Category Archives: Blog

Regular posts as you know them

Transacting Online Safely

There has been and will continue to be an increase in online trade in Kenya.  Sites I have used or my friends use include OLX (good deals among the online classifieds), Mimi (Julie Gichuru’s dress shop), and jumia.  There are many other shops online, I think there was even one where you could do supermarket (Naivas, Tuskys or Nakumatt) shopping and have it delivered to your location. While some sites sell goods directly to the customer, others like olx are not involved in the actual sale of items. Thus some people have used this opportunity to perpetuate fraud.

Keep calm and Stay Safe online
Keep calm and Stay Safe online

 

It’s to this end that OLX partnered with COFEK (Consumer Federation of Kenya) and the ICT Authority in Kenya to launch a one month awareness campaign for the general public to learn about online safety.

The campaign is named, “Kaa Ridhoo”! I don’t know who came up with that slogan surely, but the importance of the message should not be lost.

I have blogged before about staying safe online, OLX has guidelines for using its site, including a page for reporting suspicious ads or sellers. Just click on the Contact Us page to file a report. They then work with the local police to investigate and arrest any of those suspicious individuals, especially dealing with cars and electronics.

Have you had any experience of fraud when shopping online locally, and how did you deal with it?

 

Flying to Japan

I am in the Kanazawa University library typing this. There is something familiar about all libraries.. the silent shuffle of feet, the queitness broken by the turning of pages of paper, the rows upon rows of beautifully arranged books, the students at the tables all trying to absorb the knowledge. It is a long way from home, and yet it is home for me. I think back to Tuesday afternoon, when I began the actual journey.

The steps to the Kanazawa University Library. Click for larger image
The steps to the Kanazawa University Library

My father wouldn’t let me be late; by 1pm he was revving the car and hooting for us to get out of house. I arrived at the airport at 1:30 for a flight that was departing at 4:40pm. My luggage passed through the safety scan, I had been afraid they wouldn’t let my lotions and hair stuff through(relaxer, treatment – there are no salons for black hair in Japan, I was told). I thought I might have carried stuff over the luggage limit for Emirates Economy class, but fortunately this too was a breeze. My luggage was checked in, and I would get it at the airport in Japan. I wasn’t going to have access to checked-in luggage at Dubai, the stopover.

I said goodbye to my family. My dad, mum, brother and my son, and my friends Veeh & Njeri had come to see me off. I managed not to cry. But later, on the flight to Osaka from Dubai, I let them fall and I pretended I was watching The Fault in Our Stars. Anyway, the flight to Dubai was not long, but it wore me out. It was 5 hours to Dubai. The Captain was American, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls… this is your captain blah blah” The hostesses were fair and graceful. The meals were okay but the cramped space in Economy makes you understand why people with money opt for Business class or First Class. I could not catch any sleep and my neighbour was chatty. He was giving me advice about taking care of my hand luggage. Don’t let it leave your sight. He was going to Dubai to manage some warehouses. I wished him the best. He gave me some pens as a gift. (I have become a pen collector.) His wife works at a pen company.

Dubai. Nothing is done in half; no expense is spared. From the air, it gives off an aura of organization. Rows and rows of lights, illuminating shiny highways and complicated road designs. From where we landed at the airport, we took a shuttle for almost 30 minutes to arrive at the terminal. Dubai is grand. No, wait, Dubai is grandiose. Towering terminals. There are 3 terminals, A, B & C, and you take a train between the terminals. The terminals are on 3 floors, and you can ride the elevator or escalators. We had about 4 hours to spend at the airport. After marking our gate for the next flight, we went round checking out the terminal.

Inside the elevator at Dubai Airport. Can you see the water flowing down the black wall? This stuff is better seen not told!
Inside the elevator at Dubai Airport. Can you see the water flowing down the black wall? This stuff is better seen not told!

There were so many shops, mostly selling designer perfume. I was sprayed liberally by a salesman; Givenchy I believe. Smelled heavenly but I couldn’t afford it at the time. The few dollars I had with me were for surviving the first month in Japan. Givenchy will have to wait. But it was definitely cheaper there than if you had to buy it in a shop in Nairobi. I bought some water, and a Starbucks coffee. Not as tasty as Java’s latte.

Starbucks Coffee at Terminal B of Dubai airport
Starbucks Coffee at Terminal B of Dubai airport

So I was hanging out with two Zambian dudes who spoke Kiswahili; they were also headed to Osaka with us, they’re in the vehicle importation business. There was another guy who was Kenyan, but lives in Washington DC, and he was also connecting via Dubai. And 3 of us scholars, heading to Osaka. We left the importers with our hand luggage (except for passports & money, duh) and escorted the Washington Guy to his terminal. That was when we took the train to terminal A and back. And thus, the 4 hours at the airport passed away.

Oscar, fellow MEXT scholar on the left, with the Washington guy on the right as we said bye to him
Oscar, fellow MEXT scholar on the left, with the Washington guy on the right as we said bye to him

Finally, we boarded a Boeing 777 Emirates plane to Osaka. That was one grandiose plane. I had never flown international before, so the jambojet, KQ & Jetlink small planes had left me with a bad impression of take off, landing, changing direction and turbulence. In a huge plane, you don’t feel any of this stuff, at least not on the same level as on a smaller plane. It was 9 hours from Dubai to Osaka. I slept half of the time, watched 2 movies (About a Boy starring Hugh Grant), ate two full meals and enjoyed the flight somewhat. We landed in Osaka at around 6pm local time, finally touchdown in Japan! (Cue for this song)

From Kanazawa airport, it took a while to clear from immigration. Fortunately we are Japanese government scholars, so not many questions were asked. They printed for us residence cards at the airport, we went and claimed our luggage, and went our separate ways. After changing my money into the local currency, yen, I asked for the JR Train ticketing office. It was around 8:10pm when I finally got a ticket to Kanazawa, changing trains at a place called Maibara. The train was departing at 8:16pm so it was a mad dash there. The Japanese are very friendly people, so far everyone I had met on the way had been very helpful.The train ride was very comfortable, and I dozed on and off. The signs were in Japanese as well as English, and the train announced every oncoming stop. Maibara was like the last stop, and it was just me and two Japanese girls who were also going to Kanazawa.

The countryside fly past us, with not much to see in the dark. At every station, we’d meet other trains and you would see students in uniform getting on or off, working class people boarding the train, weary shoulders drooping, and the people got fewer and fewer as it got later and later. We arrived at Kanazawa at 12:39am! I tried to get a taxi to Kanazawa Castle Inn, where I was to spend the night. I was willing to pay as much as it took, but no one would take me, they just pointed the direction. Turns out, it was just 3 minutes away from Kanazawa Station and no one was going to take advantage of me. If it were in a Kenya, I am sure someone would have drove me round in circles and charged me like 2,000 Kenyan shillings for it!

At the hotel, I finally got free wifi (which I couldn’t get at Dubai or Kansai) and let my family know I had arrived safely. After a warm soak in the tub, I asked for an adapter (they use narrow sockets) from the hotel reception using gestures & pointing. The man at the desk just opened a drawer full of adapters and I picked one that fit, with a promise to return (in gestures). At the airport, most Japanese speak fairly good English. However, Kanazawa is a bit farther in, so there are fewer speakers with less fluency. (Except at the universities, lots of people speak English here). I charged my phone and fell asleep.

On Thursday morning, I took a taxi to Morinosato Kaikan (Kanazawa International House) where I was going to spend 6 months. It’s a 20 minutes scenic walk to the university. There was the opening ceremony to attend after that, and later orientation and an introduction lesson to Japanese on Friday. There will be many other tales to tell.

The food in Japan
The food in Japan
More Japanese food
More Japanese food
Even more Japanese food
Even more Japanese food
Some pizza too
Some pizza too
Tamar from Georgia, ken from Malaysia, myself and Akiko, who's Japanese
Tamar from Georgia, ken from Malaysia, myself and Akiko, who’s Japanese

In the meantime, I am getting used to the local food. Sushi. Sashimi. Miso soup. Rice (hehe, yeah also needs getting used to, trust me) And others I can’t pronounce well.

Yesterday evening, being a Friday, we went to a local restaurant with a Japanese student who’s very nice and is helping us around. Below is what we had.. beer, sake, pizza, sushi, sashimi, dessert, and many other local dishes. By us, I mean myself with other foreign students. There are many other foreign students around. They come from Malaysia, Georgia, Solomon Islands, Argentina, Tanzania, Indonesia, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia .. over 25 countries. There are only 3 of us who are black, as far as I can tell. Myself, another lady from Solomon Islands (she speaks with such a lovely accent) and the guy from Tanzania. But I don’t feel it, I think because I am in a university and you know, a campus is the same everywhere. Cool people!

Although I miss home, and my son more than anything, I know I made the right decision. The next countdown on the blog is to the day my son will come to join me in Japan!

Do I Have a Dream?

If there’s one person who is a dreamer, then that person is me. Since I was young, up to now, I have never stopped dreaming. Reality sometimes pours cold water on some of my dreams, but I will go to sleep and dream again.

When Crown Paints asked me to talk about my dream, I was at a loss of where to begin. Because I don’t have a dream, my friends. I have DREAMS! At the moment, I have a to-do list of 30 things to do before 30, which is 3.5 years away. I am not sure I will achieve those 30 things (okay, 29, I have already crossed 1 off my list), but I am already on my way. I haven’t shared my list with you guys (the readers of this blog who keep it alive, I love you guys, excuse the emotions, I am in a strange land and yet to make new emotional connections). Anyway, I was saying I haven’t shared the list with you guys because I have changed my style of writing. I no longer share about everything I see, feel, eat, drink or experience. Perhaps I shall open up again and share that 30-things-to-do-before-30 list, I have a feeling it will shape the future of this blog.

In the meantime, I geared up to talk about my dreams to the Crown Paints team. I am nervous in front of the camera. I hate the sound of my recorded voice. But I braved myself to talk about my dreams, which would have taken over an hour. Fortunately, the required length was only 40 seconds!

So enjoy my 40 seconds of fame below! I shall be blogging about Japan soon, and other experiences.

Inside Nakumatt Select

I think I first noticed Nakumatt products in the bed & fabrics section at Nakumatt Junction like a year ago. Made in Kenya and branded by Nakumatt :) So I grabbed a set of white towels: 2 large towels, 2 medium-sized towels, 2 face towels. Something similar to below:

A set of towels from Nakumatt Select
A set of towels from Nakumatt Select

Now Nakumatt has branded its products as Nakumatt Select  available across all their stores. The products include towels, table, kitchen linens, bed linens, duvets,blankets, throws, pillows and more.

On a cold and rain evening, picture yourself on the couch with the blankets below:

Nakumatt Select Blankets

What I love about the products is their quality, and they are quite affordable. They are all manufacture locally. The set below of throws (Just google it already) would be a perfect gift for someone.

Couch blankets/throws from Nakumatt Select
Couch blankets/throws from Nakumatt Select

From here onwards, I will just let you feast your eyes on some of the products:

Beach towels:

Beach towels from Nakumatt Select
Beach towels from Nakumatt Select

Towels of all colours:

Another set of towels from Nakumatt Select
Another set of towels from Nakumatt Select

Bed linen: sateen bedding. Yes, sateen. Here’s the difference between satin & sateen:

Sateen: luxury cotton bed sheets so smooth & cottony soft #NakumattSelect Satin: smooth,shiny fabric usually made from rayon,nylon, or silk

Sateen Bedding from Nakumatt Select

Sateen Bedding from Nakumatt Select

So if you have been wondering where to shop for towels, bedding, pillows, blankets.. try the Nakumatt Select brand and waiting to hear your feedback!

Meeting Spots along Mombasa Road

Living off Mombasa Road and working in Upperhill means I rarely go to town (CBD). The traffic jams from Upperhill into town on a weekday evening are epic, it can take you two hours to drive into town, a 10-15 minutes walk. Anyway, if the friend or business acquaintance that you are meeting lives/works along/off  Mombasa road, and you have been looking for a place to meet for a cup of coffee in the evening, consider these places:

Savanna Coffee House at Sameer Business Park

Sameer Business Park
Sameer Business Park
Image from sameerbusinesspark.com

Situated at the expansive, open aired (in the sense that the buildings don’t tower to block out the sun) Sameer Business Park, is another branch of Savanna coffee houses. The location is great, especially if it’s really sunny, you can sit outdoors and enjoy the open space and gazing onto Mombasa road traffic.

In the evening, the lighting is great and ambiance will match the mood; however, mosquitoes invade! In the fading sunlight, they attack your legs under the table, so don’t wear  a short skirt. On the other hand, the cafe closes early, by 7:30 p.m. waiters come to your table to chase you away! So really, it’s a daytime meeting kind of place.

Service is okay, mostly because you will find one or two waiters. The place is rarely crowded. The food is alright, depending on what you want. The usual coffees and teas, the burgers, fries, rice, chicken.. it’s like a  parallel Java menu.

Panari Sky Center & Hotel

Panari Sky Center and Hotel has the only solar ice skating rink in Nairobi. However, I doubt you will want to meet anyone at the skating rink!

Panari Sky Center & Hotel

Panari Sky Center & Hotel

On the ground floor of the hotel, there is Black Gold Cafe, and Shooters & Dips bar. While their latte may be average (as compared to the specialized Java & Savannah), the ambiance is great! It’s warm inside (no mosquitoes), staff are warm and friendly, lighting is good, music is good, food is really good. And closing time is midnight. Their prices are also fair, beer is Ksh. 250.

Panari also has a number of restaurants on the second floor, notable is Pampas Brazilian restaurant for (a lot) meat. I think there is also a bar on the 2nd floor, haven’t explored it. The waiter informed me of a rooftop bar, but it’s only for hotel guests. As a walk-in however, the ground floor should be sufficient for conversation to catch up with old friends, or seal a business deal.

Every so often you’ll probably find me there having coffee in the evening on my way home, but no stalkers please! I just like its convenient location on Mombasa road, a pause as I wait for traffic congestion to ease.

For more info, check out their site

Other Places

On the other side of Mombasa road, there is also Ole Sereni, but I have only been there once for a conference. There’s also Eka Hotel, of which I have heard nothing but good things. If I do go there sometime, I will write about them.

Closer to town, there is Capital Center, with a number of restaurants on the ground floor, including Java. The food-court also houses Chicken Inn & Galitos (I think). There’s a Chinese restaurant on 1st floor as well as a pub. However, I find Capital Center to be rather crowded, if noisy; and I rarely meet anyone here.

Know any other places along Mombasa road, please share!

Added later: 

More places to meet along Mombasa road thanks to a contributor, Patrick:

  •  Bellevue petrol station (there’s a Pizza inn there)
  • Motor sport club south
  • The Boma in South C.
  • Choma Zone just ahead of Imara Daima junction at the Total Petrol Station

OLX working to Promote Chamas

OLX recently launched a partnership with Chamas, where they try to promote the groups through:

  • Training them on how to use OLX and leverage it to raise money for any financial need their group may have. Once the Chamas have been introduced to the OLX platform, they are trained as individuals and as a group.
  • Offering them a platform through which to buy any assets they may have as a group: everything is practically listed on OLX
OLX logo
OLX logo

Although the initiative piloted in Nairobi, OLX is now working with chamas across the country. In order to motivate them, the Chama with the highest number of listings on OLX, gets a cash reward from OLX towards achieving their goal as a group. If the women are also involved in business, they are being encouraged to list their items/services for sale on OLX. All manner of items can get listed, save for illegal or inappropriate stuff.

So if you know of any chama that could need an innovation to take them a notch higher, an idea to raise to funds or sell stuff, do encourage them to sign up for online listing on OLX. It’s time to leverage technology for whatever sector of our lives.

Solving the Rubik’s Cube

I recently composed a list of 30 things to do before 30, you know the kind of bucket lists people make that are half goals, half dreams and a whole lot of resolutions we don’t really mean to keep. So I made that list, but I am not putting it up just yet, I have shared enough of my life’s details on this blog!

Anyway, solving the Rubik’s cube is one of them. I can now happily cross it off my list, it’s conquered. In fact, I have just solved one that I’m walking around with, right now, as I blog this.

Rubik's cube
My own Rubik’s cube

I have always been fascinated by the cube but never really took the chance to learn to solve it, till recently when Google made a interactive doodle in honour of the inventor, Professor Rubik. I tried solving it, gave up, but still tweeted about it and someone offered to teach me, I quickly learned and I am now willing to share that knowledge!

So there are 3 ways (in my view) of solving the cube:

1. Take the cube apart. Arrange the pieces then reassemble them. Least challenging way, there’s no point then, in bothering to “solve” the puzzle!

Professor's_Cube_disassembled
Rubik’s Cube disassembled

 

2. Be a genius with visualization. Look long and hard at the cube, turn it around, solve it in your head, then just move the pieces into place. I don’t know how the guys who set records such as 5.5 seconds do it! It’s amazing watching their hands move faster than your brain can think! Of course they use high quality, low friction cubes to minimize efforts in movement, but still, the way they optimize their moves to solve the cube in the shortest time possible? It’s impressive. They are the speed cubers.

3. Learn the steps. Over the years, a number of people have experimented and written down a series of steps/movements (algorithms) that if you follow, you will end up with the solved cube. The algorithms are designed so that as you progressively solve the cube, you don’t spoil the faces you have already solved. So the movements end up being repetitive at some point, but if you muster them, then you can solve the cube in a very short time, such as  under 1 minute, and you can pretend to be a genius! It’s a good feeling.

There are several algorithms out there, you can search them and try them out once you have a cube. However, I wrote down the simple one I learned from my teacher, so to speak.

Before you try out the algorithms, you must first learn the terminology: top face, front face, middle row etc..  but it should all make sense as the terms are descriptive. Here’s the link to the simple algorithm, so if you wish to learn, try it out and holla if you’re stuck!

Good luck!

Book Review: Den of Inequities

I met Kinyanjui Kombani, the author of Den of Inequities, when BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) had a Daystar training under the Creatives Academy invite, a few months ago. I bought the book and had it autographed, and then it lay around the house for weeks before disappearing into my mother’s handbag for a few more weeks. Finally, I found it and since it’s a small book, I read it in a day, it was a Sunday.

den of inequities
The cover of Den of Inequities by Kinyanjui Kombani

There are three main characters introduced in the book: Omosh, a poor construction worker living in the slums; Gosti, a local thug also living in the slums and Aileen,  beautiful daughter of a rich dad. How do they coexist in the den of inequity that is the city of Nairobi?

The story of each of the characters is written simply and titillatingly,  with the right suspense and description to capture the reader’s attention. I held my breath in some scenes, smiled at others, empathized with the characters, got afraid of some of the cops, sympathized with the thugs, the mungiki (I think it’s called The Chama in the book) and others who were at the mercy of these dirty cops..

The book gives an insight (albeit fictional) into behind the scenes of extra-judicial killings, the announcements you sometimes hear in the news of suspected criminals shot and killed by anonymous people. Take for instance the recent killings of everyone in Maina Njenga’s car; he is the former leader of mungiki. Type into Google Maina Njenga and all you get is dramatic, fatal events surrounding the man. How would you like a look into what’s really going on? Pick the book and it will all make sense!

For Omosh, things go wrong, and he needs a way to make things right; for Gosti he finds himself deeply involved with The Chama, when someone from his past comes calling. Aileen unfortunately tumbles into these events, and now how will it all end?

The one disappointment with this book was the lack of character depth. Maybe because the book was short so there wasn’t enough space to develop the characters. Omosh’s story is especially surprising because he does not seem to be the kind of man who does what the book say he does at the very end. In fact, after the first few pages, he all but disappears only to reappear at the very end. Gosti is the only one whose character is fully developed. I also thought the book would focus on the main characters as introduced by the book description, but they were kind of side stories to the main story: heind the scenes of extra judicial killings.

All in all, it was such an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to everyone I come across. Pick your copy from any bookshop today for only Kshs. 400 (thereabout). My only regret was that the book was too short.

 

What Goes Through the Mind of a 26 Year Old Woman?

I composed this blog post in my head while I sat in traffic, contemplating my life. The radio was tuned into 1FM, it’s the only radio station that has a clear reception, since I am still using the Japanese frequencies that came with the car radio. The music is local and urban hits: basically modern African hits – Mafikizolo, Davido, Sauti Sol, Elani, Diamond Platinumz, Ali Kiba (mapenzi yana run dunia comes to mind) etc. But my thoughts drift…

nairobi traffic
These are the traffic jams I have to go through in the evenings. Plenty of time to think. Image from http://monicahnjeri.files.wordpress.com/

My Son

Of course, he’s always on mind, especially if I am idle. I think about how he will start crying for me from the moment I drive through the gate, rushing towards me so I can pick him up then he smiles and tries to remove my spectacles. He’s already widened them beyond belief and now they hang limp and loose on my face. This means I have to remove them and then there is the delicate balancing act of my son, spectacles, keys, handbag, laptop bag and any groceries I may have bought. Usually, I make sure I drop anything else except Jeremy.

When in traffic, I think about what kind of life I want to give my son. Will I bring him up to be a kind, responsible man? Will I help him achieve his dreams and ambitions? Will I be the kind of mother he would be proud of? Can I set a good example for him to follow? How will I afford his school feels? What kind of schools will I take him to? In fact, where in the world will I bring him up? (This will be relevant when you read later thoughts).

I’m grateful everyday for the support of my parents, I’m still living with them and in a way they are parenting both of us. Will I make it when I move out and start on my own? How tough is this single parenthood journey?

Then I relax and decide it will be a journey, one day at a time, and things will always work out, they always do for me, in the end.

Finances

cash-kenya-shillings
Money, money, money… money (know that song?)

Which leads to finances. I have been working in formal employment for almost 2 years now, but I have little to no savings. Start saving now, they say, while you are still young, no matter how much you earn. It is not easy, I must admit. I live a subsistence kind of life; my salary only sustains me as far as the next salary. I need a side hustle that brings in good money. Or a better job, which will of course mean I increase my expenses and we are back to subsistence. How can I make more money? I ask myself.

I am not the type of person who would depend on another for money & security, I always know I will make my own money. And when we speak with friends, we tell ourselves, can we really make enough in formal employment? Business is the way to go, we agree. Entrepreneurship. Some of my friends are already running their own businesses. Some are working, like me. Not many have the courage to be entrepreneurs, not many were meant to be entrepreneurs.

Career

This could be me and Jeremy..
This could be me and Jeremy.. or is it Jeremy and I?

Which leads me to ask myself, do I like what I am doing? Is it leading me to the path of riches and accomplishments (vain thoughts?)

Do I want to continue working in Ernst & Young in IT audit and consultancy? Is there a future for me here, right now?

Then I remember the decision was already made for me. I have already tendered my resignation letter  but will be here for the next 2 months, then have my last working day in early September. I am leaving EY to go back to school. See next train of thought.

Academics

I recently graduated from Strathmore University with an MSc in Mobile Telecommunication and Innovation. Here is a graduation selfie to prove it :- ) (FYI I graduated three years ago with a first class BSc in Computer Science from JKUAT)

graduation selfie
I am serious looking I know but I was contemplating my accomplishments :)

Did the time I invested in learning at Strathmore, courtesy of the Safaricom Academy worth it? Definitely. I learned not only mobile programming in all platforms (USSD, Android etc), but also project management, business skills, entrepreneurship, leadership and management. I know I will apply them not only now but also in the future, especially when I set up my own business to make more money so I can better take care of my son (all thoughts center around the same issues, as you can see!)

Japan, October 2014

As you wonder why I am resigning from my job with an reputable, international, I will tell you to stop wondering.. here’s why.

I got a Japanese Ministry of Culture and Education (MEXT) scholarship to go and study in Japan, at a university of my choice. I decided to go because I have always wanted to travel, and I’m going to the East first, conquer the world one country at a time. So I am going to the School of Information Science at JAIST to major in Artificial Intelligence. Another MSc. For like 2 years. But I’m young enough, with 2 years of work experience.. and I like studying, and will probably end up in (industry) research. Every tech company worth its salt has invested in research.

So I’m leaving in early October, hopefully, fingers crossed. I’ll leave Jeremy and Bella in my mother’s loving arms, then when I’m settled, I’ll send for J. For the next 2.5 years that I will be in Japan, I couldn’t possibly leave my son behind that long! I will have to do everything possible to reunite us.

Relationships

My friend Pitz tells me a woman is her most attractive at 26. He says there was research carried out, apparently. Or is it a survey? So as you see me today, I am at the height of my attractiveness hehe.. so where are those serious men? How will my ambitions to travel and see and work anywhere the world, to study etc.. how will these ambitions converge with another? Is there someone out there whose path will cross mine? Is it okay if I am not even contemplating marriage? Is it okay if I decide I don’t have to “settle down” and can live the rest of my life in single motherhood?

The thing about relationships is that it’s not your decision alone to make. So until someone else comes along whose decisions I want to be a part of, and vice versa, I shall reserve my stall my train of thought here….

By the time, traffic has started to move, but oh wait, it was just a teaser. The cop halts the flow of traffic after 2 or 3 cars. We sit and wait.. and I finally decide it’s time I solved the Rubik’s cube that I’ve been learning to these past few weeks, in between reading books (I am currently reading the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and I am yet to write the review for Den of Inequities by Kinyanjui Kombani), blogging, meeting friends for coffee, and squeezing in some hours of work between commuting to work in the morning and commuting home in the evening..

Solving Rubik's Cube
I’ve been using a numbered cube to make master the moves faster

The cube is just about solved when traffic finally moves and I zoom home to my family, hooting at bad drivers, cursing at those who cut me off in traffic, and nodding to Elani’s kookoo.. I’m going kookookoo so kookoo coz I…aiaiai love you…… turning up the volume of my Japanese radio.

 

The Langani Trilogy: A Durable Fire / In Borrowed Light

Barbara and Stephanie Keating introduced us to unforgettable characters in the first book of the Langani trilogy, Blood Sisters. (Read the review here). Central to the tale are Sarah, Camilla and Hannah, the three friends who are now blood sisters through an oath they swore, to stay friends forever no matter what. Hannah’s parents own Langani Farm in central Kenya, which the sisters consider home.

The first book ends in tragedy, but I don’t want to give away the story in case you haven’t read it.  The second book, a Durable Fire, picks up from there and spins yet another tale that brings alive the Langani farm and her intriguing cast of characters.

A Durable Fire

A Durable Fire
A Durable Fire

In A Durable Fire, the sisters have all but grown up. Shortly after their 21st birthday, after the tragedy in the first book,  they must pick up pieces of their lives and find the strength to move on. Sarah immerses herself in elephant research in the dry and remote Samburu, finding solace in the unchanging habits of the elephants over the centuries. She works with a  couple, Dan and Allie, that offer her the solace she needs to get over the tragedy. She has an eye for photography and soon, an Indian journalist arrives on the scene, and they have an idea for the book. While working together, an attraction builds between them, but can they overcome their racial, religious and cultural differences?

Camilla, the beautiful London model, has achieved worldwide success and fame. She still longs for Kenya, and for Anthony Chapman, a charismatic tour guide who is a friend to the sisters. They had good times, but she’s a sophisticated London model and socialite; he’s just a bush boy happy when he’s camping in the wild.  Their worlds are separate, but clearly they are meant for each other. Their tale of star-crossed lovers is tragic. Camilla learns the secret of her parents’ cold marriages, who had initially been diplomats in Kenya before retiring to the UK. It’s a secret that keeps her estranged from her father.

Hannah who is married to Lars Olsen, has to take over the running of the farm together with her husband. They keep the farm running, but it doesn’t feel like the danger is over at all. It’s not just poachers or corrupt officials they have to deal with (the farm also includes a wildlife conservancy) but the danger from the past that comes haunting them again. Hannah decides to adopt a black boy at the center of it all, in order to end the cycle of tragedy and bitterness.

If this second book has you hooked, you will then have to read the final book to just know how it all ends.

In Borrowed Light

In Borrowed Light

In Borrowed Light

The book is set 11 years after the second book; the sisters are not young anymore, they are older, mature women in their early 30’s but have they achieved what they they set out to do?

Sarah is married to Rabindrah, the Indian journalist. They have done a number of successful books together. They have been trying to start a family for years, but have been unsuccessful and this is putting a strain on their marriage. Their families aren’t helping either, pointing out their unsuitability in the first place. Sarah, who’s always been the happy, wise(r) one, is becoming sad and bitter. Will they resolve their crisis and save their marriage?

Camilla still cares for Anthony; but she still spends a considerable amount of time in London and New York. She is now a designer of high end clothes with African decorations, and only does select modelling announcements. Will Anthony overcome his stubborn pride and see that he has only unconditional love to gain?

Hannah Olsen’s kids are growing up fast, as kids always do. Her first born daughter, Suniva, is very close with the boy she adopted, James. They are inseparable as they grow up, even into adulthood. Are their parents ready for these relationship? James’ past is unknown to Suniva and to James himself, but terrible things have happened in the past that threaten to keep them apart.

The last book in this trilogy brings out the best and worst in the characters; the endurance and forgiveness and love that defines the very basis of a good story.

I read the first two books using the Amazon Kindle app, and the third I bought from Text Book Center.