People have been walking to some extent in every city I have visited. I always enjoy seeing people on the streets and it is nice to see them move along one foot in front of the other, in their own little rhythm. But until now I have never thought too much about how they walk and the beat, the bounce and the attitude that a walk can give to the street. From my taxi on the way to Nairobi I became captivated by the way the Kenyans were walking. They were making otherwise dull streets have movement and colour that almost made you want to dance yourself. It felt like a small step between the movement I was watching to a street party where everyone was getting into the groove.
Once I got out on the street myself I couldn’t help but hope that this walk was contagious and I was somehow walking with flare. Well, I definitely felt more fun and alive while I was walking. I tried to have a bit of attitude but then I just felt like I was kidding myself and I break out in an internal giggle that definitely portrays no style at all. While I don’t have much gangster or catwalk style about me, I thought my relatively large bum might make up for it, but I just feel ridiculous when I try. I am hoping that I am acquiring the walk gradually without thinking about it (like one might acquire and accent) and when I come back I will have a walk that will make people.
Yesterday I took a local up on an offer to go for a walk around a slum. This involved walking in all sorts of conditions, without footpaths, through dusty roads and paths, along a railway track which dictates the length of your stride and then across puddles that I tried to avoid contemplating the contents of. We walked constantly and I tried not to be tired but I felt like collapsing at the end of it. I just didn’t have the stamina of the kenyans (and we are at altitude). On my way I was stuck in a matatu in a traffic jam. A small voice in my head was saying that getting out and walking would be faster but then a much more dominant voice told me to sit where I was and enjoying slipping in and out of sleep as the bus lurched two metres forward and then sat idle for a few minutes.