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Air travel fun ruined by juice served in tiny plastic cups

By Patrick Wachira
Monday, November 25th, 2019
Holiday relaxation.

I have lived long enough to see travel come (or go) full circle. Now full circle does not mean the miserable lap that the Nyayo Pioneer car could not complete at Kasarani sports centre.

Do you recall those days when it was announced with a lot of drama that we had manufactured our very first car, the Nyayo Pioneer?

Everyone thought we had now joined the leagues of Japan and Europe but we celebrated too soon. It is not clear what then-President Moi thought of the project.

Folks, that is a story for another day.

I was telling you about travel. When I was a little boy, travelling from Nakuru to Nyeri meant boarding a bus, pre-booked for days and the journey took an entire day.

Long trip

You can imagine that: Spending a little more than eight hours to cover just about 170km. In between, my mother carried ripe bananas, some tea, mandazi, boiled maize and lots of other stuff that kept us company on the way. You ate, slept, woke up, ate some more, slept again and woke up, still on the road.

The moment of hilarity (it was not so funny then!) was when enough passengers shouted that they wanted to relieve themselves.

The driver would pretend not to have heard but I realised later he would be “looking” for a bushy spot so that no two generations would espy each other in the business of answering calls of nature. 

The older folk ran, with a sense of urgency, in one general direction of the bushes while the children did their thing in full view of all the remaining passengers (those who behave like they have three bladders and can travel seven hours without leaving their seats).

Fast forward to Thursday last week when I took a flight to Mombasa aboard a Boeing 737, no less.

The excitement was more than when I took my first car ride out of town. Of course, that business of removing shoes, watch, pen, ring and other metallic paraphernalia is downright annoying to start with.

If those jokers have scanners that can detect anything in your luggage that could pose a threat to life or limb, surely those same damn things can detect belts and watches? No? Or am I missing something here?

Why remove my watch before passing through a detector that can see a grenade? Pure hogwash!

Anyhow, I was telling you about the flight.

As a junior elder born of a woman from the Ethaga clan that could make it rain or chase rain clouds away, I had a big problem drinking some diluted juice from a plastic cup.

I heard the other day that Kenya Airways is flat broke but does that mean they can afford a cup of wimbi uji for a villager like Yours Truly? Those KQ honchos have no respect for their elders. Haki! Plastic cup? 

Let me illustrate how serious it is. The last time I used a plastic cup to drink anything I was in nursery school, almost five decades ago. Those days before kindergartens came along. The days when we went back to school in the afternoons just to sleep. A few of us peed in the process but that is a story for another day.

More drama awaited me as soon as we landed at some beach hotel, actually Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Resort, out there in Ukunda, Kwale county.

Better quality

On arrival, I was served more juice, but this time better quality and in a glad. My problem was the size of the glass. It was the type you swig and it's gone. Do you know how different a swig is from a sip? Where I come from, we swig our drinks: uji, tea, milk, busaa, whatever. We leave sips to folks who patronise five-star establishments where a teapot costs enough money to buy me tea for a month at my local kiosk.

My room cost an arm and a leg and I could not believe just a few hours of sleep could cost so much. I was told it was because my room had a view of the sea.

I asked them if I could pay less if I promised not to look at the sea and they burst in laughter. Up to now I still do not know what caused so much amusement. I could not even ask if I would get some mutura if I walked along the beach.

Folks, this story has not ended. – The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily