Monday, June 20, 2011

Of Bargains with Kenyan Hookers, Sabina Joy and @Suenairobi's Inspiration

Is there a respectable term for a prostitute? A sorta politically correct way to refer to them? Can the word 'respectable' actually sit comfortably in the same sentence as 'street-walker'? Is there even any real or imagined justification for selling your body to make a quick buck? And just who is Susan Kahumbura, aka @suenairobi?

These are some of the questions that drove me to Sabina Joy last week Tuesday. Well, actually seeing as am still tarmacking, let's say they 'walked' me there. So I get to Eureka Highrise building, directly across the road from Kencom House. It still amuses me how a building that hosts perhaps the oldest and most notorious Kenyan lare for the oldest and -- perhaps -- most notorious profession could be called 'Eureka Highrise'. It kinda describes the whole experience of sleeping with a prostitute, does it not?

'Eureka!' thinks Yule, standing outside Sabina Joy with his 21st digit on a high rise...'I've found it!'

Anywho, from the get-go it was a bit of a conundrum for me: what if someone I know sees me? What will they think? At all of 12 noon, here I was sober as Mutunga, albeit spotting dreadlocks, heading into an infamous brothel...dressed in a trench coat no less! I would never hear the end of it.

So I use that old nursery school verse for road safety. 'Look right, look left, look right again...when the street is clear (of faces that may recognize you and / or tell your old man), run into Sabina Joy...'

Step 1, check! Good thing am not really active on Foursquare, coz the temptation to tweet '@french_freddy is now mayor of Sabina Joy' would have been too great to resist. Wonder who I'd have replaced as mayor though...probably some washed up also-ran Kenyan politico.

The stairs guiding my way up the building were a bit of what I expected really, having read Nairobi Nights avidly for a while now. Drab little steps absorbing me in, intoxicating me with the new life I was getting into, wrapped around a hint of darkness I found rather unnerving, and quite reminiscent of a City Council 'shuttle' I had quite recently occupied.

Like the bright little fellow I sometimes am, I deduce on the 2nd floor that I'm finally there. There's this tired looking young woman -- actually, girl would be more appropriate -- seated with her legs spread open (she was in jeans, nkt!) outside the entrance. She sees me and immediately brightens up, flashing me a crooked -- and somewhat telling -- smile. Eureka. I have indeed found the fabled SJ!

Having decided to avoid the scary looking girl, I walk through the entrance and into a flurry of activity. There's a corridor leading left and right, and another entrance directly ahead, leading to what can only really be Mututho's liquor stash. Who else in their right mind sells Guinness Kubwa at 150 bob smack in the middle of town?

That's right around the time I saw her. In truth, I hardly stood a chance when she abandoned her big brown eyes on mine. She could have been a sassy girl strutting on campus, or another wiggling her ample goodies on a dancefloor. Yet here she was, shacked up with her fellow workmates in the corridor, teasing smiles, her bosom clearly trained on one target. Me.

Evade and retreat engaged.
'Twende shot?' Straight to the point, she -- we'll call her Mystique-- asks me whether we should book a room. My mind's playing tricks on me, and I nearly forget the disingenuous reason that brought me here in the first place, confunded by her set of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. I mumble a quick no, then circle the entire corridor, taking the alien surroundings in. Yet another girl, hardly as fine as the last, tries to egg me towards the pit latrines for a 'shot' as I approach the bar.

Having scoured the entire floor by now, I shift my attention back to Mystique. She watches with an I-told-you-so smirk on her face as I approach her.

'Room ni mangapi?' I enquire on how much a room would cost, adding that I'd like to buy some beer as well. She cordially explains that we could pay 500 bob for the private rooms upstairs (where they serve beer to customers before Mututho hour) and by her own account, spend the entire day up there. Oh, and that'll be 500 for me too, she adds.

A thousand bob? That's bloody expensive, I think to myself, knowing full well what brought me here.

'Na hizo room zingine?' I interrupt, and Mystique proceeds to tell me how those 'public' rooms are always on demand with customers looking for a quick -- and at 250 per room, cheaper -- shot. My Kenyan bargain gene kicks in, and I opt for the 250, haggling her price to 200 as well, for my trustee Nairobi Nights says I can get her price down that much.

Done deal. We go to the counter; I enable prostitution for the first time in my life, get the keys to a room, and a pack of Trust condoms. Walking a few paces behind her, we head towards the shot room....

(Continues here)

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