Thursday, March 31, 2005

Monkeying around barbecues

Hola blog people! So this past weekend was looooooonnnngg because of Easter. On Monday, a good friend "W" invited myself, siblings and their partners over for an afternoon barbecue. There were tons of kids running around while the adults sat around sipping various poisons of choice while W's chef grilled some goat and chicken. The conversation ranged in topic from banking to politics to where to find a good butchery. It was during this time I finally figured out what "Halal" means. When you visit here, you'll pass a lot of fast food restaurants that have that word written below their name or even at the grocery store in the meat department. A lot of the packages have "Halal" written on products ranging from fish to mutton. I asked someon what it meant and they said it's Arabic for "what is lawful" meaning what muslims can eat. It also means that the animals had to be slaughtered in a "Zahibah" manner, in an Isalmic way and the person doing it had to be of the religion. Also at the time of the slaughter, the person must pronounce Allah's name or recite a blessing containing his name. Basically Kosher! I was very impressed by that and relieved that the name did not mean a corporation that had taken charge of all the butcheries in the area. So if you see Halal, it means kosher food.

While taking a food break, I looked up at the huge trees that surrounded W's apartment complex and fixed my eyes on a large brown creature perched way high. At first I thought it was a huge badger that had wound its way all the way up there but upon closer look, I realized it was a very large hawk. I mean this thing was huge and it was watching something else equally high up. Where I live is near the Nairobi Arboretum which is an amazing botanic garden and what that hawk was looking at was a monkey that had just taken a climb out and was walking around. Apparently it's pretty common for the monkeys to get out of the gardens and check out the neighborhood. I never noticed them near by place as the nearest tree to me is an Avocado one of which I and about 20 other residents eye closely waiting for the first signs of ripening fruit. W's place is more wooded so the monkeys had come out for the afternoon. The monkey eyeing the hawk was moving closer and closer while the hawk kept staring. I watched this quite puzzled as I thought monkeys would have been fodder for this large bird but oh no, the monkey leaped toward it and the hawk took off to perch on yet another branch. Then another monkey joined in and started to chase the hawk until it took off. Then the little creatures climbed all the way down where they were joined by two more and began to chase themselves around this garden that was no more than 50 feet away from us for about an hour and then they left. W told me that it was quite common for them to do that and you had to be careful not to leave fruit near your window sills as the little thieves would reach in and pluck what they could.

The afternoon turned into evening, the meat kept coming, drinks kept flowing and I couldn't help but wonder that this is what you have to experience if you come to Kenya. Yes come to see the animals, enjoy the beaches and maybe if you're lucky see me but more than that, you should meet Kenyans and not just just your waiter or housekeeper. The conversation is enlightening, the ambience very warming and there is no language barrier. I suppose this is true of everywhere you travel, if you know someone there then you'll be fortunate to see more than clubs and bars and you'll get to experience family life and conversation. Sorry this is brief, I'm running late and also low on cash so have to limit time online. I will add more to this later.

Oh, people rejoice! I will be starting internship tomorrow...unless someone's pulling an April Fools prank on me. I will refrain from talking about my work as people have been known to get fired because of work references in their blogs. Instead, I'll operate on a five star rating. 5 for an excellent day, 1 for I hate my job. Get it?

Yes Jamie, I'm sorry that you still have to sign on to make a comment, I thought they'd changed that. I'm pretty sure they did, check again.



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