BOOK REVIEW: Angela’s Ashes by Frank Mc’Court

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A good life makes a good story but a difficult, pitfall-filled, difficult life makes for s great read. This book was a fingerlicking meal. And for a sad book(if I can call it that) to be so well written…you have to admire the talent of the writer and even more so the dire circumstances that made it even possible.

Frank had me laughing at his lack of sorrow at the hand life dealt him with while at the same time feeling his utter helplessness at other moments. And it had me feeling grateful…that despite my hard life(by my standards) others out there have had it tougher and tougher.

I found myself getting angry at his drunkard father, at his begging mother who never worked a day in her life, at his unbothered extended family that had their own problems to deal with and at the sad state of his hometown that did not inspire one to work hard because the future looked bleak for all. But life always has one up its sleeve. And each of these people in one way or another had something redeeming about them.

But Frank who is the author of this masterpiece overcame all this and the fun in the book is how he does it. I read it mostly on my commute to and from work and i always started the day happy because it is a funny book…very humorous and sarcastic and witty. How he managed to remember so many details of his childhood and even the things he said to himself at that age when he did not even have a diary is short of a masterpiece.

This book will have you drawing parallels with your life if it’s the sort like mine where challenges have been an everyday occurrence. It will have you stopping mid sentence just thinking “yaani huyu mtoto alipitia hizo city zote”. Sometimes even I had a hard time believing some of the things of Frank McCourt’s life…mostly because it’s dreadful and slot of people wouldn’t survive a day I’m his shoes.

This is a blessing of a book and it’s actually on almost every list of books to read in your lifetime I have found on Google. A must read. And I will say no further because that will spoil it for you. It will show you something about the world in a most amusing way. So grateful for the friend that gave it to me.
Happy reading🙂

Book Review: The Curator by Jacques Strauss

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Disclaimer: This is not a book for people who like their characters likeable and redemption around the corner.

I totally enjoyed this book because it was queer and fresh and filled with such dark humour I couldn’t help myself. It is such a weird choice for anyone but then again the weird ones always make it to the best seller lists. 

Well, quick rundown: It’s about a boy. A queer boy who has grown up having never lived his dream because he can’t have his father’s inheritance.. his father who according to him “just won’t die”. So everyday he hopes to find him dead when he comes home from work and is always disappointed so he chooses to take matters into his own hands. On the other side of the book is his life as a white child growing up in 1960s South Africa and how the murder of a whole family changes each life nearby irrevocably. 

It’s a passionate book that brings out institutional racism and how it is not uncommon for people to kill for money. 

At some point it threatened to appear like any other south African book which talks about racism but the manner in which it went about it makes it a gem if a book. 

The main character Werner(I kept reading this name wrong the whole time since I’m no expert on how to pronounce these names from other countries), is s reflection of our society today; dark but appearing sane. A person who analyses each step he will do as if praying he will change his mind along the planning phase. 

With the rainy season with us. It’s a great book to curl up in your bed with…better than any horror you will watch. And for those who like building their English vocabulary, the book is filled with gems of words for very simple emotions and actions that will make you sound sound so intelligent at that next networking event🙂

No excerpts for this one because that will be cheating haha

Happy reading loves!!

BOOK REVIEW: The beautiful things that heaven bears by Dinaw Mengestu

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So far I have read Kenyan, Nigerian, South African, Ghanian, Egyptian, Ugandan and now Ethiopian. I have found myself gravitating towards books that make me think about life and how life weaves itself in its own way and at its own time. The beautiful things that heaven bears is one such book. Deep and mesmerizing are the words I would use to describe it.

I think a better word to describe how I felt when I read this book was “romanticized”. I don’t know if it was the depth of the emotions that drew me or the way it makes you feel the presence of a place or the beauty of home. This book kind of touched so many facets of life; war, immigration, love, despair, loss, race, death, politics, education. It was a book that despite it being all over the place managed to retain its truth…Its just a beautiful book that will resonate with whoever reads it based on what you are going through in your life. The kind of book you can just open at random and find writing that is both thoughtful and deep and real. There are moments I almost found myself agreeing with the words because it was things I have thought about in my life but sometimes words fail you when you want to explain an emotion.

And at the basis of any good book is the relationships it brings out. The main character forges relationships with his two best friends one of whom is Kenyan, his new neighbor  who has a young daughter, his family back home in Ethiopia…Its simply a gem. And since I can’t keep bragging about a book, let me share some excerpts from the book to inspire you to read this thought provoking book:

“People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us”

“Life was precarious. I had always been willing to admit that. I lived on a fine line with poverty on one side and just enough extra money for an occasional beer on the other. In January I slipped off that line, and after that, it was all but impossible to get back on.”

“I knew that there were patterns to life, but what I had never understood until then was how insignificant a role we played in creating them.”

“I walk behind her slowly, admiring the deliberation that seems to come with every step. I can only guess at the effort it takes for a woman like this to make her way through the city every day. I wonder if the world slows down to match her understanding of it, if the mind doesn’t catch each passing image and hold it for a second longer in order to compensate for the extra energy each step takes”

 “We have instincts for tragedies. We know when they belong to us long before we understand them”

“I quoted to her a line from Democracy in America, one of a series that she had used as an epigraph to her own book: “Among democratic nations new families are constantly springing up, others are constantly falling away, and all that remain change their condition; the woof of time is every instant broken and the track of generations effaced.”

“What was it my father used to say? A bird stuck between two branches gets bitten on both wings. I would like to add my own saying to the list now, Father: a man stuck between two worlds lives and dies alone. I have dangled and been suspended long enough.”

“When he’s drunk, he likes to declare those to be the most perfect lines of poetry ever written. “Think about it,” he says. “Dante is finally coming out of hell, and that is what he sees. ‘Some of the beautiful things that heaven bears.’ It’s perfect, I tell you. Simply perfect. I told my teacher that no one can understand that line like an African because that is what we lived through. Hell every day with only glimpses of heaven in between.”

“There are approximately 883 steps between these steps and my store. A distance that I can sprint in less than ten seconds, walk in under a minute. It is always the first and last steps that are the hardest to take. We walk away and try not to turn back, or we stand just outside the gates, terrified to find what’s waiting for us now that we’ve returned. In between, we stumble blindly from one place and life to the next. We try to do the best we can. There are moments like this, however, when we are neither coming nor going, and all we have to do is sit and look back on the life we have made. Right now, I’m convinced that my store looks more perfect than ever before. I can see it exactly as I have always wanted to see it. Through the canopy of trees that line the walkway cutting through the middle of the circle is a store, one that is neither broken nor perfect, one that, regardless of everything, I’m happy to claim as entirely my own”

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Halla with your email if you want a soft copy of this enchanting book
Happy reading🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

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“Four women…one husband…and a devastating secret”

I read this book three weeks ago, I think, but i’ve been so busy with my day job and planning my life that I have barely had time to breathe. Suffice to say, I was like, “there is no way im not writing a book review about Baba Segi’s wives”. There is something to be said about the way Nigerian’s write their books. I was mighty impressed with this one. It was short but it did not fail to touch all the right spots

It had me laughing half the time and musing at how the paths our lives often have a life of their own and hardly do they warn us just before they screw us. Which is exactly what happens to Baba Segi who does not know that his four wives are nothing short of impressive women. Polygamy is real and unless you are a child born into one, the father who decides he needs many women or the women who agree to be second, third, fourth wives; half the time you don’t know the intrigues that such a situation brings. I for one did not know until this book showed me some interesting facets of it. Like how the wives might hate each other but somehow they have their moments of “kimoja”(togetherness)
Men find out all the time the children they think are theirs with the wife are not really theirs. This one compounds the situation because this guy has 4wives….4times he got cheated out of his own kids. It’s sad but its heart-breakingly funny
African authors to me are the best because they give us a glimpse of the vastness that is our motherland. I particularly love the main heroine in this book, the last of Baba Segi’s wives because she settles as a fourth wife thinking she doesn’t deserve better after a being raped but I like how the book evolves her and shows her come from timidity to fearless bravery. And she knows it because in the end she acknowledges all this;

“Courage is being able to face the truth..regardless of what it may be”
“Expectations are easier to bear when they are set as low as possible”
“My life is a beautiful tragedy”
“Don’t think I can’t see the challenges ahead of me. People will say I am a secondhand woman. Men will hurt and ridicule me but I won’t let them hold me back. I will remain in the land of the living. I am back now and the world is spread before me like an egg cracked open”

Sentiments that is all too familiar
A beautiful tragedy of a book

Send an email if you want a soft copy of the book

Happy reading🙂

November, Heartbeats, Mothers

Every year when November is around the corner I find myself getting this lump in my throat. I feel tired and exhausted when I wake up (more than most days) and I try to convince myself its just the…

Source: November, Heartbeats, Mothers

November, Heartbeats, Mothers

Every year when November is around the corner I find myself getting this lump in my throat. I feel tired and exhausted when I wake up (more than most days) and I try to convince myself its just the motions of the year ending. But my brain and my heart always know that feeling…And for the past 17yrs I have been welcoming it with less reluctance. I have learnt to mourn a loss and celebrate it at the same time.

It feels like a pat on the back,
a silent reminder,
a harsh reality,
a comforting peace.

A mother is a once in a lifetime chance. Majority of the people who know me know that my mother passed away but many do not know the story behind it. Even I still have foggy recollections and unclear circumstances of what happened. Knowing that it might be a mystery to me till the day I die terrifies me. I cannot imagine not knowing. Yet sometimes…most times; I have been scared of that truth. So much so that I have avoided thinking about it, talking about it, asking about it, writing about it, seeing her grave. Basically, Anything that would make me face the reality that I had to deal with knowing what happened. And yet here I am, all these years later, no closer to the truth than on the day I found her lying in that pool of blood and screamed my mind out.

More than that is also the feeling of appearing vulnerable. Many of my friends see me as this tough cookie, a very proud, stubborn and strong willed woman. When the #MisimuZangu trend was going on, a very dear friend of mine nominated me. I knew that if I did that challenge I would have to bare my soul and talk about my mother, one of the most defining moments of my life and which changed the course of my life indefinitely. Something I am yet to figure out whether a good thing or a bad thing. So I decided that I would. I got my notepad and pen but I was unable to write A SINGLE WORD. Me who always somehow has a clap-back had absolutely nothing to say. I clearly wasn’t ready to let go of the shadow that had haunted me all these years.

As I grow older, I am meeting new people. People who have never known me and probably will never truly know me because I am one of those people that can be as deeply attached as I can be detached. I do not know how to be gray sometimes. And in my short life, I have had to battle with being an individual on my own, to find my own voice and my own identity. Not speaking about my mother because Who wants to be called an orphan and pitied? I never wanted anyone’s pity. Who wants to be reminded of something that horrific? Not me. Who wants to be introduced as “Msichana wa ule wakili aliuliwa”, something that used to irk me to no end. I have a name. I’m more than “wakili’s daughter”. But then again that double edged sword would not just leave me alone. Wasn’t I disrespecting the memory of my mother by not acknowledging her in my every waking breathe?

Walking the fine line that is loving and confusing and missing and denial is a tough order. And what example was I giving my sister who barely knew her. I want her to know who she was, don’t I? I try to tell her stories of our mother but sometimes I fail miserable. Partly because the lump in my throat makes me unable to speak and I can feel the tears threatening to break down the dam that is my pride and partly because I’m ashamed to admit that I feel her slipping away from my memory everyday. Like turning blind slowly until all you see is pitch black and all you are left with are the images, the smells, the tastes, the sounds…until even those disappear and you are left groping in the darkness that has now become too familiar.

I miss her more than ever and even more so now that I’m in my twenties. She would be 42 now and I can’t help but wonder how her life was at my age, with a 4yr old child, dealing with Kenya School of Law and trying to figure herself out. But she did, I’m inclined to believe that she made it work for her and for that alone, I can never complain about how tough my life is. If she did it, then I can too.
Biko put it aptly when he said “No one ever tells you that losing your mother will break your heart…and not just once…”
I don’t think many of the choices I have made in life would have made my mother proud. Hell, she probably would call me right now if she could asking why I am writing about her in my blog and being so vulnerable (I can still remember her beating me for skipping school when I was in class one till I promised I would take school seriously. I managed 8-4-4…barely. soooo promise fulfilled mum!🙂 ) But I think she would be proud, she would know that I have fought battles too big for my age and she would be proud that through it all…I have learnt. She would know that I am HUMAN.

Its hard to figure out who you are as a whole when you have always been part of something bigger than yourself. But until you accept all parts that make you…you, you will be but a wandering soul that cannot be anchored… and maybe that’s what I still am.

Cheers to you and may you Keep resting in Peace Mama.

REJECTION

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Universal emotions and experiences, like love, hate, pain, happiness … rejection. As long as you have experienced any living in this life you have gone through rejecting and being rejected. Its like one of the engines that turns the wheels of life. Whether from a job, family, a loved one, school..It is sharp and distinct, especially if you are the recipient of the rejection. Like a stab by a thorn on your foot or the bite of a snake, you know the pain has arrived and something in your system prepares for the real pain. The one you always know is coming the moment a conversation becomes real and alive, which occurs when a spark of trust shorts out the delicate circuits you keep insulated under layers of irony, momentarily grounding the static emotional charge you’ve built up through decades of friction with the world.

And most people avoid talking about their rejection because we have labeled it ugly. Something to be ashamed of. Something that is not worth talking about because other people are unable to relate to your experience, whether because of pity, envy or simple foreignness. There is a beauty to that because the experience will drift from your life as a result of your lack of acknowledgement, until the memory itself feels out of place, no longer having a place to land in your soul…I guess that is how you heal.

“He was a big deal, he had power. He made me feel safe…at first. Like nothing bad could happen to me because I was under his protection. why do we do any of the messed up things that we do and tell ourselves that its okay? Who we think we are and who we turn out to be…are they ever the same? The best we can hope for is another day to try and get it right…rejection…no matter its ugliness, gives us this chance”

Rejection is also a state of exhaustion inspired by an act of senseless violence, which forces you to revise your image of what can happen in this world, mending the fences of your expectations, weeding out invasive truths, cultivating the perennial good that’s buried under the surface, before propping yourself up in the middle of it like an old scarecrow, who’s bursting at the seams but powerless to do anything but stand there and watch. Because you can’t change another human’s thoughts. You just have to accept it. At that moment it feels like your life is flashing before your eyes, but its actually the opposite, you’re thinking forward, to all the things you haven’t done, the places you intent to visit, the goals you’ll get around to…to all the “could-have-beens”. And you can wish all you want, because life is a game of chance. And each passing day is another flip of the coin. Who can blame you for wanting to be there when it lands?

LIFE

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I’ve been jostling around for days with the notion of writing a poem about life. Because life is kind of like poetry. There is an imbalance about it that always makes it imperfect. Yet the same imbalance is so distinct and pure…it ends up being perfect. People are grappling everyday with how we came to have life. Whether it is believing in a higher power…or science itself that is just so fascinating, there is a story about how our lives came to be…our lives.

I once read somewhere that ‘”More than 7 billion people experienced today differently. Can you Imagine 7 billion different days for yourself if you could even live them to begin with. Isn’t that just imperfectly perfect. It’s daunting to say the least. And those 7 billion different days happen every single day…All at once. It’s precious yet so fragile. We are in the world where we learn that in some years to come, there will be nothing left of us. How can this unrepeatable miracle ever go away…

But in as much as we sometimes need a pause to think about the direction we are taking, more often than not it has a mind of its own. And it goes faster or slower than you expect. And it makes you doubt its magic. Our guts are from life itself, which is all about hunches and taking chances.

Life is long and life is short. But not in that order. When we are born, we are put in little boxes and labels are slapped on them. But if we begin to notice these categories no longer fit us, maybe it will mean that we’ve finally arrived, just unpacking the boxes, making ourselves at home…Living.

BOOK REVIEW: HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi

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So I’m kind of late reading this book. But life would be boring if we were always on time, on schedule, on point. The missed moments are the ones that make it so amazing. As long as you still do it. You cant fake it till you make it forever, something has to give. Okay, I’m digressing!

Anyway, so I read this book in less than 24hrs. I’m seriously not kidding AT ALL! I couldn’t put it down, okay close the pdf reader on my pc. It’s a great book. I’m even tempted not to say anything about it so that you just go read it for yourself. I think great African authors are the coolest because they capture the African spirit beautifully. A line in the book actually says…”a good book to you is one you can feel” I definitely felt it. Because this young new blood of Yaa Gyasi transported me in this book to two centuries ago, and I came full circle at the last line (PS: I’m totally rooting for a sequel in like another 200 years because it felt…unfinished…a good kind of unfinished though. And that it is just her first book makes me think that there is more from this talented author that is just as good as our beloved Chimamanda

Speaking of Chimamanda, its a lot like half of a yellow sun but it begins from the beginning, from way back in the 1700s. (Also have you read her new writing on the Complete Guide to Raising A Feminist?…read it here. And the beauty about it is that it is fast-paced and in no time you have crossed oceans, colonialism has become past tense (Did it really end?…Okay that’s a whole new discussion for later) and technology is brought to life in the book.

So the book is arranged into chapters that tell the story of the lineage of this family and how the different paths each of the members of this “cursed” (I know!!!!) family have each led have somehow brought them back home. If you are looking for a book that speaks about African heritage and culture, the role of history, colonialism, women in society, slavery, drug abuse, parent-children relationships etc…then you are in for a lovely treat.

I can’t say anymore because the book is only 200 pages (Just 200 only:-)) and I understand why Text Book Center chose it as their book of the month for September. It’s a gem and I’ll even avoid giving snippets of phrases in the book like I always do with my other book reviews just to let y’all enjoy it that much more. If you want a copy just write your email in the comments section and I will get it to you! or get a hard copy from a bookshop for I think Ksh 1000 or 10 USD, equivalent.

PS: Someone asked me “Kwani all the books you read are nice because you don’t say bad things in your book reviews” Well two things. First, I don’t write reviews of everything I read, just the ones that truly truly stand out. Plus I read a lot. It would be bad to subject you to books that I myself did not enjoy and even worse to technical stuff that I read more often than not like IAS, IFRS, CFA or CPA. Secondly, I don’t think anyone can say that a book is bad. That is really unfair to the person who wrote it. They put their life’s work into it and I know how hard it is to come up with a paragraph let alone a 500 page novel and for that, I have deep respect for writers. I will probably not agree with one or two things based on my opinion but I don’t go as far as saying a book was a waste of my time. I believe everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t and that keeps me open-minded to learning from anything…and everything…even a not-so-cuddly book

Happy reading!🙂

Of Perfect Imperfections and Worldly Anxieties

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Being a writer is an exercise that many who go by this title grapple with everyday. There are those who do it as their day job, the one that puts the food on the table yet there are those that write to fill up what they call hobby time. I am the latter. Because I don’t believe we were created to be one single thing. Versatility is the pump of my heart. Whatever kind you are, at the end of the day, we know, us writers, artists, that to not write is synonymous to hiding a piece of you and being ashamed of it. Of its ability to not only transform you but the world. Writers can’t not write, just like chefs can’t not cook, singers can’t not sing and painters can’t not paint. It’s the one thing we all have in common. That itch that never leaves you no matter how much you scratch, only leaving a stinging mark of a blister urging you to put a band aid on it…the band aid of the art that is you.
But then despite all this passion that wells up in you to just pour out your heart’s and mind’s glory on pen and paper or on your device, it is also difficult to come to terms with how much of yourself you are willing to share with the world or yourself. Even writing in your own diary where only your eyes see is a form of vulnerability. Because you are always standing on the outside looking in. Judging that beautiful garden that with good light looks spectacular but on a gloomy day you can’t bear to look at because it is not a sight for sore eyes. You’re always wondering if what you are writing will make an impact if any to anyone. Sometimes forgetting that in sharing your imperfections there is someone who will feel a code strike within them and hit the like button or share because they have felt a kinship with the silkiness of your prose.
My brother used to write poetry once. Growing up I always knew he had a deep soul and I would sneak some of his art on my blog until I got the courage to one day ask for his permission. He shared them on his Facebook but somehow alienated himself from his work, as if he thought it wasn’t good enough. As if his pride would not let him share with the world his imperfections. But there is beauty in the struggle and the roughness. Any art is always unfinished. And if we never allowed ourselves to share it, how would we bless the world, how did the many quotes we often chant and live by come to be gospel truths, the authors surely did not know that they would be quoted with such reverence years after their death, they just confidently stood by what they did and what they said. UN-afraid of the judgement the world is always so quick to throw.
There is also the fear that comes with the imperfection, the fear that someone else could have expressed a certain thought process better than you. There are times I have held back on writing certain things. Being someone who reads a lot and has friends who read AND write a lot, I am faced with the all too common moments of appreciating other people’s work, great or unknown. Seeing the way the words roll so effortless in my tongue and I’m genuinely impressed then the feeling of inadequacy sets in. How can you compete? At the end of the day, all artists cut themselves some slack. All individuals should cut themselves slack, not set too high standards, accept their space and own it, revel in their achievements however big or small, forget the anxieties, pat themselves on the back and accept their perfect imperfections. Maybe that will help in explaining the long sabbaticals I take with my blog, strangers on this new world we call the internet have come to show me that my literature has space it has already carved out for itself in the world and silencing it would be doing a disservice to it and myself. Isn’t that what all bloggers tell themselves? I wouldn’t know.

Flighty…

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I didn’t know if I had the strength to forge on. My life felt like it was falling apart on multiple fronts and the fact that I had to put up a brave face every day to the world made the situation even worse. My therapist had just told me it was the anxiety of the unknown, that everyone went through it and it would go away with time. But I had been feeling like this for more than six months. I know Dr. Riziki had a point, but did he really, truly understand the despair I was going through?I had resisted entertaining any thoughts that I was depressed and suicidal. That was never me and was never going to be me. Now I sat at the Jomo Kenyatta airport terminal waiting for my flight. Dr. Riziki had recommended a trip to somewhere I had never been so that I could get a new lease on life. Said the best therapy is to get a fresh perspective. It would certainly help to do something new and maybe try out the new camera I had just bought and not got round to using because I had stopped going out. So here I was, feeling the anxiety clawing at my skin, threatening to escape and disintegrate me into a million pieces. I clearly knew what was ailing me. The frustration of being stuck here, in the now, in this one body of mine that could only inhabit one place at a time. The smallness of it all. The airport was full of the other travelers hurling suitcases, alighting from wherever they had come from, places with strange names and strange cultures, all just representing one more thing I would never get to see before I died. My problem was inadequacy, because the arrow on the map was so ‘helpfully’ pointing out that I was here, and that was it.


I got on the flight and hoped that when I came back I would feel a bit better about the quarter life crisis I was going through and maybe even have a plan. It was about time I started being positive before I had to deal with friends and family telling me that she was displaying all these ‘white people problems’. As if depression was meant for a certain skin color. Another thing that made me believe in the increasing shallowness of the human mind. I did not want my mother to start with the “Anita you have a good life, Anita you take for granted all the blessings in your life, Anita you are not sick”. The last time had got very heated and they both said some things they wish they could take back. But don’t we all take for granted that life moves forward and you move as you do when rowing a boat, facing backwards. You can see where you have been but not where you are going. And your boat is always steered by a younger version of you. Its hard not to wonder what life would be like  facing the other way. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so stuck. When I come back I’ll talk to mum and make things right.

I settle in my seat and decides I will just sleep through the journey. “Nothing to see but clouds anyway”, muttering under my breathe. A lady who looks my age sits next to me and says hi with such happiness that for a second I am taken aback. “What is she so happy about?” I almost snaps at her, a habit I am finding hard to knock off and which is not getting me any favors with the world.
“I’m Jacky, first time to Victoria falls? I’ve been there once and I just have to take pictures of the waterfall again. Too magical”

She is definitely in a bubble of happiness and its somewhat infectious were it not for the fact that I am a sour sport. So instead of being gracious and polite and telling her my name I blurt out, “Don’t you think there is frustration in photographing something amazing when clearly thousands of identical photos already exist. The same sunset, the same close-up of an eye, the same sky… the same waterfall. Doesn’t it just turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap? Like a mass production of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself?”

“It can’t be that bad, there is beauty in everything because you saw it through your eyes. What do you do for a living?” I tell her I’m a construction engineer and she looks very impressed(They always are when you do a predominantly male job)

I sense Jacky is something alien, because she just smiles and this perplexes me the more. We both settle in our seats and have a silent flight with the occasional announcements and refreshments breaking the ice. The plane lands in Lusaka, Zambia and at the baggage claim, Jacky turns to me and says something that sticks for a while, “care less about things, loosen your grip on life and stop over analyzing and glancing behind every few steps afraid someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone. Hold it loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends…That’s how you stay sane. Enjoy Zambia”

I am about to get angry at this girl who knows nothing about my life but then again, she has said something important. As I hail a cab, I am aware of the smallness of my perspective, by which I couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture because although my life is not bad and I know I am an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wider experiment happening elsewhere. I know I need to chill out. Maybe this trip wasn’t so bad an idea. I’m already learning something and I haven’t even began the trip itself.

Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I need to candidly express my gratitude to TextBookCentre who never fail to make my heart and other book lovers’ heart leap with joy. So I’m going to buy myself a copy of book of the mo…

Source: Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

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I need to candidly express my gratitude to TextBookCentre who never fail to make my heart and other book lovers’ heart leap with joy. So I’m going to buy myself a copy of book of the month. (Let me digress for a minute. TBC have this amazing book club where people meet to discuss the book of the month. It has just started this year but it is something that’s picking up well. If you are interested in being part of the book club, knowing which books have been read so far or just catching up with like minded people, head on to Kenya National Theater every first Saturday of every month or check their Facebook Page page if you want to know more details. PS; its FREE). So where was I, yeah buying the book which I knew would be cheaper by 10% and you know how us Kenyans, I mean humans love discounts and sales. It was sold out! How could my luck be this bad. I had been dreaming about this book for a whole two weeks and smelling it and falling asleep while holding it and reading it on my bus ride home. I think the teller thought I was going to have a mini-heart attack and thankfully came to my rescue. They said they will order the book for me and would call me in two days. Phew! Then they gave me even better news, They had a sale to celebrate a year of that branch being open. Now, this is the equivalent of a sale of shoes, food, wine, chocolate, clothes, a trip! I left for the sale without thinking twice.

What a story that lead to me reading quite the interesting story. And Jodi Picoult can really weave a story of the human spirit. Humanity is what she does best. We already fell in love with her beautiful prose in My Sister’s Keeper so I knew this would be a wonderful ride. I love African stories but every once in a while I like knowing what happens on the other side of the world. What are the stories of other countries the way we have colonialism and independence. At the end of the day do we have histories that link us because of the emotions that carry within? I have very little knowledge of the Holocaust in Germany that led to the death of millions of Jews. Discrimination has not only happened in Africa, in Kenya, in Rwanda, in Pakistan, in Libya. It has also happened in Germany and I thought the books i had read about the Genocide in Rwanda were all the ugliness I would see about humanity but The Storyteller is an eye opener.

Basic Run-Down: Its about this old man who has met this young chic at a grief group(Like Alcoholics Anonymous). They become friends. Until he tells her that he is a murderer and tells her a story that changes everything (Is the suspense alive already? hehe)
Does war affect only those who live it or does it seep through into the future generations?
Is there something that the present world with all its problems can learn from history?
Just because we don’t ask for forgiveness, does it mean we don’t need it.
I hope this book entertains you as much as it did me. It has an all time twist at the end that you will not believe (I still don’t!). Its a story about love and war. Murder and mercy. Betrayal and forgiveness. A story that made me understand the Holocaust better than I ever would. This is a gripping story considering it was more than 500 pages and i finished it in two and a half days🙂

You can get it at TBC for Kshs350 (if the sale is not over I hope)
Love and Light till the next book🙂

Book Review:The Unfair Advantage by Robert Kiyosaki

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Monday, another week, another challenge, some good inspiration. And what better way to get some good inspiration than to read a good book. This Monday is as good as any to get yourself a book. A Monday book. Well, I have one that you won’t want to put down. Its simple but in its simplicity it teaches very good lessons.

Most people know Robert Kiyosaki for his other favorite book,”Rich Dad Poor Dad”, a very entertaining book about how to look at money. If you thought Rich Dad was quite the educator then Unfair Advantage is the best dessert. It came later and its a book that basically in a nutshell tells how to make money work for you. Its about taking advantage of the “unfair advantages” in society that not everyone is privy to.

Before I go on, we all want money. Some may be more open about it than others but the truth is that its the answer to a lot of material situations that we face and even emotional, social and mental situations we face. The only disadvantage to this is that with each upgrade you need more and more of it. But in such a scenario that is the reality of our lives isn’t it better to be in control by knowing how you can help yourself get more of it? A life worth living in fun definitely entails a glass of wine here, a fancy meal there, a nice vacation to see the world, a beautiful space to call home. It entails celebrating the good things you contribute to to the universe and treating yourself with whatever makes you feel happy.

I believe we should be taught a lot of things but schools miss out on a very important factor of life, a lesson that is for the ages no matter what career or path your life follows and that is the lesson of how money works and how to make it work for you. I found The Unfair Advantage very insightful because of agreeing with all these sentiments. Even the author says he knows this is a secret that most wealthy and successful people keep for themselves and he didn’t see the importance of the secret since there is enough to go round for everyone.

The book has five key unfair advantages that are pretty exhaustive:
1. Knowledge
2. Taxes
3. Debt
4. Risk
5. Compensation

Some good tidbits I picked up from the book:

“If a person has a solid financial education, they will not cling so tightly to job security, a steady paycheck and a pension. If a person knows the tax laws, they will not pay unnecessary taxes. If they understand the banking system, they will not save money. Rather than call their home an asset, they will know that it is a liability. If they understand inflation, they will not try to live below their means. Rather than get out of debt, they will learn how to use debt to gain wealth. And they will not turn over their money to bankers, financial planners and real estate agents in the hope of obtaining a secure retirement”

“We study hard so we can play Monopoly in real life”

“Your brain is your greatest asset. Your brain can also be your greatest liability”

“A true investor does well in any market condition”

“If you are a fool you will probably lose no matter what you invest in”

“Nothing is a good investment if you are a bad investor”

“I believe it is better to teach people to fish than to give them the fish”

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I hope they inspire you to get the book. Kenya and the world over is in a great time. We are becoming more sophisticated in how the world interacts and because of this new opportunities keep coming up each day. Wouldn’t it be great if you have the necessary tools to help you be part of the movement of success? But despite how many unfair advantages you are presented with, being true and authentic to yourself will make making use of them all the more if you are a good investor. It doesn’t matter how good an investment is if you are not a good investor. Because at the end of the day its your good judgement calls that determines your success. Unfair advantages just give you the whole buffet of options. It’s a good motivation for the start of the week. You can get it from most “Inama” (Bend-over) bookshops in town😉 .

Dreams of the City

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You always see a different perspective when you are looking at something from the inside and the outside, the near and the far. It makes you see something you don’t normally consider in your day to day life. And even better when you re-have those perspectives. I used to imagine Nairobi in my head before I actually came here. And now it has become home…I see it everyday and it shows me all its facets. I hear so many stories of Nairobi having thugs and it feels funny to me because I’ve actually never once been robbed. Its an interesting place. That has its beautiful and its ugly. Its also the place where you can do anything. When Human of New York came to Kenya…I saw it captured in a beautiful light. No one tells you that you’ll get here and it will have  you having fun, and thinking and making yourself a better person. It also does show you that you’ll encounter hardships of being broke yet none of your friends will tell you they are…it’s and unspoken secret. You’ll make amazing friends in all the places you are lucky to work and even if you tarmac for a while…you’ll still make those amazing friends…to weather you through the hard times.

Its a great time we are living in where we can see our friends on social media having a good time even if we don’t normally meet. Because we are all trying to figure out this hell that gives us different devils to deal with. It gives you a break from family and make new families…of friendship and love. I got to experience Nairobi’s skyline from a distance and it looked majestic. It looked like a pile of concrete and you couldn’t see the people…and you imagined them in that concrete jungle. I figured for someone who had lived there all their life, they had those dreams they attached to that concrete jungle. A silhouette at best that looked both tempting and daunting. Maybe they long to one day come to “The Big Apple” or maybe they have no desire to. But we are all from different backgrounds here trying to make our great count. As a quote in a book I’m currently reading (will review it in a week, keep tuned) “this is your kingdom and your reign and at any moment the keys are with you and only you”

What was and is your dreams of the city?