Meeting Old Friends

The other day, I was to meet my class 5 crush for the first time since I transferred schools in class 5.

He suggested Tuskys. It is one of the few places I avoid in Kisumu. If you ever lie to anyone that you are away from town, do not and I repeat, do not show up in Tuskys, you will meet. I assure you there will be no way you can hide. Tuskys is the ideal meeting spot for the people you intend to avoid. It doesn’t help that it’s the only mall next to the main stage. It also hosts the only KFC place in Kisumu. I still can’t understand Kisumu people’s obsession with this place. In short, Tuskys is a place to avoid if you don’t like crowds. Human traffic is guaranteed. It is this same Tuskys that Crush chose. So I said ‘why not?’

When we met, we had the usual pleasantries, which were full of ‘I can’t believe it’s you’ ‘waaaaa’ ‘so we finally meet’ ‘you look so lovely’ ‘I still can’t believe it’s really you’ and my favorite ‘you are beyond what I expected’. A girl can be flattered. A girl can blush. We decided to find a place to seat and talk. We had over a decade to catch up on. Just after passing the security point, which by the way I found to be shitty, we met another class 5 classmate, the best friend to Crush. I immediately knew there would be a change in plans. We will call him Best Friend. I am not using anyone’s name here today.

We catch up for some time creating a minor traffic at the shitty security checkpoint. Finally, we all agreed to go for bhajias. When you visit Kisumu and you happen to be in the mood for some bhajias, the place to be is at Mama Hassan’s. It’s located in Ondiek estate, just a few minutes from Tuskys mall. Best friend was in the company of a petite girl, who looked like his girlfriend (I will justify that) and another guy who was in denim. I hope you are all getting their names. Just in case you are lost, there is Crush, Best Friend, Petite Girl and Denim Guy. Now keep up please.

We leave Tuskys and head to Mama Hassan’s. Let me tell you why this place is sacred to those like me who have no problem eating junk food. Mwitu to be specific. One, Mama Hassan has been there for as long as I can remember. Two, her bhajias are just heavenly, mouthwatering. Three, there is something called loyalty. It cuts across several avenues. Salons, Barbers, and now as you have all learnt, food kiosks. Four, my sister recommended it sometime. So the fact that my sister, who does not know Kisumu so well, found this place means it is the best. I could go on and on, but this is not a marketing post.

Just as we approach Mama Hassan’s, Petite Girl says she knows a different place that is actually good. She gives us an impression of this new place; there is no waiting and that we would get seats fast. Unlike Mama Hassan’s place, there are few people. She goes further and tells the rest of the group to go to Mama Hassan’s if they are not for it but as for her, she was going to the other place. Best Friend, or as I would say Suspected Boyfriend, asked for our opinion. Now I knew it was just for formality purposes because the facts were 1) There was no way Best Friend was going to a different place from Petite Girl 2) There was no way Crush was going to a different place from Best Friend and 3) The moment that division option was brought up, we were all going to the new place. These were facts. A chain rolling out.

That was my cue. I should have just created some ridiculous story and excused myself from the group but I didn’t. I also needed to hang with old friends. Crush to be specific. It had been a decade! All this, for my class 5 crush. Dude you owe me better bhajias.

The other place wasn’t as promised. One, there were no seats. Two, there was a crowd. Three, there was a waiting line. We were group #3. Each group waited at least 30minutes. Do the math. In short, I was missing Mama Hassan’s place. Petite Girl decided to look for seats. As for me, I was targeting the group that was doing literally nothing next to us. They had eaten. They needed to leave. Well, they did leave and we got their seats.

And so the wait began… and my observing eyes began to work…

When you use observation for content, you need things to be real, not stage-managed. Therefore, I was counting on that just in case I decided to write about the place. Crush however decided to issue out a warning to everyone. “Be careful what you say, and how you act. She is a writer and she can be savage. The other day alimulika a guy just for tweezing”. How do you get real content when everyone is now on the alert? You employ patience. Eventually people let their guards down. Am not savage in my posts. That’s just a misconception. Sort of.

Let me give you all a picture of how the place looked like. It is an outdoor eating shack with two possible seating areas, outside the compound and inside the compound. The seats are plastic chairs that are available depending on your arrival time and the willingness of the previous occupants to vacate the said seats. Everything was being done manually or rather traditionally. The potatoes were peeled with knives, and later cooked using three stones and a huge black pan half filled with oil. A duck kept patrolling the area at intervals of 10minutes. A baby was crying, I never got why. She was a lovely girl in pink. Her mother however thought it wise to plait her half-haired head. I think this was just torture. Why punish a child like that? Maybe that is why she kept crying. The cooking staff were for lack of a better word, very slow. For a place with that much traffic in form of customers, their service delivery was uncharmingly (this is not even a real word) slow.

It was half an hour since we had arrived and still we were nowhere close to being served. Petite Girl later suggested we all move into the compound and not outside as we had initially positioned ourselves. Best Friend had to ask (formality) if we are ok with that. We had to be. Refer to the facts previously stated.
Inside the compound, I had no view of the activities going on outside, like the progress of our ordered Bhajias.

After minutes of waiting to be served, the lady in charge comes and takes our order. Five plates of bhajia. Pretty simple huh? Well it wasn’t to her. After all that waiting and finally getting some hope she comes back with just two plates. Two plates! We were five! She smiles at all of us and says, “Aki nikienda kuosha plates ule aliuza order yenu”. You don’t play people like that when it comes to food. I pitied Denim Guy most. He had reached out for a plate, which he had to let go, so that the ladies in the team can have the first share. Being a gentleman needs its time-outs. I did feel for him. Unfortunately, it’s only he who was waiting. Crush joined me. Best friend joined Petite Girl. (I promised to tell you why I suspected Best Friend was Boyfriend, right? This is the place. They shared Petite Girl’s plate. She gave him her juice when Denim Guy snatched his and I could swear it was during this time that I heard one of them calling the other ‘babe’. It could also just be my overactive imagination)

Best Friend was making some calls to other friends to join us. His only problem was giving the directions to where we were. Petite Girl took it upon herself to confuse the crap out of the guy more. ‘Tell them to come near the old VCT’ ‘tell them to come to Akinyi’s (not the real name) place’ ‘tell them to use Ondiek’ and many more tell thems. Well, somehow the friend found the place. I was expecting a crowd. It was just one person.

The whole team got to some catching up. I noticed Petite Girl did not talk much. She just stayed in her corner as if studying all of us. It was sort of like what I do when am in a crowd of new people. Denim Guy would join in only when there was a jab being thrown at someone. I guess he feared whatever he said might be used against him in this piece. The talkers were Crush and Best Friend. One discussion however caught my attention. Straight guys really feel a strong sense of repulsion towards the gay guys. Everyone except Denim Guy had an experience with a gay person and the tone in their voices when speaking of such moments oozed nothing but disgust. I will not share the stories. This is already longer than I expected.

Everyone got their share of bhajias eventually. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

It was getting late and I needed to go home.

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