It doesn’t take too long before you get to know the characters of a neighbourhood. The following are my favourites (in no particular order):
1. George the Askari.
George is my favourite askari (security man). He has a HUGE smile and is always incredibly friendly. He cheers me over an imaginary finish line when I come home from a run, calls me Madam, and has a gentle, slightly terrified demeanour that makes him wholly unsuitable for his chosen career. He doesn’t make me feel safe, but he does make me feel welcome. His colleagues are markedly less personable being variably asleep, sullen or high.
2. Salim the Neighbour (plus his whole family)
Salim is a diminutive Indian Kenyan who is sadly unemployed and so spends most of his time chewing Miraa (a mildly narcotic leaf) and “backing up” the askaris by sitting in their sentry box. He is however lovely. Always ready for a chat, and excited for the day he gets a car and can take me to the main park where everyone goes to chew Miraa, I look forward to having a chat. His family includes a son who crashes his car and motorbike on a weekly basis, a wife who is always ready to invite you in for chai and a daughter who is deaf but learning to be a hairdresser.
3. The lady who sells mangoes
I don’t know her name which is terrible! However, she NEVER tries to rip me off and has invited me to go on a mango buying trip so I can see how the business works.
4. The lady at the duka (little shop) on my road
She is not friendly (nor unfriendly – just a bit indifferent) but is a big part of my life as I buy my eggs and bread from her almost every day. She never closes.
5. The man who sells roasted corn on the cob
Incredibly mild and very patient, he spends all evening from 6pm onwards gently fanning his corn on his grill. His corn is incredibly undercooked but at 20Shillings is the cheapest dinner going.
6. The waiter at Piccalino’s
Attentive to the extreme, he can spend upwards of 2 minutes arranging and rearranging your placemat before bringing out your dinner. Always there when your Tusker runs out, encouraging of karaoke singing but shy about divulging his taste in music.