It’s already the second week of 2012! I still haven’t done a post reviewing the past year – where this blog got 110,000 page views- and I don’t think I will do it. Let me just contend myself with living this year to the fullest (sorry for the cliche).
I have decided to ditch the formal blogging voice and go with one that’s more of me.. more of Savvy. That’s my 2012 resolution. Anyway, we recently moved from a hood on Thika Road, Kahawa Wendani, to a new one near Utawala. There is a big difference between these two places.
1. Building Style
Houses in Kahawa Wendani, as in most estates in Nairobi, are built to make maximum use of available space. Apartments can have up to 8 floors, and no self-respecting average Nairobi apartment block will have a lift! Also, there is rarely any piped water flowing and you have to buy water and carry it up the 8 flights of stairs!
Houses in the general Utawala area are restricted to a maximum of two storeys, I hear because of the proximity to the airport. The place is more like an upcoming suburb and people move there after years of saving, buying plots and building their own houses. Some of the houses are not yet complete, ours included. But there is this Kenyan spirit of doing things; the house will be completed while you live in it. At least you are not paying rent.. rent is just money down the drain!
2. Type of Neighbours
In Kahawa Wendani, we hardly knew our neighbours looked like, let alone their names. The only time we knocked on their houses was when you had to ask them to move their vehicle which was blocking yours in the limited space that served as the parking lot.
Most of the people living in Kahawa Wendani are young; students who study at Kenyatta University (KU)
In our new neighbourhood, we are starting to know our neighbours… On the day we moved, which was a Sunday, the people passing by stopped to say hello and welcome us to the hood. One of our new neighbours then went to her farm and picked sukuma wiki for us to use during the week. The scarcity of water in Nairobi in general also affects the area and for like the first two days, we borrowed water from the Probox neighbour (duh, he drives a Probox). The only son of the neighbour on right hangs out in our house most of the time. The neighbour yonder (equally no taste in cars, you see Funcargos, Noahs, Proboxes etc) has a kid who comes to our kitchen demanding chapos because she’s hungry. It’s like we’re back in the village!
Most people living here are families, hardly any single/young people unless they are waiting to move out (points at self)
3. Transport To and From Town
From Kahawa Wendani to town, we had various matatus, from old to pimped new ones. There was also the option of theGithurai buses (they make you so religious, you have to pray before and after the journey because of the reckless driving). The pimped matatus carried equally pimped crew and passengers, mostly KU students. The buses were cheap off peak times, 10bob to town! They have fancy names like Maranatha, Paradiso etc
Now the buses that service the Utawala route are the boring but reliable KBS, City Shuttle etc. They charge aconstant fare of Kshs. 80 bob, even if you’re the only passenger to town and it’s 6pm! The passengers are equally boring, usually reading newspapers, eating snacks and fries as if we’re traveling upcountry.
Because there are no tall apartments built closely together till they receive no sunshine, Kahawa Wendani is fast becoming another Githurai. There are many people there, try driving along the busy narrow road to the supermarket.
Utawala has fewer people, better houses, polite neighbours, and the house we live in is bathed in sunlight from sunrise to sunset. The setting feels village-like save for the lack of farms. No doubt less exciting to live in than Kahawa but I prefer it here.
Thika Road Vs Mombasa Road Traffic
To be honest, this is a tough one! Traffic on both roads is horrible especially during rush hours. To Kahawa Wendani, Thika road is busy in the morning when people are going to work, and in the evening when going home. The superhighway was not yet complete when we were moving, so the traffic load had not lessened.
From Utawala, we use the bypass (I think the Eastern bypass) to Mombasa Road, where traffic usually starts at Capital Center and stretches all the way to Uhuru Highway. I prefer it though because I’m currently a student/tutor at Strathmore and hence I don’t have to sit in the crawling traffic all the way to town! I get off at Nyayo and find a matatu going to Madaraka at the stage.
Happy 2012 people!