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Domestic Tourism; Campus Rover Edition

The Chronicles of a mad mullah.
The Wednesday I woke up to board a bus to the village for Christmas treated me like a stranger. I had woken early up to catch Riakanau, the only bus that connects my village and the city. On reaching Machakos Country bus, the bus had already left for its first trip thanks to the many people that were making the annual Christmas holiday migration to the village. For the first time, we were actually booking seats by paying fare in advance contrary to some years back when bus fare was paid as the journey took toll.
That day, the fare had hiked; you would think they were offering full accommodation too. It had taken me the better part of the year to save my fare under the pillow, and finding the usual fare hiked by a hundred bob made me shiver. As I harassed my wallet, gathering together the few notes I had, marrying them with a few coins to make the four hundred and fifty shillings fare home, there was a painful pat on my shoulder. “Ha-ha-ha Githee! ndio unaenda nyumbani eh ?(hahaha, Champ you’re on your way home?)” Bellowed Njuguna.  The last time I met Njuguna a year ago, he was a bus tout. That Wednesday, he ‘looked’ like a potato farmer that had lost his way in the city. As he engaged me in a confused conversation, Githindi stormed, greening his teeth as if he had seen two familiar monkeys. “Vipi (How are you),” he greeted. Githindi was a musian or what you would call a one-man-guitar that ‘rocks’ your average happy hour pub every Friday evening. One hand had a small bag and the other a guitar. He looked groomed and composed than any of us. “Sasa hizi ni za kuuza (these are for sale),” he mumbled pointing to the bag he was holding. It had some of his recorded mugithi tracks on compacts discs and had planned to sell aboard the bus…I was laughing at the idea thinking it was a joke when he changed his mind and said, “shika hizi, tutaanza saa hii, anza kuuza hizo kuna commission (get your bunch, we start selling instantly and there is a commission on sales made),” he said and shared the discs amongst Njuguna and I. Njuguna immediately excused himself nodding his head. In the blinking of an eye, Githindi threw me a begging eye in a manner to suggest that he did not expect me to let him down. We had been to Kanyariro primary school together and were classmates some years back. I accepted unwillingly knowing too well that it was to take the bus about five hours to return. Those were five hawking hours and were an equivalent jog on red hot charcoal.
The last time I had tried hawking in Nairobi, I got the best hospitality an average Kanjo askari will accord an accosted hawker. In one of the encounters, they not only offered me some fresh hot slaps but also threw me into their van like a sack of rotten potatoes, booked me into their starless dungeons and my uncle had to part with a few thousand shillings for my freedom. Now that my philanthropic uncle, Giciri, swore to never foot bills for my recklessness again, I would not dare venture back into hawking even if to save a life. I dodged Githindi, checked into a pub and got two for the road that I would have ordered at the village’s brew den that evening had I boarded the first bus.
The bus crawled back to the Bus Station when the ‘two for the road’ had begun taking toll on me. By then, I had started murmuring a little English and French. We boarded in the order we had booked. The bus was full to capacity with rural-urban migrants returning home, everyone quiet and seated like in a Chief’s Baraza. Everyone looked familiar and I managed to get a few waves here and there……….the story continues keep it KIJIJIMOJA
Grammatical errors regretted…my English is like monkey.  
 
cont’d…… Mon, 9th Jan,2012

Coincidentally, Githindi and I got seats next to each other. I was pondering how to tell him I had not made any sales, when I realized him too had not. I was relieved. The ‘two for the road’ I had earlier had given me confidence to hawk the discs aboard the bus. The journey had hardly started when I sold the first disc. Being a reformed hawker, I had some expertise. The fact that there were no council askaris in the bus gave me morale. “Mia! Mia! Mia! (A hundred bob! A hundred bob! A hundred bob!)” I traded. Convincing a villager of my caliber to purchase a compact disc that is termed as luxury at the price of a packet of maize flour is like playing guitar to a dozing goat. However as the journey progressed, I had made sales earning me a seventy bob commission. By then, Githindi had not made any sale and decided to cool his frustrations by playing guitar to a few who cared to pay attention. It worked magic for only two passengers who bought a disc each. 
It was at dusk when the bus arrived at the village. Everyone was tired. We alighted. I spotted Wakanaga another ex-Kanyariro, desperately scavenging his way through the exhausted passengers. Word had reached him I was on the bus courtesy to a phone call had made earlier that morning. “Cousin! Cousin! This way,” He shouted. “siku mingi, umepotea sana (Longtime, I haven’t seen you),” He lamented.  Jijini kuvipi? (How is the city)” He asked. A couple of pause less questions followed and could answer none. This was his usual way of soliciting a bottle of beer to cool his curiosity. Knowing too well I had two hundred bob in my wallet, I objected but gave in later when I learnt that a drink in the village cost twenty bob a bottle. Wakanaga lured me into one of the brew dens. The dark smoky room looked scary. Some guys were seated in benches, seriously holding onto their mugs while others jealously held onto tins. Some were murmuring and a few speaking and shouting in tongues. “Karibuni sana wanangu, kuna space huko nyuma(Sons, welcome, there is more space at the back),” shouted Maitu the local Mama Bima pointing to shacks on the backside. We were ushered into an open space behind the den, where, if drinking beer would have been a lucrative business and revelers being shareholders, Maitu being the chief executive officer at that time of the day, would have been in the process of announcing massive profits. Unlike in the city, the honorable drink there cost me only twenty bob and having two hundred shillings, I felt like the boss.
By 11 o’clock in the night, we were already done and walking home was a nut to crack. Two steps in front, head high, one at the back. The legs felt numb, the head was heavy, the back was vertical and eye balls out like ground nuts. I could hardly walk. A few yards we had walked, when all of a sudden I fell asleep. It was so sweet and the bed was as cozy as raw wool of a sheep. The night was cool and quiet like a grave yard. The crude sleep overlapped the night’s thin wind penetrating my skin like penicillin. When the morning came, I was awoken up by cold and melodies of the early birds. It was five o’clock in the morning and for the first time in life; I had spent a good night in a ditch. I woke up confused and reached my house feeling as if I had spent the entire night tilling land.
I went to bed officially at 7 O’clock in the morning and tortured my blankets till early evening, when I woke up two hundred shillings poor. By then it was too late to visit a few relatives besides my mother whose house I checked into without warning. That is the time their women’s chama(group) was meeting. “Mwana! Karibu!” She said as some women hailed my arrival. I was dealing with a mug of tea and a loaf of bread that I had been served when one of the ladies jumped up and suggested, “Anaweza kuwa mgeni wa heshima kwenye harambee yetu (He can be the guest of honor in our upcoming fundraiser).” My nerves went numb assuming that they were not referring to a pauper of my doing. Bearing in mind that the only people I had heard of being referred to as guests of honor were the local administration chief and/or the local Member of Parliament…….
About Mwaniki Mutugi (373 Articles)
<p>Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at the Nairobi-based Kiboko Kenya Safaris.</p>