The Night Crawlers of Koinange Street

It is a down right cold day, over lunch hour I went over to The Junction for lunch. There goes this lady in the shortest of dresses I have ever seen and I can't help but wonder isn't she feeling cold? It takes me down memory lane, I have worn my share of below the ankle dresses which still got me mistaken for a lady of the night. Being a Thursday, let me take you down memory lane with me on a few of my past encounters with Nairobi's 'ladies of the night.'




Immediately after my emancipation (completing high school) going out was all  my friends and I ever did. Just thinking about it brings back nostalgic memories of one of us being frozen from entering a club and the devious means we would use to get in - including flashing the occasional boob. Also 'raving on a budget' – only having fare back home but all the same getting free drinks thrown your way the whole night. Those were the days, at least at that's what it seemed like at that time. As with every other high school graduants, my pals and I were into the whole mini skirt/shorts/dress craze. Luckily most of the times we went out we had a ride at our disposal, but there was this one night when we had to brave the night out in our shortest of dresses using public transport.

To begin with, back then trench coats weren't a trendy fashion accessory - at least they weren't for my friends andI. So we were pretty much bearing it all from the stage all the way to the club. Must have been just our night, sitting next to drunk men in the back seat of a Buru mat might get your fare paid but you have to make do with a lot of accidental groping. Finally, my pals and I couldn’t take the groping and alighted from the mat only to end up at a touts hang out joint.

I should point out that these pals of mine were the snotty type, you know the kind who think that they live in Gossip Girl. So the touts tried to make small talk and any person trying to keep off of trouble knows all too well that it’s best to go along with the meaningless talk about the weather. However, my pals were doing the whole cold, snotty and higher than mighty attitude thing which of cause elicited abuses from the touts. We were called ‘Malayas,’ which still amazes me. If you refuse advances from a man in Nairobi you are quickly christened the malaya title. Worst is they kept praising me, since I was the only one in the group willing to talk to them, which didn’t go down well with my pals. Finally a bus came over and we quickly took solace in it.

The thing is while people our age were on their way to the trendiest club, the old folks and others were on their way to a crusade or kesha of some sort. That bus seemed to be filled with old timers, and we had to endear sneers and loud remarks at how the world has lost its morals. When did the world become an entity to lose its morals, I remember thinking and actually still wonder the same. The grueling ride ended quickly, it was 10 in the night and traffic had taken to slumber at that time.

From the CBD, we took a cab to Electric Avenue, which was the place to be during those days. We popped open our ritualistic pre-rave ‘botty’ and the night was back on track again. The cab driver must have been new to the trade and almost got us into a number of fenders. I couldn't blame the poor guy, he was busy soaking in the amount of exposed flesh that was in his cab and stammering praises at how 'sweet' we looked. We obviously led him on and a cab ride that would have cost us about 3 sok got bargained down to a sok.

At electric avenue two of us got into Rezerous and the rest got frozen. This time I think we got a bouncer who balled for the other team and couldn’t see past our charm to let the rest in. So we had no other choice but to go back to the CBD clubs. We were into the 'loud club on wheels phase' and ended up taking a louder than loud mat back to the CBD. The mat was stopped at University Way by the coppers, and while making our way into the CBD we found ourselves walking down the infamous K-street.

By this time, the alcohol in our system had shot up and we were entertaining the whistles and lecherous gestures from the men we met along the way. It was flattering, to a group of 18-year old girls fresh from high school . A lot of ‘big men’ in their equally big cars were stopping and offering to take us wherever we were going. It was tempting, but there's something about group mentality - one or two say no and it pretty much speaks for the group.

Now as we walked on, we met a pack of 'night crawlers' and I smelled danger. This was near City Market and I warned my pals that we should go to the other side of the street, but of cause they didn’t listen. Till this day I do not know where those skimpily dressed night crawlers removed the 'weapons of mass destruction' (stones) from. They began to pelt us with the stones. Woe unto the horny boys who were trailing us trying to get lucky. All I can remember was a cab came to our rescue and we were quick to jump in leaving the poor boys victims of the lamp shades, as my friend calls them. Which brings me to the next night crawler story.

Koinange

We were from a function of sorts and were on our way home at around 11 pm. We stopped to buy airtime, which just happened to be on K street. So we are dissing a horrifically dressed night crawler as we are looking for parking space. As we stop right besides her, one of my pals realizes that the said night crawler is her cousin. So they start exchanging pleasantries and my pal asks the said night crawler what she does. Effortlessly, the night crawler says that she sells lamp shades to tourists. In her defense she was standing outside The 680, but she was not spotting any lamp shades and the horrific skimpy outfit betrayed her. From hence forth we dabbed the night crawlers ‘lamp shades.’

My one on one encounter with a night crawler that left me quite perplexed was soon to follow. I was from the National Theater and had decided to brave K-street alone at around 11 in the night. When I was around I&M getting ready to cross the road, I dropped a bangle. There I was busy trying to pick it up when this lady approaches me. I am calling her a ‘lady’ to be polite, but she was a hood-looking  mama and I knew that if a fight broke out I absolutely had no chances against her.

She goes like ‘Niaje?’ I am trying my best not to show any inkling of being scared shitless so I stay calm and reciprocate her greeting with a quipped ‘poa.’ Then she goes like ‘niokole mbao nifike home, leo works iko down’ (Help me with twenty shillings to go home today work has not been favorable). I quickly do the math, I have my laptop in my handbag and a couple of thousands in my wallet which she will definitely see if I open up my bag and start fishing for a 20 bob coin. I tell her that I am badly off and only have my fare back home. By this time, we have halfway crossed the road and are near Simmers. I sighed in relief since I thought that I was safer, near a crowd.

She asks me if I go to Simmers since she heard that there are a lot of jungus there. I have been to Simmers and funny enough with jungu pals who were visiting and had wanted to sample Lingala music. I tell her that a lot of jungus frequent the place. That is when she asked me a question which took me aback. She started with ‘we ni msupu inaka machali wengi hukukufia virahisi’ (you are beautiful it looks like the men easily fall for you). To make matters worse a couple of guys pass by whooping and whistling. My eyes are popping and I start hastening my pace, but she is still trailing me. Then she spits out, ‘we hulipisha ngapi?’ (How much do you charge)? I stop and look at her and she looks damn serious. That’s when it hits me that she is new at the trade. Ok, and that she mistook me for a night crawler. I just rushed on and didn’t say a word only to 'hug bump' into a Congolese man. You know that awkward bump which looks like you are hugging someone, and the Congo man had the audacity to cup a feel. I didn’t hear what the man had to say since I ran to the nearest taxi.

So to speak, I burnt my ‘decent clothes’ which got me mistaken for a hooker the next day and I never frequent K-street past 9 at night. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the night crawlers everyone has to make money one way or another but I guess my pride is the only thing that has kept me from trading along that path on many occasions. Or has it really, mhhh I see the next post coming up 'The Kenyan Men Who Have Paid Me For Sex.'

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