Why parking in Nairobi is a nightmare


‘Excuse me, Are you moving your car?

I was moving stuff from my boot when she interrupted me. I asked if that was her parking space and she said in a sweet but combative tone:

“Yes! That’s where I always park!”

All that was missing was an eye roll and tongue click. I moved my car to make space for her big black Mercedes, no problem. All the parking space in the block had clearly marked numbers, so being new, I must have wrongly assumed this was a visitors parking. My bad.

Once I got upstairs I glanced outside my window and noticed that Ms Combative had parked like an anus. This is what got me. If you don’t know what I am talking about let me brief you, it’s an annoying habit of blocking off parking so nobody parks in front, behind or beside you.

I wondered how satisfying the splotch of a cracked egg thrown from a balcony at 2am would look on her windshield and how, while I lay warm in my bed, her shrieks of anger would awaken me at 6:30am and I would smile sleepily and hug my pillow tighter knowing that once again all is right in the world. But…this would not be in line with my promise to cultivate good thoughts.

Ms Combative was now walking up the stairs with her husband and her little girl who was screaming in an equally combative tone. ‘Njaaairii Njaaairrii’ she tried to soothe in twangy but not very gentle tones. Njeri would have none of it and I could only console myself with the wish that Njeri would give her a sleepless night but then, I caught myself again.

What do I know about Mrs Combative, she has a nice nuclear family, drives a nice car and thus I would assume also has a well paying job. Perhaps her disposition could use some tweaking and maybe she has had bad experiences with apartment parking, maybe she has to be tough at work to be taken seriously and switching it off is hard, maybe she is has a compulsive obssessive need to park in between spots, or maybe she’s just not a nice person. The thing is, I had let her get under my skin in the way only another Kenyan middle class person could get under my skin. It was the fact that despite our propensity to do good, run marathons to raise money, cultivate a sick work ethic and so on and so forth, the Kenyan middle class person can also be inherently selfish.

It shows itself in the way we fight in traffic, refusing to give way even if the other person has been waiting aeons for a slot to open up, it shows in the way we talk down to help or those we think owe nothing by virtue of their station in life, it shows itself in our need to complain but not do anything about the lack of housing, bad roads, corruption and the myriad social ills that plague the capital. It also shows itself in the way we park, rear of the vehicle defiantly pointing out as we diagonal park and dare anyone to block our path come morning.

But then again, it could just be that some people are more likely to behave like a butt end orifice rather than The Stigg when given a parking slot. Who knows?

Bad Parking.jpg

Photo by Jules K


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