OK, life in Nairobi. Nairobi's crazy! People are everywhere, but not like NYC everywhere. They're literally all over the streets (zigzagging through speeding cars is somewhat of an art form here). They're not afraid to get up in your face to get you to alight a matatu (take a minibus-matatus are basically fifteen passenger vans that are really loud, cheap, prevalent, and crazy) or in a taxi or in one of their shops. If you've been here a month and have not been hit by anything, you must have been St. Francis of Assisi in a past life. I won't go into all that I've been through, so as to not dispense coronaries. At the same time, I love it. I'll admit, the matatus are my preferred form of transport (so long as the touts-that is, the conductors-don't hit on me or act like jerks). I love the loud music and the general atmosphere. I'll admit, American public transport will make me cry when I come home. Why does it have to be so boring?
One thing I'm not used to: getting hit on a LOT. I had heard rumors from friends that this happens to wazungu (that is, white) women. Men are extremely forward here, to the point where I've had to physically fight people off (don't worry, it's always in daylight, in a public space and I make enough of a scene so that they leave me alone). I don't want to give the impression that all Kenyan men are like this, because they're not. The ones I associate with are very respectful guys. However, whiteness is perceived to be a good thing here.........to the point where your money or (if you're a woman and I'm going to be blunt here) your body are coveted. I will say that I don't tolerate it. Not because I believe I'm making a stand for women, nor do I believe men are pigs. I just don't tolerate it. If you're going to approach me, do it respectfully. I don't care about your race or culture, that gives you no permission to be inappropriate. I believe men are humans, not animals. Thus, I expect them to act like it. And, if you're touching me in a way I deem is unacceptable, I'm going to backhand you. Don't like it? Don't touch me. Mom always told me to keep my hands to myself.
You do have to be a bit abrasive at times. If you're too nice, people do find a way to use it to their advantage. I do find that people respect you more if you're blunt and you stand up for yourself. I am glad for that because that has been a past weakness of mine. Of course, I've made mistakes in the other extreme and taken things too personally. I am working on that. I will find the balance. However, I like that I'm finally developing that strength. It's very liberating.
I do love Nairobi. It's raw and edgy but there is something that pulls you to it. The energy excites me and, despite from previously mentioned characters, I do like the people a lot. It's a unique city and for that, it will always hold my heart.