Book Review: Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

Against the backdrop of the political shenanigans in Kenya, I read this very interesting book on Kenya by a Kenyan Indian author.

About the Book.
Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When Leena meets a local Kikuyu artist whose past is linked to her own, the two begin a secret affair—one that forces Leena to again question her place in a country she once called home.

 

Interlinked with Leena’s story is that of Jeffery: a corrupt policeman burdened with his own angers and regrets, and whose questionable actions have unexpected and catastrophic consequences for those closest to him. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall is an epic look at the politics and people of Kenya.

So my general thoughts:

  • The book had quite a slow start, I mean you could tell she is hinting at something that happened in the past but she wasn’t going to give away anything quite so quickly.
  • I thought it was a good attempt for the author to include Kiswahili phrases but it probably needed an editor who also spoke Kiswahili as in the absence of that the book had basic editorial mistakes like the police moto: Utumishi kwa wote, not utamishi kwa wote; Jogoo House not Jogo House.
  • I thought that the city of Nairobi could have been more prominent unless the narrow lens through which it was presented was necessary to present how insular the Indian community in Kenya is?

The book had a few major themes that were particularly meaningful to me.

Race/ Tribe

  • Love that she talks about the race/tribe relations between Indians and Africans in Kenya. How there is a sense of mistrust and almost antagonistic hate or resentment. This was best played out by the employer – employee relations by the Indian mama and her Kikuyu/ African maid.
  • I thought the discussion between Jai and Ivy at the SONU meeting about what makes a Kenyan Kenyan quite insightful. It made me wonder whether by the same reckoning I would be classified as one because though by birth and upbringing I am one, then again, am I actually one? Will Indians ever be viewed as Kenyan?
  • My surprise at Jai choosing to study at UoN instead of going to England which as the mom confirms is the better option and generally the done thing among this sub population.
  • It was interesting to read about Pio Gama Pinto because he is one person who history has not represented very well even all these years later.

Gender

  • Jai could play outside but Leena couldn’t.
  • Jeffrey just “took over” his friends wife like she was a spare item and no one questioned that.
  • Also the fact that the wife just rolled over and adjusted to this new reality.

Power

  • The dynamics between a maid and her employer were very startling and playing into the perception of race and/or tribe in the book is the difference in treatment for a maid between a white and Indian employer.
  • Jeffrey wielded significant power and that was how over time he was able to become as corrupt as he was.
  • Who really ran the home between Jai’s parents, the mom or the dad?

Home

  • Leena’s characterisation of being in Nairobi vs being in London and how one can reimagine / build it up into something bigger than it really is. (p. 335)
  • I loved the following quotes that best typified Nairobi.

“I love this country but I must accept it for what it is. A place where thieves are celebrated and good men die unremarkable deaths.” (p. 357)

“Nairobi is a sly town. It is so small that run-ins with people one is trying to avoid are a common occurrence, yet it is segmented enough to keep two searching individuals apart. (p. 384)

Not as ambitious as Dust but for a contemporary book, it was a great effort and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.

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Sunday Reads

What Home Feels Like

How Old Do You Feel?

So while in truth I am 32 years, I hardly ever feel that way. I suppose in so many ways I have age dissonance in that, that’s the number I put down but hardly do I look at myself and think, there she is that 32 year old, nah, nope, never. So how old do I feel? Well, I have three secret inner ages.

12

At this age, I fell in love with Nairobi. I was also deemed old enough to commute to the Library and church and back home unaccompanied. I also loved taking matatus (public service vehicles) and would delight in selecting the hottest one with the best music or the coolest people. I enjoyed feeling like a grown up even in this really small way.

16

At this age, I felt grown. School got tough but I managed to draw on my inner strength and focus. By this point I had chosen subjects that would pretty much determine what I studied at University and essentially my career. Now I know many people didn’t take it that seriously but I certainly did and saw each of those decisions as a major cog in the life wheel. I also remember the clarity I felt around these decisions, I was so bold and didn’t even for a second second guess myself or my abilities.

21

I literally felt like I was on top of the world. I had completed my undergrad and felt like the world was my oyster. I jokingly say, I should have rewarded myself with motherhood because thought I was single, this was the only time I felt the need to bear an heiress 🙂 But I felt young enough to be optimistic and experienced enough to have something under my belt.

In truth though, we have friends who have one or two kids, some who are divorced, others have faced miscarriages – all things that I think of as being done by big people. We have gotten married, changed jobs, moved cities and all that but somehow that’s another person not me. Do you sometimes feel that way or is your life aligned to your actual age?

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on a TV Show

My sister recently made a comment about how I watch a lot of reality TV and initially I was taken aback but then I realised that she is right. So I decided not to edit myself and blog about Becoming Mrs Jones as it plays on Vuzu Amp.

  • As I am not really a fan of Minnie Dlamini so I am largely indifferent and it will just be thoughts as they occur to me but firstly, I am not sure that we need this show – she says its a chance for her to take control of her story but I am just not convinced.
  • Sweet touch to include her parents and let us know some of the background / growing up story. They are a very good looking family.
  • As a foreigner, it’s always interesting to hear about people’s traditional practices – whether I agree with them or not.
  • I don’t really like that she is seated so close to the camera talking – I suppose the ideas is to make it intimate but I don’t think it is flattering for her.
  • ASIDE: So glad that we got married how we did because weddings now are such a big deal. There seems to be pressure to have the engagement filmed, then a larger than life engagement party topped by an even bigger wedding. Wowza!!
  • I actually love her engagement ring. It’s gorgeous.
  •  Waiting to see the interaction between Mr and Mrs and I didn’t necessarily get that. The closest was them talking in the car but even then, it felt somewhat inauthentic. But, I still get their vybe and you cannot deny that they are a beautiful couple.
  • It was a nice touch for her to take her mom and mom-in-law to the dress fitting. My wedding was so dramatic but in hindsight, I wish I had thought of getting my mom-in-law somehow involved.
  • Watching her try on her dress, I was struck by the places I went to that made you take off your make up lest you make their dresses dirty. Clearly they were dodge places that I went to.
  • Well scratch the bit about no interaction between them, I liked the fight before the surprise because y’all weddings are stressful.
  • #TEAMFEMALEFRIENDSHIPS
  • I like her philosphoy regarding how great their bridal party needed to look. We also felt the same way and insisted that each of them aim to look stunning and they certainly did.

Did you watch it? What did you think?

My City is Better than Yours

When I moved to Cape Town, I did not expect to like, or GASP love it, as much as I did Johannesburg. Two years on, I feel like I am cheating on my first love but here goes a list of things I love about the city.

  • Franschhoek and the annual literary festival
  • The Book Lounge
  • The Mountain View
  • Camps Bay – I don’t do this often because it gets touristy and it’s a big contrast to the daily inequality but occasionally, I do note its’ beauty and appreciate that.
  • Wine Farms
  • Unstuffy Markets – Mojo Market, Old Biscuit Mill and Oranjezicht. For some reason in Joburg, peeople need to dress up and then get to markets and look like they just walk up like that, URGGGH!!
  • An Evening BSF Class
  • The Promenade
  • Being able to walk around to most places
  • A main street that means not having to get into a mall unless you want to, Yay!!!
  • Off-street Parking
  • Kalk Bay
  • A gorgeous CBD
  • Love the pace of drivers and their general chill
  • It’s a very outdoors and family-oriented place

Some local food loves and hates

I have previously spoken of both positive and negative impressions of South Africa. Recently, I caught myself thinking of some local meals that I really enjoy, namely:

  • Milktart
  • Rooibos tea
  • Malva Pudding
  • Dumpling
  • Chakalaka
  • Amagwinya (Fat Cakes / Vetkoekes)
  • Snoek fish

Equally, you could miss me with:

  • Chicken feet
  • Biltong
  • Boerewors
  • Peppermint Crisp tart
  • Bobotie
Pictures and a fuller description available here.

Faith Lessons so Far

So far in BSF we have done Romans chapter 1 to 3 and if I could summarise my thoughts, it would be:

  1. God’s gospel has transforming power and we should not be ashamed to proclaim it widely (Romans 1:16)
  2. God’s wrath is now being revealed – meaning, right now, right this moment but also one that great final day, it will be revealed against those who have not believed in Christ (Romans 1: 18 – 32)
  3. Not one of us is righteous. None of us can stand on our own and claim that we are not guilty of sin. None of us, not even one of us (Romans 2:10 – 11).
  4. The good news, no the great news is that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the Law and this applies to all, Jew and Gentile alike. We are free from the penalty of sin which is death and free to claim eternal life if we only believe.

Will you believe? And if you have believed, will you persevere in your Christian walk?

Podcast Love

I have spoken about podcasts and how much I love them here so many times before. Here are some of my favourites and as an added bonus recent episodes I have listened to that I just loved (please click on the image to get the episode that I loved).

Ear hustle

Hidden Brain

Fresh Air

CYG

 

Sunday Reads

Internaive

The state of ignorance towards popular internet memes; the description of a person who does not recognise 90% of internet jokes. origins: internet + naive

 

Would you Rather?

Just as my nephew did I would also like to answer the following questions.

  • Travel for one week to a foreign country OR travel round your country for four weeks?  Travel round my country and discover all the length and breadth of it.
  • Be the best player in a team that always loses OR the worst player in the team that always wins? Because I care for personal growth and development, I would rather be the best player in the worst team. 
  • Not be allowed to eat your favourite five foods for an entire year OR be allowed to eat only your favourite five foods for an entire year? Eat my favourite five foods daily for a year.
  • Get to take a shower every day in cold water OR shower once a week in hot water? I honestly would rather once a week in hot water, for some reason when I shower in cold water I don’t feel clean.
  • Be given R 1000 right now OR R 50 monthly for the rest of your life? R50 for the rest of my life.

And what about you?

Interview with a 13 year old

Describe yourself in three words Happy, kind, mhhhh happy.

Favourite Activities Gaming, talking to friends and family, reading and watching TV.

Favourite Food Cheesecake

Favourite Colour Green, Blue

Favourite Book Body Guard – Chris Bradford

Favourite PSP Game FIFA 16

Favourite Movie Cars

Favourite Song Speaker Box

Favourite Artist Kendrick Lamar

Favourite Footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Image result for zlatan ibrahimovic

What’s the best thing about your life right now?

That I know what school I am going to for high school. I was scared I would not get into a high school.

What don’t you like about your life right now?

Some of my school teachers because they are very rude and not nice to me.

What are you most looking forward to learning in the upcoming year?

Getting an iPad and a phone because I have never had either.

 

In ten years I will be …

23 years old. The youngest pilot ever.

Most important friendship trait? Kindness.

 

Why is the sky blue?

It is a reflection of the sea (apparently this question gauges maturity)

What do you know how to do that you can teach to others?

How to game and play play station (a bit contentious because he hardly plays with anyone but family or himself).

If you could be a sound, what would it be?

The speaker when it plays music because it is quite loud and the vibration sound it makes.

Who is your biggest hero at the moment?

My mom – she works hard. My grandparents – though old they still work hard (his grandma) and coz his granddad worked with planes.

Would you rather:

  • Travel for one week to a foreign country OR travel round your country for four weeks?  Travel round my country.
  • Be the best player in a team that always loses OR the worst player in the team that always wins? Worst player in the team that always wins.
  • Not be allowed to eat your favourite five foods for an entire year OR be allowed to eat only your favourite five foods for an entire year? Eat my favourite five foods daily.
  • Get to take a shower every day in cold water OR shower once a week in hot water? Every day in cold water.
  • Be given R1000 right now OR R50 monthly for the rest of your life? R50 for the rest of my life.

How much is a litre of petrol? R12.66 (It’s actually R14.01)

Would you ever break the rules for someone you loved or cared for. Why? Yes, it depends on what the thing is.

When you get to heaven what is one question you want to ask God? Where did you come from?

What fears have you got in your life at the moment? Contracting HIV and not waking up in the morning.

Enjoy xoxo

Also look back at an interview with a nine year old and an 11 year old .

An Unusual Cake Recipe

Pity I did not take any pictures but I will toot the horn of this vegan cake recipe that I recently tried out and it wasn’t half bad. I should probably have used more of the apple cider vinegar to make it lighter and fluffy so that is the goal for next time.

FOR THE CAKE:
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (230 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (110 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups (250 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and whisk together until the mixture becomes frothy.
  5. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until the flour mixture disappears.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 pans (I used a kitchen scale to do this) and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool the pans on wire racks for about 15 minutes. Then turn the cakes out of the pans onto the wire racks and cool completely before frosting.

Three Recent Experiences

  1. I recently went to the Zeitz Mocaa and had my breath blown away, it’s a lovely experience and has quickly become one of the top things to do in Cape Town.IMG_9468
  2. A pal celebrated his birthday and we went to the Reverie Social Table. Had such a great time while there that I immediately begun to plan the return visit. Do check it out. Below was the first fish course. IMG_9502
  3. Went with the Mr for our first spa day and we enjoyed it so much, we promised ourselves to do it often enough. Afterwards, we had a nice health lunch.img_9511.jpg

 

Characteristics that I value in others

  • Curiosity about one self, people, life or other.
  • A passion for life. You have to have that thing that drives you.
  • Ability to laugh at one self and others but not in a mean girl way. 
  • Loyalty.
  • Not being clingy / able to chill with yourself and do stuff on your own.
  • Ambition or wanting to better yourself.
  • Being comfortable in your own skin and trusting that people walk through life in different lanes and being OK with yours.
  • A love for simple things. Yes big luxurious things are great to have, but someone that you can enjoy the small everyday things with is even better.
  • A fear of God, I don’t know any atheists/ agnostics because I feel it is important to have a fear of God, an external standard that guides you and reigns in your own inner and crazy self.

What about you, what qualities do you look for in other people?

 

Poems for my Daughter

One

When your daughter asks you if she’s pretty, looking like the universe is weighing down her little bones with insecurity, resist the urge to say “Of course, darling, Of course you are.”
Tell her instead: “Everyday, I bless the stars that fell apart to allow your body’s embers to glow to life.”
Tell her instead: “In the 7 billion that exist on this planet you are the only one of your kind.”
Tell her instead: “You are so much more than pretty. The stars that gave you to me made you to be like the sun. You are their best ever masterpiece. You aren’t pretty. You are inspiring.”

Nikita Gill

Two

“i will tell you, my daughter
of your worth
not your beauty
everyday. (your beauty is a given. every being is born beautiful)
knowing your worth
can save your life.
raising you on beauty alone,
you will be starved.
you will be raw.
you will be weak.
an easy stomach.
always in need of someone telling you how beautiful you are.”

Emotional Nutrition – Nayyirah Waheed

 

Sunday Reads

Recipes
Entreprenneur's Life

Travelling through Africa / To- Read Books

I recently noticed that I have been reading a lot of Nigerian/ Ghanaian authored books and so I set myself a challenge to diversify my reading to other parts of Africa. Here are some of the books on my to-read list.

  1. Lyrics Alley – Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
  2. So Long a Letter – Mariam Ba (Senegal)
  3. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze – Maaza Mengiste ( Ethiopia)
  4. Flame and Song – Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (Uganda)

Enjoy!

Sunday Reads

Tuesday Tunes / Prayer

I have often heard of this verse (repeated three times) as a caution to young unmarried people to guard their hearts so I enjoyed hearing it as a prayer to God to stir up those feelings of first love we felt when we first became Christians.

 

Sunday Reads

Recipes