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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Encountering characters during a visit to Nairobi.

We were in Arusha to purchase materials for one of the water projects and as a treat had lunch at a new place that operated a disco at night and was a normal restaurant during the day. The good thing about all African restaurants is that they provide toothpicks – maybe to some that’s not important, but when meat becomes lodged between your teeth, a toothpick is useful little tool. This place was one up on toothpicks, they also supplied complementary peanuts as well and I’m particularly partial to peanuts! After we had finished our lunch, I noticed there were a few peanuts left in the bowl, so I scooped them up and tossed them into my mouth. One crunch and ouch! A stone that was among the peanuts broke one of my molars!

Word amongst the expats was that there were no good dentists in Arusha at the time. I had been to the one in the Salvation Army complex at Njiro but the experience was not that flash. Once, three dentists had at least one finger each in my over-stretched mouth, at the one time! The problem I already knew was a broken filling, so the amalgam expert decided to just grind off the jagged bit, but in the process managed to cut a hole in the inside my cheek! Apparently the drill had slipped.

To repair my molar, it was decided that I should go to Nairobi and find a dentist there. Although there is a border crossing, it was a hassle-free trip to Nairobi on the reliable Riverside shuttles.  Mags and I decided to spend the night there because the return shuttle did not quite work in and I needed to buy some smart shoes because we had been invited to a flash wedding.

Nairobi is one of those busy, bustling African cities where you have to watch your step. Naturally enough we stuck out in the crowd but we had been there before and spoke the language, although Kenyan Swahili is not as perfect as Tanzanian - parochially speaking. So after my dental repair work, which went well, we were comfortable checking out the shops and making my purchase of trendy-for-me, light suede shoes.

Waiting to cross the street, a tall man wearing a tidy brown suit approached and smiled at us.

‘Hello,’ he smiled, ‘do you remember me? I’m Freddy from the hotel.’

‘Greetings.’ I replied in polite Swahili.

‘I just have to go to the pharmacy,’ he said, ‘then if you like, we can walk back to the hotel together.’

We were not finished and did not particularly need or want a guide, so neither of us gave him an answer – we thought he would be lucky to even find us again.

Not ten minutes later, after checking out a shop that interested me, I returned to Mags and found her talking to this Freddy fellow.

‘Freddy does not have enough money for his medicine,’ she said, ‘have you got ten thousand shillings?’

It seemed a lot for medicine, but I handed Freddy a shiny new ten thousand shilling note.

‘I will pay you back at the hotel.’ Freddy smiled politely.

‘Did you recognise him?’ I asked Mags as he walked away.

‘No, not really, I thought you did!’ She replied.

‘There goes our thousand shillings then.’ I said glumly.

Our guard had dropped and we had been conned, we never saw Freddy again!

Shortly after this incident, a smartly dressed man strolled up and smiled at us.

‘Hello, do you remember me? I’m Gideon from the hotel. I’m in town to buy some medicine, Later if you like, I will walk back to the hotel with you.’

‘Are you sure you have enough money?’ I asked with an element of sarcasm. ‘We’ve been tricked once already thank you very much! Sorry mate, you will get no money from us!’

Gideon’s reaction was vociferous and a trifle threatening with the use of several English expletives! He did not leave us in any doubt about his attitude towards foreigners. He was trying to intimidate us into giving him something!

Who knows what Gideon had in store for us because his rant was interrupted by the approach of a policeman! Gideon dissolved quietly into the crowd.


*Ten thousand shilling was equivalent to twelve or fifteen US dollars at the time.

Submitted: January 06, 2017

© Copyright 2022 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


unmasked delusions

I like your style; realistic yet with surreal atmosphere.another good job

Sun, January 8th, 2017 7:29am


Thank you, pleased you enjoyed it.

Sun, January 8th, 2017 10:41am


Excellent story, again, Moa. And I guess this gives backing to the saying, 'Beware of strangers'!

Sun, January 8th, 2017 7:19pm


Thank you Mama Hullabaloo, yes he did us fair and square. A lapse of concentration! Usianguke

Sun, January 8th, 2017 11:31am

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