PHILSEZ: Obama hangover ends, city slowly back to normal

By: PHILIP MWANIKI

The Obama hangover is pretty much over and the city and country are back to normal. By normal, I mean the tribal politics have returned with a vengeance, corruption stories are back in the headlines and the word “Beast” is inscribed on every Probox’s rear.

But what will really signal Nairobi’s return to normalcy will be the lines at fast food restaurants, not at lunch time but at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Many Nairobians know of a smoky joint on Moi Avenue with a statue of an American police officer at the entrance.

Now, blindfold that said Nairobian and drop him at that place at 2pm and I can bet they won’t recognise the place when the sun is up.

You see, Sonford has fast become the place most Nairobians visit before the first rays of the morning sun descend on the city.

I, for one, can’t recognise the place without the sleepy and moody cashiers who, and I know this for a fact, never respond to “Sasa” or “Niaje?”

You see them behind the metal grills looking like they can’t believe it’s not the end of their shift yet.

No matter how bubbly you are, the first thing they say to you is, and I want somebody to dispute this; “Unataka?”

They have no time to chit chat — I know I wouldn’t either after having to deal with drunk youth the whole night. The hardest people to deal with in Nairobi are drunks, City Council askaris, matatu and Probox drivers and watchmen outside clubs. In that order.

USUALLY IN PAIRS

The thing about drunks at Sonford is they are usually in pairs like they are entering Noah’s Ark — sleepy, tired and bloody drunk. That is the worst combination outside of a drunk who has smoked weed.

Drunk men, I have to realiSe, are the epitome of gentlemen. I am not one, so don’t think I am biased here.

They hold hands, they carry handbags, they buy those roadside eggs and shell them out for their partners and, at Sonford, they ask their women to take the high stool as they go to buy a quarter chicken and chips.

They even have the courtesy to ask the women; “Umesema chips ni masala ama plain?” When they are sober, they never have this kind of patience and courtesy.

So the drunk guy will walk up to our moody and sleepy cashiers, ask for a meal and then insist on paying in coins. Imagine Sh400 in tattered 50 bob notes and Sh5 coins? You would be moody, too.

Once you are done with the cashiers, the conveyor belt moves to the chips area where the guy, who I believe smells like potatoes now, proceeds to give you two scoops before telling you; “Kuku ni huko…”

Back to the drunk dude who forgot to order for masala and instead asked for “plain” chips, he walks up to his date who has already blacked out and spends two minutes coaxing her to wake up and eat. “Babe, shika chipo yako; leo ziko poa sana,” he says.

“Mimi staki chipo, wako na kriba (crisps)?.”

The dude is shocked, “si uliniambia unataka masa…” (he looks at the bag and notices they are plain and goes to complain to the cashiers, saying they gave him the wrong order).

She will insist how she doesn’t eat fries because she is losing weight but because she is hungry and drunk, she says; “Hata nime dance sana leo, so naweza kula” without caring if she’s having masala or plain fries.

They leave the premises smelling like they were the ones who delivered the potatoes and chicken because of the smoke. But they are happy because their tummies are full.

They will stand outside Sonford for a while, kiss, yell sweet nothings before the dude receives a call and says, “Sema sweetie?” words that sober up the girl, who starts asking, “Sweetie?” to which our drunk fool will say, “Tulia, ni mathe…”

Whose mother is awake at 4am Saturday morning? You know, the fight that ensues is epic. If I have a chance of witnessing that, I will know that my Nairobi is back… even if Kidero’s grass is still years away from growing.