Tuesday, 5 March 2013

While I was running...

I went for a run today. In Kenya. What the f*ck is wrong with me?

To give you the background, its election time in Kenya right now which means that at any moment, things COULD kick off big time, so it's a good idea to stay away from crowded places, basically just stay at home.

But being at home allllllllll day is boring and sitting still isn't something I'm good at :)

I decided to go for a run around the secure neighbourhood I'm staying in, and what I love about this neighbourhood is that you could even run around here after dark and you'd be safe, there are security guards and people everywhere.

So at 6.30pm I was suffering from cabin fever and decided I would go for a run. I don't really run anywhere most of the time.

So I'm running around the estate with my headphones blaring some Pitbull and I'm vaguely aware of someone behind me, so I stop and turn around to see 7 Kenyan children/teenagers running behind me laughing their heads off and jogging just like me.

Well I felt like Forrest Gump!

It was so funny, they were so cute and asked if they could take a photo of me on their phone, even though I  was a little sweaty THE SWEATIEST THING EVER...

In conclusion: Go running in 30 degree heat. You'll sweat but you'll feel good and meet people you might not otherwise meet :)

Why don't we talk to each other in England?

Usually I write about cats and sunshine on here, but it's been a while since I wrote a blog and it's currently election time in Kenya, so my perspective has slightly changed. I still love cats, don't worry.

Every day I'm here I find something that I can learn from Kenyans. They are so genuine, so welcoming and so community spirited that it puts me and my British reserved ways to shame. Why are we so afraid of making conversation with strangers these days in England? We're so afraid of each other that we've forgotten the simple thrill of a three minute conversation with a complete stranger just in case they turn out to be a 'weirdo'.

And this isn't just me as a tourist having conversations with locals. This is what I've observed over the few months I've been here, locals greeting each other, shaking hands then holding them as they continue the conversation, not being afraid to invade personal space, climbing over each other in the matatu, parents passing their children to the conductor as they climb in and out of the matatu.

It feels like everyone knows everyone here, or they know someone who knows them and for that reason I feel safer than in England. I've seen a few examples of mob justice here, where if a pickpocket or similar criminal is seen and caught by people around them, they'll be beaten. While I might not enjoy watching this and agree with it, to me it's better than what we do in England - turn a blind eye and look the other way. We're too scared to get involved that we walk away from the situation.

I'm sure there's a whole lot wrong with the justice system here, I'm not naive and I'm not saying that Kenya is perfect, but when it comes to the general basics of treating others and you would want to be treated yourself, I'm enjoying being part of it. Maybe I'll try and strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus back in Leeds, but knowing my luck they will actually turn out to be a weirdo.

Here's a picture of my cat to counteract this post:

In conclusion: Talking is good and it actually gets you things in life! It always help to network and have contacts but in England we've stepped away from this with the entry of fandangled technology. Our eyes are getting weaker looking at small screens and we've forgotten the art of simple conversation, instead wondering 'why is this person talking to me?' Roll with it and talk, see what happens.