Archive for the ‘Life’ Category


Sometimes, momentous events take place on random, ordinary days. Not the first of the month, or the day before your birthday, or the day of a major terrorist attack. Just a random, unremarkable day. But that may be the day that changes your life.

That decision that you have been thinking about, but felt unprepared for, or that you have felt things were not in place for yet. But time has been passing and the situation has not changed, or has gotten worse.

So one random, unremarkable day you hear something, or read something and you just decide. You make a decision to act. And you do. 

And your life is never the same again.

Yesterday, I decided.

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Do It!

Hello dear reader!
You still there? Did you give up on me?

This post is going to be a bit random.
I turned 40 over one and a half years ago, (and I didn’t even post here about it!) and as seems to happen around that time and after in people’s lives, I have had opportunity to think about (my) life.

I have realised that I’m one of those people who gets ideas about something, then overthinks it and eventually the zeal dies away and the thing does not get done.

I think it’s one of the reasons I have not been blogging here as often as is possible. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, I often think of things to write, then I think of how I should compose it and so on, then I don’t get round to actually doing it and the many thoughts I had go away. And time goes away too.

Today, I read someone’s update on Facebook. It said something like ‘Do something today, that you will be happy about in a year.’

I recently also listened to a Ted Talk (I think. I’m not sure because it was my wife watching it on her phone and I was just hearing it). The talk was about procrastinators (like myself). It said procrastinators usually get to do things in a panic at the last minute before a deadline, so they *do* get to (barely) meet deadlines. However, there are things in life without a deadline (such as eating healthy, exercise, building wealth), so unless conscious effort is made, these things will remain undone, and the effects will be seen later.

So I have decided to take action. That is the reason I am actually writing this directly on my blog, as opposed to first composing it nicely offline, then editing it, then looking for appropriate images, then eventually (not) posting.

Moral of the story: Do it. Take action. Start now.


“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky


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Part One is here.

First stop was a slide. In my estimation, it was maybe 10 metres high. That is about 3 floors up.
“How much?”
It sounded like a lot
Someone must have asked if that price was per slide (as in the child slides down just once) because the man replied and said “No many times.”
Ah, that’s not bad. Indeed the number of times a child could slide was unlimited. In fact, as I stood there, it was some parents who were telling their children to leave.
I later thought it was a self-limiting thing.
For each slide, the child has to climb maybe 50 stairs, then slide down and climb up again. Naturally, the child gets tired of climbing.

After sliding a number of times, Amor finally said she had had enough.
“Utaenda mara moja ya mwisho ama umetosheka?”
(Will you go once more or you are satisfied?)
“Nimetosheka,” she said.

Next was the small Ferris wheel. Pretty basic. Maybe 4 metres high. And manually operated.
When I say manually, I mean people make it rotate and stop by hand (and leg and whole body). It started drizzling as Amor was waiting to get onto the Ferris wheel, so I gave her her jumper/jacket and my hat.

Do not be misled by my quiet description. The place was noisy! Children yelling, music, some shouting. Particularly prominent was a man inviting people to his booth to see allegedly amazing things. If you look in the background (on the right hand side) of the video above, you will see some of the drawings outside his booth – a bodiless head, a pygmy, mermaid…
“Mbao! Mbao!Mbao! Mbao!Mbao! Mbao!
Mbao mtu mkubwa shilingi kumi mtoto,” he said.
(“Twenty shillings for an adult, ten for a child!”)
“Wewe! Umeleta pesa yako?”
(“You! Have you given me your money?”)
(He was not too big on politeness).
“Nyumba ni ndogo lakini maajabu ni kubwa!”
Later, I heard him now saying “Mbao kila mtu. Nimesema mbao kila mtu.”
(“Twenty shillings per person. I have said twenty shillings per person.”)

On a side note, ‘Mbao’ is a corruption of the word pound. It means twenty (usually shillings). I hear that it came into use when the British pound was worth twenty Kenya Shillings. It is now worth about 140 Shillings.

We went to the mini-train, perhaps the very same train that my dad took me to when I was a kid. Or maybe not. We also went to one of the merry-go-rounds, and after that Amor had a camel ride.

There were very many secondary school students in uniform around. Many were taking photos at the many photo booths around. These booths had backdrops consisting of photos of people that looked like the actors in those Mexican soaps. A number also had pictures of the Jamaican artist Konshens who recently visited Nairobi. I contemplated taking a photo in one of the booths with Amor, but thought that years later she might not see the joke and might think her dad was shady.

Later, we visited a few of the agricultural stands and saw some cows and sheep and vegetables, but soon it was time to leave. Buses were charging 150/- per seat, because of the rain. Kenya Bus was charging a bit less, but for that you’d have to queue in the rain. It should have cost at most 50/- on a regular day. The rain ensured that the buses got passengers despite their extortionist fare. I finally got Amor home at about 8:30, I think.


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Show – In this case, The Nairobi International Trade Fair. It used to be called the Nairobi Show.
Bodaboda – motorbikes that carry passengers usually short distances – up to maybe 6 kilometres

The chaos started just as the matatu (public service van) slowed down at the stop, even before it actually stopped. The motorbike guys, upon seeing me with a child, immediately started offering to take us to “Show ndani.” (into the Show) There were also some guys selling balloons.
No, No, I said making my way past them, but encountering many more motorbike guys.
“Do you have a helmet?” I asked.
“Yes. ”
“How many?”
“No thanks.”
I looked at the many motorbikes there and did not see any with two helmets.
Just the same morning, my wife had told me how a colleague of hers encountered an accident. There was a motorbike rider and his passenger. The motorbike rider had been wearing a helmet, while his passenger had not. The motorbike was nursing a leg injury. The passenger was not nursing anything, chiefly because his head had split open.

One rider followed us and made his offer as well.
“Do you have a helmet?”
“How many?”
Moja aje na tuko watatu?” (How do you have one and there’s three of us?)
“Helmet ni wewe ndio utavaa mtoi hatavaa na ni hapa tu.
(It’s you who will wear the helmet, not the child and we are going just here.)
Later, I wondered if that guy has a child.
I told him to bring his bike, since it seemed no one had more than one helmet.
When he arrived, I gave the helmet to Amor, told the rider to go slowly and off we went. We arrived without incident and the rider set us down at a place near a sign saying ‘No Bodabodas beyond this point.’

There were VERY MANY people around, a good number of whom were pupils in school uniform. It turned out we still had a bit of a walk to reach the gates.
Again, predictably, there were guys selling things for children – mainly balloons and shades.
“Buy this one that matches what she is wearing”
The balloons were those long ones that had been blown and twisted and had a loop. A number of the sellers placed the balloons on Amor’s head. I firmly refused to buy. I asked Amor if she wanted any of those things and she said no.
I bought two bottles of water, though.
At various points, we passed groups of the uniformed pupils forming lines and holding hands. I remembered what my wife had told me, that when they were young and used to go to the show, they would be told to hold hands or they would get lost.
I told Amor, “If you get lost, or if I get lost,” (I added this because it’s a matter of perspective, isn’t it?), “don’t start looking for me. Just stay where you are until I come find you. Do you hear?”
“What did I say?”
“If I get lost and you get lost, I don’t start looking for you. I just stay where I am until you come find me.”
“Good. Because if you start looking for me and I start looking for you, you may be going like this,” (I moved one hand in a semi-circle) “and I am going like that,” (I moved my other hand in a semi-circle away from the first hand) “and we don’t find each other.
I will go back to the places we have been until I find you.”

We queued for a security check and queued again for tickets, but both queues moved pretty quickly. Ticket prices were 300/- for adult and 250/- for a child. Then we were in.

Almost immediately, Amor asked me “Wapi pahali pa kucheza?” (Where are the places for playing?)
I decided that since we were late (it was maybe a few minutes to 2:00 p.m.) we should start with the fun fair, so that if we run out of time, at least we will have done that.
So off we went to try and locate the places for playing.

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This post has been lying in my flash disk for over one year. And I call myself a blogger. The info should still be reasonably current. I have updated where I can.


This blog is named Baba Amor, so I think there should be a bit more content related to the said Amor. When I get to spend time with Amor, one of the issues I usually need to consider is where to take her. So I decided to write a blog post about places to go in Nairobi.

* Children’s World
This indoor play area at Adams’ Arcade used to have slides, tunnel slides, pools of balls, places to climb, a theatre, books. Charges used to be 250/- an hour, but sadly, it closed.

A similar place opened at The Galleria Mall. It is smaller and charges 500/- an hour



It has small slides, zip line, trampoline, ball pool, carts
I think this place is more suitable for younger children up to maybe 6.
Train ride available in the parking lot at 200/- I think, for a ride of about 5 minutes.


I think they now also have small boats on an inflatable pool in the parking area.

* The Hood
Has swings and trampoline.
Strictly speaking, it may be illegal to have children in a place selling alcohol.

* Prestige Plaza

Prestige Plaza has different things at different times. The more or less constant ones are a merry-go-round and one of those ‘obstacle’ course things (below). I have once taken Amor there for roller-blade lessons. I think it was 300/- or 500/- for half an hour.



Star Jump is usually available.

Sometimes there are events there which may charge separately.


* Uhuru Park
From the days of my childhood, the Uhuru Park boats are still there.
Boat ride is – 150/- for 30 minutes. I think it went up to 200/-

There are other rides such as bouncing (bouncy?) castle and merry go-round offered independently and you pay for each.


There are those (once battery-operated) cars that the child sits in and is pushed – 50/- for about 5 minutes (one is shown below under Luna Park that is still battery-operated). The first time I went there with my then girlfriend now wife, she was worried that the guy pushing the car could run off and disappear with Amor. I was amused.
Horse ride is – 100/-
Camel ride should be 100/- also

Be warned that as soon as you are spotted with a child, you will likely be swarmed by people selling toys – balloons, whistles, shades and offering face-painting, photos that will be printed before you leave and so on.

* Luna(r?) Park
Just next to Uhuru Park is Luna Park.
It has mainly electric rides and each costs about 200/-
Dodge’em cars
Ferris wheel
Boats on an inflatable pool



This car is still remote-controlled. The Uhuru Park ones are usually pushed by the operators.



The horrifying Banana Boat – it scares adults

Luna Park tends to be more expensive than Uhuru Park

* Jolly Roger

Jolly Roger is in Karen, off Lang’ata Road near Mamba Village

You pay an entry fee – 200/-? per person and you can access all play areas. You may not carry in your food, but must buy from the establishment if you want to eat.
It has a small pool, water slide, swings, bouncing castle.

Amor *loved* this water slide

Amor *loved* this water slide

* Swimming

There are many places to swim.
Kilimani Kivu Last time I was there it was I think 400/= per adult and 200/- for children
Ministry of Works
Methodist Guest House – tends to be very crowded, but I heard they increased their rates so maybe the crowds thinned.
Rowallan Camp near Jamhuri Showground – I think it is 150/= for adults and 100/= for children
We once went to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital on Othaya Road specifically for Amor to play there. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Upper Hill Springs

I have not looked at the play facilities there for a while. There used to be swings and slides and a bouncing castle.

* The Junction and TRM

There also have play areas and I think they charge 1,000/= per child, but I have not been there

I’d be glad to hear of the places you go. Or went when you were a child ๐Ÿ™‚

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I attended Amor’s school’s prize-giving day.
I arrived and sat just a few minutes before the guest of honour arrived. Good thing for me too because chairs ran out. There were tents that had been set up and decked approximately in the schools colours. After the national anthem, the guest of honour inspected a guard of honour of the scouts and girl guides. Pupils from various classes made various presentations: songs, poems, dances.

Guard of honour

Guard of honour

I noticed two things: One was that the pupils presenting were mainly girls, especially in groups from the upper classes. I think the ratio of boys to girls presenting was around 1 to 7 or more. In fact, I noticed one group had three boys as they came onto the front singing. Turned out the boys were there to crack some jokes as part of the presentation.

The second thing was that the songs sung were predominantly Christian songs. These were sung even by groups that had girls wearing hijabs in them. I wondered if the teachers who taught these songs thought about this. Maybe they consider it a form of ministry. I also wondered what the hijab-wearing girls and their parents thought about this.

The pupils were supposed to share a microphone, but in many cases, the one holding the mic hogged it, so that it was predominantly her voice that was heard.

Amor received a prize for her performance last year. I noticed that we are indeed still fairly British. I think every person I saw carried their prizes still wrapped, as opposed to the American way where you open presents immediately upon receipt.

After the event was over, parents went to collect report forms and marked exam papers from the class teachers, and also to discuss the pupils’ progress. Amor had topped her class again this term, and was third in the entire Standard Two. The teacher said she loves books and is always doing something book-related. Amor told me last month that from 3:10 to 4:30 p.m, pupils in her class draw, while some do modelling using plasticine. She herself does revision because she does not have a drawing book and she does not like modelling, because some of the plasticine is soft and sticks to the hands. I bought her a drawing book that day.

“Do you know what an ATM is?”
Amor shook her hed.
“Do you know what this is?” I asked showing her my Visa-branded ATM card.
“What is it?”
“What is it for?”
Kama huna pesa unalipa nayo.
(“When you don’t have money you pay with it.”)
(Visa’s advertising seems to be working).
We went to an ATM.
“See what is written up there?” I asked pointing at the large letters ‘ATM’
We waited as the lady at the machine finished and left.
I put in my card and keyed in my PIN.
Amor was ready to extract the money. She seemed to know what to expect.
Then she put her had ready for the receipt.

We went to the bank and got a ticket.
The number on it was 1699.
“Can you read this number?”
“No,” she said.
I covered the first three digits, showing only the last.
“What number is this?”
“Nine,” she said. That one was easy.
I then showed her the last two digits
“Ninety-nine,” she read.
“Good. What comes after ninety-nine?”
“A hundred,” she replied.
“When you count up to one hundred and ninety-nine, what comes next?”
“Two hundred.”
She correctly read the ‘699.’
“Good. Then when you count up to nine hundred and ninety-nine, what comes next? When you count up to five hundred, then six hundred up to nine hundred and ninety-nine, what comes next?”
“One thousand.”
I showed the whole ticket number
“One thousand, six hundred and ninety-nine,” she said.

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My wife, son and I were driving from seeing a friend.
The engine temperature indicator started flashing red. We stopped for lunch.
After lunch, the car started okay. We drove maybe 2.2km metres then the car stalled, just behind Junction. I pushed it to the side of the road, which was quite a task, because the middle part of the road was raised higher than the sides.
Get a new battery? Call a friend for help? Stop a car to jump start?

Jumper cable

Jumper cable. Free pic from http://morguefile.com/creative/cohdra

A pickup drove by and my wife, being the one who is more inclined to talking to strangers, asked them to help.
The pickup turned and parked next to our car, partly blocking the one lane of the road.

We successfully jump-started the car.
We gave the helpful men 200/- and drove off.

The car stalled again near The Junction, not very far from where we had jump-started it.
I again pushed the car about 140m into the mall’s parking lot.
I called our mechanic and spoke to him about battery specifications, so we’d know which battery to get.
We went into Nakumatt and bought new battery.
The car started nicely and we drove off again.

We had gone maybe 3.2km (two miles) when the indicator started flashing again, and, sure enough, the car stopped.
We paused there a few moments.
I started the car and drove off the road.
A cop came to complain that we should not park on the road.
Really, Mr Officer? You think I just decided to park on the road?

I took a matatu (public transport minibus) to a petrol station about 1 km away
How much is coolant?
600/- said one attendant.
650/-, said another.
I paid 600/-
There was a paper on one of the pumps that indicated that coolant was 510/-
Back to the car.
Added coolant. Started again and drove off.
2.5 km on, the car stalled near another petrol station. We managed to get it into the station.
An attendant said car was overheating. He seemed surprised that we did not know this.
He added water to the car’s engine. We waited a bit and finally went home well.

Lesson firmly learnt: When the engine temperature indicator flashes, just add coolant or water. Better still, check coolant levels in the morning when the car is still cool and top up as necessary. (Opening the cover when the engine is hot usually results in the release of lots of hot steam and hot water, hence the morning time).




Car Trouble 1

car Trouble 2


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Some background.
I got a Samsung Galaxy Y-Pro Duos in Sept 2012.
In May 2013, I won a new phone by cracking a cipher.
After several delays (the friend who was giving away the phone lives outside Kenya) I finally collected the new phone from our mutual friend George (of Half-Marathon fame). It was a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

After getting home and taking a few pictures, I opened the box, looked at the quick start guide and opened the phone to put in my SIM Card.

IMG_9861Alas! My SIM card did not fit. The quick start guide had said that the phone takes a microSIM card only. What to do, what to do? I Googled and found that you can cut the SIM card yourself. Or buy a SIM cutter on EBay. I called my wife to ask her to pass by a phone shop and ask them if they cut SIM cards to microSIMs. She said she would call a friend who also has/had an SIII and find out what she had sone about SIM cards. She said the friend got hers cut at a Safaricom shop. Another friend also said they got their SIM card cut for them for 100/-.

After watching a video and reading a few articles that gave the dimensions of a microSIM, I went ahead and cut the SIM card myself. After a few attempts and further trimming, I successfully slid (shoved?) it into the new phone. Yay!
I switched on the phone and ‘No SIM card,’ it said.
Tried again. No SIM card. Pushed it further in.
No SIM Card…
Looks like I will have to wait for tomorrow after all.

I put the SIM card back in the Y Pro and got varying results as I moved it from one SIM card slot to the other – sometimes the phone would ‘see’ it, sometimes it would not.

Transfer of contacts.
I finally got the YPro to see the SIM card. I copied all the contacts that were on the SIM card to the phone.
I Googled again and found that there were software applications that allow you to easily transfer stuff from one phone to another. Having once downloaded Samsung’s own Kies software, I tried installing it on my computer to transfer via my phone. The installation could not continue because the computer did not have an Internet connection. Bah.

Then I remembered seeing ‘Send Namecard via’ on the Y Pro.
I went to it and saw that one of the options was via Bluetooth. What’s more, there was an option for Select All! I did not need to send the contacts one by one.

I connected the two phones via Bluetooth, shared the contacts and voila! All the contacts were transferred! I had feared that it would take a while since I was transferring many contacts (over 400, I think), but it took only a few seconds.

I got a microSIM and an adapter from Safaricom for KShs 100/-, I think. The adapter is to be used if I want to use the microSIM with a phone that takes the larger, regular-sized SIM cards.

160MB to 16GB
The SIII has 16GB memory, while the YPro has 160MB (excluding the memory card that some apps do not use). That is 100 times as much space! No more warnings that I am running out of space. No more having to choose which apps to delete to install a new one. Now more having to uninstall and reinstall apps just to get an updated version (Updates used to fail because of insufficient space). Naturally, I was elated!

Some things I was now able to enjoy:
I installed Handcent SMS

  • allows you to attach a contact as plain text not business card
  • has the option to delay sending a message lest you spot an error or decide you are being rude and want to rephrase


  • I liked that you could set a repeating event to something like ‘Every third Sunday’ instead of the calendar picking the same date every month
  • It also offers customised reminder time, instead of forcing you to select from predetermined options

Tells % of battery charge remaining
The Y Pro Duos would only tell you the percentage when charging.

Now, I wanted a cover for the new phone.

Phone shop at Karen
Flip cover – KShs 2,500/=
Base cover – 1,000/= (the kind that covers only the back and sides of the phone)

Phone shop inside Nakumatt Karen
Flip – 2,500/=
Base – out of stock

Bright Technologies, Kimathi Avenue
Flip – 2,500/=

Moi Avenue near the Nation Couriers office
Flip – 1,500/=
Base – 700/=

Discount? 1,200/=
Of course I took the cover.

How much to put protective film on the face of the phone?
There was another client present who was lamenting about bubbles on the film that had been put for him. It was being redone for him. I asked if I would get a well-done job.
The shop guy offered to put the film put for free!
So I got a flip cover and film for 1,200/- only!

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On his birthday last year (2013), a friend of mine posted a cipher in a group to which I belong. He said whoever cracks it would get a prize worth a bundle.

The cipher was:

Ism mgyc ksg g Gcwmo 4 Ougcaemsgc! Cugyi ———@augyi.esu osc ismc eccocga

(I have replaced his email address (which was known to me) with ‘———‘)

He said: The only clue is this: the letters used on fast-forward buttons on old tape recorders.
1. How old am I?
2. Museveni, a third.

Then he said we would need a tool to crack the cipher.

I Googled cipher tools and eventually landed on:


This changed the code to:

Ism zglc kst g Tcjmo 4 Ougpnrzstc! Cugyv ———@augyv.esu bsp ismp rpcoctn



LO* *A*E *O* A *E***ย  *MA****O*E EMAI* ———GMAI*COM *O* LO** **E*E**


Yup! I won a Nexus 4 smartphone! Beating out a number of other competitors who were trying to crack the code. (One friend cracked it in seconds and was barred from participating).

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Let’s talk about a billion shillings, shall we? (Throughout this post, you can change ‘shillings’ to ‘dollars’ or ‘pounds’ or whichever currency you like. But not Zimbabwe dollars. A billion Zimbabwe dollars is/was not worth much.)

A billion is 1 with nine zeros after it. That is 1,000,000,000.
A billion shillings is a lot of money.

If you found 1 billion shillings and you were afraid to put it in the bank because that would attract questions about how you obtained the money, and you therefore simply kept the billion under your mattress, you would live well.

If you spent 1 million shillings out of that stash every month, you would be able to live that way for 1,000 months. That is one thousand months. That is 83 years and 3 months. Eighty-three years! Without investing this money at all, so every month, as you pull out a million shillings for your monthly upkeep, the money reduces.
So, if you found this money in March 2014, you would finish it in June 2097.
Pause there and think about that for a moment:
One million shillings a month until June of the year 2097.

Now, supposing you obtained the billion shillings legitimately and were not afraid of investing the money.
With a billion shillings, you can put the money in the bank and get a good interest rate.
But let us assume you got a mean bank that only gave you six per cent (6%) interest per year.
That means that each year, the bank would give you 6% of 1 billion, which is 60,000,000 shillings. That is sixty million shillings per year.
Divide that by twelve to find out your monthly earnings and you get 5,000,000/- per month.
Five million shillings per month.

You will be able to spend 5 million shillings per month, from the interest alone, that is, without you touching the original billion shillings.
Since your principal (the one billion shillings) remains untouched, you will be able to spend 5 million shillings per month for ever, way past June 2097. Or until 5 million shillings per month becomes too little.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what one billion shillings means. So next time you hear someone is worth a few billion dollars, remember this post ๐Ÿ™‚

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