Tag Archives: life

When you leave your car unattended…

30 Apr
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This guy has spread his merchandise on the car. We needed to tell him to get off.

I moved to Yaoundé, Cameroon, about seven months ago. Many are the things have happened that I would classify as “culture shock”. You see, I am Kenyan, and even though it takes a lot of convincing to people who are not familiar with the continent, we are different. Country to country, the food, mannerism, culture, language, name it, changes.

So one fine day, we decided to go out. After a scary battle with all the motor bikes for space on the road, we finally arrive at our destination, luckily without any mishap. We get out of the car. Hawkers are everywhere. One guy almost convinces you that the sunglasses you are wearing are old and need to be replaced. Another shouts that oranges are only 50 Fcfa. A very fat lady is cooking beans beside the car park. Her customers lazily look at the new arrivals, and resume their meal.

We enter a shop. After about ten minutes, we come out. Getting away will be something of a hassle, because a guy selling t-shirts has laid out his merchandise on our car. He looks at us and starts the usual story.

“Cinq cents francs, ma Cherie”

How do you tell such a guy to get lost?

I look away, and my friend does all the honours.

To get errands done here is very interesting, but also very time-consuming.

I hope not to let it get on my nerves in the future.

What really is a zebra crossing?

17 Apr

A zebra crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing used in many places around the world. Its distinguishing feature is alternating dark and light stripes on the road surface, from which it derives its name. A zebra crossing typically gives extra rights of way to pedestrians.

However, in Kenya, a zebra crossing could be many things, including a live zebra crossing the road!

Long live diversity!

Spruce up your professional life!

13 Apr

By reading this book…

“The next thirty years are going to be the most interesting in the history of mankind. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to live them as a spectator or a protagonist.” This and more is on the front cover of the book Los proximos treinta años (the next thirty years) by Alvaro González Alorda, that I have just finished reading in Spanish.

The objective of this book is to help one redesign their professional life, make decisions that will change the pace of your professional career.

It offers many ideas: how to keep at bay time wasters, growth tips, networking and having a mentor. (It is regarding his mentor that the author says in the front cover that he did a Google search that changed his life). It is such a pity it is only available in Spanish. But to get the feeling, I am sharing a bit of what he advices in the last chapter:

 

 

 

  • Don’t conform yourself to being a good professional, specialize and aim for excellence
  • Find a master with whom to design your goal
  • You will need lots of discipline, practice
  • Be among worthwhile professionals
  • Friendship is a task that requires effort, cultivate it
  • Create a personal brand
  • Design your business model
  • Eliminate energy wasters
  • Use the social and professional networks with a clear and consistent strategy
  • Improve your communication capacity
  • Ask for feedback
  • Have an ambitious plan for your next sabbatical
  • Learn to work out of the office
  • Take initiative
  • Struggle to have a balanced and rich life in all dimensions
  • Confront adversity with optimism, transforming it to experience
  • Don’t conform yourself to a comfortable life, dedicate the next thirty years to changing the world. Safe journey.

Of spring and spring forward

31 Mar

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(The following little story happened to a friend of mine. This is my attempt to let her know that life is like that)

Date: March 25, 2012.

Time: 6.30 a.m.

Place: a little town in a not so little European country.

I turn in bed, reluctant to get up. Yawn. Eyes hardly open. Stretch. Must I really go through this superhuman effort to get my body in the vertical position? Then I remember: the plane. The plane to the capital, and the plane from the capital to my beloved African country. I must catch that plane, and consequently, I must get up. Kicking the beddings off my body, I place my legs on the cold floor. My head slowly looking downwards and hands on my hips, just to get my balance. Another yawn, and stretch. 6.45 a.m. I must get moving, otherwise the plane will be lost.

9.20 a.m. finds me already at the airport heading towards the counter to check in. Being a Sunday morning, there are not too many people around. I take my time, as I know there will be no queues. As it is a local flight, 40 minutes are more than enough to do the necessary. The lady smiles as I approach. I smile back. I hand her my ticket after acknowledging her greeting. She glances at it, then at me. I smile. Then her face changes abruptly.

“Signorina, your plane left an hour ago!” she exclaims

There must be a mistake. I look at my watch: 9.25 a.m. My plane is scheduled to leave at 10.00 a.m., I try to explain. There can be no doubt about it. But the lady shakes her head and insists that my plane has left. This is becoming too much. Incomprehensible. A colleague of hers comes to the rescue. After hearing the whole story, she also shakes her head. The plane has left. What could have happened?

Then light dawns. It is the spring forward, they explain. We changed time yesterday, that is why you have lost the plane as you did not change your time.

Gosh! It is bewildering. I did not change the time on my watch. I did not know that everyone agrees to change the time on their watch the same day each year. I was one hour behind everyone else. I have lost my flight, no, my flights. I am too dazed to reply. Since it is my fault, I must buy the tickets again. I hastily do the reservations for the possible flight out of here and to the capital and to my country. Homesickness hits me like a Saharian heat wave.

Much as I love the flowers in spring, I think that spring forwards are horrible, especially if they make you miss your flight!