Continued from here
We landed in London at around 7:30 a.m. I couldn’t believe that I was in a city that I had heard and read about so many times in school.
It was a smooth landing and like everyone else was relieved to be on firm ground again.There was visible relief on everyone’s face. I didn’t care to look in the direction of the cold hearted mzungu to see the reaction on his face. All I can recall is that as soon as the plane touched down and finally came to a stand still, there was uproarious cheering and endless clapping among the passengers. I thanked God for his mercies through such long trip.
We were finally allowed to leave, each person struggling to retrieve their carry on luggage from the overhead storage bin. Ahead of me, I could see my tall mzungu neighbour among the first to retrieve their luggage. He was soon out and gone. That was the last time I saw him but memories of his cold aloofness lingers on.
We found a bus waiting for us as we disembarked, taking us to the real airport. I was very confused. I expected it to be similar to JKIA with everything together. I honestly never asked where we were going. I just jumped into the bus and followed everyone else like a ng’ondu.
Finally, we were at the airport and checked in. I was not in a hurry because my connecting filght was 8 hours away. My check-in luggage was all set since checking-in in Nairobi. I wasn’t going to see it until the final destination in the United states.
Clearing was fast because I was on transit. As soon as I got cleared, I bet you know what my next move was going to be. You are right. Hunting for that precious item!
When I went for the visa at the old American Embassy at the junction of Moi Avenue and Haille Sellassie Avenue, the one that was bombed by Al Qaida terrorists in August 1998, I was accompanied by my Dad and my Uncle Ben, brother to the one time Commissioner of Police Bernard Hinga. Both are my Dad’s cousins.
Uncle Ben was familiar with all student visa requirements and more. His son was already in the US. He had asked my Dad to give me some cash in dollars instead of putting everything in a money order which was the requirement for the school I was going to.
My uncle’s reasoning was that I may need the cash for an emergency, enroute or in the interim on arrival. Well, this was the moment of truth, thousands of kilometres in a foreign country that, from what I had heard, about machines talking to people, looked surreal.
Here I was, in an anxious moment, made worse by a biological function that, through some omission on my part and a strange twist of fate, was threatening to be a veritable embarrassment, halfway through my destination.
Immediately after going through transit clearance, I approached a ground hostess for directions to a store where I could purchase underwear and ladies’ toiletries. She directed me to a far away terminal (by the way I had just learnt the word terminal upon arrival).
I found it with ease, and actually found a familiar item which I used to buy at some Mhindi’s store on Moi Avenue, not far from the Barklays Bank at the junction of Moi and Kenyatta Avenues. I would buy all the pretty nice panties, in different colours. Some little things can really make someone happy. Eyeing that panty made my day. I actually smiled for the first time in hours.
Armed with the undies and some other ladies’ stuff, I left, carefully retracing my way back to my terminal. I was eager to use the rest rooms by the terminal to freshen up and finally give up the commando status once and for all.
Ladies and gentlemen, you must recall about my geography teacher and the story of machine talking to people in London? The moment of the truth was here! I was hardly halfway through freshening up than there was a loud beep and an announcement coming through some speakers into the washroom. I did not quite pick or understand the words. I was startled.
The memories of my geography teacher flooded back to me. I was in extreme panic. I assumed a surveillance or some machine detected me undressing in the bathroom and was reporting me. By this time I was only halfway dressed but covered. I bolted out of that bathroom as fast as my legs could carry me.
Safely outside, and with people rushing past me, without a care possibly to go and catch their flights, I regained my composure. I heard the same beep and the voice, now only to discover that infact it was the intercom making various announcements to guide the throngs of passengers, headed to different destinations. It had nothing to do with me individually.
I gathered my courage, went back to the restroom and completed the freshening up.
Have you ever felt so embarrassingly stupid you just wanted to slap yourself? This was it.
I successfully bid the commando status a nice good bye, now newly dressed in a safari suit, I held up my chin like a frequent flyer and headed, with a swag, to the boarding terminal for the final leg of the flight to America.
…….to be continued…….