Although there are certain parts of my day that make me feel very aware that I am not in the U.S. anymore I also have some pretty standard routines. I have the same struggle to get out of bed and get ready to go to the office every morning. I have instant coffee and toast or a banana. I recently purchased bagels from this fancy bakery stand, but they look like really really flat bagels (or flagels) and it is a stretch to call them bagels. I eat my breakfast while reading email at our huge dining room table. I have a commute, just like everyone else in the working world, although I must say the traffic here is worse than anywhere. There is usually an interesting radio show on and David our driver and I sometimes have philosophical talks based on what the radio hosts are talking about. The other day the hosts were discussing finances in a relationship, a topic I had recently been spending a lot of time thinking about. David advised me there should be more equality between the sexes and if I am generous and nice to my boyfriend now one day when he is rich he will remember that. David is very wise between his laughing at us.
Recently I discovered that David has road rage. Road rage has a different language here. Instead of the strong sighs and swears I am used to hearing in the car with my mom, David makes a different version of these sounds and uses different hand gestures. One car wasn’t moving and David exclaimed that it seemed like the driver a “was just comfortable behind the wheel.”
I am trying to add a new part to my tradition and buy a local newspaper on the way to work. I would like to try to immerse myself in Kenyan politics and there is something about buying a newspaper that makes me feel like I live here. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but for some reason it made happy all day just sitting on my desk feeling like I have a routine here.
Once I get to the office I work at my computer all day. There are only two restaurants I can walk to and one is directly next to my building so that one usually wins out. It is an Indian barbecue place. I used to sit at a table and read, but I recently discovered they do take out. The owner commented today that I had been in quite frequently.
This week I went to lunch with some co-workers, which was a nice change of pace from my lonely lunches reading or working at my desk. I felt my usual fascination with aid workers and the fact that they move from place to place so casually. One of them explained how they are waiting to figure out where the next disaster will be to decide where they should move next. It is truly an incredible culture and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure these people out.
In the afternoon there is a brief highlight when I get the emails I get in the mornings in the U.S. It is my signal that my friends and family will be getting up soon (and hopefully sending me emails or messages).
After work when I don’t have plans I come home and put on sweatpants immediately (same as my home life). Then I usually email and hang out in our fabulous apartment until I get in bed and watch one or two episodes of Sex and the City.
I have always found comfort in having a routine in my life, but lately I am wondering if it represents equal part comfort and equal part a sign I am in a rut. I think I could spice things up a little bit and continually push myself to break my routine and do something different!
My “Kenyan” Diet:
The one part of my routine that is kind of strange is what I eat here. I have been told that the best cuisines you can eat at restaurants in Kenya are Ethiopian and Indian. I have eaten four meals at two different Indian restaurants in four days. We found a good pizza place in the mall we go to at least every other day. It is comforting to know that I can always get a decent pizza if all else fails.
Mangos are my favorite food item here and one I will miss in the U.S. We also buy these mini bananas in bulk as well as oranges. J and I discovered this sundried tomato mixture at this grocery store called “Zucchini” and we have made avocado, cheese, and sundried tomato sandwiches for several meals. We also eat a lot of ramen noodles because if you don’t plan dinner in advance you can’t just run out to the store at night.
After my first post on this blog about how I am becoming a good cook I really have not showcased any of those skills here. I find cooking intimidating enough when it involves a trip to Whole Foods so the thought of planning an intricate meal here with our tricky oven and stove tops seems too challenging at the end of a long day.
New Swahili Word:
Rafiki – Friend (also a character from Lion King)