17 December, 2012

The first time...

There were lots of musical and food-related Kenyan firsts for me this past week.

I performed for the first time with the Nairobi Music Society choir in their Christmas concert inside All Saints Anglican Cathedral of Nairobi last week end. I was even given a solo and shared the spotlight with three other local singers in a Renaissance quartet. Because the choir and orchestra were already taking up all the space between the elevated Cathedral choir and the audience in the naive, all four soloists were asked to squeeze into the elevated pulpit. It was a snug fit.

On Saturday night I went to see my first Kenyan musical at the National Theatre. ‘Seventeen’ was a show about a class of high school teenagers with a Dr Jekyll-&-Mr Hyde-type girl in the leading role. The lyrics were intelligent, the tunes catchy and arrangements groovy. The strings in the small live orchestra could have done with further tuning practice, but overall, it was a commendable musical performance composed and produced by the staff and students of the Kenya Conservatoire of Music.

I baked my first batch of pastry from my new oven in my apartment. Because I am still waiting for my furniture and cooking utensils to arrive from Paris, all I had were the two sauce trays provided with the oven. So I baked butter biscuits and shared them with colleagues. I am glad to report that the oven is working fine.

I went to the Agha Khan University Hospital on Wednesday to see a doctor. The hospital is supposed to be the best in town; it is definitely not as glitzy as the hospitals I had been to in Bangkok but the staff were competent and I got all the medication I wanted for the small ailments I had. What is the link here with music and food? It was Jamhuri Day, the national day of Kenya. So the television in the waiting room was broadcasting a special programme of whole-day national community-building songs performed by various choirs in different locations of the country. I had a very musical, although rather long, wait to see the doctor. Food: I was given a deworming treatment for my high white blood cell count. Probably some parasite I got because of eating too many good things in other exotic places…

The first time ever I saw your face
Johnny Cash, The man comes around, Universal Mercury records

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?

Last week ILRI held its end-of-year party on the Nairobi campus. It was a BIG party: there was food, drink and music for probably 400 people from noon to midnight. Colleagues from other campuses around the world had also joined thanks to meetings they were attending in town on that day. So it was a good opportunity for me to meet new colleagues whom I had not yet been introduced to.

 The food reflected Kenyan party fare: barbequed meat, lots of it. There was grilled mutton, grilled chicken, grilled sausages, even an entire cow slowly roasting throughout the party so that there was food available at all times. I discovered and quite enjoyed the local mutura: grilled traditional Kenyan black pudding sausages made from most of an animal’s bowels and blood, with lots of spices added in to overcome the strong smell and taste. 

We were entertained throughout the party by singing, dancing and drama performed by staff members in the ILRI got talent competition. The DJs did a great job keeping the party spirit alive throughout the day despite the large amount of food and drink we had all ingested. The music and bass loudspeakers pumped until late that night with a mix of African and Dance music.

It was great fun to work for ILRI on that day.

Another brick in the wall
Pink Floyd, The wall, EMI

13 December, 2012

Clip-clop, giddy-up!

Read my latest blog post on ILRI clippings: where I want to go in the next few years of my work life with the International Livestock Research Institute.

Cloud cult, Advice from the happy hippopotamus, Rebel group