Monet’s Equatorial Hanging Garden

Tarzan was never keen on celebrating Xmas, Thxgiving, Easter (huh?), birthdays, etc., so. If I weren’t having lunch with a friend at the Norfolk hotel that day, I’d have never remembered “Turkey day”.  The  formal dining room was empty when smiling hotel staff wearing tall white chef hats served up the perfunctory holiday fare. I suspected the meal was available for American hotel safari wageni (guests), since most expats live in Muthaiga area, near the US Embassy. We dined on the open terrace over-looking the garden with its mature trees in the old section of the hotel.  Under a new shaded terrace solo backpacker types sat draped over their Macs – free loading off the swank hotel’s wireless internet.

My friend, a “Muhindi” (Swa for an Asian Indian), heaped his plate with fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I feasted on ham, stuffing and Papadams.

We talked about real estate and politics which is pretty much what everyone here talks about.

Speaking of movers and shakers, said my lunch companion spying over my shoulder, there are some over there.

Behind me sitting with one long leg thrown  over the other was a slick, overly self-aware African, whom I vaguely recognized.

Jeff Koinange, CNN’s former Africa correspondent. He was so tall,  he slouched in his seat as he spoke with two other Kenyans.

Media titans, my friend said. I Googled Koinange.  All I can say is…..oops. Apparently, he now works in South Africa.

Ha, unless they’re Bloomberg or Ted Turner, even at their peak correspondents are not movers and shakers. At the end of the day, they’re actors. In the end, maybe we’re all actors capable to some degree of dissembling to get what we want.

Thought Thanksgiving was all but over until my friend, Liz, took me to Sunday lunch at the Muthaiga club, where  I encountered more turkey, ham and stuffing served again in cursory fashion.

Did I double take in the women’s bathroom when I noted something wrong with a large print of Monet’s waterlilies. The waterlilies were hanging upside! My first instinct was to turn it right side up. Liz came in and we tried righting it, but it was nailed to the wall.

After posting the image on FB, ET said that her son was responsible for the prank. Turning art on its head?

Of course, I wondered how long it had been hanging that way. My friend, Erin, was at the Muthaiga club when she checked her FB. After inquiring at the front desk, she reckoned that the print had been hanging that way since 1978.

Categories: Passport

Margot Kiser | Conflict in Context

I am a Kenya-based American correspondent, focusing on conflict in East Africa. I have contributed to Newsweek, Al Jazeera, The Daily Beast, among others.

Follow me on Twitter: @margotkiser1

Best long read ByLiner 2011 for my Newsweek feature, 'Pirates in Paradise' http://byliner.com/margot-kiser/stories
http://www.newsweek.com/authors/margot-kiser

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s