Unto us a child is born

Witnessing the birth of a baby is an experience of a lifetime. Nothing and nobody prepares you for the pain that you will witness your wife going through. Nobody warns about the blood and all the fatty tissue that your child will come encased in. And more importantly, nobody prepares you for the helplessness you are going to feel when the small one starts crying in the middle of the night. Helpless not just because you cannot do anything about it, but mostly because you have no idea as to what the problem may be.

Welcome to the world of parenting, as seen through the eyes of a first time father.

The little red cross on the plastic window of the test kit will send a wave of emotions through your heart. But there are also lots of things that only the experience will teach you. First of all, parenting is hard. Very hard. There will be a lot of times in the middle of changing the third diaper at night where you will be asking yourself whether you made the correct choices in life. There is no manual and no straight answers. Much of the things you do will be done out of sheer intuition and guess-work. But don’t let desperation get the best of you. They grow up quick and routines start showing up at the second week.

There is no wisdom in asking any parent about when “number 2” is coming. Or when Junior will be getting a sibling. I totally now understand why a lot of people end up winding up the factory immediately after the first baby rolls off the production line.

One thing I realised early in being a parent is tht babies cry. A lot. A whole lot more. Feed me. Change me. Cuddle me. Cry with me. It seems as though their tiny brains tell them “I can cry – so I will cry.” There is need to quickly develop a thick skin to resist some of those cries. Otherwise your little one will surely manipulate your life. Then you end up miserable. Babies have a way of detecting miserable parents. And when they see you miserable, guess what they end up doing? You guessed right: cry some more! I see you are learning quickly. And so a vicious cycle that will be unless one breaks out

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Two years have passed since I started drafting this article. One thing led to another and before I knew it, so much time went by. But I decided to leave the initial part of the article as it was. Sentimental value, perhaps? In all that while, I realised that indeed time flies. Toddler has started speaking. The US has a new government and so has The Netherlands. Oh, and I now speak Dutch. Hoerah!

Of Town Halls and Airports

This is a story of the missus coming home after a while. When I arrived at the airport to collect her, there was a free show at Schiphol. By the way, something deep inside me tells me to not use the word collect in this context because it sounds as though she is a parcel. I have been staring at this keyboard for a while thinking about an alternative word. “Fetch” is the next word but that makes her sound like a piece of snail mail, complete with stamps with pictures of windmills and tulips. But I deviate.

So here I am watching this dance while I wait for her to step out through the immigration doors. Perhaps a waltz or a tango, I am no dance guru given my two left feet. Definitely not Lipala because there were no shoulders being wiggled. Neither Lingala nor Kanungo because no waists were being rotated around. Maybe some dance genius will be able to help me decipher its genre and origin. The best thing about the dance was that it was free of charge. You don’t believe me, do you? Well neither was I believing myself that free things exist in this land. I expected a guy twice my size, bulky from endless cheese sandwiches, to try and see the colour of the lining in my pockets.

“Look right, look left, look right again. Cross the road quickly. Do not play by the road.” That was a rhyme we used to narrate with the same frequency as The Loyalty Pledge. This time it was playing in my head in a loop, perhaps as a means of offering some much-needed encouragement for me to move along before I find myself in the middle of a canal with no recollection as to how I ended up swimming naked with abandoned bicycles.

So, I started hovering around Arrivals 3. Several kinds of people kept pouring out of that door. Those with business suits and those whose suitcases meant serious business gauging from their sizes. There was this Asian family who came armed with helium balloons and a teddy bear the size of a small rhino. If there was a prize to be won from the kind of reception that awaited their daughter from Nairobi then this clan would have won. They started making me feel bad for not organizing a parade of sisal-skirt-wearing and drum-beating to welcome the missus.

Their daughter came and they offered her a reception in their ways. And many more came and went but the missus was not yet out. Thoughts of game meat and tilapia fish in her luggage started crossing my mind. Or having slept in the aircraft to the extent that she missed her stop and the pilot proceeded on to his next destination with her dreaming about fried plantains…

Ululations are not something you hear frequently coming out of a man’s lungs. But she says that those vocalizations came out of me. But there are no witnesses so it is her word against mine. Smiles. It is interesting how the slightest sight of the sun leads to a revelation of a myriad of colours of clothing – most of them short. And short were my sleeves, either because I had gotten slightly used to the chilly weather or I had grown a layer of smooth blubber under my feathers. I choose the latter since the bathroom scales said so. She, on the other hand, had her tears of joy nearing freezing point despite having a blanket wrapped around her torso.

The movement to the taxi was rapid, swift and otherwise quick, unlike the few hours that may have been otherwise spent on Mombasa Road staring into the vehicles on the next lane because the police officers at Nyayo Stadium roundabout didn’t like the look of the cars from Jomo Kenyatta airport. Into the house we – or rather she – rushed. I was savouring the moment with the same intensity a football team admires a newly-won trophy. Not that I know about such intensities especially since  I am not a fan of leg ball. Evening came and morning came. It was the first night and it was good.

The Nairobi Town Hall is not for the faint hearted. Big burly brutes linger by the door waiting to punce on anyone daring to come next to the mayoral mace. Corrupt officials await to receive your wallet with arms wide open.I guess that they may have gone to the same school which was attended by the dandy fellows who were whipped outside a certain temple two thousand years ago.

Well, the fellows incide Amsterdam Town Hall were neither brute nor were they muscular. They certainly were feminine and they offered a cup of tea or coffee with a “sir” in the beginning of the sentence. I don’t know if the missus was as impressed as I was. In an unbelievable twenty-two minutes, there were residence papers processed with which we could now come and go as much as we wished.

And off we are to a certain destination. I’ll let you know how it goes soon. In the mean time, don’t do what I wouldn’t.

 

Karibuni

Karibuni

Four months have already gone by. It actually feels that they flew by. Well, they say that time flies when one is having fun. Whoever “they” are, is not in question but indeed they were right. You see, there was an invitation extended to yours truly, for a tech hackathon in Nairobi. Two days of serious brain-cell erosion in addition to stockpiles of pizza in the stomach led to an invitation to Amsterdam for a week in July 2016. It was at this point that the charm offensive against the hosts began. There was a mutual feeling between us because the various propositions were accepted. And that is how we find ourselves at this point in time.

Most relationships terminate in the event of a slap to the face. Mine and Amsterdam began with one. In the dark and wet Schiphol plaza exit doors, Amsterdam sent an awakening jolt on my face. Perhaps she wasn’t too pleased with the subzero blanket of air that was hugging her and thus decided to vent her frustrations on my face.

Having come from a diplomatic background, there were no problems in adapting to the different cultures interacting in Amsterdam. The only thing that needed time was my being used to 30 degrees of sunshine, not sub zero frost. Sight of snow was as rare as never throughout my many years of eating salt. The closest to snow has been huge tropical hail stones. This reminds me of my first experience with hail whereby mama was hurriedly called to the window to see maize falling from the sky. Sweet childhood!

There are beautiful minds here, as well as beautiful personalities. Join me in this journey as we embark in new adventures, and new ways to explore the world.