Kenyans are a quiet people. You can be in a restaurant with 100 Kenyans and all you really notice is how quiet it is. When they speak, they speak in a soft, deep accent. Of course their view is that we all speak in a loud, squeaky high accent – I think most Americans strike the Kenyans as the Chipmunks strike us! ALVIN!!!!!
One funny thing at meals, however, is that they always turn the TV on. When we walk in, they rush over to turn on the tube. I guess the advantage of being quiet is that you can hear the TV even when there are 100 people in the room. Well, from my view that is the DISADVANTAGE, but none-the-less, that’s how it’s done in Kenya.
For every meal until breakfast today, the restaurant has just been our five testers, Pat and I, plus three waiters. Occasionally all three waiters will be out of the room simultaneously, and I’ll sneak over and turn off the TVs (there are two TVs – the room is no larger than the Tandem lunchroom in building 2, but we need two TVs none-the-less – and 3 waiters). Upon their return, when they realize the TV is off, the waiters react with the same level of embarrassment that junior high boys do when they realize their fly is open – and they rush over to right this injustice.
The most striking thing about the TVs is that they are always tuned to Mexican Soap Operas badly dubbed into English. I marvel that the producers could find that many actors – how on Earth did they find that many people who are both (1) extremely good looking and (2) completely devoid of acting skills? Statistically this is an anomaly worthy of Charlie Epps’ analysis. And the dubbing is awesome – it reminds me of the old Godzilla movies from the 60’s. Yet, pretty much no matter where you are at Grays Oak, you can find a hotel employee wearing a hooded parka and watching the soaps.
The normal quiet was broken last night around 10 PM – about 30 Americans arrived on a swank tour bus – all ready for safari. They all had black hoodies with the words “Kenya Safari 2013” on the front in large fluorescent letters. They looked ridiculous – but give them some credit, by wearing hoodies in 75 degree weather they are making some attempt to fit in…
But man, you talk about a loud bunch of people – just three of them together were making more noise than the entire Tandem software team combined ever has – LOUD.
And at breakfast this morning – yikes! I was actually quite embarrassed – I think this sort of thing breeds the whole “ugly American” thing. I found myself not wanting to make eye-contact with my loud countrymen.
But on the humorous side, one waitress quite obviously mistook me for one of the loud ones and asked me for my room number. Another waitress immediately said something to her, and they proceeded to obviously have a detailed discussion about my identity. I’m guessing all week they were using a simple algorithm to sort out the muzungu:
| if (white == TRUE) and (skinny == TRUE) and (hair = TRUE)
| then name = Pat;
| else if (white == TRUE) and (skinny == FALSE) and (hair == FALSE)
| then name = Tom;
It’s good to know that I’m not the only one with faulty algorithms.