When it rains, Nairobi turns into a strange place.
Rain causes people emerge from the deep dark holes of nowhere in search of vehicles. Any will do – car, bus or matatu. So long as it’s a vehicle and can add to the jam, clog up the road, and create severe difficulties for those who were not quite so fast out of their holes to find a mode of transport home.
Rain causes mothers to worry about their children ‘catching malaria’ in the rain. They’ve gotten confused in thinking the rain actually causes malaria, rather than an increase of mosquitoes that could carry the dangerous parasite.
Rain causes women to dig into their bags in search of a bath hat (that they just happen to be carrying), a scarf, heck, even a plastic bag. Anything to protect their hair. Even the most fashionable of girls can be found looking most ridiculous as they totter down the street in their high heels, skinny jeans, boyfriend jacket but with plastic bag firmly planted on head.
Rain results in a strange reaction from children too. Although maybe it’s not that peculiar. Maybe children react the same way, worldwide. This afternoon I listened to the hyper shrieks of children that followed each clap of thunder. I watched class 3 kids dare each-other to dash out into the torrent, try to catch the raindrops in their mouth, do a raindance, or practice their swimming technique while they got soaked through to the skin, school uniform clingingly wet. I smiled as I walked past two small children hitching up their trousers and splashing, barefoot through the puddles, kicking water at each-other while giggling hysterically.
Yes, I wish we could go back our childlike joy rather than stress about whether or not we’ll manage to get a matatu home, whether or not we’ll get sick, whether or not the rain will ruin our image. Me, I want the laughter, the shrieks, the rain dancing and barefoot puddle-splashing.