Laying the foundation

“Let me tell you something you already know, the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it, you, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it isn’t about how hard you’re hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.”

Lionheart

This time I’m kept awake by this picture. His name is Simiyu, a construction worker across my home. I want to tell Simiyu’s story, hopefully it’ll have some kind of effect on you like it had on me because that’s what we do here, we tell stories, we laugh, we dream, we inspire.

I took this photo after a small chat with him, before today we only shared the occasional hello. Simiyu has taught me that life can be a bitch and that all we can do is be grateful for the things we have. See, every morning as the sun peers through the thorny grass, as you slowly stretch out of bed, because it’s your right to anyway, right? Simiyu is already at the gated site crossing his fingers that his spot at the queue is reached to provide the labour needed for the day, and I’ve seen the foreman there; he looks like he doesn’t want to hear any life stories. You’re late you go home, and then old Simiyu won’t be able to bring home the bacon.

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I met him one morning as I was waiting for sun-rise,

“Habari ya mkubwa?” he asks,

His expressionless face tells me maybe he hasn’t had any breakfast; even in this state he will still have to haul huge rocks from one point to another. Now I don’t know about you but I don’t think I can do anything without my cup of tea in the morning; I might curse the heavens for the splitting headache that will follow, I worry about a mere headache while he worries about what he will eat before he goes to bed.

His lunch break lasts for an hour but he can’t go home and manage to get back in time so he sits under the shade of a tree, him and three or four other chaps in the same boat. They engage in endless political banter. And then the rock hauling continues up to around 5 p.m. He goes home and finds his two kids immersed in their homework upon fuel lamp light while mama watoto prepares ugali which will be washed down with a cup of hot tea. Tomorrow is another day for Simiyu, the struggle continues. Simiyu had some big dreams, he didn’t tell me this but it’s one those things you can smell from a man’s shirt. It’s just not fair this, life.

The point is, as you sit there on your blissful throne, don’t take shit for granted.
By the way, the quote in the beginning is from the film Rocky Balboa; you thought I was into some deep stuff huh? Have a blessed week.

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A little networking now….

I had lunch with a corporate lady the other day. By the way I think I’m on a roll here, two posts in one week. There’s a certain ka-feeling I get after I finish a piece, like there’s this glitter in my head, I feel like stripping down and dancing buck naked in the dark but the crowning glory is after I post-Wordpress has this thing that makes you feel like you’re a world renown writer after you post. These are the days in which the blocks have nothing on my ass, those things are just devils.

Back to the lady, Elizabeth is her name but that solely depends on where she is. During the chama meeting she’s Beth but in the office it’s Liz. She works in one of the mobile network companies, I’ve never been a fan of office thingy-s, an 8 to 5 job, it doesn’t get my goat but Liz wants to show me around, help me get my ducks in line because this camera thing has been my one and only plan since forever. I need options.

This is Liz
This is Liz

So she calls and tells me we should get together over lunch, the plan is to call her and tell her when I get to the office building. You won’t call her, she’ll call you; she’ll hang up and call you back instead because well, she’s in charge. She runs a tight ship and she’s the captain. (Remember that Somali character from that movie?)

“Just wait over there I’ll see you in a short while.”

I sit under a shade and start watching these people, the corporate guys, you can’t miss them anywhere, with their monstrous engines, the glitzy suits and- here’s my favourite part- the skirts. My God the skirts. Anyway the short while has turned to about 30 minutes but there’s nothing I can do, I can’t text her and tell her I’m leaving, she’s the wrong one to feed that bull-crap. I’m the always the needy one, sigh.

She finally shows up but she’s not alone, she has an IT guy tagging along, just in case she gets bored of your company she’ll leave you in the company of this chap. The building is quite swanky, the ones which you have to have a pass for every door you walk through, one of those company buildings that have a foreigner in charge, Mr. Singh or some other mainstream name like Shah. They have plasma screens in every corner which only show cricket because football has no place in the heart of Singh, it’s not his cup of chai. See what I did there with the tea thing? Along the walls are photos and paintings that don’t look cheap, they give you the impression that everyone here loves their job dearly, they do but the football fans, not so much. You got the tea joke right?

We talk while we have our lunch, and then that dreaded question that I’ve never known how to answer comes my way,

“So what do you want to do with your future?”

Eh Liz, some table manners please, we’re eating.

I got saved by Monica (not her real name) she’s really called Irene. She comes over to our table and sits with us. Irene is hilarious. Isn’t this what we all want, gentlemen? A good sense of humor? I like Irene. She’s cool.

Moving on, Liz shows me around the 6th floor where they take care of their customers. The people here look a bit stuck up and everyone is engrossed in their small laptops. She sees that this is not for me so she directs me to a lower floor where the IT guy works. His work is not easy although he makes it look fun, for a moment I want his job and then that thought is immediately brushed away when I see Irene walk graciously by. The guys in this section are all in jeans and sneakers, who wouldn’t want that? Liz and I settle that I would do well in PR, it’s worth a try. Can I have the desk next to Irene Mr. Singh?

The IT guy on a break
The IT guy on a break

Remember Patoh Njuguna?

Patoh still doing his time
Patoh still doing his time
This is Patoh Njuguna
This is Patoh Njuguna

Of course you do. Have you heard the song Disco? Well this is Patoh Njuguna, the guy behind it. He is an artiste with a lion-heart and a voice that will knock your socks off. When he strings a guitar (with his thumb not that plastic thingamajig) you will fall in love. Come on, that’s impressive right? I don’t think he sees this though; he’s too busy trying to move up in the world. You haven’t had a bad day till you’ve walked in a struggling musician’s shoes and you can take that to the bank. Do you want to know what passion is? It’s quitting your job to follow your dreams; we all have the right to chase those. So Patoh, hats off to you.
Did I mention that he also plays the piano? I’ve learnt a lot working with him, I wasn’t always good at photographing people, I’m trying now. So there’s something worth saving here. I’ve also learnt that he is the best african timer there is.
He called me up last week to accompany him to record a track with some indie musician, Alicia (not her real name). We agreed to meet at about 1 p.m. with two other guys but this chap showed after an hour; I consider leaving but at this point I need him more, I mean, who knows, maybe Miss Alicia will see my big black-and wait for it- my big black camera and want to schedule a photo-shoot. (I didn’t take Jacky on this one, indoors she’s about as useful as an old horse)
A mat and a short-lived cab ride is what it took for us to get to the studio. The place seemed to try to be leafy. Just as I’m pressing record on the camera I hear this heavenly voice behind me, it’s Alicia. She hugs and kisses our cheeks and I think, very friendly this, Alicia. No sign of ego, she doesn’t act too big for her boots.We head in to meet the producer who is not the smallest guy in the world. The camera is suspended around my neck as I still take video when I shake his hand and he decides to play the shocked card, “Oh, they’re cameras? Why are there cameras?”
“Cameras are the new tie you bastard.”
.
Ok I didn’t say that. I don’t have the slightest respect for him now; he doesn’t even have a beard. At least I have a seven hair strand goatee. No one answered his silly question. I continue to take pictures of Alicia as Patoh does his thing in the booth. I can’t post all the pictures here because of legal issues, but I got the most amazing shots of her by the window. I am up to 518 words right now, uncharted territory this.

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The two were doing a cover for “four five seconds” by Rihanna and Kanye West, personally I loathe this song; Alicia sounded great though but it wasn’t Patoh Njuguna style. The producer realized this after a whole hour.
After a couple of takes, Mr. No beard says he wants to wrap up. He says he’ll see what he can do with the recordings and get back to us. We are a hungry lot by now as we skipped lunch so we just want to get out of there. Still it was a great day, Alicia kissed me after all.

At 2.A.M.

It is said that when it’s after 2 a.m. you should just go to sleep. Well I can’t tonight, the odious devils of this hour are nudging me with their forks, they wont let me off, not tonight. I know I said i dont suffer writer’s block but this one is some block alright. it’s something that makes my insides coil, you see, when you’re an artist you live in constant fear that your art will be taken by someone else at the slightest slip and right now my creativity is being thrown off a cliff. I haven’t been able to take good pictures lately, (photographer’s block, that’s what it is) the reason why this post has no picture and with no pictures this wouldn’t be a Plog, without pictures you’d be left with log and there’s only so much you can do with a log(do you see what this block has done to me?)

At 2 a.m. I thought i finally had a kick-ass post to bang after so long; I crawled out of bed to put pen to paper, quite literally because well, no one likes how that cursor blinks. i swear I hear that thing talk to me, so unaandika ama? Bastard!

Honestly I don’t think whatever this is will get to 300 words, I’m just playing with words and even then it’s a dangerous game, weren’t you taught not to play with logs? Bare with me if i haven’t changed your life in any way so far.

I am a hopeless insomniac and I just want to talk to someone, someone who will listen to my endless whining about this block and I cant turn to old Mr. Daniels because it’s lent, it’s what I choose to give up. So I try to find anyone who is online to whatsapp with, I hear it’s called apping now. Please, anyone, even that girl that always replies with emoticons; even Wanjiku for christsake.

If you’re still reading this it means you haven’t lost faith in me, lets pray

Dear God, I thank you for the gift of logs, I thank that I have written this much without saying anything in particular but most of all I am thankful that there’s someone out there reading this. If i am being punished for any wrong with this block then I am heartily sorry. Please open my eyes so that I may see and capture the  most amazing things that you took time to piece together, I pray that my creativity may be restored. Amen.

It appears though that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Yours truly has been called upon to be on the creative team that will develop the brand that is Patoh Njuguna, surely you’ve heard of him dear faithful reader. Not yet? A new artist on the scene. I cannot say much right now but I will be documenting some of the stuff here. Wish me luck.

Straight from the heart

“Failure causes sadness. It causes disappointment but you never give up. You never give up you pick yourself up you brush yourself off, you push forward you move on, you adapt, you overcome.”

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What makes a writer? Hmm? Is it the ability to coin a million dollar phrase at the drop of a hat? Is it to churn out a 3000 word piece? Or maybe it’s being able to paint a most vivid picture of a single moment. To make writing seem like the ultimate form of art like Jackson Biko does? What I ask; what?

If that’s what it takes to be called a writer then I, Muthaka am not a writer. Quite honestly I really don’t know anything about it, this writing. I don’t even talk that much. A writer will read my blog and tell you my pieces are a bar below average, or average or even very dictionary language-y. A writer will tell you the pieces are too short, hell; some will tell you they have no soul. I always thought I could handle criticism, well, not so much. I try. The-too short one I’m ok with, but no soul? That one got my gut. When you are a writer and you have nothing to write you lose sleep, you feel like your mind has hit a brick wall. I hear they call it writer’s block. If I lose sleep it’s usually for normal reasons like buzzing mosquitoes.

But I do know a thing or two about camera-work and it seems I’ve been holding the camera for a bit too long that I forgot where it all started, graphic design. Let me blow a gaff here. I’ve been trying to set my teeth into designing a logo to put, well; everywhere there is my work, ever since December. I don’t how but graphic design escapes me, maybe it’s because it wasn’t drilled into me well enough during my training-online.

You see, a couple weeks ago a friend, Ferdinand Kamata (FK) asked me to throw in some effects on a picture of this pretty lady. I kept putting it off because even before I started working on the image I could feel it, it was there in black and white, I had lost touch. I couldn’t do anything with the picture. Everything I tried turned out to be a disaster. Maybe FK had promised this girl a kick-ass picture. The guilt kills me, so FK from me to you, pole sana. Also sorry to all the others for the pictures I never returned.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t do anything about it though. I am going to enrol for graphic design classes. I can’t and I won’t let it get away from me.