Assante’ Sana (Thank you very much)
Hakuna Matata (No Problem!)
Astonishing how the five words of Swahili that I learned when I visited Kenya … wait … (has it been over a DECADE ago ) is a full conversation as well!
I was 12 when I visited Kenya, my mother and I welcomed the New Millennium while dancing on the bridge of the Voyager Beach Resort in Mombasa. That was the last leg of our trip and the only ” non” safari of the two-week long holiday.
But Kenya was all about what a ‘safari‘ is. To see ‘Game’ – a kaleidoscope of wildlife and plant species up close, yet while they are in the wild.
Mom and I visited the wilderness in Masai Mara, Pink Flamingos at Lake Nakuru, had leopards reach the window of our bus while returning from ‘the Ark’, sat beside a giant tortoise at an animal orphanage in Mt. Kenya National Park and even tried eating at Carnivore – the famed restaurant in Nairobi which was fundamentally a misfit as we are two vegetarians by choice!
Kenya was also the holiday that had an equal number of adventures and mis-adventures ; our driver, a 6’6 inch tall lanky gentleman called Nooriu in his colourful shoes and lumbering gait declared to us – ” You two, most lucky women in all my years with Game! Forty years I come to Masai Mara, I never see so much Game before!” Because my Mother and I witnessed two male lions, attack, kill and eat …. another LION!
Back in 1999, we did not have a good camera let alone a digicam so the photographs I have shall be scanned from my home in Ahmedabad and pasted here someday.
In the meantime, as I sit here in my hostel room in Delhi, typing away fond recollections – hazy pictures in my head come before me.
I remember asking my mother if we could take back an adorable baby giraffe home, as after watching it scamper around its mother, I began mimicking its trot when we reached our guestroom.
I remember looking straight into a leopard’s eye and thinking “Someday I shall be like you!”
Today I have a panther tattoo on waist, a small tribute to Big Cats, a fascination that began since that moment.
I remember having one foot in the Northern hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere for a photo – op as we crossed the Equator, eating some coconut bought from a souvenir shop!
I remember watching dark red sunsets against bare trees on the Savannah, and thinking – this is the real Lion King terrain so, I kept a watch for Meerkats and Warthogs, Babboons and Hyenas, Lions and Hornbills and would wonder if they had names similar to the characters in the Lion King movie. (Incidentally I might have watched that movie over a hundred times, minimum!)
But mostly ; I remember telling my mother while we were driving from Nairobi to Mombasa- “People are mistaken when they stereotype Africa to be of violence, poverty and backwardness – everything I have seen of Kenya is of Music, Smiling faces, Harmony and people, who will say ‘Jambo’ to every man, woman or child while passing by!”