The Blue Door

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We spend a good deal of our lives knocking on doors. As a teenager, you keep knocking on the door clearly labelled “adulthood,” because you want to do adult things like come home in the morning, have a beer, and fondle a woman’s breast. So you knock on that door until finally the door opens and you realise that there is very little novelty in coming home at sunrise even though fondling a woman’s breast doesn’t get old. 

Throughout your life you stand before other doors with different labels; a better job, a better neighbourhood, a better apartment, a better car, a better gym…you are sucked into this vortex of knocking doors. You rap on some of these doors with reverence and bang on others with great entitlement. Some doors open wide, others only a crack while others never do open. Behind some doors lie great wonderment, even excitement, while others make you stagger back with stupendous disappointment. 

I once interviewed this CEO for a major real estate firm who invited me for drinks at a bar and restaurant in Kyuna Crescent. This doesn’t happen very often, by the way. Sometimes you interview someone and you have an immediate connection, maybe even respect and admiration toward each other. You talk to them once in a while and seldomly, you will have an odd meal or a drink. A good deal of times you interview people and after the voice recorder is turned off and you have shaken hands and you nod at their PA on your way out, or pet the head of their sombre-looking dog in their parking lot, you all go back to your lives. You most likely will never run into them again anywhere and if you do, they will look at you like they know you like they have seen you somewhere, but they never say anything and you never say anything, but if they do they will say, “I was just thinking about you the other day” to which you will say, “I think about you all the time,” and you will all laugh at the fraudulency of that moment and move on to your lives. Because that door was never open in the first place.

Anyway, this particular guy was different. I did him the greatest disservice you have ever done anyone, committed the gravest sin any journalist can commit; I misspelt his name in print. Let’s say, just as an example, his name is Dunford, I wrote Danford. When his interview came out he said, “Thanks for the interview, it was a great one even though you christened me Danford, which isn’t a bad name really, only it isn’t mine.” 

It was 10 am and I was having oatmeal while reading from my phone. Oh boy, I felt horrible. I pushed away my breakfast and made a call to have it edited online. I couldn’t do anything about the hard copy, the milk had spilled and it would have to stay there and dry out. Thankfully, hard copies have a day’s shelf life and end up being “meat wrappers.” I apologised to him like a madman, because I know how it feels when people write my name as Niko. He was fresh about it. He said, “There are worse things that can happen in life… in fact, let me buy a whisky as a sign that this hatchet is buried.”

We sat in the garden of ATE restaurant and nibbled on finger foods while we talked about what people talk about in gardens. We chuckled about my goof. “ I should have drugged it on a little longer,” he grinned, “just for shits and giggles.” When the time came, when the sun had set behind the looming trees, and the lantern-like garden lights had come on in the garden, we stood up to leave. I followed him to a wide wooden doorway that I had assumed was some sort of a garage. He rapped on the door and turned to look at me with that I-know-exciting-right? 

“Is this the bar?” I asked incredulously. 

He said, “You will see,” then pocketed one hand and stood there with the gait of Daniel Craig. Just two guys standing outside what didn’t look like a door. Behind us, darkness gathered furiously. He had on a severe charcoal grey ( or was it blue? ) suit that looked expensive even to an untrained eye. Blue shirt. With nothing to do, I stared at the back of his head full of coiffed hair, like a perfect wave froze on his head. 

We waited a moment in silence and expectation on my part before something I thought was exciting happened; a little window slid open, just big enough to thrust your fist through if you are the kind of person who thrusts their fists through little openings. It was exactly like those gangster movies where some mob members run some secretive operations in a nondescript house; drug dealing, prostitution, and such exciting things. 

In the window appeared a face or a quarter of a face. Just eyes, really. It could have been anyone’s eyes. It could have been Paul Kagame’s eyes. Or Eliud Kipchoge’s eyes. Mark just stood there, like a man who knows his entrance is assured. The eyes said nothing but also said everything because the window slid shut and there was some clunking of metal being unlatched, some wood being slid against wood, and finally the big wooden door slid open. 

We stepped into the warm embrace of a warm cosy room bearing wood and exposed bricks and pipes. The main bar shone at the end of the room like a bright cruise ship headed into the dark adventure. It seemed exactly like the kind of place that would have a fireplace or staghead on the wall but didn’t. We settled at the end of the bar, joining the backs of a couple of men and a lady seated with one leg elegantly draped over the other, having a whisky. The barman was called Jeff, a very buffed fellow. He didn’t introduce us to his biceps. 

It was a private members’ bar of some sort. if you just didn’t show up at the door uninvited they will turn you away. If you say, “But, Mark is my friend!” They will say, “Sorry, Mark isn’t expecting you. Neither are we.” Then if you have a lot of money because you just harvested wheat in Kitale or you recently found yourself cosy with the powers of the day you will say, “Do you know who I am?” They will say, “We don’t, and we would like to keep it that way.” Then you will kick the door petulantly and shout, “You guys are shit!” and the face will say calmly, “No, we are the Revolver Bar. Goodnight to you, sir.” And the window will slide shut. 

They have rules: At any given time there can only be 32 customers in the bar. At any given time there will be no more than 50 Steel towers and 30 copper towers members. Aggression or disrespect towards staff is “Dealt with swiftly.” There is a glass jar at the door where tips are left. Gentlemen are not supposed to approach unknown ladies, “ladies may speak to one of our staff, they will be happy to introduce you,” the rules read. So no walking up to a girl, leaning against the bar, and saying, “Hey, this isn’t a beer belly, it’s a fuel tank for my love machine.” They will throw you out. 

They stock vintage spirits. I saw whiskies I had never heard of, rums with names that sounded like scientific names of invertebrates. The music was an aesthetic for conversation, not competing for attention. Allanah Myeles played Black Velvet from hidden speakers. They had premium cocktails. I saw one called Corpse Reviver. “You can have any whisky you have always been curious about,” Mark instructed. I suffered an immediate bout of choice paralysis. I couldn’t move my neck. 

I loved the idea of a private members club of whisky drinkers. A chill, laidback place where like-minded individuals meet frequently to imbibe and share things they have learned, things that happened to them, or things they plan to do. Somewhere you are familiar with, where you can remove your coat and your mask and be who you are when you are naked in your shower. A place with familiar places. I once heard of a secret whisky club that met once a month. I had a contact who promised to let me in discreetly to do a story but then he suddenly stopped talking about our mission. I suspected that the members had gotten wind of his betrayal and a hood was thrown over his head and he was driven into the tea plantations at night and a confession was beaten out of him. Then he was kicked out of the group with a warning that the whisky connoisseurs were watching him. 

You probably didn’t hear about this because it was private and exclusive but Johnnie Walker Blue launched a new exclusive club last week. It’s called The Blue Club, a premium members-only club. The official launch was a tech-focused event in Karen dubbed ‘Decoding The Blue’. They are going hard on AI. How the club works is that it’s not a physical club, it’s an invite-only club based on referrals. So peers refer to peers. These are thought leaders, influential figures, innovators, and captains of industries. 

These are curious people, well-travelled, open-minded, and understand luxury. The type that would wear a neckerchief and not feel conscious. You might not see this person with his neckerchief on social media because this person will not post such photos, nor of their bottle of whisky, on social media. They will not join the big social media hurray of vanity and self-promotion. They are self-assured and lowkey. They might have walked many planks in their social and professional lives, so underneath their suits and silky blouses they bear private scars. They are curious about their environment and specifically about AI now. They are constantly asking questions about AI now because it’s big and relevant and at the forefront of conversations in things that they do.

Luxury to them goes beyond watches, luggage, perfume, and vehicles, it’s also what they drink and Johnnie Walker Blue is as luxurious as a drink can get. The Club, I also heard at the table, will offer them the first experience with their bottles of limited editions. The event was glitzy because Johnnie Blue is glitzy. I wondered about which doors they are standing at right now seeing as success and luxury have darkened those doors.  

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26 Comments
  1. Was listening to Black velvet by Alannah Myles while reading this. Did not expect to see her name misspelled too

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  2. I’m the first one to comment. Interesting, This was an amazing read. I have burst out laughing at how witty the narration was. Kudos.

  3. Replace the words Private members club with Illuminati or Freemason. That where you were taken, only that it was Wednesday

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    1. Not necessarily.The purpose of that bar/ club might have been to drink wine or spirit with very little hullabaloo or drama.

      Such clubs exist,in all parts of the world.

    2. Some Africans are addicted to poverty, anything rich is illuminati but when someone is poverty stricken it’s never freemasonry, what is it a blessing?

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  4. So……we have gotten here have we? Now wait for the copycat brandy, gin and rum lounges to show up unashamedly in the very near future.

  5. Since I began mingling with people who are well-travelled, open-minded and have access to unlimited opportunities have started oiling my buttocks.

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  6. “…They will not join the big social media hurray of vanity and self-promotion. They are self-assured and lowkey.”…….

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  7. I just stole the “hey this isn’t a beer belly, its a fuel tank for my love machine” now if only someone were to lend me a beer belly this Friday.

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  8. This is the initial plan 1824 had when it started then………

    Anyhow, whisky always creates long lasting friendships. My subscription to one of those clubs was not renewed because I refused to take my whisky neat.

    I am sure they miss me and my Martel though because they always stock a bottle or two when am invited as guest to a member.

    Ps: Once you moved your neck, which Whisky did you choose (am curious)

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  9. “just big enough to thrust your fist through if you are the kind of person who thrusts their fists through little openings.” finest of writings.

  10. Life can be interesting sometimes. I was just reading your previous story, fahrt der freiheit, as part of my research on you and your work for my undergraduate program. Wanting more, I clicked ‘next article’, just to enjoy more of your work.

    To my surprise, we have actually met! I’m the bartender in blonde, second in line from your right-hand-side, in the first photo you’ve posted. What are the odds?

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