There is a scene in the movie Scent of a Woman (‘Pacino plays a blind war veteran) where he – ‘Pacino – grabs this boy by the collar and, while brandishing a pistol at the terrified boy’s face, screams, “I’m in darkness! Do you understand? I’m stuck in darkness here!” Ah, such a defining scene. I can watch that movie a million times. I know how ‘Pacino’s character felt when he said those words. Sort of.
Unlike ‘Pacino, I’m not stuck in darkness; I’m stuck in the dark ages. Stuck in a cave: I wear a loincloth and I drag my dinner home by its horns, dead or alive. While the world around me changes, while it begs me to swim the contemporary wave I decide to sit at the beach and snigger as the ships of modernity dock in, carrying with them tools that make life now bearable. But I remain reluctant to tune into this whole jazz because I’ve not evolved enough to embrace modernity.
This is why I’m still an ape. So late last year, at the Uhuru Highway/ University Way roundabout I happened to have stopped at that jam and looked across at the car abreast and who do I see? I see this guy – a grown-ass guy – in a screaming white shirt and a blue tie. You know one of those snazzy dressed salesmen-like chaps who nowadays walk into meetings with their Chinese Ipads. He was doing something extraordinary as he waited for
the lights to change; he was applying lip-gloss. Yes. Lip-gloss! The chap was moistening his lips. But who am I to judge, I remember thinking, maybe he had a big presentation and he needed to walk in with oiled lips. Maybe the lip-gloss brought out his mojo. I was amused at first, then I remember thinking, wtf?
I stared at him. I really stared. Then he turned and caught me staring and I looked away quickly, lest he thought I was one those guys. That whole charade really felt awkward (not him catching me staring, that was just unlucky, but him lip glossing) but the only saving grace was that at least he wasn’t using a small mirror or the car’s sun visor while at it. No, actually the saving grace was that he didn’t powder his nose after.
But that image of him lip glossing stayed with me for a while and when the opportunity arose I asked a bunch of females what they thought of a man who walked around with lip-gloss in their pockets just in case their lips dried out and most felt it wasn’t a big deal (gulp). “It’s cool, it’s metro-sexual!” they cried. At that point I felt that really, I was living in different times, that perhaps I needed to get up from the carrot and embrace the new world. A world where men applied lip-gloss as they waited for the lights to change green.
In 2008 I was to travel to Samburu for some trip and I was advised to pack a sunscreen because the sun up there doesn’t take prisoners. I sniggered at that suggestion and told them – jokingly – “I will pack sunscreen the day I start going for a Brazilian wax.” Yes, I’m a leftwing like that. I mean, I thought, I’m a nyeudhi; applying lotion is as far as it will go because really it starts with a sunscreen then it goes to tweezing my eyebrows then before long I will be going for a facial mask every quarter. I turned my back to sunscreen.
So I go to Samburu for a few days and when I come back my forehead is all peeling out. Literally. I looked like I had my forehead licked by a reptile. Moral of the story: Sunscreen is good for you. Sunscreen is good for men. It’s not weak to protect your forehead.
KTB has organized a media trip to northern Kenya. They emailed us a list of things they want us to carry and when I saw sunscreen, I smiled knowingly.
This is a one-week trip that will take us through Maralal, Loiyangalani, Koobi Fora, Marsabit and Isiolo. In exactly 30mins from how, we shall depart. I’ve always wanted to see Lake Turkana. I’ve always wanted to go north, to the unchartered land, forgotten by the rest of Kenya. Kenya’s stepchild.
Between you and me, I secretly hope that we will run into trouble, that our cars break down, or someone gets bitten by a snake, OK a spider. That maybe, if we are very lucky, we run into bandits who will flag us down brandishing their Kalashnikovs. That, at that instance, one of the escort cops in the van will pee in his camouflages as one of the heavily bearded bandits – their leader, presumably – bends over and stares into the van with cold snake eyes. That someone at the back of the van (a cameraman, hopefully from Citizen) will start crying and praying loudly. That the bandit will ask all of us to get out of the van, get us to our knees and force us to face Somalia and then pledge allegiance to some warlord with a name that sounds like phlegm. I really hope it will be very eventful, so eventful that some of us won’t make it back.
In a thumbnail, next Monday I might not be able to post something because we will be on our way back, hopefully without the escort cop who peed in his pants. If I’m able to, I will nip in and write two lines, but only to report that I’m alive. And that my pants are dry. So long, Gang.