant reviewer, but I’ll start next time. Just know sandwiches, served with fries, are recommended. Don’t try the mocktails, don’t let the menu scare you (it’s a dirty laminated thing), and the service is average. Food is good. The Mango juice is awesome. The coffee too.

The Savannah Lounge Menu. It probably doesn't look too bad in this photo but it's rough around the edges

As I walked towards my stage, I saw this sign at the JKUAT (my alma mater) town campus:

Loanding zone? Seriously! Loanding zone! Still can't get over that. Loanding zone!

Bro’s Lunch

I went back home around 4pm, met my brother who was coming back from KCA where he does his accounting studies. He tells me that for lunch, he went to Area 4. That’s at Mathare North behind KCA. He doesn’t think he’ll go back there but the food is at its cheapest! One big 30cm in diameter chapatti, costing 15bob. The second one is discounted at 10bob. You have this with some kind stew. Avoid the Mix. The Mix is a mixture of all kinds of soups and vegetables.

Mum is Back Home

We live not too far from the main road, and not too far from Githurai either. We live at Kahawa Wendani (or Barracks since there’s an army base here.) This building (see below) always fascinates me. This is not where we live though, I don’t know who would want to live there!

Weird building in Kahawa Wendani. I would love to know its architect.

Anyway, whenever mum wants to go grocery shopping, she goes to Githurai. If you can avoid the stench of rotting vegetables, mass of humanity and vehicles, dust/mad depending on the season, then you are going to buy the freshest and cheapest groceries in Nairobi. Traders from other estates come to Githurai for their supplies.

Whenever she comes back with a big paper bag of groceries and/or sweet potatoes, bananas, maize etc she calls whoever is at home to go to the stage and help her carry the luggage. This time, my bro and I reluctantly walked to the stage and there she was, with a whole bunch of green bananas.

She had a bunch exactly like this

After hurriedly crossing the dangerous and very wide Thika road, we decided to give someone the porting job. My bro gestured this street kid who sniffing glue and watching us. We gave him 20bob for just a short distance, less than 100m. On reaching the stairs of our apartment block, he dropped the bunch and walked off! I knew we shouldn’t have trusted him.