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Posts Tagged ‘Nairobi Show’

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?”
“200/-”
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.
(Enough).

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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Glossary:
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?”
“One.”
“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?”
“Yes”
“How many?”
“One.”
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?”
“Yes”
“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.

ShowTicket
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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