Thursday, March 31, 2011


By Aswathy Kumar
Tired of the mad rat race? Take a break and head out to the streets of Nairobi where people seem to have all the time they want
Each one of us is living in a mad mad world. We have no time to think, breathe…leave alone take a few minutes off our hectic schedules to just plain relax…Life for most of us have become nothing but a mere rat race with each one of us trying our best to handle our 24x7 careers, meet deadlines, please our bosses, be the perfect parent and the ideal spouse…all at the same time. We have no time to sit back and chill especially not in the mornings, the craziest of all hours, when we have to make sure we look our best, make sure our kids reach school and be on time for the morning meeting. Mornings have become so maddening that many of us don’t even have time to sit down and finish a bowl of cereal in peace.
Now that’s what you thought life was in general in most parts of the world. You must have been almost hundred percent sure that at least in most of the metropolitan cities, people like you and me were living the insane rollercoaster life. But come to Nairobi and Voila! Your perception on life is sure to change in a snap.
Believe it or not…but here people actually seem to be in no hurry…be it morning, day or night!  Now is this not a metro city like any other? Of course it is! It has the best of glittery malls, state of the art multiplexes, hi-rise buildings and what not? Then don’t they have nagging bosses, children they need to drop to school and deadlines to meet? I bet they do. But surprisingly here people seem to have all the time in the world.
Don’t believe me? Head out to any of the so-called busy roads say for example Ngong Road, Karen Road or Langata Road during the peak hours. And you are sure to come across a straight line of cars waiting patiently for their turn before they can zoom ahead to reach their respective destinations. Now I can understand that it is peak hours and traffic jams are a common feature in any part of the world. But in Nairobi, jams are not usually caused by the sheer volume of cars on the road. For all you know the kilometer long jam must have been the work of a driver who chose to drive at 20kmh on an empty road.
What amazes me is how these guys can stand at the same spot for hours and hours without honking even once or raising a fist at the guy who was driving so slow that even a cyclist could have overtaken him in no time.  
Peek inside any of these cars and you are sure to see the driver, probably some big shot at a multinational or an investment banker, scanning the morning paper or relishing a tuna sub. Now he could have read the whole morning paper back to back and finished the monstrous sub and find that his car has not even budged a little. Now if this was any other part of the world, not only would he have hooted like a maniac but would have stepped out of his car went all the way up to the chap causing the jam and reminded him of who he is and thrown some daunting threats at him making sure he never went below 100 in his entire life. 
But here in Nairobi it’s a whole different story. Here Mr. Driver is in no hurry. Here he will patiently wait till the chap in front has finished blowing a thousand kisses to his wife on the other end of the phone and spoken to each of his five kids. Forget hooting or cursing, he will not even frown to show his frustration. He will simply put down his paper, finish his sandwich and go onto the next task to keep him occupied.  Forget peak hours…even if it’s on a Sunday afternoon where the entire main road is practically empty you are sure to get stuck behind a Prado or a Pajero driving slower than an Asian tuk tuk. 

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