The Kenyan Nomad

The Kenyan Nomad

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fashion, Food and Furniture: A Night with Panesar Kenya

Pic by Catherine Muchira 

Now, part of being a nomad does involve socialising, although this probably hasn't been all too evident in my recent posts! The evening of Thursday, the 5th of November found me attending an invite-only event entitled 'Fashion, Food & Furniture' at the Rouge Deck, hosted by Panesar Interiors. I was allowed a plus one, and decided to make my best friend tag along with me.

I must admit, when I first received the invite, I was a little curious to see how the 3 themes were meant to fit together, but everything flowed seamlessly on the day of the event! I must admit, I was quite impressed.

The Fashion

Pic by Official Photographer

The clothes on display were designed and created by Njema Helena, a company that was formed by a mother and daughters team in honour of their late daughter and sister, who passed away from cancer a few years ago.

The designs were absolutely beautiful, and I loved the modern take on traditional African prints. There were a few models wearing the designs, and they all looked gorgeous! I really couldn't pick my favourite.

The Food

Pic by yours truly 
As if the fashion and furniture weren't appealing enough, the food was amazing too (and if I'm not mistaken, catered by the Rouge Deck)! There were canapes served throughout the night; smoked salmon, duck spring rolls, cucumber rolls, and a few others. There were three cocktails being served at the event: mojitos, rum cocktails, and cosmos. Surprisingly enough (given my love for mojitos), my favourite turned out to be the rum cocktail! Must try get my hands on the recipe at some point...

While the food and cocktails were really good, I think the dessert absolutely won the day. While I tend to crave savoury rather than sweet things, I do appreciate good desserts. The chocolate mousse pictured above was HEAVENLY, and especially so because of the crumbly, salty topping. My mouth is actually watering right now- Pavlovian reaction much?

The Furniture 

Pic by Official Photographer

Pic by Official Photographer

Before the event, I deliberately avoided doing any research on Panesar, as I wanted the evening to inform my opinion. In a very typically Kenyan fashion, Panesar is a family-owned company, and is now being run by a third generation of Panesars. Unlike most other family-owned companies, however, it was evident that the current generation is very much enjoying what they're doing!

As we entered the event, we were showed how some of their sofas are made, and there were pieces at various stages of production that we could look at. I was excited to find that they do bespoke furniture and interior design, which explained some of the furniture we saw.

As a writer, I predictably fell in love with one of the desks on display (unfortunately, while lusting after this piece, I forgot to take a picture). It was easy enough to picture myself sitting on it for hours and writing... productivity wouldn't be hard with that one!

The second desk pictured above was actually designed based upon a lady's shoe; anyone notice the red underneath?

All in all, the designs were gorgeous, and I was impressed by the passion and knowledgeability of the staff, from the designers to the owners. The event was a lovely networking event, and I'm glad I got the invite (thanks Darshani)! Would I recommend Panesars to someone looking for a unique statement piece? Yes, definitely!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Age of Unkindness

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Pic courtesy of Unsplash

If there's anything that I've learnt from this past week, it's that we as humans have almost lost our capacity for kindness and empathy, and have become inclined to pessimism. When I talk about the loss of kindness and empathy, I'm not even talking about those who were responsible for the horrible events that transpired last week, from a number of places in the world, not just Lebanon and France. No, I'm talking about the rest of us; those who were directly or indirectly affected, those who learnt about the attacks through some media, those of us on the other side.

People who changed their profile pictures on Facebook were attacked for doing so; those who didn't were criticised. We said, yes, great that you're supporting Paris; but where were you when all these other atrocities happened? We continued to judge even when we may have been guilty of the same transgressions. Why is it that we judge ourselves based on our intentions, but others based on their behaviour? 

I don't know why you chose to change your profile picture for Paris, but not for Beirut. Maybe you have family in Paris, maybe you didn't know about Beirut until social media spread the word. Maybe you were actually volunteering in Beirut, and your profile picture change was just a way to display solidarity in case you couldn't physically help? Whatever your reasons were, I have none to be unkind to you for your choices. You and I react to tragedy differently; there are billions of people in this world, and no reason to expect them to think and act the same way. Yes, we can expect each other to act like sensible, kind humans, but there's no reason to be spoiling for a fight when we don't even know each other. 

Perhaps the Internet is the worst place to be when the world is affected by tragedy. Because it seems as though it manages to bring out people's worst. We're quick to sit behind the safety of our screens and judge away, but reluctant to reach out and actually have sensible conversation with the people around us. I read many comments and posts going on about the 'evils of Islam' based on those who carried out the terrorist attacks. Well, what about the Muslim man who gave his life in Lebanon to stop a suicide bomber, and managed to save hundreds? Could his selfless actions really be classified as evil?

A mistake we all need to stop making is to judge the majority based on the actions of a minority. 

Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking...
-Leo Tolstoy 

Watching the news nowadays is one of the most depressing things I can think of doing. I don't know if it's the Pisces in me, or the fact that I tend to put myself in others' shoes, but constantly being bombarded by news of death, chaos and terror makes me weary. Yes, these things are happening, and they're happening worldwide. But what about the positive side of humanity? Who is tasked with representing that, sharing it with everyone, showing us that hope is not lost? 

I still firmly believe that there's a lot of good in the world. I've experienced it, and if I think about it, it reminds me that I live in a beautiful world. Imperfect, yes, but beautiful nonetheless. It's easy to get caught up in all the bad stuff, but we need to be able to shift our ways of thinking. I know kindness and positivity and love can achieve a lot more than hate and judgement and pessimism ever can. At a time when it seems like all we hear about is the bad side of stuff, we should be flooding our lives, our words, even our social media accounts with love and positivity. 

Please keep in mind that I'm not saying we should ignore the negatives, or bash those responsible over the head with bunches of flowers. There's a difference between being hopeful and being ignorant. 

As we start this week off, I'm thinking of and praying for all those who lost their lives in these recent tragedies, and for those who were left behind or adversely affected. But I'm also celebrating the lives of those who survived, thankful for the heroes that emerged, and hopeful about our future on this Earth. I hope you are, too.

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to give feedback in the comments, like and share the Facebook post below, or retweet it to your followers!

In light of recent tragic events, we must ask ourselves if we're losing our capacity for kindness and empathy.
Posted by The Kenyan Nomad on Monday, 16 November 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

When I Go

One can argue that one of the things that unites us as people is the inevitability of death. Yet, despite knowing that this end will come for all of us sooner or later and we have no way of controlling it, we refuse to make the most out of today. Sure, we don't want to actually live like we're going to die tomorrow; no work would ever get done that way. But at the same time, we sometimes act like we're going to live forever. Why is that, I wonder?

Photo courtesy of Death to Stock
I won't move to that new country just yet; you see, I'll have all the time after I'm gone.

That holiday my kids have been dying to go on? We'll go, definitely, after they're gone.

I have a friend in Hong Kong I've been meaning to call and catch up with; but no rush, I can do it after she's gone.

That person I've been wanting to ask out? Why rush it, I have all the time in the world.

There's a song I've been wanting to write for years now, but hey. I'll do it after I'm gone.

I had a teacher who really pushed me to go get my MBA; I've been meaning to call and thank him, but not today. No, I'll do it after he's gone.

After I leave this place, I'll be sure to travel to places I've never been. I'll make time for all my friends and family, I'll tell that stranger on the street that she looks beautiful. I'll go check out that new Thai restaurant two blocks away; I've been too busy to go, you know. Oh, I'll definitely adopt some dogs from the local shelter; been meaning to do that for a while, just never got around to it. I make sure to enjoy my job and current situation, and stop anticipating the future. I guess I'll finally realise that I have 24 hours in a day.

I'll have all the time in the world you see, after I'm gone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Space to Create

Pic courtesy of Death to Stock

This weekend, I found a writing prompt in my drafts, and it talked about how we found the space to create. I have no idea where it came from, but to whoever was responsible for sending it my way; thank you!

Our lives have become so busy; sometimes unnecessarily so! Nowadays, we seem incapable of enjoying the simplest of things without the obsessive need to document them. When is the last time you enjoyed a sunset without taking a picture of it? Rather than enjoying and experiencing our own lives, we have become observers.

Let's remember that there's nothing wrong with being observers; but it's important to realise when to stop observing and start experiencing, and if we can, to do them both simultaneously. I'd really rather not look back on my own life 60 years from now and realise I spent all my time collecting memories instead of making them. As a writer who also enjoys photography, this is something I definitely need to be careful about.

In between all the hustle and bustle, how do we find the space and stillness needed to create, to translate our observation and experience into something we can share? A lot of my inspiration to write comes in the times when my mind is undistracted and allowed to roam free; like when I'm in the shower, or the moments at night before I fall asleep. However, inspiration also comes at busy times; a conversation with a stranger, a class, a movie that makes me think. 

I think for me, the important issue is being able to translate these moments of inspiration into actual creation. I've heard it said that 'we don't have enough time', but I like to think of the fact that I have the same 24 hours a day that people like Einstein, Tolkien and Richard Branson did. The space to create is not just a physical place; it's a time, a mood, an uninterrupted expression.

As a writer, I unfortunately don't have the flexibility to sit down and write whenever the mood strikes, so I find it helpful to reflect on my ideas, and what inspired me, and to find a time to sit down uninterrupted to put my ideas down on a page. At the end of the day, I just need to be dedicated about it.

Creation isn't necessarily related just to art; how do YOU find the space you need to create? 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dropping the Past

Courtesy of Unsplash

How many of us are holding onto things from the past that we no longer need? We all have baggage that we carry around from the past; indeed, our past is part of what makes us uniquely us. We all have a combination unique experiences, memoires, hard times that we've faced and triumphs we've celebrated that we share with no other person on the planet.

However, isn't it true that while our past guides us and informs us, at times it may also prevent us from moving forward? 

Sometimes, our past prevents us from viewing the world from a fresh and exciting lens; instead, we look at it from a weary and suspicious one. Your past can make you afraid of confronting your future and of enjoying your present.

Think about it this way; haven't we all at some point or another had a difficult relationship? With family, with friends, with lovers, with coworkers? And sometimes, when forming new relationships, don't we tend to be pessimistic about the outcomes based on these previous relationships?

Another scenario; maybe your past hasn't been the most ideal. You had a difficult childhood, a career that always seemed like it took more out of you than it gave you, no real friends to confide in and a family life that was less than fulfilling. Finally, things start looking up. Maybe you get a new job, you finally start to have real conversations to make peace with your past, and you meet people you realise will be with you for a while to come, for better or for worse. How many of us in such a situation would start to self-sabotage, would start to think we don't deserve this happiness, that it couldn't possibly be real? How many of  us, in such a situation, tend to focus on one negative over twenty positives? Stop and think about it for a second; your experiences in your past are wrongly influencing your experiences in the future.

How do we get around letting the past drag us down? Don't give your feelings more importance than they deserve. This may sound weird, but remember that cognitive biases are a very real thing that influence us every single day!

Forgiveness is important. Not just forgiving others for what they might have done (or not done), but forgiving yourself, too. Loving yourself and being kind to yourself are the first steps in allowing others to do so too.

Don't completely forget about the past; appreciate it. Be grateful for it. Appreciate the good times as well as the bad times, because they've all come together in a uniquely beautiful way to teach you in a way that only you could benefit from.

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