Dear Travel Diary: Uptown Twilight

LOCATION: Nairobi Night Walk

The highway is at a standstill. Its 5:30pm, around the time when the city is packing its bags for the day and the sun doesn’t seem to want to go away. We had decided to walk from Kileleshwa to town, you know, for the exercise, but if we were really honest, it’s one of the habits we can’t really shake off that we actually love. The walk from Chiromo right through the campus, drooling over the vintage architecture and perfectly manicured lawn that can cure a psychological disorder. But we have found gossiping about the cute medical students can cure that too. The really tall trees seem to know every student by name, and you can almost feel them judging you for not belonging there.

Anniversary towers just blushes at sunset while Nairobi Safari Club, the hotel that seems to have been modeled after a maize cob, looks like it’s getting blinded by all the light. Suits walking everywhere, droning on and on about office gossip, wishing they didn’t have to wake up so early the next day just to get back to the same old mundane routine.

The street children come out to play, at a time when other children are fighting over who goes home with the ball. They ask for a bob* or two, but they clean up so nice you know their mother is lurking nearby. Little boys half your age yet with experiences of guys many years older than you, as a friend put it, makes you curious as to what stories life has handed them.

Nairobi by Night – Photo by Mutua Matheka

Its now dark, sun-downer has just played its last song and the light breeze has become full-blown disrespectful wind that tries to blow away the serviette you got when you bought something to eat a while back. The swaying trees look like they are discussing all they have seen on that day, and there are lights everywhere. City lights making you see just how beautiful the buildings are, and the lights inside the buses betraying the snoring, drooling old man and the sneering girl seated next to him with earphones on wishing she would die.

A walk through the city at night is like a journey. Whether spiritual, emotional or mental, you cannot help but marvel at its audacity to flaunt its assets. You see the same things everyday but they seem to speak a different language that you magically understand, everytime. The pit stops and water breaks taken whether at a supermarket or at a restaurant serving food smothered in hepatitis teach you a thing or two more often than not, and the warm winds blowing through the night reassure you that all that is going to be there when you come back.

You gotta love it, You gotta love Nairobi by night.

By Pauline Ayuko



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