Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Social graces.

I proclaim this with a very limited experience of five-star beach hotels, but things must surely be very bad if the only way you could see a hooker at the beach hotel is if you went out and brought one back with you. My recent working holiday was quite an eye-opener; "terrorism" has killed much of the mzungu-fuelled tourism; the few wazungu I saw had a larger than proportional number of "budget" tourists who are even more tight-fisted with their money than the local mzungu or the "domestic tourist."

My hotel had a prowling phalanx of watchmen; rather than make me feel safe, they made me nervous that they were nervous that some man with bad intentions would somehow make his way onto the hotel grounds with the intent to do bad things. Then when I was taking my time to partake of beverages that attract hefty excise duties down at the "beach bar", I saw a trio of blue-clad, sun-glassed, G3-armed policemen stomping up and down the beach. The fierce concentration in their faces as they struggled to not look at the hotel aroused a suspicion deep in the recesses of my mind that, (a) their G3s did not have live rounds to fire, and (b) if some al Shabby tried his thing at my hotel, the trio would take off like shots - in the opposite direction.

But my imagination was captured by the few patrons of the hotel who were determined to live a Mombasa Raha life while in Mombasa for the three days I was struggling to understand phrases like the forty/sixty rule, pensions viz. retirement benefits, pensionable emoluments and such like. Thee was this pair. Relatively young too. Clearly recently come into a big bundle. Obviously determined to make their presence felt. So, after valiantly stuffing themselves into pairs of jeans and figure-hugging vests with a suspicious degree of elasticity, they vanished in the middle of our cocktail and reappeared half-an-hour later accompanied by a bevy of Mtwapa's finest "college students."

I would have paid them no mind except that these two characters thought that I should appreciate the lovely nature of their companions. Readers of this blog will appreciate that I was in an untenable position. The three gentlemen I had been conversing with had proven to be singularly interesting, especially as the youngest is my father's age, and I had no intention of giving up their wise counsel for what I was sure would turn out to be a litany of banality that would stretch my very thin patience to breaking point. I politely declined the two gentlemen's offer to accompany them and their companions to the far end of the bar "where it was quieter." That was hat, I thought, until one of the aforementioned companions decided to challenge all the rules of social congress at once.

It is said that with age comes wisdom, but only if one learns the proper lessons of his experiences. Elder Gentleman No. 1 sensed that my blood was well up and that the chances of more social rules were about to experience a Zulu-like violation, so he suggested rather generously I thought, that perhaps the two gentlemen and their companions would appreciate a very large bottle of something very expensive at their table. Elder Gentleman No. 2 was already signalling the floor staff while Elder Gentleman No. 3 had somehow managed to clear out an entire section of the bar without lifting a finger - or an eyelid. Those three gentlemen are proof positive that a certain degree of professional and personal decorum, coupled with intelligence and experience, are all the power a man past the prime of his youth requires to prevail in a hostile world full of whippersnappers full of lead.

Suffice to say, I cannot say I remember the names of the jeans-and-tight-vest-clad characters; I probably never will. But the Three Wise Men have had a profound effect on my future plans. I am afraid that I may lose a few more "friends" in the process, but for the chance to do what the three have done and achieve what they have achieved, I will set on fire s many bridges as need to be burned.

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