The Embassy Part I

It’s now nearly 2 am, and I’m in that type of mood yet again. Solange is blaring in the background, trying idly to muffle the sounds of idle sex that are drifting through the paper thin plaster of the wall. Again with such bullshit, the hangover resounding from yesterday and what a yesterday it was.

At times in Nairobi, one needs to give into their own idle sluttiness, to grasp onto the new glam party that floats their way and tuck in with both hands.

Such was the case yesterday: one pseudo accomplished journalisto shoulder budging his way into the posh old money brigade, but why not? There may be no such better plots to run towards during the drenched madness of the spring rainy season anyway.

This was o one such case: with my old friend Selma extending an illicit invitation into the Swedish embassy for a night of just a touch of emotional strangeness.

It was far beyond me to reject such notions, four months of dead ends and a desolate stretch towards a master’s degree that I was finding myself ever more indifferent towards.

I needed such a night: part time lies and full time fronts, a bluster of success smuggling his way into a high end Euro embassy by wearing a tweed jacket and horn-rim spectacles.

Just what I need.

The thought crossed idly across the view of my mind as the rains set in and I hopped onto the back of a boda, the driver obviously fucked up on khat since 9 am, the disapproval of my Midwestern ancestors rattling around my brain.

Free booze and loose lips.

What could be better beneath the shelter of white tarp tents in the fabulous lawns of the unreachable?

Such tangents kept shooting off the inside of my skull as a musty helmet hugged my earlobes, the driver narrowly avoiding certain death on some of Nairobi’s poshest roads.

We swerved a taxi on James Gichuru, the driver looking at us with a resigned and weary resentment.

Eventually and after much rude cursing and possible hatred emanating from the man operating the suspension-less motorbike, I arrived amid a torrent of rain outside of the embassy house in the deepest bowels of Muthaiga.

Askaris littered the outside, lists in hand, armed cops lingering just beyond them.

I made my way inside after a quick change into my disguise for the evening, with all lies set: it was now time to mingle; and fuck it all I was the first person there.

Damn my idle thought process and bottom-of-the-heart loathing of the infamous Nairobi jam. Now it would be harder to blend in and drink idly in the back while taking in the scene.

I had to…socialize.

Time to spin out fantastic fibs, for why wouldn’t I? There were posers on all sides anyway, the young money getting in good with the foreign branch.

28 year old Kenyans chortling polite subdued laughter at the meandering jokes of 42 year old embassy-brigade interlopers.

Time to drink; rapidly shoot my societal posturing into the stratosphere and maybe make an off color joke about race relations with the ‘locals’. That would do, become one with the bullshit and wash it down with imported sauvignon blanc.

I milled about for an hour, repeatedly being approached by a young artist I’d met several times in back room joint passing circles, though he didn’t recognize me now that I was in this ridiculous schmoozing outfit.

He tried to convince me to be a buyer, then looked at me with startled reproach when I said something not aloof and altogether expensive sounding.

It was time to move …luckily other well groomed Scandinavians in what seemed to be pilot uniforms had begun to file in….



The Baddest Rap Battle In Nairobi

If ever there was a rule that went unwritten in the annals of hip-hop history: it is this, the only two types of rap battles that deserve to be seen are either the exceptional or the exceptionally terrible. I don’t want middle ground, mediocrity: a la trap music (something that has a dope enough beat to get on radio but no redeeming lyrical quality).

No, I want bottom of the barrel or crème de la crème. The case was the latter a few weeks back at the Battle of the Bars at the Alchemist, with flow flying wild and free, flirting between being heinously offensive and cuttingly accurate with the tension ratcheting round after round, at least four of the involved MCs deserving of the win and the 10K in cash throughout the night.

Last Thursday slid backwards to other end of the spectrum totally, with some of the most laughable lyrics this side of Nyeri that I’ve ever had the cringe-worthy experience of witnessing in person. Those in the crowd who’d gone ahead and delved deep into the belly of the substances was in for a treat, the bizarre off beat attempts and sexually divisive lyrics made for some truly incredible moments of the comedic sublime. Laughter could truly be heard at times ringing off of tent tarps and the spray painted double-decker backdrop of it all.

The insults seemed to fall flat, with one huge counter punch by one MC wishing a nasty case of gout upon his wretchedly rape-joke heavy opponent. No one deserved to win, and truthfully I left just before it was all over as I saw no need for the cash prizes being put in any outstretched hands as none were deserving.

Despite my shade, it isn’t to say that the event of Bars for Bars wasn’t a rousing success of sorts, with counter weights to the main stage were slung about the Alchemist compound, with a brutally earnest attempt at a gender debate going down in the back (the Free Thinkers events are worthy of a look every month) and a sunglasses clad DJ called Ronjey spinning out old school afro-vibes in the candelabra lit middle room.

It truly was one of the most entertaining nights that I’ve had in Nairobi recently, even the lackluster rap spitting translated into great hilarity for the true hip-hop heads littering the audience.

With the veritable artistic hits and misses and the carnival atmosphere of it all, the new Thursday night plot should begin and end inside the hipster-friendly confines of the Alchemist Bar.

The Adventures of Lou Pragson: What Not to Do In the Glamorous City Of Cape Town

(Also Known as the Jaguar Jaguar Incident)

The following is an unfortunately true turn of events that happened to me in my days before being able to handle a partying situation.   This is why you do not mix alcohol, an inability to drink, experienced friends and South African Mexican food together before going to fabulous night clubs in the shadow of Table Mountain, for terrible things shall occur.

7:00 p.m.- I am made aware that there is a magnificent club in Cape Town that I can get into on Thursday night, despite not meeting their age restrictions.   I quickly get dressed and join my friends to go to dinner.

7:02- I become greatly excited towards this notion of a nightclub, having never experienced a proper one.

7:23- I am in a Mexican restaurant and margaritas are being ordered, I drink several glasses in rapid-fire succession, in the fashion of a starved wino.   My friends watch me do this.   Some chuckle at my idiocy.

7:34- My eyes become blurry, but I recover by drinking another Margarita.

7:36 – My vision clear, I put my hamburger (complete with chili pepper sauce) down but miss my plate, my attractive waitress laughs at me.

7:38- Three more pitchers hit the table.   This time one green, one pink and one mixed.   I decide that I must sample them all.

7:45- I have sampled them all

7:52-I sampled them all twice.

7:57-I leave, and walk home with a girl from my house, I profess my feelings for her the entire way back.

8:06- Arriving at home she tells me that I must be drunk, since I’ve been incoherently mumbling since we left the restaurant.

8:07- Fuck Tequila.

8:10- I get tangled up trying to take off my own shirt.

8:37- My roommate arrives, and cracks open a bottle of wine.   I question his moral integrity.

8:49- We are waiting for girls, in my drunkenness I tell my roommate an elaborate formula of math that describes how large groups of women will always be late.   He looks at me as though I declared I have extra-contagious leprosy.

9:45-We are waiting.

10:30- Still waiting, and we finish the wine bottle.

10:47- I tell him my theory is right, and he proceeds to get more liquor.

11:18- I state out loud that my feet probably won’t be able to walk well, from the booze.   My roommate questions my national pride.

11:19- I slam my drink defiantly and trip headfirst into a cabinet.

11:21-My roommate tells me that my clothes suck, I respond with “Your words suck.” He proceeds to get my nicest clothes.

11:25- The girls are ready, and I whine at them for their tardiness, none of them are able to understand my critical words through the hazy slurring coming from my vocal chords.

11:43- We arrive at the club.   The now legendary Jaguar Jaguar.

11:44-I nearly fall down an escalator.

11:46- There is a line, I detest lines, and decide it’s a good time for me to exercise my girl chasing game on the people around me.

11:48- There are none close enough for me to walk towards, as I have become a stumbling catastrophe, I publicly yell an obscenity.   Apparently this was unexpected, as some people look at me with raising suspicion, and the ones who are close move away quickly.

11:56-I am at the front of the line.   I raise my hand and pronounce my triumph.   The gigantic Congolese bouncer spots me, and I smile up at him, trying to stand up straight.   He is not amused.   My friend Jonah sees my plight and rescues me by whisking me into the club, telling the giant, “We’re with all those chicks.”

12:00- I state aloud that I have reached my drunkest, and that I shouldn’t legally be allowed to drink anymore.   I am promptly handed a beer.   Then a double shot of tequila.

12:02-We go towards a table where our two buddies who play rugby are seated, I have a brief moment of clarity, I decide that this won’t end well, and I’m being horrifyingly irresponsible.   The moment passes and I take a seat at this little round table.

12:05- Shooters are brought, they are multi-colored and textured, and they are on trays in large quantities.   I am fascinated, in the way oncoming headlights fascinate a deer.

12:07-We do a round of shooters, I proclaim them to be delicious.   My horrible friends encourage me to do more, and I oblige, grinning happily.

12:10-12:40- A period of nothing, no memories of my actions.   My first true drunken black out.   Those pesky friends of mine would later describe the events of that period as me taking a shot every two minutes.   These were shots of everything, from Springboks to Tequila.

12:47- I wake up.   My head is down on the table between my arms and I can’t lift it.   I have a vague awareness that my life could be drastically altered for the worst.   My stomach is rumbling to a ridiculous degree.

12:49- One friend approaches me and asks me if I need water, she is kind.   I tell her to fuck herself, and she does not respond kindly.

12:51-The rumblings become a crescendo that I cannot suppress, I throw up in an extreme amount, but as I am unable to lift my head from between my arms it becomes a concentrated overflowing fountain.

12:51-The same angry bouncer sees this, his line of sight is aided by most of my friends running away from me in fear/disgust.

12:51-Jonah, that same kindhearted soul who got me into the club, is dancing with a beautiful girl.   He is in the zone and having the night of his life.   He sees my situation and abandons her to come to my aid.

12:52-Both the giant bouncer and Jonah reach me simultaneously.   Each grabs a shoulder and I’m yanked out of a chair.

12:54-I fall in the bathroom on brief pit stop of being whisked out the club.   I am causing a scene and being that guy, I cannot remember this.

12:58-I wake up staring at the ceiling of a fancy Cape Town shopping center.   I am between two escalators and there is a plastic palm tree above me.   I am frightened.   Jonah and beautiful girl are standing over me, and talking although none of their words make sense.   I only hear “I’m taking him home, damn.” From Jonah.   I fear I have ruined his chances.   Just then our Italian buddy steps in save the day, offering to get me home.

1:00-1:30- A varied series of drunken memory blips, being thrown into a cab, crying with my head out the window, yelling for God to intervene, talking to the security guard at my house.

6:00- I wake up.   I am confused; my room smells of death and bad choices.   I am in a beanbag chair.   I am entirely naked.

6:10- There are people in my room.   Including the beautiful girl in Jonah’s bed.   Good for him.   I find my clothes in a garbage bag in the shower.   They deserve to be burned as they are entirely covered.

7:00- I wander outside fully dressed and ready for work.   I actively curse at the sun and my friends.   I am still drunk.

7:03-I question my life choices.