It was his first night in Nairobi. He had arrived in the morning. It was the fastest flight from Hong Kong and it took 14 hours. As soon as he got to the fully furnished apartment which was enormous and immaculate, he stripped and took a shower.
Feeling refreshed, he wandered from room to room, pleased with what he saw. He was going to enjoy living there. From the living-room he had a spectacular view.
When he went into the very modern and stylish kitchen, he was surprised to find small appliances like a coffeemaker, toaster, toaster oven, blender and food processor as well as cookware. He checked the cupboards and saw that there were canned goods, a bag of potatoes and rice. In the fridge there were a few cartons of juice, eggs and fresh produce. In the freezer were packets of chicken and fish.
He wasn’t hungry at the moment because he had a decent breakfast on the plane but he could easily fix himself an egg sandwich and a salad for lunch and something else for dinner. It was such a beautiful, sunny day, that he decided to go for a walk, to familiarize himself with the neighborhood.
He first checked out the building where he was living, courtesy of his company. They paid for the first month’s rent and stocked his cupboards and fridge with food items. He was pretty fortunate to be working with such a company. The pay and the benefits were great and there were always opportunities for advancement. He was thankful to be here in Nairobi.
There was a 24-hour concierge. The man at the desk was Kenyan and very friendly. There was a pool, tennis court, fitness center, rooftop terrace and lounge. The street on which the building was situated was off the main road and very quiet. The place had a residential feel. It was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.
He was looking forward to seeing more of Nairobi. From what he had seen so far, it was a combination of old colonial buildings and more modern skyscrapers. On his way to the apartment, he had taken photos of the city which he then emailed to his parents. He was going to do face time with them later. He had to do it early enough because Hong Kong was 5 hours ahead of Nairobi.
When he returned to the building, he spoke to the man at the desk for a while. His name was Gatimu and he told him that the Kenya National Museum and UN Headquarters weren’t far away. He also advised of where he could rent or buy a good car. He told him which restaurants he should go to for dinner and the best nightclubs and bars if he wanted to meet single women. “Be careful, though when you go to the bars. You’ll meet plenty of prostitutes and women there who are looking for ways to get out of Kenya. When they find out that you’re living here, they’ll be after just your money. Watch out.”
He smiled. “Thanks for the warning, Gatimu.”
“When you go out, make sure you take someone who knows the place.”
They chatted for a while longer. He learned Gatimu had been working there for about fifteen years. He was married and had three children–two boys and a girl–the eldest was eighteen. “You’re not married, are you?”
“Don’t rush to get married. Take your time. You’re young. Enjoy your life. When the time is right, you’ll meet the right woman. I waited and I met the right woman.”
He was telling him the exact opposite of his mother who kept asking him when was he going to meet a nice Chinese girl and settle down? When he make the ZOOM call later that afternoon, the first thing she asked him was, “How is the place? Is it awful? Are you sorry you’re there?”
“No, Ma. The place isn’t awful and I’m very happy to be here. Didn’t you get my pictures?”
“Yes, we did. It’s not at all like Hong Kong.”
“Did you have a good flight?” His father asked him.
“Yes. It was long, though. 14 hours.”
“So, what’s the apartment like where you’re living?” His mother asked.
“It’s very trendy. You’ll like it. I will take photos of it and send it to you.”
“Have you eaten as yet?”
“Yes, I had lunch.”
“What did you have for lunch?”
“An omelet with a salad–“
“That’s it?” she exclaimed, looking appalled. “Are you on some kind of diet now or is this because the food there is bad?”
He sighed. “No, Ma. I’m not on a diet and I’m sure that the food here isn’t bad.”
“If you were here, you would be having Roast Goose and Pineapple Bread.”
His mouth watered. He could actually taste the meat as it came away from the soft bone and the plum sauce and smell the hot bread as she took the rolls out of the oven. “Maybe you can prepare that for me when I visit.”
“And when will that be?” she demanded.
“I don’t know, Ma.”
“Well, make it soon. And I’ll make that and crazy crawfish and mushy mud pies.“
“Ma, I don’t like crawfish.”
“I never liked it.”
“What about mud pies”
“I love those, especially the way you make it.”
“Hmmph. All right, I’ll make those for you when you decide to visit.”
The conversation lasted for an hour and after he signed off from ZOOM, he prepared chicken and broccoli stir-fried in a light sauce and rice for dinner. He ate at the countertop in the kitchen and then after, he finished and had stacked everything in the dishwasher, he poured himself a glass of apple juice and went into the living-room where he watched the setting sun.