Tag Archives: motorbike

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.

Leaving For Kampala

As I write this, am packing and unpacking and repacking. I’ve sat on the suitcase and finally managed to have it closed. Now I have to figure how the rest of my stuff is going to fit into other two small bags. The situation looks hopeless. To get away from this depressing mood, I’m thinking of motorcycles. My current wallpaper (desktop background) is a picture of the kind of bikes used at the 30th edition of the Dakar Rally. [Google it.]

 

The bike used in the Dakar rally, super cool, eh?
The bike used in the Dakar rally, super cool, eh?

On my list of things I want to achieve this year: Learn how to ride a motorbike. Check. Learn French, next target. When I get back to Nairobi, I’m applying for a motorbike license. Some are still asking me, why a bike?

I’ve been trying to explain how I’m trying to be unique. Graduation may not be for another three months, but when it finally arrives, most of my fellow graduands will be arriving for the rehearsal ceremony in borrowed/begged/rented/stolen cars to impress. I, on the other hand, will be on a motorcycle, which is way cooler and more impressive not to mention different.

Nonetheless, my motorcycle lessons were interesting. To start with, there was no theory and even if there was, I don’t think I would have understood much of my teacher’s Congolese Kiswahili. So here are the parts of the motorcycle as I understand them:

Umbriage: (I hope I have spelled it correctly, that is how it is pronounced): I suppose this is the clutch. Located on the left handlebar, you have to hold it when shifting gears and release it so you can shoot forward. Which is what I’ve been doing when I’m starting up the bike. You’re supposed to release the clutch slowly so you can leave smoothly but I usually let go so fast, the bike almost leaves me behind. Takes practice though and am almost getting the hang of it.

The Tia Moto Thing: Usually on the right handlebar, it’s the part that gives you power so you can accelerate. The vroom vroom part just before you leave. Accelerators on bikes have a different name though, am sure. Too lazy to google. It’s easily my favorite part of the bike. Vroom vroom!

Honi: the horn. At first I was honking all the time, because most people you find on the road don’t move out of the way. No matter how much you honk. So I’ve learned to just honk a little warning so they don’t make any sudden movements and then I’m the one who moves out of their way!

The brake: I find it easier to stop by stepping on the break instead of down-shifting until you stop, though stepping on the break shuts down the bike so you have to kick-start it into life again.
The lights of the bike I was using to learn were not working so I was just shown theoretically using my imagination. I have to remember to use the left side of the road in Kenya because in Rwanda they drive on the right.

I don’t know many other parts of the motorbike but I suppose that’s what mechanics are for, no? But… that’s what the internet is there for. Or is there a good book on motorbikes that anyone can recommend?

The day I was able to ride on my own, turning corners, starting and stopping, was my best day of learning. There was no teacher behind me, just me and the bike. Sometimes they’d shout instructions when am passing by: shift gears, sit properly (they want me to sit relaxed but I’m usually too tense, leaning forward wanting to be one with the bike.)

I overpaid for the lessons, I was supposed to have 17 hours in total, one hour daily. These guys came late and left early and missed some days, and we hopelessly tried to make up for the lost lessons. Then they told me that when I’m leaving, I should leave them a present. They gave me an example of someone they had taught who bought one of them a brand new mobile phone. Ha!

In the end though, it was totally worth it.

P.S. Tonight, I’m taking the bus to Kampala. Time to say hi to some friends over there before coming back to Nairobi.

First Class Honours Degree in Computer Science

When I first entered JKUAT, I was determined to get out with a first class honours degree. And I got it! I’ve been walking on air this past week because I’m ecstatic.

What does this mean? It means I get a teaching job at the university as a teaching assistant, a scholarship possibly to do my graduate studies and possibly numerous job offers from top companies with fat cheques. Well, a girl can dream. And I’m definitely a dreamer.

 

First class honours, sweet, yeah?
First class honours, sweet, yeah?

I dream of going to Oxford or MIT. I’m leaning more towards MIT ‘cause they have this Masters Program: Theoretical Computer Science that I’m interested in. That’s the theory behind computers, did you know that the modern computer was thought of, and worked out theoretically, long before there was technology to actually build one? Charles Babbage thought of the computer (analytical engine) in 1822? So I’ll be among the team of the Charles Babbages of the future, get it? (Btw, Ada Lovelace was his assistant. One of the earliest programming languages was named after her. She’s Lord Byron- the poet-’s daughter.)

Some students have asked for tips for getting a first class honours degree, the trick is simple, get As in every unit. Aspire to get 90% and if you get 70%, that’s still an A. Get more advice here: Savvy’s Guide for Campus Students.

When I was in first year, I was very enthusiastic, I never missed lessons, I woke up early to study, I read ahead, I did research, I did the homework/assignments, never copied etc. I was good girl.

With time, my enthusiasm wavered. It’s only natural, it’s human to lose interest after a while. I read less, skipped more classes, copied assignments (shhh…don’t tell) but I never copied during CATs or exams.

However, I didn’t let my grades slip and I read a lot towards exam time.

During exams, I slept at least 8 good hours. I’m not a last minute readers, so if I had a paper at 8.30 a.m. I’d wake up at 7.30 a.m., have a good breakfast and head to the exam room.

I didn’t cram (most times), cramming is so high school. I understood first. Then if I wanted to, I could cram later so I could write answers word by word. So even if I forget what I crammed, since I understood, I could recall the answers.

Undergraduate studies are more of recall than reasoning. Lecturers don’t have time to create new questions, every question they ask has been asked before. So do your revision well.

First class honours. I’m still wrapping my mind around that. During graduation, my three names will be read! I can’t wait to go for graduation (which is not until June/July), I had told my classmates I’d come vroom vrooming on a motorbike. I’m taking lessons as I write this.

redmotorbike
Well, I dream of something like this.