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Mwabili The Wise One @mwabilimwagodi
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I have a mug of black tea infront of me. I can feel the juices of creativity flowing. Its time I start Season 5 of my life story Thread.
It took two weeks to clear with my employer. It got heated at one point since the Capetonian wanted to scuttle my agreement with the owner. I had to call him to tell him what was going on. The guy backed off and stuck to the terms of my resignation.
By this time I was talking to everyone I knew about job prospects. Calling, sending emails, texting. Anything. Everything. I spent the Christmas holidays with my folks in the village. It had been years since I did this.
I went back to Dar, packed my stuff and moved to Nairobi
A former classmate of mine was setting up a new small hotel in Kilimani. He told me to join him and assist him.
In between this period, I came to find out that Linda had done a traditional Kikuyu wedding ceremony with an American guy. A couple of my classmates were invited apparently and they were under instructions not to tell me about it.
That really pained me. I have no idea why.
I got myself a nice one bedroomed house in Kasarani, in an area called maternity, just by the road. It had a big living room and kitchen. Kitchen is the most important thing for me. I loved it at the start. I started working in mid-January in the Kilimani property.
Life in Nairobi is different. It is very fast paced. Competition in my industry is intense. There were 4 different accommodation units in a span of 500 meters from where I worked. My life changed completely. I had to wear suits and be stuck in meetings the whole day.
Cutting deals with government and corporates to secure accommodation and conference business for our 44 room hotel which had only 8 parking spaces. Rejection was the order of the day too.
No, you are not what we are looking for.
Not classy enough.
Pave your access road
Challenge was that most of these meetings were not official and had to be conducted after office hours in the outskirts of Nairobi CBD. We were a fixture of the bars on Thika road, Kiambu road sometimes Jogoo and Mombasa roads.
If you are to secure our business you have to mark it up properly. 15% for our efforts to come to you. We can afford to take this seminar anywhere. You boys have to pay to play.
This was the order of the day.
I always got home late and drunk. And still up at 5am to beat...
...the Thika road traffic since I had to run the operations aspect of the hotel in the morning. My boy was the GM so he could come in at 9am or whatever time he fancied.
A new property is always a challenge to operate. Especially when the conception and construction was undertaken by dreamers. Apparently, from what I understand at that time, the architect and quantity surveyor was fired after they delivered their final plans.
Construction was supervised by an electrical equipment supplier. There was no proper construction supervision. Even after the construction ended there was no snag list. Thats where the drama came in. We had hustled a local bank to hold a one week seminar with us.
They took up 30 rooms. On the first morning after check in, on a cold Nairobi morning, there was no hot water. The solar water heating failed. It was a mess. A total mess.
The organizer who was not even resident was taking the heat.
One branch manager from Mombasa was threatening to check out that same morning.
Hot bathing water had to be delivered in buckets to all the complainers. I mean, this had to be a sick joke to be honest. I was livid. What on earth is going on here? Why don't we have a back up?
The maintenance guy (we had only 1) told us that the owner had refused a back up electrical water heater system since it would have cost Kes 200,000/- to install
What nonsense is this? I demanded from my boy. Were you aware of this?
Yes I was. But I never expected it will fail.
We have to fix this thing today.
With what money? Have you seen our financials?
I don't know. Tell the owner to borrow money. We can't work like this.
After hours of haggling in a meeting with the owner at his industrial area office he agreed to fix the back up.
The reporting relationships were a mess too. There was the GM who was my boy, an old man from the old Utalii era who had supervised the construction phase and had a hand in recruiting all his relatives from the Maragoli area of Kenya in all departments before we joined.
Then there was the owners peoples. (Indians of course). Then there was the owners wife who by all means necessary had no business on the property, and their two children.
I made it very clear to my boy that I report to him. No one else. If anyone had a question they go to him.
This always angered the wife. If I see her coming to me I would acknowledge her presence greet her and flatter her hijab and go about my business. I was not in the business of baby sitting, which was what it was.
How does food costing work? How does the elevator work?
Can we switch off all lights during the day to save electricity? Have you seen the cost of the water and stationery used at conferences? Can we stop giving these things out?

What a complete waste of my time.
Even after promising myself that I have to tone down my drinking, I found myself turning to the bottle for solace. Work. Drink. Work. Drink. 12 hours work. Drink. Pass out. Up at 5am. Work till 10pm. Drink.
I was losing my battle once again. My day off on sunday was spent in bed
I would sleep the whole day and night. I knew this was not how life was to be lived. I knew but I did nothing to stop it. It went on and on. And on and on.
One Saturday afternoon my boy invited me for drinks with colleagues at a hotel in the general area of Upper Hill. I had decided to take a few weeks off booze at this point. There were two ladies who worked in sales. We sat there in this posh bar in their hotel and drunk.
I had a coffee. A cappuccino. A chilled bottle of water. A sprite. Masala tea. It rained. We talked. Grumbled. (Like any other hotelier). It was a nice afternoon. They were having whisky.
Have a sip. They kept on pushing me to have a drink.
I stood my ground. Nope. Thank you.
We left the hotel around 9pm and ended up at Psys on Tmall. It was the Champions league final. By this time these guys were a little tipsy. *Jane moved in on me. (Not her real name).
I was not given space that night. By the time we left Psys and dropped her at her place...
Things were bad. Anyway. I had my boy drop me in Kasarani. (He lived in Ngumba therefore it was one route).
My phone rang. Kept on ringing. Jane insisted I go to her place. It was 3am.
I am in Kasarani and she lives in South B. I don't even own a car.
There was no Uber.
I took a cab and went.
My relationship with Jane was brief and very intense. She was 27 at that time. She would show up to work unannounced for "lunch".
She would text throughout the day. I had no idea how to handle it. It ended dramatically too.
We had planned to spend the weekend at her place. Cook, movies, read novels and chill. I left work early that Saturday and picked her up from Upper Hill. We went grocery shopping. Stocked up for Armageddon I guess. Saturday night was bliss. Just chilling in pyjamas.
I woke up late on Sunday morning. She was in the kitchen catering for what looked like a feast.
Whats going on?
You need to freshen up and get ready, my mom and my sisters are coming to meet you.
Do you have a hearing problem?
They will be here soon.
I didn't even wash my face. I dressed up, picked up the car keys to my boy's C200 (borrowing people's cars is not a big deal in Nairobi) and left without saying good bye. On my way out of that estate I spotted a grey Corolla with what looked like her family.
I am not going to give an opinion on why I did that. I don't think I should anyway. We were having a good time. No one talked about meeting folks in advance.
Judge me the way you want to. But there was no way I was meeting her family at her place.
The year dragged on. It was drama after drama at work. I honestly hated working at that place to be honest. We were pulling in revenues but our costs and overheads were way too high. Energy and utility, staff costs, maintenance costs. Name it. Plus break even point was 7 years
...ahead from my analysis of the financials. The owner wanted to break-even in a year. He was upto his neck in loans anyway.
By August 2015 I had had enough. I handed in my notice and left.
After quitting, I started looking for something to do. I remember I used to visit a salon with my friend @AureliaWambua at Reinsurance plaza every once or twice per month for manicures and pedicures on Saturdays after work.
The staff would be having lunch and sometimes we would get their lunch and eat. It was your standard "Njeri Cuisine". No seasoning, bland stew etc. So I used to joke to the hair stylists that I can make them better meals.
I did some shopping, cooked some pilau and packed 20 pcs
These were meant for tasting. By the time I reached that salon, I gave one packed box to Joy who was our nail stylist. She tasted it and she was like how much is this?
I had no idea how much it was. Haha.
150 I guess.
Can I get 2?
Within 20 minutes I had collected 3K.
Word spread around fast at Reinsurance plaza. There is a coasterian guy who makes the best coastal meals. I honestly was not even prepared for this. The first time was supposed to be a tasting session.
What the hell?
We want mahamri na mbaazi ya nazi for breakfast
We want proper lunch meals. Within a week I was overwhelmed with orders. I reached out to @ayiekokev who was already in the small time catering business in Nairobi. I started borrowing equipment from him and once in a while advise over a bottle of whisky at his place.
The start was not easy too. I remember I would hawk all excess production of mahamri in Kasarani once I was done with my CBD deliveries. I once met my former high school schoolmate @jmnjala on his way to work and he couldn't hide his shock that I was hawking stuff on the street.
At least he bought some. But hey I didn't care. I was making money and I loved the freedom. I could at least grow a beard while I was at it.
I got two corporate gigs to supply breakfast snacks to two big companies in Upper Hill through referrals from the salons.
I was growing faster than I could have imagined. I was sleeping less and less. I would wake up at 2am to start my cooking for the day. Start deliveries at 6am. I did not have a delivery car so I would either hire a cab or use public transport. It was a mess. I was stressed.
I was not getting rest. One Saturday evening I made the biggest mistake of my life. I ended up in a local pub in Buruburu for a drink with one of my hardest working sales-person and brand ambassador. A gay guy called George. I drank silly that night.
If you add the lack of sleep, the fatigue and the pain my body was in I should have been asleep. I had 50K in my Mpesa and another 15K in cash. If you work in catering then you know that revenues are nothing but tied to costs. I drank the whole of it that night.
I remember from the last minute memories I have I ended up at Rafikis and bumped into Jane. She was in a group of 4. I think one was her "boyfriend". I was drunk. I bought them a bottle of black label. I don't even remember how much it cost. I paid via Mpesa. Iko nini?
I may have ended up in 1824. I don't know. I just know that I woke up in the ditch outside 1824. Phone was gone. All the money I had in my pockets was gone.
What a nightmare once again. At least this time I was not in any physical pain.
What am i doing with my life?
I found myself back to Kasarani. I slept throughout Sunday. I knew people were looking for me but i was depressed. I renewed my line on Monday evening after sleeping the whole day. I had some cash in my cash box at home. I had hundreds of missed call messages in the inbox
I was a mess. It was a week towards the end of the month. There was no way I was going to make my rent. I visited my mom's house that evening.
Are you okay? As she sipped the masala tea I made her.
No I am not.
Mothers have a way to know when things are bad.
But from what i understood you are doing well with your "hustling". She did use the air quotes.
I have a drinking problem Mao. I have a drinking problem and I need to fix it now. Today. I drank everything from my business. I can't even pay my rent
I am moving back in your house.
I was 30 years old. I was embarrassed.
I am retiring in April. (2016) I will be moving to Sagalla myself. So if you are moving back in you better know that its very temporary my boy.
That was January 2016.
I had messed up my two corporate clients that Monday morning for failing to deliver their breakfast snacks. One never picked up my calls.
Maria had a soft spot for me and she shit on me a big one.
You messed up. She says. We were processing a lunch order for 50 people
Now my bosses don't want to hear about you. You were not available for a whole day. I was trying to support your hustle but you blew it up yourself. Bye, Hanningtone.
That was painful. By this time my Reinsurance clientele was also mad at me. I was not delivering...
...consistently to them. They did not want to even hear my name. It was a mess.
While at my mom's I got one or two catering gigs here and there. I was avoiding the drink. I was low on finances so i could not keep up with big orders and there was no way i was going to borrow cash
By March 2016 I was done. I was tired. I was fatigued. I was stressed. I was depressed even. I hitched a ride with my mom to Mombasa when she was going to visit her elder brothers who brought her up. (She is the last born in her family).
I ended up at my former Diani workmate and friend Sheena Patel's place near Pirates. She was GM of Bliss at that time and had this nice place by the Indian ocean with a swimming pool.
We drank. She was frustrated with her job at that time so we took it out on the drink.
I told her my story. How I moved back into my mom's house.
So what next for you? She asked as we sipped some black label on a moonlit night.
I wish I can move back to Dar. I honestly hate Nairobi. I hate Kenya. And i definitely do not want to live in Mombasa again.
I went back to Nairobi after a week of indulging in excessive alcohol. That weekend I remember my brother picked me up for a drink at that bar next to Carwash in Kasarani. I ordered a Tusker.
That beer was disgusting. My brother was surprised. Have some Kibao then.
Sorry I broke it by accident. Continued...
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