Big Fish

Came back from Nairobi yesterday after finally seeing off Will (one of the VSOs who is going back prematurely after only a year to do a PhD — odd symmetry with my own situation there — I wish him luck and preseverance) and drinking lots of fine Scotch with lovely friends Shelley and Paul.

I slept for a bit in the afternoon and then Jackson (VSO who lives in the next village) arrived on his piki piki with two passengers, one of whom had brought his PC’s system unit in a big cardboard box. Spent several hours working with Fred, the owner of the PC, trying to make his new TV tuner card work. We managed to get it to play FM radio! By this time we were fatigued and hungry so we sent Jackson into Tala for pizza…

Of course you can’t actually get pizza inTala; we sent him for chapatis. I brewed a saucepan of milky tea with sugar (traditional accompanyment for chapatis in Kenya) and sliced some beautifully scarlet ripe tomatoes. The three of us (the other passenger had long since got bored of watching me and Fred constantly re-booting Windoze98) sat down to a smashing supper and talked about falling off our bikes.

We also talked about fish.

That restaurant where I recently filled in my VSO review forms was, in ffact, called Le Klique, not Le Clique as I had said. I went back the following saturday, but it had gone! It has, apparently, moved down the road but all I saw was the empty field where there used to be palm parasols and plastic chairs. But I digress.

Le Klique offers fish and chips. When I saw there I’d seen someone being delivered a plate with a whole fish: head hanging over one side, tail the other. Where do they get their fish from? Fred, who is from Western Kenya, and Jackson, who is from Uganda, discussed various lakes and rivers and my eyes glazed over. When I tuned back in to the conversation they were talking about the size of fish.
“When I was young…”, Fred began. I interrupted him:
“How old are you?” (he’s still yong compared to Jackson and Me)
“When I was very young”, he continued, “my father would come with a fish and my mother would lay it on the ground and me next to it. Sometimes I was bigger and sometimes the fish was bigger”.
“You’re a tall man now, it’d be a big fish that was bigger han you today.” I said. Jackson took over:
“Ah, but Mark! When I was small we used to catch fish that were sooo biiiig“, (maybe its all Ugandans or maybe it’s just Jackson but I can’t adequately explain the way he emphasized these words, it was beautiful), “that you couldn’t carry two of them on a bicycle!”

Now I should leave this story here. That’s the punchline. I laughed so much I almost sprayed my visitors with chapati and chai. But I’m not cretain it will seem funny unless you have seen the things these guys can carry on a bicycle, and how. Helen said to me today that she reads these pages occasionally and they seem a world away. I think this one is a perfect example of that. Karibuni Kenya!