Sunday, June 22, 2008

The maple leaf country

To recharge my batteries, we trotted across the pond to the maple leaf country (Canada to you and me). The journey was actually 8 and half hours i.e. similar to what it take for the London-Nai run due to the 5 hour time-difference between. Incidentally, Maina Kiai landed on the plane behinds us and we also caught downtown. He is very pessimistic ("neither side is serious", "they are on ceasefire", "Raila is no longer interestred in the constitution review now he knows he is electable", "Kajwang is a..." (you get the drift). Mind you, pessimism is a requirement for the job he is/was doing. I also learned that Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. Lakini Toronto has more of the capital feel. So what were my likes and dislikes of the journey:
  • The vastness of Canada. Ontario, one of its 13 provinces is twice the size of Kenya. It takes 4 hours by plane to cross Ontario.
  • Ottawa is a beautiful place. You drive for 5 minutes and you come across forests. And there are lakes everywhere.
  • Canadians are very courteous, although London is not a good basis for comparison
  • The houses. They are huge (most have a basement with space for two or 3 bedrooms) and cheap.
  • Meeting Kenyans in Canada. I don't think you ever get a feel for a place until you meet fellow wazalendo who let you in on the country. Many are doing fairly well too very well.
  • The bilingual nature of the country. Everybody must learn French and English upto age of 16. Which means most speak two of the languages spoken in half the world.

Not soo impressive...

  1. The size of the cars. Ok, they do get a bit of snow over there, but is the monster GMC Yukon necessary for the run to the drugmart? Most peeps look like midgets because the cars are so huge.
  2. My bubble antenae was on the up. Everywhere you go, there are new houses being built or recently built. Who is going to live in them all?
  3. Food is expensive, even more so than London
  4. Petrol prices change on an almost daily basis. Curiously, most oil distributors tend to have exactly same price as their competitors. No wonder a price-fixing investigation has just been launched.
  5. GST, PST and other point of sales taxes. Imagine you've noticed a ka-sharp suit going for around 130 Canadian dollars. You rush to the exchange bureau come back and they tell you that will be 145 dollars. Still an attractive price but very inconvenient.
  6. Jet-lag, first time I've suffered from it and didn't enjoy it...
  7. Twanging Kenyans. Assimilation is all well and good, but twanging mixed with schrubbing is disaster...

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