Jan 2013 17

I bought a thawb for myself when I arrived in Mombasa thinking that it will act as an ice breaker and help me get underneath the skin of the city.

Soon after getting in my new avatar, I noticed that I’m getting too much attention from the locals. Much more than I was seeking.They must be thinking – a tired and tanned desi guy wearing thawb and carrying a backpack , what’s wrong with him?
I was a bit tired after the overnight bus journey from Nairobi and probably not ready for the overwhelming attention.I decided to move southwards from the town in search of a quiet beach to chill. To get towards the south from the Mombasa island, you’ll need to take a ferry at Likoni and then matatu or motorbike taxi to reach Tiwi, Diani or Ukunda beach. I took a motorbike taxi and adjusted myself at the backseat after struggling a bit. Only if you try it yourself you’ll get to know how challenging it is to ride or take a backseat in a motorbike wearing a thawb. The road was muddy, the weather rainy and the motorbike driver was a bit uncomfortable seeing me struggling with my thawb. It was then that he asked me the question I was expecting.

Taxi Driver : Why are you wearing a thawb? People here will confuse you for a spy

Me: So you think I’m not a spy?

My reply silenced him for a while and his silence made me curious. I thought it would be good to change the topic to relax him a bit and get back to him on this laters.

Me : So which is the best sea beach here?

Taxi Driver : Tiwi, Ukunda, all are same. Do you have a booking?

Me : I don’t have any booking but lets go to Tiwi beach and we’ll figure it out there?

On the way to Tiwi beach, we had to stop when it started raining heavily. We got under a shed and  the poor taxi-driver who couldn’t gulp my joke, questioned me about my background and travels to be sure of my identity. I think he was not totally convinced with my answers cause when we arrived at Tiwi beach and I tried enquiring for a room in a hotel, he said something to the guy at reception in swahili and probably that  made the reception guy say ‘no’ to me.

‘Ah, so they think I’m really a spy’, I murmered to myself frustratingly.

The taxi driver being prejudiced about my identity was making things difficult for me inspite of helping me out so I paid him the fare and asked him to leave me alone in my search for a place to crash. It was mid-day by then and I was shit tired. More than entertaining any questions or giving justifications, I needed a cozy bed to nap. While I was sitting at the beach wondering which way to go and what to answer when they ask me why the hell I’m wearing this thawb, I saw a public change room towards my right.

Ten minutes later I was napping in one of the cottage of coral coves cottages, Tiwi beach

Feb 2013 13

Maasais are funny people and they like to joke and play. Don’t miss any chance to meet them if you ever go to East Africa. I got a chance to meet them during a safari tour at Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania.When they saw me coming towards them, they asked “India? Bollywood? Amitabh Bachhan? Sunny Deol?” To answer them I swung into action by putting my left hand on my waist, right hand up in the air and right leg two feets ahead of the left one. Any guess which song I sung then? ;)

May 2017 05
You might miss on some interesting places to see and things to do if you do not follow a guidebook, but it’s much more fun when you go to a place without knowing anything about that place.
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When I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, my couch surfing host suggested me that I shouldn’t miss Mombasa and before I could read anything about Mombasa, I was dozing in the sleeper bus to Mombasa from Nairobi.

So I arrived in the Mombasa city next day early morning and checked in in a hotel close to the bus station.

Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city after Nairobi. It is located on the Eastern coastline of Kenya bordering the Indian Ocean which has made it a popular destination for its beaches.

I started my day in Mombasa with a walk along the Pirates beach where I met many Somali people who taught me how to chew khat like a pro. Khat for breakfast was a good idea to kick-start the day as it makes you euphoric.

Few minutes later I found the euphoric me wandering in the bazaar of Mombasa and negotiating for a thawb. A thawb for $10, I think was a sweet deal and I could not resist from trying it out right there itself.
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So there I was, slightly uncomfortable carrying thawb but all set to get lost in the lanes of Mombasa to discover all it has to offer.  I started clicking everything that amused me. The beautiful architecture, the bustling bazaar and the warm people. I noticed that at times people would cover their face if they don’t want to be clicked. I tried my best to click from the hip and be as stealth as possible. With brown skin, thawb and DSLR,  I was definitely an odd one out there and I was noticing being noticed.

It was all going well until I saw a gang of women furiously abusing and chasing me. They had noticed me clicking them but I wonder if I had committed any crime. I started walking away and at the same time I did not want to miss clicking more pics of this beautiful gang chasing me. So it was click – click and run. They were abusing me in Swahili and I was looking around for someone who could translate that for me.

Seeing all this, a group of teenagers were having a laugh. They said something to those women that made them wonder and smile. I could feel that they felt sorry for bothering me unnecessarily. I thanked both the groups and asked teenagers to explain to me why they were after my life.

“Haha, they thought you are a muslim since you are wearing a thawb and you know it’s the month of Ramadan. They were cursing you for you are a bad influence and you are committing sin by clicking women when you should be fasting” , one of them said and offered me a bunch of khat leaves.

That evening was as euphoric as the day!

Music accompanying this piece :