letters from nairobi

December 5, 2011, 15:52
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Moving! Day one of two.

In other news: the Al Jazeera channel on TV has gone completely blank.

Other other news: I had the best Indian food I have ever eaten on Saturday night.

More to come soon.



Kenyan Television
November 30, 2011, 20:53
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Kenyan TV – at least, the programming that our current apartment complex subscribes to – leaves something to be desired.

We have access to 34 channels, technically, although only 21 of them come through.

Right now, the current lineup, which is indicative of offerings 24/7, is as follows:

1: Cricket

2: Interview with unknown soccer player (Sample question: “How is the weather in Paris?”)

3: Terrible movie (“Knowing,” starring Nicholas Cage)

4: Static

5: Static

6: Static

7: Static-y cricket

8: Static

9: Static

10: Static

11: Static

12: CNBC Africa, “Beyond Markets”

13: Local news in Swahili

14: Kenyan soap opera (which deserves a blog post of its own)

15: Soccer

16: Indeterminate program in Swahili

17: Oprah (Side note: OMG WTF THIS IS AMAZING)

18: I really don’t want to keep changing the channel now that I’ve found Oprah.

18: Fine. You win.

18: Static-y news in Swahili

19: Slightly less static-y news in Swahili (same program)

20: Kenyan soap opera

21: News in Swahili

22: Soccer

23: Static

24: Cartoons from the 1970s

25: Blank screen

26: Static

27: Program on teens playing rugby

28: Cricket

29: Al Jazeera

30: Static-y news in Swahili

31: Long-distance running

32: Long-distance running in Swahili

33: Car racing

34: Terrible movie (teenager aspires to be pro-wrestler; parents just don’t understand)

If you’re keeping track – and who wouldn’t be, with these riveting statistics – that’s 13 channels of static, 9 sports programs, 7 Swahili-language programs, two soap operas, two terrible films, one cartoon, CNBC Africa, Al Jazeera, and Oprah.

This programming lineup has a few consequences:

1. I like to have the news on in the background while I’m working. Every morning, I tune the channel to Al Jazeera to catch up on the day’s news. However, the programming lasts only two hours before repeating itself, barring any breaking news updates. After hearing Mike Hanna declare, in his irritatingly crisp British English, that he experiences “the smell of teahh gas, still heavy in tha aahhr” for the third time, my hand involuntarily grabs the remote.

2. N. has begun watching cricket.

3. I have started watching an inordinate amount of terrible, terrible movies. I’ve become highly intrigued (some might prefer the word “obsessed”) with figuring out what formula is used to choose what films are shown at any given time. Right now, it seems like there are a collection of movies in random rotation (and please don’t ask me how many of them I’ve watched in full – I would like to retain some shred of dignity):

Kindergarten Cop


Step Up 2: The Streets

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The Box

First Dog

Six Days, Seven Nights

Transformers 2

4. N. and I have started watching all six seasons of “The Sopranos” (on disc), for lack of anything better to do, despite the fact that he’s seen the entire series more than once.

5. It’s Oprah Time.

November 23, 2011, 15:25
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On Kenyan television, characters are allowed to curse — for the most part.

“Shit,” “fuck,” “asshole,” etc., are all permissible.

The only word they bleep out?

“God,” as in “Oh my God.”

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