September 6, 2011

Nairobi Orange

Beauty, they (the people who say pithy things) say, is in the eye of the beholder. And to an extent I'm sure that's true. After all, we all remember The Office rift caused by the Hillary Swank: Hot-or-Not debacle. But on the other hand, there are also some things in which, I say, the beauty cannot be disputed. Like this:

Santorini, the vast blue view from Oia, 2004

Sadly, there's no place that looks like that around here. Don't get me wrong- Kenya has a wealth of natural beauty; if I were to say otherwise, people would be after me with pitchforks, and rightfully so. There's beauty here, and here, and here- almost everywhere you turn... but not so much in Nairobi. Or perhaps I've been so blinded by of smog and shopping malls that I've been too distracted to see it.

So I decided to start a hunt for the beauty in Nairobi. Not just at the highlights like the National Park or Giraffe Manor, but in the city's details: my walk to work, at the grocery store, heading downtown. And after I started looking, so many things started popping out at me that I needed to compartmentalize in order to handle the volume of aesthetic details emerging. I choose compartments of color.

Today: Nairobi Orange/Gold

Gate down the street from my apartment. The security issue is another aspect of Nairobi, in addition to smog and shopping malls, of which I am not terribly fond. Everything is behind an impenetrable wall: apartments, restaurants, NGOs. But leaving aside the literal and symbolic exclusiveness, it's at least nice when the gates are attractive. I love that this one is the color of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not sure exactly what's inside it, but I do spy a stack of 4 tires. Hopefully of no relation to Michael's missing tires story.

Antique croquet set at Karen Blixen's house. My favorite lawn game if you discount assembly and dessembly time (otherwise bocce might win for portability and convenience). Favorite part of the Karen Blixen tour is when the guide points to a picture of her husband and says, "There he is- The Syphilis Man." That has to be one of the worst epithets to go down in posterity.

Side of the road, as seen from a taxi during the rain, returning home from a stormy picnic under tents with blankets and wine. Heading inside for hot showers, tea and cookies.

Clay pots at one of the plant nurseries that line busy commuter roads for miles. I have no idea how anyone stays in this business, as the supply is huge (literally, miles of baby tree saplings growing in plastic baggies) and I've never once see anyone purchase a plant or a pot, but it all adds a nice horticultural ambiance to the cityscape.

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