Around those Three Barrels we have solved the problems of this nation. Around those Three Barrels we have found the cure for chronic famine, catastrophic wars, terrorism, public education, ennui, broken hearts. We have rediscovered arcane rules of grammar long consigned to the detritus-riven ash-heap of memory. (Some of my readers may be able to remark on the finer points of tarakilishi la...)
I imagine the posher, million-shillings-a-year clubs would have more comfortable surroundings, but for a full-throated defence of ones position in surroundings of relative mutual trust (let us not get carried away; this is Nairobi after all), none can beat the Three Barrels. I don't know when the KCS building leased out its space to the purveyor of the Three Barrels; I don't know and I don't care. All I care is that the place exists, the last bastion for the civilised drink at the and of a long day full of worry.
I have no idea when I first set foot in the place, but I remember Bogonko Bosire was loudly making his presence felt. He sneered in that style of his when he saw my careworn copy of that week's the Economist. He had no qualms yanking it out of my hands and declaring an opinion on each and every subject the Economist chose to address that week. Then, rather grandiosely, he offered to educate me on the finer points of global magazine publishing. Fortunately, his latest object of carnal desire walked into the place and Bogonko Bosire was gone from my presence, like a genie's puff of smoke.
I remember when I first spoke to Eric. He was a newspaper commentator then, and I spent many a happy Sunday taking his arguments and turning them on their head right on this blog. Of course he had no idea who I was; at that time I only had a couple of pages in The Nairobi Law Monthly (after calling Ahmednasir names, no less) so I was sure he had no idea he and I shared the Nairobi smog. But after one particularly infuriating article I just had to confront Eric and to my great surprise he took it in stride and we hit it off.
I am still vague when I first said "Hi" to Leo or Maureen, or when Ashford stopped looking at me as if I was the crud one kicks off his shoes. But I am glad I did and he did; now I can't imagine an evening round the Three Barrels without the agreeable debate with Leo and Maureen and the Very Loud Interjection by Ashford. I am still not sure Mike does, but at least he knows the difference between 45s and 78s, and Aggrey seems to know everything else.
However, sometimes it's Joseph who seems to know it all. On the cosmos, for example, he is our resident expert. He understands the theory behind black holes, dark matter and the God Paradox. But he can be a bit militant every time I puncture the reasoned debates with my S4s speaker ad burst of Bob Marley. (Papu approves, by the way.)
The Three Barrels are a sanctuary away from the madness and noise and elbows to be found at Tamasha, K1 or Tribeka. Thy are convenient, for me. Beverages are served at the right temperature. The Three Barrels are yet to see a kleptomaniac patronising them - or a vandal for that matter. They have seen their fair share Annoying Ones, but by and large, the Three Barrels are the publican version of a Barcalounger. The only mystery that the Three Barrels has not been unravel is Where Is Bogonko Bosire?