I was there to get air. She was there to smoke. Which is ironical, isn’t it? One lung seeks fresh air the other seeks to flood it with smoke. Gorgeous Nairobi night, nonetheless. There was a click and a white light lit her face, illuminating it as she torched her cigarette. Then she nonchalantly looked out at the traffic below on Waiyaki Way. She was standing on six-inch heels. Long beautiful face. Delicate chin. Fromthe build of her calves and the tone of her arms, I could tell she spent a lot of time on the cross-trainer. She stood there smoking furiously as I pretended not to stare. The sky was starless. One floor below, security men popped open boots and bonnets and peeked into glove compartments.
Once in a while the door behind me opened and music, tittering and the shrieking voices momentarily spilled out. It was jazz night at the Villa Rosa Kempinsky’s Balcony Bar with Jacob’s Trio on Thursdays (Gogo Simo on Tuesdays, Hott Rod band on Fridays). I understand many things, jazz isn’t one of them. But I love the composition of jazz bands, the quirky personalities that fill it, designed and defined by their instruments which they always look like they could die for. Saxophonist in a carjacking 46. incidence: “Please, harm me, but please don’t scratch my Saxophone!”
I love the saxophone, how necks bulge and strain with veins when it’s blown. As I stood outside feeding my lungs with air, I wondered the size of saxophonists’ lungs. Can they make better divers? When you owe saxophonist money and he rolls his eyes and says, “Pay whenever, man, but I won’t hold my breath,” would that be what irony is?
I love the concentration of the guitarists; that dreamy look, that suggests that they are trying to remember something and it just damned isn’t coming to them. If you pulled Google aside in a bar and asked them for their complete honesty (and discretion), would they tell you that 85% of the people who Google “arthritis” are guitarists? Same as pianist. I think pianist prefer to drink with guitarists.
Then, drummers. I feel sorry for drummers. They always look like they never get any luck with chicks. And because of this, they always spice this misery with some dodgy looking hat. An unrelated test: what is the name of that drummer in Cold Play? OK, Maroon 5? Just A Band? My point exactly
But together these people make some great music that transcends We don’t talk about the betrayal with our lips, because we do so with our body language. even my tiresome prejudices. But even this brilliant sound doesn’t seem to move this mysterious lady at the balcony.
My forehead was dull. That happens when I’m tipsy. This venture out to the balcony of the Balcony Bar was just to get some cold on my face and sobriety. Back in there my Glenkinchie awaited me, recommended by one Chandra Shah, Balcony bar’s supervisor, a slight chap with a brilliant sense of humour and so much knowledge on single-malts he should open up a The House of Shah distillery.
The dark sky, coupled with the thudding jazz music pressing through the glass of the balcony and the sweet dulling feeling on my forehead. I heard myself ask the mysterious lady on the balcony: “Uhm, excuse me, excuse me, who would you have a drink with if you had a choice; a drummer or a saxophonist?”
She slowly turned to face me, and stared at me like you would look at a mannequin that suddenly spoke. A steady, stoic and slightly dour look. Feeling my confidence suddenly slipping through my shoes, I shrugged boyishly and said; “I don’t know…it’s been on my mind lately.”