Sunday 17 July 2011

Mama Mia Marketing

I have never ever been subjugated to the kind inane marketing crap as I get here.

But this week amused me greatly. The local church sent me a "Welcome to the Neighbourhood" and an invite to go meet and greet. Not to mention the usual marketing pitch for god. They did a pretty good job actually.

In same batch, an advert for botox written in the same vein as one would sell a sandwhich...check this out:

The botox advert:
In a city brimming with backroom dealing and polarizing politics, it's important to not let too much get under your skin. Especially stress. Unfortunately, when you're surrounded by overachievers in your 9-to-never job, the daily grind can start to show on your face. Smooth things over with today's Ruff deal: Pay $150 and get up to 20 units of Botox from Ruff Plastic Surgery -- a $300 value. Headed by award-winning plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Ruff, this West End practice has years of experience smoothing fine lines and wrinkles with this nonsurgical treatment. Available on most parts of the body, Botox doses relax stretched skin to promote a healthier, more vibrant appearance. It can be hard to keep your composure in the city that never sleeps (-in past 6 a.m.), but with today's 50%-off deal, you can certainly keep your complexion.

I ask you...seriously???

Monday 4 July 2011

Nearly 12 weeks in....

So far I've learnt to say elevator, not lift, side walk not pavement, still have trouble with pants and purses - trousers and handbags..a calender is not a diary entry, to be 'pinged' is nothing sexual = it means to email or skype or text...not everyone gets my British humour and trying to find a decent news channel - impossible!

Friday 22 April 2011

One week in...

Survived fat free fruit and veg - I ask you...supermarkets that seem to make no sense but offer endless choice at first glance - symmetrical streets, being the new girl, loneliness and wandering why I keep on uprooting myself - tearing myself off from everyone and everything I know...but this time I felt compelled, I couldn't stay in Africa..

But I want to note something I'd never seen before. A large African American woman in the supermarket had two eyes tattoed above her very ample breasts. It clearly said - grab a load of these - which made me laugh as they would have been hard to miss - but this is not the land of the subtle...

Monday 18 April 2011

Time to get back to it...

I found a diary of sorts of a trip I took when I was 21 and frankly, I couldn't remember much of it when going through it except I did recognise a certain dry, narrative that hasn't changed much in fifteen years. So here I am in the States - day 4 - half enjoying it, half feeling startled (Why for God's sake do they have to label fruit and veg as "zero fat" - words confound me.) But the kindness and openess of people is heatwarming - particularly the African Americans who make me laugh and chat on the streets and help me out when lost. My neighbours in the temporary apartment even came down to see if I was ok yesterday trying to tune in my TV - which when I did - promptly switched off as utter crap and gave me a headache. Found BBC Radio 4 instead on my laptop which was far more soothing. Anyway - to work tomorrow - onwards and upwards. Time to

Sunday 9 January 2011

He lives in a slum

"Jo - the guards really like you." Do they I thought. What a strange thing to say.

"Yes, because you are kind and smile and give them food. They would protect you if you needed."

So said Stephen as he came over as we talked about his life, career, how things were going. "January - it's been hard. I did work for people and they didn't pay me. And - I would like to and visit my mum but I have no money. Oh..and I got put in prison last week.."

What? Why? Smiling at me for my naivety and innocence.

"Jo - this is Kenya. People are put in prison for anything. Me, I took a bus from somewhere I wasn't supposed to. Two policemen came and dragged me to prison asking for 2000 shillings. I only had 50 on me for my travel. But it was ok - they just made me work for the afternoon. It was good really..I could have been there 28 days.." I asked it. Stephen - do you live in a slum? "Yes, it's a slum but it's not that bad. It's cleaner than Kibera. (The one the Constant Gardner was filmed in).But someone got electrocuted and died last month so now we have no electricity. But it's ok. We can live."

I gulped. Sipping tea in my three bed, three bathroom apartment with a pool and gym.

Stephen, I ask, "There's something I've always wanted to know. How do the guards feel looking after all these rich people when they have nothing. Do they hate it? Do they want to hurt people?"

Suddenly I feel stupid for my direct and possibly insensitive question. "Jo, it's about self-esteem more than anything. These people can be awful to us and shout at us for things that are not our fault. That makes us feel bad having crossed town - usually having walked to work as we can't afford the bus fare. And yes, if we earn 5000 shillings a month and a thug offers 15,0000 to rob someone or threatens our lives, then yes, some people do bad things."

Stephen looked at me clutching the bag of groceries I had hastily thrown together for him.

"All I want is to make a difference in this world. I want to stand up and help someone and be a good person. I don't know why you're helping me but you've given me back my self esteem and some qualifications. I know things will get better. Bless you."

As always, I feel humbled and grateful to have been one of life's lottery winners.

It doesn't take much to do a little.