Saturday, February 04, 2006

Start of Book's Nairobi Chapter

"Jambo."

I was in downtown Nairobi, looking for a travel agent so that I could book a balloon flight over Masai Mara. The man who had said 'hello' in Swahili had fallen into step alongside me. He was tall, dressed in casual clothing, and smiled at me with familiarity. My "scam-sense" throbbed dully.

"Still walking, huh?"

I didn't know what he was talking about. I'd never seen him before and had only been walking for about ten minutes. I'd just arrived from Kampala and quickly found a cheap hotel room on the edge of a squalid block of green that passed for parkland. I'd walked about six blocks from my hotel. That was all. I made a noncommittal noise.

"Hmghph," I replied.

"You don't remember me, do you?" he asked. Ah, I knew this one. I stifled a giggle.

The "remember-me-from-the-hotel" scam was documented in my guidebook. The goal was to engage me in conversation, make me think I knew him, then ask me for a small loan which would be repaid later at the hotel.

I shook my head.

"John. From the hotel," he said.

"I'm not staying in a hotel," I lied.

"I mean the hostel. You don't recognize me out of my uniform."

"I'm not staying in a hostel." I coolly stared at his eyes.

He knew I was on to him.

"Son of a bitch," he snarled and strode away. I was too surprised at his anger to correct his English usage. Bitch could be applied to me, but son?

* * * * *

Back to the present. Writing this chapter is fun but in some ways the most disappointing. Because it's the one that works best as a comic book story, telling in 4 pages of pictures what is going to take me 6,000 words in text.

Is there such thing as a "scam-sense" or is this just further evidence that Marvel is imprinted deep in my psyche?

3 comments:

David said...

Couldn't you put the comic in the book?

Marie said...

No. They don't want so much as the whiff of comic-dom near this book. :-(

I've tried and tried and they've told me over and over "NO."

David said...

Seems like that would make it more entertaining. But I guess that's biased coming from a comic person.