I was away last week on a business trip to Kenya. Whilst I did enjoy the business class flight and the stay at one of Africa’s best hotels and facilities which come with a business trip, the real icing on the cake for me was meeting the Kenyans.
8.15pm flight lands at Kenyan International airport and you see Karibu written as you make your way through the airport (Karibu means Welcome in Sohali, the Kenyan language). I walk towards the immigration check officer who after greeting me, remarks with a stone face – ‘Your visa has expired’. For a moment, the world stopped for me, I got my visa done specially for this trip and it has already expired. Just when I was about to say something (even though that moment I dint know what), he replied – ‘I am joking, welcome to Nairobi’. Phew! That was scary. I thanked him for his joke and walked towards the baggage claim rewinding the incident all over in my mind. Back home, I was warned about BA’s record of loosing bags and hence having to go to office in the same pair of clothes next day. It was a relief to find my suitcase taking rounds. I move towards the exit keeping a close watch on the swarm of people holding white pages with names hand-written. I had only started to think that my taxi from hotel is not there probably that just then I spot a big guy waiting with a big placard embossed with N Agarwal. As I jump into the taxi, he remarks to tie the seat-belts as he is going to drive real fast, which sounded strange but I still try to oblige him, only to be told that it was a joke. Gosh! People have a different sense of humour here, nice one I said to myself. And by the way, he drove slower than brisk walking, honestly!
After saying ‘Asanti Sana’ to the driver (meaning thank you very much) and jumbo to the hotel receptionist (jumbo means hello), I went to my hotel room to prepare for a tough next day. The next few days were the busiest days of my life yet. I have never worked so much in any of the 18 years of my academic life that I worked during this trip. The only bit of Nairobi I saw was from my office to the hotel which is 5 minutes walk. Strange is, even if it is such a short walk, but people from office in the evening would come down to book a taxi back to the hotel. It is very unsafe in Nairobi I hear. Having said that, I have met the best people, so professional and yet with such a personal touch. I loved the food at the hotel. My recommendation to those going to Nairobi for a vacation is Hotel Serena. Try it, I loved their hospitality.
What else?! Oh yes the most amazing part – after this arduous week I did treat myself with a Cellutox body massage at Serena. An amazing and relaxed one hour! The flight back home was more comfortable than the onward journey as BA was now aware of my ‘special food requirements’ which in short means vegetarian food. Apart from bringing home with myself the love and hospitality of the Kenyans, I have got some Kenyan tea; I am still to open the box so comments on that will follow later.