Thursday, November 8, 2012

life in the big city

    When friends have asked what life is like in Nairobi, I almost feel strange trying to explain to them just how comfortably we can live here. I'm sure images of mud huts, dirty water and bad roads are flashing through their minds, and while they are certainly part of the picture in Kenya, there's a whole other side to Nairobi / Kenya / Africa that perhaps we aren't so aware of in the West.

    Nairobi is a big city. There are skyscrapers (best viewed from here). There are big shopping centres. There are restaurants from almost every corner of the earth. In rush hour, the streets are teeming with smartly dressed Kenyans, off to their office, to do the shopping, or to get to university. It's not so different from home.

    There are small businesses on every second corner, selling electric goods, furniture, video and editing services, groceries, vehicles and so on. In the matatus, I've sat next people with vocations as diverse as a university lecturer, an IT officer, an NGO's driver, a school teacher, a young mum, and a lumberjack (with his chainsaw sitting awkwardly across his lap).


    There's a growing middle class in Kenya and Nairobi caters well for them. Within 15-20 minutes of our apartment, you can find not one, but two, cinemas, hospitals, dentists and chemists, a golf course, a casino, an Irish pub, a horse racing track, a war memorial, a great green grocer, a fish market, a wine bar (which we just had to check out, see above) and a microbrewery bar with salsa dancing every week.

    We've already tried out the local Ethiopian, Italian, joint Japanese/Lebanese, Chinese, American, Mediterranean, Brazillian, Swiss and Kenyan restaurants, and we certainly can't complain about the food. I'd even go as far to say that sometimes, we're eating much better than at home.

    Nairobi feels surprisingly like our hometown, albeit a little more mud and far fewer blondes. Even the trees feel 'homely' at the moment - there are jacarandas in bloom throughout the city and I can't help but think of all the uni students studying for their final exams.

    So when you're thinking of poor W + L in 'deepest darkest Africa', please imagine us eating delicious fresh sushi, heading out to see the latest Bond flick, or catching up with friends for a drink at the bar, because that might be just what we're up to!

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