Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Taking Stock; Thirty Three

It has been said that, 'years, lovers and glasses of wine: these things should not be counted.' Luhyas will add children to the list, for good measure. However, as  anyone who has been around for a while will also tell you, it is hard not to keep tabs of that first one.

Maybe the reason  that we do so is that as we juggle careers, family commitments and new pursuits, we are nugded along a path of introspection that forces us to think more critically about things.

I may be going out on a limb here, but there may well be a link between the number of birthdays celebrated and the level of introspection arising thereof.

Think about it for instance, suppose you were an athlete - not necessarily at the top of your sport - it is likely that you  would be at the tail end of your once illustrious career.

With respect to your performance, even with the lack of injury, you would, most likely, be beyond the glory. You would soon be facing the prospects of retirement and a new life away from the limelight. 

Yes, I know that the closest analogy to a star athlete is a lottery winner, what with the short shelf life in the public eye and huge earnings. But even with the best of preparations and forewarning, wouldn’t the possibility of change give you pause.

In all spheres of our lives, we are all confronted with the prospect of change at one time or another. After all, the only constant in this life is change. With this in mind, I set out to write down a list of 'thirty threes.'

Initially, I wanted to write something a little more positive, keeping track of some of the milestones celebrated. And why not, I am an optimist. A more upbeat story with a more positive outlook would have been in tune with who I am.

A calm sea, they say, never made a good sailor. Like everyone else, I have had my share of no-so-positive experiences. So I ended up writing instead about a few regrets  that I have had.

This particular post is from a good place and  it is especially personal for me  because if nothing else, it gives me perspective and presents an opportunity to  recalibrate and reset the sail – a future beacon for my older self.

Regret No. 33
Not doing that 19th December wedding in the beautiful seaside town of Lamu. Well, this I put on top of the list for one reason. In the unlikely event that my mother is going to see this, I’ll still be in good favour, as I have tried to be. Once everything is sorted, it is a wedding my people!

Regret No. 32
Sacrificing my culinary skills. Yes, how delightful it would have been to cook. Like really cook! I can’t remember the last time that I did that. Ok, who I’m I kidding. I can’t remember the last time that I cooked, period! So here is a note to self to cook a lot more often. Who knows, I may just have a yet undiscovered skill.

Regret No. 31
Lagging on the writing. Sometimes, the reason I did not write was because I didn't think there was a story to tell. Sometimes even when there was a hint of a story, I figured that maybe, that was not how the script was meant to read. Mostly though, it was because I wanted to tell the perfect story. Sadly, and as result of all the reasons above, the story was just never written.

Regret No. 30
There is something remotely exciting about receiving a letter from those that you love. How much better when it is handwritten. Many years ago, I would write letters to my siblings and my parents. A little older, I would pen tens of love letters to girls. I haven't written a letter in  years. As a result, I have missed an opportunity to convey my deepest thoughts to those that I love and an opportunity to track the evolution of my sentiments, over time.  Never mind my not-so-good handwriting, I promise to make letter writing great again!

Regret No. 29
Failing to read as much as I would have wanted to.  On this one, there is no good excuse.  I just had my priorities a little warped, this past year. Even the little reading I did was less than impressive.  I struggled through a few titles and barely scrapped through others. Forget the excuses. One thing is for sure, I should have read a lot more.

Regret No. 28
Not breathing enough. Allow me to share a useless scientific fact. I’ll explain the context later. I quote,   ‘on average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year, unless we get a lot of exercise.’ The long and short of it is that I dropped the ball on my fitness regimen, and regrettably so.

Regret No. 27
Thinking I could work my way down this list without giving more specific information and making this count-down a lot more revealing. I honestly thought that I could easily waltz through this list.  For the sake of moving further down the list, I will throw you a bone. Unlikely as it sounds, yes it’s true. 

Regret No. 26
That day I showed up for work in the morning with only one shoe!!! Yes, so I wake up one morning, dash into the car and drive off to work. An hour or so later, having endured the crazy Nairobi traffic, I drive into the parking lot. I switch off the ignition and reach out for my shoes on the mat in the floor of the car. Lo and behold! To my utmost horror, I only had one left shoe!

Regret No. 25
It probably makes sense for me to explain here, how this happened. This brings me to regret number twenty five, which is reflective of how I sometimes cruised through hectic weeks and sometimes crazy timelines.  So on the said morning, I had left the house in a huff. I didn’t have both feet fully inside the shoes. As soon as I was safely inside the car,  the plan was to kick them off onto the mat.   But this is not what happened.

Regret No. 24
Unknown to me, while I got my left leg into the car with the left shoe intact, when I lifted my right foot to get in, I had unknowingly left one shoe on the ground and speeded off. Brings me to regret number twenty four - not taking time  to review progress made because I was so fixated on the next task.  You know the rest of the story. So I kicked myself about it that day.

Regret No. 23
Just like that, I was left to deal with the aftermath of something that could easily have been avoided. Inevitably, I was forced to either buy a new pair of shoes or to go back home and find the second shoe. My  plan for the day had been ruined.  Of course I was livid and so mad at myself for a while. More importantly, I learnt some valuable lessons. I can smile about it now, but I didn’t then.

Regret No. 22
That day that I had a nearly fatal accident. It wasn’t so much how the accident happened or the fact that it may well have been fatal. It wasn’t so much about what I thought I could have done or not done to avoid it.

Regret No. 21
It wasn’t having to deal with the aftermath and having to worry about the other people involved. It wasn’t having to explain to my colleagues and siblings. It wasn’t  not having to tell my parents because I worried more for them than I did for myself. It was everything about that accident!

Regret No. 20
Failing to appreciate that the pace of progress takes time and that real and lasting growth is mostly organic. Yeah, there are a lot of things that would have been best ticked off the to-do-list eons ago.

Regret No. 19
But before I get ahead of myself, for most of these things, it wasn’t so much a lack of effort as it was a matter of time. So I am learning to be patient, in a sense knowing that I'd do better than watching the grass grow. Patience isn't my strongest suit but I'll have to learn to be patient especially with respect to my huge ambitions and personal timelines. To everything, time...

Regret No. 18

I'm quite ambitious. I am also a dreamer; I dream of people, things and places. With respect to ambition, my biggest regret is that I haven't been ambitious enough. I want to dream so big, set that bar so high so when I fall short, I'll still have a lot to smile about. Aim for the sun. You may not reach it. But at least your arrow will fly higher than it would have if you had aimed for an object at the same level as yourself.

Regret No. 17
Not appreciating enough of the little things; a good night’s sleep; a delightful morning;  a sumptuous meal; a hearty laugh; a  relaxing swim; a starry night; a cold drink; a warm bed; a gentle kiss; a good night’s sleep. These moments were too many to count, yet  in the midst of all the noise, these all important moments we greatly underappreciated.

Regret No. 16
Not saying ‘No’ enough. I should have said a lot more ‘No’s than I actually did. Part of the reason I did not was because I genuinely like to be of help to other people, even when I can’t.  As a result, sometimes, despite the best of intentions and my willingness to come through for people, I have inevitably failed to make good on certain promises. Yes, it always killed me that I could not!

Regret No. 15
Not coming through for others in ways that I would have wanted to was tough. There are numerous cases this past year that I felt I could not be as charitable as I would have wanted to be. The reason was because I have done so much for so few, I have as a result spread myself so thin in certain respects.

Regret No. 14
Consequently, I could not quite turn up for others in ways that I would wanted to. I have missed birthdays, weddings and even funerals. I wasn't always able to give the gifts that I wanted and was not always present for those all important moments in the lives of some people that I was closely acquainted with.

Regret No. 13
I beat myself about it sometimes but because of all this, and them some, I have come to learn about priorities and sadly, the fact that resources are finite. So I will be do my best to show up for those that mean the most to me, when called upon. More importantly, I will be honest enough with myself to say it,  for those that I cannot. 

Regret No. 12
My thoughts though will never waver because I have always wished everyone well, as I do now. I therefore understand when you, in return, can give  nothing but a word of support, maybe a hug and best wishes, at best. 

In good times and in bad times, regrettably, because of circumstances or inability - a factor of time and space - sometimes all that I will be able to do is to wish you well. I hope that you will understand when this is the case because having been there, I totally do.

Regret No 11
Sometimes you ought to savour freedom and soak in those delightful moments. Looking back at the year that was, it’s true that I took a lot for granted;  the mere fact that I was alive; that I was healthy and free, that I could go whenever I wanted to go and do whatever I wanted to do. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have savoured these moments a little more and sought to make it possible for others to enjoy these things.

Regret No. 10
Not travelling enough. It wasn’t so much as getting away to a far away land but rather just allowing myself to be completely removed from the confines of my normal environment. I could have hiked up the hill, cycled down the mountain, dipped my feet in cold water and lost myself in time and space. It didn’t happen as it should have.

Regret No. 09
I wasn’t as spiritual as I would have wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about going to church – which I didn’t – but rather being a lot more spiritually in tune with my Maker. There is a part of me, a seed if you may, that should have been nurtured and carefully nourished. It just wasn’t, and of all the things that I can think of, this was regrettably so.

Regret No. 08
I should have put down my phone a little more this year, making time for more one-to-one interactions with real people. You see, I know that in the age of technology and connectivity, we are on the most part, together-alone. As has always been the case since the beginning of time, it is the human interactions that count the most. I know but I didn't live up to this creed.

Regret No. 07
There is a certain beauty in knowing that one can open up to ones vulnerability, in a sense, to wear ones heart on ones sleeve. I didn’t open myself in ways that I should have. To a great degree, I kept what I truly felt to myself and rarely opened up. I should have, if only to let my guard down for once and see how that would pan out.   

Regret No. 06
Assuming it was enough to pull my own weight. To a great degree, I have always sought a sense of independence, believing that I, to a great extent, was solely responsible for the trajectory that my life took. It has been mostly good going but there was always a lingering feeling that I could possibly do more if I harnessed the synergy of those around me. Here is to doing something new.

Regret No. 05
Being overly critical of myself, never quite giving myself credit for some of the success  that I have had. For being a worrier, I am also guilty as charged. I can think of millions of things that worried me about the future, but that never came to pass. Yes I have had my moments but sometimes, thoughts about something so far out and remote in the distant  future ruined some truly special moments in the present.

Regret No. 04
Come to think of it, I can hardly remember the last time I did something new and different. I could have and I should have. I just did not. Settling into a rather predictable routine somewhat tapered the edges off my once adventurous spirit, each time adding onto it another layer of predictability. Maybe it's a case of having to teach an old dog new tricks, or maybe not.

Regret No. 03
Neglecting a certain part of myself. I was always aware that as I grew up, those around me were growing old. In this respect, I always sought to do as much as I could for those few that I loved. Ironically sometimes, that which I have sometimes had to put at the back burner is something that would certainly delight those same people, the most.

Regret No. 02
Sacrificing candor at the altar of propriety. I have always been conscious about other people’s feelings. As a result, while deep down I was never in doubt about certain things, I didn’t always say what I should have, when I should have. Again, not surprisingly, this had some rather devastating results that could most certainly have been avoided in the long run.

Regret No. 01
Not being angry enough when it mattered. It is not lost to me that what is required for evil to triumph, is when good people do nothing. Countless times I sat on the fence when I should have taken up my civic responsibilities, when I should have lent my voice,  albeit a whisper,  to a cause. It's never too late to do so.

P.S: This is by far one of the hardest posts I have had to write. First because I am an optimist,  it was hard to put a positive spin to a post detailing my regrets.

I put off sharing this for a month. First because I couldn’t finish it that first time and second because I couldn’t possibly do so without oversharing.  One thing is for sure, I don’t regret writing this!

What are your regrets? Are there certain things that you would have wanted to do differently? Please feel free to share and thanks for reading. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Fancy Some Peace and Quiet in a Billionaire's House?

Fancy some peace and quiet? 

You might just interested in visiting this house

It has its roots in the colonial era
At one time the home of a billionaire spy chief...

...it was once the setting of intrigues that would lead to the assumption of office of  a president. Yes, it was!
With fine wooden fixtures...

...leather furniture... 

...and beautiful chandeliers to boot...

...it is hard to tell that this was once the home of a man both revered and feared,  in equal measure.
 With the shroud of mystery now lifted...

 ...the house is now open to you and I...

It is now known as the The Sovereign Suites, in Limuru
Set next to a lake and surrounded by greenery...

...it is a quiet...


...and outright interesting place to spend a day...
If you are seeking some peace and quiet, like I was...
  ...you would most certainly enjoy your visit
Lying by the pool, I felt like I was at the backyard of my own private home

Yes there is a bar. This is not a monastery, my friend :-)

Yes, you can thank me later for sharing this piece of heaven with you. And, No I was not paid to put up this piece. They ought to though, with the tonnes of free publicity I have given them.  Better yet,  how about you pay back or pay forwrad.  

 If you want to buy me a cuppa...

If you want to join me in my next swim, I will only be too willing to oblige...

Did you like this piece? Please let me know of any beautiful and unique places in this city. I will visit and hopefully feature them in my next article. All credit will go to you, of course. 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Taking Stock; Three Years Later

I always thought that I would grow up to be a travel writer - explore the world, immerse myself in a culture so much different from my own and probably marry a beautiful exotic girl. While it hasn't quite played out as expected, it has most certainly been a remarkable experience.

Three years ago, this month, I said kwaheri to my employer. To say that I had enjoyed my stint there would be an understatement. I loved it! The people there were beautiful folks who are committed to their profession. With them, I felt like I was part of a family. I also  learnt so much there and I will always be grateful.

Even in the best of places, there comes a time when the feeling that one needs to move on to other things, becomes overwhelming. Just over two and a half years into my tenure, I came by an opportunity and I felt that if I needed to grow,  I could not pass it up.  I handed in my resignation and oblivious of what lay ahead, left to pursue other interests.

To be frank with you, during that period of transition, though hopeful about my future prospects, I was also mindful of the reality of what lay ahead. I like to refer to it as an ‘Obama Moment,’ that moment when you are happy on one hand but on the other, aware that you have to confront new and probably bigger challenges.

In a few days, I mark my three year anniversary, since I made that leap of faith one cold January morning. While it has certainly not been a gravy train, it has been worth it. Never in my wildest dreams would I have dreamed that I would serve in the way that I have. It has been a great blessing indeed.

Yes, I have had some bad days! Yes, I have made some mistakes! Yes, I have borne doubts, sometimes! This is true for all of us, and I am no exception. But the good days and the lessons that I take away from the last three years are some of the things that make the journey worthwhile.

I frankly do not know what the future holds. What I know is that as imperfect as I am, I have been blessed immensely. Although I fall short on so many accounts, I endevour to be a faithful servant, a good son, a loyal friend and a diligent worker.  I am indebted to a lot of people.

They say that the future is an interesting place to look back from. If I live to be as old as my Sokoro, Bonface Rioba Machera, or my Goko Catherine Mukuria, I hope that I will somehow have fulfilled my purpose here - whatever that may be. I continue to dream, to hope, to aspire to be the best I can be.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

What I Have Learnt

Human beings  are a work in progress that mistakenly think that they are finished.  I can't agree more. In certain ways, you can compare our progression through life to water. This is because if you look at the larger scheme of things, just like water in a jar, we are continuously trying to find our place.  As a result of this  recalibration, our attitudes, values and beliefs  tend to change.

But even with these expected changes,  life has taught me that deep down,  at the core of every single individual, there are certain constants – those values and beliefs that do not change with the passage of time. It is these things that define us and differentiate us from other people. In fact, they help to define who we are as individuals.

What are those constants? What defines me as an individual? What do I stand for? What do I believe in?  What keeps me centered? To answer these questions, based on my experience and borrowing from the lessons that I have  learnt thus far, I sought to put it all together  in ‘What I Have Learnt’ 

Just because we do not understand certain things does not mean that they do not exist. Call it what you may but from the smallest things  around us to the much more complex miracles of nature, it is true that there is a greater power at play. God does not play dice and there are no coincidences. 

Politics is many things to many people. For most of us, it is a way to acquire power for power’s sake and with it, the trappings that come with high office. But politics should be anything but that. Good politics should be inclusive and transformational, a tool to create positive influence in the lives of ordinary folks. 

Family is that imperfect  group of people that give meaning to life. They keep us grounded and centered. They are those few that we care so much about, yet sometimes those that worry us the most - and for obvious reasons.  We do not chose family but with all their faults and imperfections, they are those special people that to us, represent a piece of heaven. 

Education and by extension learning,  is a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. Ask anyone from a modest background who has made anything of themselves and they will confide that education (not necessarily formal education) is an equalizer. They say that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. 

In the words of the scriptures, they who kneel before God can stand before man. Though not quite relevant in this context,  these words  nonetheless speak to a certain disarming power of this virtue. I have seen and I know about occasions where persuasion has been more effective and thus achieved more,than coercion ever could.   

I believe that you don't live once. Rather, you live every second, every moment, of every day. Nothing captures this more than this simple phrase; live not for battles won, live  not for the end of the song, live for the along. In the end, no matter how long your journey through life is, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, 'it is not the years in your life that count, rather what counts is the life in your years.' 

A friend once wrote to me saying, 'chance and mischance happens to all - make use of yours while they still are.' In life, there are certain opportunities that present themselves. These happenings have the ability to change the trajectory of our lives, sometimes permanently. But they don't call them windows of opportunities for nothing. Just as easy as they open sometimes, these windows can close just as fast. 

An erudite scholar often said  that, 'the path of duty is the way to glory.' For his whole adult life, he had dedicated his time and effort to a singular goal - the education of poor bright boys from underprivileged backgrounds. He believed in this cause and he worked hard. So he would certainly know what he meant when he told his charges that there is no substitute for hard work.  

I have read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari three times now, never mind that I can barely  remember most of what I read. One thing that I remember though, call it my take home message if you will, is the power of positive thinking. According to the author the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our thoughts. In this regard, who we are and what we become - is to a great degree - a physical manifestation of our innermost thoughts. 

Remember Jesus, the one who was born in Nazareth. Yes, that one! He couldn't possibly have done anything wrong. Yet, He had haters! In life, we will sometimes offend certain people. But this is mutual because certain people will REALLY offend us as well.  However, regardless of the reason, there is little use in keeping grudges. There is a certain power that we take back when we forgive and let go, thus what I like to call the redemptive power of forgiveness.  

Human beings are inherently good. With that said, it is not lost to me that just as man has a great capacity to do good, he has  an equally great capacity to do evil. Call me naive but I believe that the world is all the more better if we all strive to do good. Think about it, you pick a kid in your old  Volkswagen beetle in some God-forsaken country.  Decades later, that once obscure kid, now president of the free world, lets you hitch a ride in his limousine.  Ok, I digress. Fact is, that although you will do good, you will not always have the favour returned. Do good anyway. 

I like to think of life as a book. Each word is a deed, each phrase is an experience and each paragraph is a chapter in our lives. Now, unlike in a book, we are given the power to rewrite certain chapters in our tale. We are given the freedom to do with our lives that which which is pleasing to our hearts. With this freedom however, comes responsibility and with it, possibility.  Think about a clay artisan with a fresh mould of clay. Life at its best and at its worst is a lesson in the immense power of possibility.

To be continued....

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Maybe Owning an Old Car is Not Too Bad After All

I drive an old car, call it a bucket on wheels, if you will. My sister calls it a Cop Magnet. Let me explain. When I first acquired it, to put it modestly, the car had its best days behind it. At the time, it was a bright orange in colour. Invariably, because of it's distinct colour and overall condition, it always tended to draw the wrong sort of attention, mostly from eager cops out to make a quick buck. 

As it turns out, it is not only the cops that have an opinion about my car. My girlfriend, while always insisting that I dispose it off,  believes that the car is older than I am. When we initially started dating, she always insisted that I put a tint on the windows. I doubt that it has anything to do with the sun. My friend on the other hand once quipped that 'the car does not fit your image,' whatever that means. My dad on his part, says rather supportively, 'at least you have a car.' :-) Thank you dad.

Initially, whenever we spoke on the phone, he would ask, "How is your Mercedes?' (never mind that it is actually a Toyota). I think each time I said, it's okay daddy, he was somewhat surprised that it was still on the road but inwardly proud that the car was still running. After all, it is my first car and I bought it from him at a modest price. It therefore has sentimental value for both of us.

But what do I think? Well, I like my Prado (that's what I call it), mostly for practical purposes. After all, it gets me from point A to point B and it has, to a great part, been kind to me. Save for the time three tires had a flat on a trip to Magadi. Or that time that the battery went flat right on the edge of the same lake and my girlfriend had to push it to kick-start it. Or the time the clutch system failed and I had to sleep in some god forsaken town. Or that time that the leaking carburetor ran out of water and the car stalled right next to parliament. 

To be honest with you, there are times that other people's thoughts about my car have given me reason to pause and tell myself, 'maybe it's time I disposed it off.' Other than the sentimental value that the car holds for me, and my family, I do not wish to dwell on the other reasons that I acquired it and that I keep it, in the first place - and they are surprisingly many. Nonetheless, it is worth noting some lessons that are not lost to me, as an old car-owner.

If you own an old car, one thing that you learn very early is the parts of the car, how they work and how to fix them. Initially, just after I had acquired the Prado, it had a recurrent problem with the clutch system. I called a fundi, who fixed it. Unfortunately, the problem surfaced again. I took it to a second mechanic who fixed it. Three days later and having spent a small fortune, the problem came back again. 

A little frustrated, my next stop was google. Based on my previous observation and convinced that I knew what the problem was, I went out and bought a toolkit. I got off my shirt, wore an old pair of trousers and got under the hood. Four hours later, after a lot of fumbling, sweating and after a trip to a local parts dealer at Industrial Area, I managed to replace the slave cylinder and the master cylinder. Its six months and counting, the problem has not recurred since.

If you own an old automobile, another thing that you learn early is caution. There are things that you will do that new car owners tend to ignore. Yes, and for obvious reasons. For instance, you will always tend to keep a distance from other cars in traffic. Another thing is that despite how fast you car can drive, you somehow tend to drive a lot slower. You don't want to be doing 120KPH on the highway and all of a sudden, right ahead of you is your front tire veering away from the car. 

An old car, in a sense always always tends to refocus your priorities. Let me explain. There is always the excitment of owning a car. If it's a new whip, the initial excitment is over the top. For most of us young'uns, and I know that I am generalizing here, we will aways tend to show off our new acquisition. We are wired to seek recognition and acceprance.

Those first days, with your new wheels, you might end up ferrying your pals for Masaku Sevens or drive down for The Great Rift Valley Festival. Unless you have deep and well lined pockets, not counting the cost of accommodation and entertainment, the subsequent dent caused by fueling the car would be considerable. For most of us, old car owners, I doubt you would find our old station wagons or dated pickups parked at Blankets & Wine any time soon.

I once had a friend who referred to his car as a Pussy Magnet. Well, I am not sure that he was referring to the nice, cuddly bundles of fur that nested on the warm bonnet of his spaking new german machine. With an old car, while you are likely to find an occassional cat sleeping soundly on your bonnet, you are less likely to attract the wrong sort of attention, unless it is from the cops ofcourse.  

Referring to my car, a friend once told me goodnaturedly that, 'if your girlfriend let's you drive her in that car, she will probably marry you.' Well, I am not sure about that one. One thing I know for sure is that although my Prado isn't the best thing I have ever owned, it has certainly given me some of the most memorable moments in recent times.Maybe it isn't so bad to own an old car afterall?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Of Football, Rugby & Being Different

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free - Charles Hughes

It's late in the evening and I am seated by the poolside in my neighborhood, watching the HSBC Sevens World Series.  I love the game, but I am no fanatic. I watch sevens mostly because Kenya is in the series. I am always rooting for the boys, something that somewhat appeals to my patriotic side. 

This weekend in London, although this is not our best performance we are faring on relatively well. We beat Japan early today, with Collins Injera, the Kenyan speedster, marking a milestone with his 200th try - what will later be referred to as a very costly try.  
Soccer Vs. Rugby
Later, we would annihilate Samoa - once a team to reckon with in the series . We are now playing Argentina in the Bowl Finals. Although this is mostly a face-saving contention for us, the boys are looking good with real prospects of winning.  Suddenly, someone changes the channel and on the screen is Arsenal  Vs. Manchester United.

At that moment, I am upset, and  understandably so. For starters, there are plenty of screens at the property (at the poolside alone, where I am seated, there are 3 screens) and I would expect that for anyone who cares little for the English Premier League, they would at least screen the rugby game on one of the screens.

Competitive and exciting
It takes me a few minutes of arguing to get my screen ‘restored.’ More interestingly though, as I was trying to make my case as best as I know how (I have patronized the property all weekend, just for the rugby) I realize that I am the only one remotely interested in the sevens game, never mind that the Kenyan game is currently ongoing with the boys at the cusp of a win.

Forget the idiosyncrasies of the EPL, how would you explain that the 'whole world' is in love with soccer? Yes, I am sure that the EPL is competitive. Yes, I have no doubt that it is exciting.  Yes, I can not argue that it is well put together. I am sure that lovers of the game (what I would otherwise call fanatics), can go on and on extolling the virtues of the game and by extension, the league itself.  However,  as far as I am concerned, the popularity of the game speaks to savvy marketing (remember Mayweather Vs. Pacqiao). Such is the success of their marketing strategy that in comparison to a game of rugby featuring the Kenyan team, mine was just but a lonely voice. 

Secondly, and I go out on a limb here, it also speaks to the human quest for distinctiveness. Ironically, in our quest to be different we have become the same. As such, by supporting Chelsea or Manchester United,  rather than being different from those who support Arsenal or Manchester City we have all become the same in so far as the love of football in general and the EPL in particular, is concerned.

How many times has someone walked up to you and  asked you what team you support, right off the bat? Have you gotten so tired of the question that you ‘adopted’ a team, just so that you would get along and avoid ruining the moment? Always great hearing from you.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Should you Delete Your WhatsApp or Facebook Account?

In the last few weeks, a number of events have taken place that have brought to question the effect of social media in our lives. There is no doubt that more than any other time, we are more connected than ever.  However, what is its real impact on our relationships? Has it helped to enhance the quality of our lives or has it taken away from them, altogether?

If you get the sense that a while a while ago, whenever you were confronted by a situation where you were required to help, you were more compelled to do so than you are now - you are probably right. I hate to admit it but the truth is, whereas I still relate deeply to events in the lives of other people, and while I am sympathetic to their causes,  the same things that would ordinarily be a call to action do not elicit the same effect that they did a few years ago.

Lost capacity to empathize
At face value, one might argue that our capacity to empathize with other people and their situation has diminished over time. However, could it be argued that we (yes, I believe that I speak for other people as well)  haven’t changed at all. Rather,  what has actually changed is how we relate to the sheer volume of information that we receive, and by extension, how it is presented to us. 

On any given day, if you are connected to a smartphone, as most of us are, you are inundated with a lot of messages. Unlike a few years ago when this was limited to selected medium, when you have not been inboxed, tagged or copied, someone has probably shared something with you.

At the end of the day, when you have been continuously swarmed with a barrage of mostly impersonal messages - where a like, share, retweet or LOL would suffice - it is understandable that whenever a serious personal message comes through, it tends to slide through the cracks and doesn't portend a sense of urgency or carry as much weight as it otherwise would. 

The more we touch, the less we are touched
There are lot of ways of explaining this. However, the best way to do so is to compare  communication with art - the more copies of a piece become available, the lower its value. Therefore,  producing large quantities of information, even on personal media, takes away that 'personal touch.' In a sense, the more people we touch, the less they are touched." Based on my own experience, I couldn't agree more. It is a  fact that with advancement in technology, there are fundamental changes expected in how we relate to each other. This can not be put more clearly in perspective than in Sherry Turkle’s book aptly titled, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.

I doubt that the one-to-one interactions that worked so well before, will ever be completely eliminated. On the other hand, anyone that ignores the ease of communication that new media presents is completely out of touch with reality. It has been argued that ‘perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our time is to embrace the advances in communication while maintaining our humanity.'

So maybe I am going out on a limb here, but next time you want to really reach out to someone, give them a quick call, sit down with them for a candid chat, put your phone away and have a conversation with them the old-fashioned way. If you live far away from the, send them a letter (maybe that’s too much but hey, how else can you be heard and be felt from all the noise).

Do you get the sense that people are a lot more easier to reach out to yet a lot less accessible and harder to connect with? It would be nice to hear from you.