I call Angie; it’s a little bit past two and I have just gotten to Two Rivers. The place is huge; even from the outside, its daunting walls and large Carrefour sign being more intimidating than welcoming. It is like a future father in-law; an angel and soft as a petal to the daughter but a stone-eyed cold killer to potential boyfriends. Staring down any bad intentions and freezing his semen right in the ball sac or the general direction of where it used to be as they shrunk beneath his gaze.
“Have you fikad?” I ask
“Yeah, I’m somewhere here on the second floor. I can’t find the place. It’s so big.”
I wanted to ask her when was the last time she said that, it’s so big, and meant it. But I did not ask. And since I did not ask I will just go ahead and tell you when the last time was I heard it. Sunday. 14th May. Leah was staring at my meat; she gasped; and said it was so big. That was the challenger, biggest fucking burger I’ve seen; dripping with melted cheese and adorned in sweet kachumbari and draped in succulent sauces. What the hell were you thinking?
“Okay cool. I’m here. Let’s see who finds the place first.”
The first thing you notice about that mall is how easy it is to lose your kid. And you don’t think of that in a bad way; you actually entertain the idea. Chances are that by the end of the day your kid will have trailed off and joined some other family, gotten adopted and changed their name to suit the new family. This is where you bring naughty kids, kids that splash their porridge on you when you try to feed them, kids that do not understand homework should not be done in the car on an early morning as you fight traffic. Kids that make YouTube videos with your iPhone and have more followers than you have money in the bank account. Also just for the record I do not have an iPhone, I do not have money in the bank account and also I don’t have kids. I am a broke, no iPhone having and childless broke writer. Maybe I should put that as my byline. Ama namna gani?
So anyway, the mall. I do not see any lost (abandoned?) kids when I walk in. Just a few teenagers in long shorts sagged below their butts; sandals worn with white socks and flowered short sleeve shirts. I walk past them, which is my first mistake, I should’ve probably lingered behind at a distance and seen which way they went in. I get lost and find myself at a smoking zone. It is empty and for a smoking zone has more fresh air than our overloaded Embasavvas. Do you know what it’s like to be in an embasavva? It is hell. First you are probably sitting next to some chap that has been chewing miraa for 40 days and 40 nights. These guys will have lips so numb they won’t be able to close their mouth for the whole journey so they look like a crocodile (my mum always said this thought I should use it). But the worst part is the high pitched Kisii conductors that chirp off like hangovered chicken.
Somehow I find my way; thanks to the help of three G4S guys, my ancestors and my star reading skills. When you are at this mall you walk past so many shops you never see yourself in. Not ati because you cannot afford it (okay mostly because you cannot afford it) but because they just don’t appeal to you. For instance what would I be doing in a plus size lingerie shop? That would be a weird convo.
“Getting something for the missus?”
“Yeah sure why not. I am. What do you have?”
“That depends what size is she?”
“Yeah like double D or something…”
“Wasn’t double D skinny? Loved that cartoon by the way.”
“What? No. I mean cup size.”
“Oh, yeah that. She uses normal mugs. Like the ones at Java. Pretty basic. She loves them with nice flowers or funny writings.”
“Do we look like we sell cups?”
By this time she’s exasperated.
“Clearly you don’t” I’d say pointing at some purple lace thing. “But you asked about cups. Want to grab coffee sometime?”
“I thought you said you had a missus?”
“No you said I had a missus.”
Anyway I don’t stroll into the lingerie store but I find my way to the food court. That mall makes you work for your food; by the time you get to the restaurants it feels like you warmed up with the mater heart run and then finished second at the Boston marathon.
We’re trying out Olpul. There were some pretty rave reviews about the place. It promised a ranch like style meal in the middle of the city. For some reason I expected to be met by a Kenny Rogers looking waiter but they were just pretty damsels; the Nairobi usual. Make up caked on them like icing on cupcakes; wearing something black and an attitude on speed dial.
I arrive and Angie is still trying to trace her way. Her excuse is she got lost. But come on; a mall? A lady? A few loose thousands to spend? She was definitely shopping. She was probably just lost in time browsing MAC eye pencils. Which she told me go for like 2000 a pop. If I am buying eye pencil for that much it better make my third eye look good and draw my future too.
The place is quite quaint; has all the trimmings of a fine restaurant. You know? The wooden tables; the ones that look were cut out straight out of a tree trunk. Some high metal stools for the outside terrace and a pretty cozy inside restaurant. I sit waiting for Angie; I think that maybe this was a great time to get one of my favorite things in the world; a cold beer. But the staff seem unbothered. I could have just been a guy that came to enjoy the gurgling of water in the background and watch people tear into their steaks, drinking their beers and smoking away to mint cigarettes. They just walk past me; like I am invisible. None offer to bring a menu; or ask if I’ve ordered or heck at least tell me they don’t let idlers sit there.
Angie strolls in. She looks flustered; like she just took a flight of stairs or changed a car tire. Shopping can be an extreme sport. I hope that maybe they will see her walk in and give her attention. They don’t. We are invisible. It’s more than five minutes with her and more than ten for me but still no service. So we figure that maybe this is the norm; let clients sit for so long till they work up an appetite that way they can order more. The only flaw to this was everyone else walking in was served, promptly. The one thing they had in common was they wore shorts; some and they were definitely lighter. Angie suggests we go to another restaurant; Spurs is just adjacent and Burger King is an escalator away.
By this time they are serving two more guests that came in after us. But this time, thank God, they were not lighter. So it is definitely something else. We are either broke or we sat at the invisible table. I decide to walk in; find almost three ladies behind the counter. They could not be bothered; I smile, say hi, mention we’d been seated a while with no service. No apology. I didn’t expect it anyway. I just asked for the menu and went back to the table.
Decided on what we wanted. No one came to the table. They are still milling around the other clients. Asking if everything was okay. But walking past our invisible table. At some point it gets comical; not even infuriating. So I walk back into the restaurant and give our order and have to request for a drinks menu. Like it is not obvious. Which thank God they came to take this time round and got it right. Like anyone can fuck up Tusker baridi. It would take a special type of stupid to mess that up. And not special in a “you get your own Olympics” way; no. But a special like “can we sacrifice this child to the water spirits awache kutusumbua”.
Anyway; drinks come. Can’t complain about my beer but Angie hates the straw they served her smoothie in. Yeah; bourgeois. Apparently there’s a straws for smoothie. I also did not know. What I do know is there is no straw for beer. In fact anyone that takes beer with a straw deserves to live with reindeer in the North Pole shining their antlers. The food comes and by now there’s really nothing to write home about. I will though praise their chicken burger. It was great; succulent. It did not feel like chewing dry chalk. Angie did not like it though. She’s weird.
After the meal leaving the place was the only thing we wanted. But the gods of bad service did not let us prosper. The bill took ages to come. We again had to walk in and pay from the counter. I don’t like to complain, I love to complain. Lol. But held my peace and walked out. I do not see myself going back their though.
Also a fly went into my beer. If that is not a bad omen I don’t know what is.