Do you recall your first orgasm? I do. It was mind blowing. For a second I thought I was floating. My body and mind were separated on a plane of such abject pleasure that I lost feeling in places that should never lose feeling. It was better than a booze haze. It was better than cocaine high. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever felt. And they’ve been aplenty ever since the first one. Sometimes happening multiple times to the point where I’m coyly flirting with unconsciousness.
The state of unending bliss always sadly comes to an end. Thankfully perpetual horniness and being in a relationship helps reclaim that high again. And again. And again. And sometimes again and again in less than one go. Um… where was I?
I apologize. I needed a moment. I was talking about orgasms. They are more important that people give them credit for. Orgasm chasing has led to births of nations and continents falling apart because of a major case of arousal. Don’t believe me? Look up a book called Encyclopaedia of Mistresses.
But while orgasms- much like an altered state- last for seconds, the stupid stinking shit that pervades our world can last eons. It is a perpetual cesspool of darkness. An abyss that beckons the lost with the seductive maw of oblivion. It tempts you to jump in. Revel in the negativity. And all you have to do is turn on the news to be enthralled by it.
Nairobi by essence is one such pit. A city that has a bumbling mass of swarming bodies that are constantly moving to go shop or work or eat or fuck. From space it would probably look like slow moving lava. Joining the commuted mess takes away any joy. Any individuality. Any personality. When you’re part of that humming throng, you’re just another body. Moving at the predetermined pace to join the bottleneck of whichever office or restaurant you’re going to. That is why sometimes, it is necessary to rely on more than just an orgasm to escape.
Not reading a book. Or going to see the latest whitewashed war blockbuster. Not attending some overhyped music festival where you really only went to post pics on your Instagram with your friends. #SqaudGoals. Sometimes, you need a little more depth. You need a little more insight. You need to remember where you came from. You need to appreciate what was done before you. You need to imbibe the wisdom of your ancestors. You need to forget who you are. You need to see what you were. You need to visit a museum.
I took you on quite the trip, didn’t I? Hehe, forgive me, I was feeling loquacious and my new workmates don’t appreciate a good long gab. It’s like they live for quickie- conversations. Get your mind out of the gutter and join me on my recollection of my trip to the Railway Museum with none other than Mama Pedestrian.
This time around, unlike the Archives trip, we decided to have lunch first at Kaldis before heading for some historical exploration. I had a heaping helping of fries and a steak that was meant for a child.
I compensated the severe lack of protein by ordering a chocolate milkshake and kanju water. Which was a monumental mistake. I ended up feeling as stuffed as a teddy bear that got stuck at the stuffing bit along the conveyor belt. I felt like a stomach that was forced to withhold a constitutional. My stomach was forced to withhold a constitutional. I had to do something. Like a thief in broad daylight it came to me, with the subtlety of a GSU officer on a horse. I needed to walk and I needed to spend more time with Mama Pedestrian.
“Wanna go to Railway museum?” I asked her.
She stared at me. Her large luminous eyes took in my flushed sweaty appearance. I probably looked like a shaved calf that had just finished being fattened for slaughter.
“Yeah, ok,” she said. Uncharacteristically agreeable, if you asked me.
But Mama Pedestrian is as intelligent as she is snooty. She’s an engineer, you know? And while I did need an exercise to make my stomach stop feeling like an iridium carrier, I was hoping to siphon her engineering know how at the museum. The last time I had gone there I had just gawked at the machinery and tried to recall my C- worth Physics education but it didn’t help me at all.
Railway Museum documents the history of the Kenya-Uganda railway. Construction began in 1896 in Mombasa and ended in 1932 in Butere. It birthed major towns such as Nairobi- our beloved capital. And gave prominence to towns such as Kisumu and Nanyuki.
The walk to Railway Museum was interspersed with sporadic breaks with my bending over and stretching at weird angles. Kushiba si kazi rahisi. Mama Pedestrian only watched me with affection reserved for adorable wayward children. We found the museum with difficulty. From Haile Selassie Avenue there’s no signage. And a dingbat with a part time working knowledge of Nairobi could go to Railway Station thinking they could find the museum there. Well it isn’t. Its path is the one next to City Square. Head down the road and turn right. At the end is a nondescript grey gate next to a place of worship.
The wall bordering the museum grounds is adorned in the kind of art you would only see in a New York style trendy loft. It was breathtaking. It was magical. It almost tempted me to take a selfie. But I was on a quest to step away from my existence. We walked up to the reception where we had to gawk about before two young men met us with fake enthusiasm. We paid our two hundred bob per person fee and went on our way. The main display at the reception is inviting but not as the Archives one.
The gallery displays photos of various stages of construction of the famed Kenya-Uganda railway. The original one that ran from Mombasa to Kampala (Note: this isn’t the Uhuru SGR one). To the left of the entrance is a 3D map of East Africa that displayed the railway line.
There were scale models and prototypes of some of the oldest trains ever used in Kenya. More and more pictures of the railway line, railway kiosks and artifacts from the train company. There was an intact recliner from a Bombay station that had been transported here for commuters’ waiting rooms. It was made of hardwood and leather and was about as comfortable as I imagine a pile of rocks would be.
Queen Elizabeth II’s chair was also on full display. I sat on it. Didn’t really feel like much of a queen.
After we’d had enough of the interior, Mama Pedestrian and I went to the display outside. This is a train yard where different kinds of trains are “parked”. I’m sure most of them had amazing stories. The one that stood out for me was a carriage where a Mombasa Superintendent of the Railway Police, Charles Ryall, was dragged out by a lion.
In our history books, we all know the story of the man eaters of the Tsavo: two lions that killed and ate railway workers along the region of the Tsavo in south east Kenya. Ryall was killed and eaten at Kima Station, 80km from Nairobi on June 6th 1900. He’d had a plan to eliminate this problem. The inspection carriage had been packed on the loop used for crossing to Kima station. Ryall’s plan had been to attract the lion to the carriage by leaving the doors and windows open so he could shoot it easily. Unfortunately, he fell asleep while he had been playing sentry and the lion came in, dragged him into the swallowing dark of night by the throat. His companions were so gob smacked that no one fired a shot.
The other trains were nowhere near as fascinating except in their technology. Mama Pedestrian was explaining to me the mechanisms of coal engines when a tourist and the security guard joined us to hear her speak. The complaint about a lack of a proper expert or tour guide was raised but it was explained to us that the tours were done on weekdays especially when schools were visiting. There was also a records room but again that was only available on weekdays. It being government policy to only be available when working Kenyans are otherwise preoccupied.
The tour was dismally brief. The railway museum looks like a perfect set for vintage photo shoots by bearded photographers or pseudo-intellectual wedding parties. Perhaps I shall return on a weekday and plan a trip with a primary school. But I don’t think my mass could get away with posing as a twelve year old. Maybe I can be a teacher? Is anyone hiring?
I’m honestly planning a return with a school trip and will write a more comprehensive history of our railway when I do that.
All photos taken with my phone. I apologize if their quality offends any keen eyed photographer.