September 15, 2011

A little bit dreaming

A PhD had never really occurred to me until I got to grad school where it seemed like everyone was doing it. So I thought about it, and I thought about it some more, and I still didn't really want to do it. None of the reasons compelled me. I don't want to be a professor; I don't want to be a PI; and I don't want to be a student for another 5 years. But, at long last, I have finally found a compelling reason for getting a PhD:

I want to be able to say- in the midst of a large staff meeting- honestly, unabashedly, and preferably in a Belgian accent (although I'm not sure this is conferred with an advanced degree), "I'm sorry, I was a little bit dreaming. What was the question?"

I'm sorry. I was a little bit dreaming. I love that.

The Nairobi sky, walking home this evening. I was a little bit dreaming.

Actually, I had been writing something to post on here earlier this week- Monday, to be precise. I was going to take you through a narrative of the Nairobi weekend, and I was going to show you this picture of the bar that has salsa classes on Sundays, complete with disco lights, mirrored hearts on the walls, and a ceiling sponge-painted to resemble a cloudy sky:

But priorities shifted on Monday when an oil pipeline exploded in the Industrial Area slums. You could have seen the news on any number of outlets that day (NPR, CNN, NYT, Fox, BBC, Daily Nation, etc., etc.). The death toll has fluctuated among sources, but seems to have settled at approximately 75 deaths reported. My understanding of the situation leads me to believe that this is very likely an under-reporting.

I was at work and actually unaware of the day's events until later in the evening when my roommate came home. She had been working in a clinic in that area and treated/referred many of those involved. There is much to say about this, and I'm not sure that my thoughts are well digested enough to present here coherently, but 2 things have stayed with me this week:

First, people were running towards the oil spill instead of away from it. To collect oil. Oil for their houses, oil for their cars, oil for sale. This also happened in Kenya in 2009 with an overturned petrol tanker, where everybody rushed to collect the petrol with their jerry cans and the scene exploded. This visual speaks to the economic situation of life in the slums here better than any statistics can.

Second, I keep thinking about what Camille told me about treating those who were injured. People who had 3rd degree burns over 100% of their body. Mostly, I keep thinking that they're going to die (if they haven't already). That's what she said- that you can't survive with 3rd degree burns over 100% of your body. You get a toss-up between hypothermia, dehydration, and infection, but you don't get to survive. The whole idea is surreal: men riding in on motorcycles, walking around the clinic, being fit with IVs, getting referred to the hospital... yet they won't make it.

I didn't ask how long they'll live. I was going to, but the conversation took a different turn. Now, I'm almost glad I didn't ask. For all I know, they could still be in this living limbo, not yet succumbed, at home with their families, a little bit dreaming.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kara
    Your blog is very beautiful and very useful to me at this moment. I am a female Indian designer and have got this offer to go work in Nairobi. But I hardly know anything bout the place to make such a big decision of moving from India to Kenya! Can you please write to me at Tried looking for your email here but could not find it.
    Would be very helpful if you could give me some information. thanks. looking forward.