Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Things I see every day...

I can't believe it's almost Christmas! I spoke to my lovely friend Kim from California about this many times before I left (and about a million times in the last few weeks)- Christmas in the sunshine is so weird! Despite the decorations, Christmas music, and the rather warm looking Santa in the Yaya Centre (my local shopping centre), it really hasn't sunk in that it's Christmas. It should be cold and dark, and I should be looking forward to spending a day eating too much and wearing snuggly pyjamas! But no, I'm pouncing all over an increasingly hot Nairobi which is enjoying (or not for those hoping for rain that never came) an extra warm start to summer. As it is both summer and Christmas, many people are taking fairly long holidays, with many leaving Nairobi to join family in other parts of the country. This has meant a bit of a slow turn for my research in the last few days, but I've been finding plenty to keep me busy! I've been so hectic trying to learn Kiswahili and Somali, while meeting with NGOs and UN agencies, and fitting in some bureaucratic fun on the side, that it's been nice to slow down a wee bit!
So I thought I would share a few of my favourite sights in Nairobi so far...

I spotted this bin on my very first adventure into the city centre and I pass it frequently on the bus. Although there is quite a bit of graffiti in Nairobi, this stencil was the first I saw and I'd heard so many tales about big, bad, scary Nairobi that seeing this wee declaration of love made me smile, and it still does every time I see it. Oh and a white girl taking a photo of a bin attracts a fair amount of attention and giggles.

I took this picture from Uhuru Park on Jamhuri Day, Kenya's Independence Day. It's a massive park with a giant pond where you can rent those wee peddle boat things. It was a lovely sunny day with loads of people out and about enjoying the celebrations, listening to live music, having picnics, and going on camel rides. This photo is of the back of All Saints Cathedral, which you can just see poking out of the top. I thought it looked really funny the way this beautiful cathedral (which you can't see, but trust me it is beautiful, I'll add a photo of it soon) and the mass of gorgeous plants were fronted by this security guard with a very large gun. Coming from the lovely safe city and country that I do, the sight of guns every day has taken a bit of getting used to, especially when they're in a place like this, where I'm still surprised to see them.

This is a beautiful mosque in the city centre which is surrounded by lots of interesting wee shops. It's a far more beautiful sight than this picture would suggest. There's also a mosque just up the street from where I live, and I've started to love the very, very loud call to prayer that is belted out of enormous speakers. Because so much of my research is with muslim women, that sound makes me feel like I'm working, even when I'm just pottering about! There's a coffee shop where I like to read and write notes sandwiched between my nearby mosque and a gym, and at certain times of the day I am treated to the very bizarre aural combination of the call to prayer from one and house music (surely a gym's own call to prayer?!) from the other. If my thesis was to have a soundtrack, I would want it to be that!

This is an enormous monument in Central Park, just across the road from the cathedral you can almost see in the photo above. Again, my photography skills don't do it justice (I think I need to hire a professional...), the bit poking out the top is a fist holding a torch (?) and it's an impressively bold statement of Kenyan independence.

These images are from the University Of Nairobi which is brilliant for at least 2 reasons to me. Firstly, the anthropology department is super cool! And I don't use those words lightly! They've been so kind and accomodating to me and have gone out of their way to be helpful. There's a pretty big focus on gender and development in the department, so my research feels right at home! Secondly, there's a really nice vibe to the central campus where these were taken. It's got a big grassy square and a fountain in the middle of it, and it feels like a lovely calm wee sanctuary in the insane hustle of the city centre.

Finally, these are some photos of the National Museum which sits in the botanic gardens. I seem to be saying it a lot in this post, but it's such a beautiful place! Like the University, they are a wee spot of calm in the middle of the city. The museum is fascinating and definitely worth a visit if you're in Nairobi, and the garden is lovely too- my Mum will love it!

It's hard to believe when you're standing at this spot that you're so close to the city centre and a constant mass of traffic jams!

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year! Lots of love xxx.

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