Third World view of First World – Karen, Kenya

This morning Janet brought in a bunch of essays (final exams) from a grade 10 class. The topic was to write a dialog between you and a friend who just returned home from overseas. Most imagined that they went to the States but there were some from India, Australia, many Britain and one Canada. I was astounded by their ideas of what it is like on the other side. The word “heaven” was used repeatedly. One even claimed to see god and such. I chucked when one thought Geneva was in Swaziland. They then went on to say that everyone there is white and if you go there, you will turn white too.

Someone from the Maasi tribes was raving about the milk delivered to the door in cartons and newspapers on step every morning. The general theme is that life abroad is better, technologically advanced, driving electric cars and everything is cemented. But the trade off is that you have to work all the time. They had their characters in the story working through out the day and night just to survive.

The students also mentioned the crime and the heavy discrimination using such terrible terms as “apeman” and “animal”. One mentioned that in Germany, it`s not as bad as he thought it would be. He said that everything is so rich and clean and luxurious. Although the women are beautiful, they act like “whores”. The climate was another topic that they complained about. Many closed with claiming to be glad to be back to the Motherland. There is a strong sense of patriotism.

So the morning was blasé then a group of white school kids came giving out candy (the wrappers ended up littering the whole schoolyard) and balloons (which I tired of blowing up quite quickly and really, not the most practical gift due to safety). The second half of the morning I was off because the kids all went and watched TV.

After lunch of cabbage and stew, Susan and I walked down to Karen and jumped on a matatu which took us to Ngong. This place is in between Karen and Dagoretti in terms of wealth and poverty. We were the only mazugus around and I felt just a little bit nervous. We walked around the corner to the internet place where the connection was crap and I couldn’t get on hotmail because only two out of 20 computers supported it. After we walked around the market where I found pineapples which are quickly becoming my favorite fruit, were only 40 shillings. I didn’t end up buying anything tho because I didn’t feel like carrying it all the way home.

When we realized that it was already twenty to four and Valerias party was meant to be at 4 we scurried back to the matatus and jumped in what turned out to be the slowest matatu ever. He was stopping everywhere with no reason and taking random breaks. Ug. So we hopped off and high tailed it back to Nyumbani.

We finally got back and as I walked up, Jennifer was at the front door informing me that my wallet had been found and is waiting at the police station in Karen. How weird is that? I don’t know how I knew it on that day that I told Valeria that I just had a feeling it would come back. How many times have I lost it and it has been returned…most recently in Cairo. Berlin. Sinai. I am sure it happened in New Zealand. I just remember some guy tsk tsking me as they came to hand it back to me as I was already in the next room. Where was that? Must have been in South Africa. In Barcelona, I never knew where it was but Fernanda always did.

I have just finished switching rooms and have now settled in. I finally feel I am here. Living in the bedroom rather than the kitchen is much better and I really feel home now.

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