Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Something of Value

I'm not sure how I imagined Nairobi to look. All I knew of the city was based on faded memories from Robert Ruark's "Something of Value," which I read when I was barely 18.

The city's architecture is fantastic, square white buildings of several stories, slashed by sunlight and shade, wrote Ruark nearly 60 years ago. Goatskin-caped Masai with spears and ocher-clay make-up swagger arrogantly along the sidewalks. 

Ruark's characters would sip iced gin in the lobby of the New Stanley Hotel while a much younger Erin watched on, sighing and fantasizing about this far-off place.

Flash forward to September 21, 2013. Nairobi pours out from my television looking nothing like Ruark's exotic jungle oasis, but a whole lot like Any City, U.S.A., except this city was enduring a terrible nightmare. The images from frantic phone cams raced across my screen revealing things so familiar: shelves lined with snack foods, a Clarks shoe store--exactly like the one from which I purchased a pair of loafers a year ago. Tables and upended chairs littered a food court just like the one where my daughter and her friends giggle over frothy lattes and Orange Julius.

Nairobi is no far-off place. Nairobi is our city. Nairobi is my city.

My friend Kirsten Bell got it right when she said, "We are a global community allied against terrorism, and need to behave as one."

Heart to Kenya. Tears for Nairobi.

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Anonymous said...

Something sad about cookie cutter buildings awakening humanity to the fact we're all the same. Wonder why the red blood spilling from our veins didn't?


Bill said...

Can you imagine the number of non Muslim's, living around the world, who are frantically googling "easy to memorize passages from the Quran" and "who is the mother of Mohammed"? It's not quite as bad as "show me your papers" in Arizona but, it's getting close. Don't you think?