Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things I love about Kenya 2 - the slow-motion run

You're driving (again), weaving through traffic, looking for a gap to squeeze through to undertake the doddery old mhindi guy clutching the wheel of a shit-brown, black-fume-belching Peugeot 306. At last a space opens up and you accelerate toward it as fast as possible, since you've been holding your breath for the last two minutes and are about to pass out.

Then you notice a pedestrian sauntering across, checking his mobile phone or just staring into space. You honk your horn, and he sees you. But instead of hurrying to avoid being splattered all over your bonnet, he launches into the slow-motion run.

There are two versions of the run: in the first, the pedestrian lifts his knees high into the air like a footballer warming up and simultaneously throws his fists up toward the sky, giving you an intense look that says: “See, I'm moving fast.” The second, and rarer, version of the run is even more bizarre: the pedestrian leans forward, holds arms and legs rigidly straight, and scissors both sets of limbs, like a vaudeville performer exiting stage left.

To the uninitiated, it is unclear what is happening. Is he doing a dance? Having a fit? Being attacked by wasps? Ah, no. He's running. Very. Very. Slowly.

Both versions of the run are slower than the stroll, so you slam on your brakes and screech to a halt. Unfazed by the fact he nearly did a somersault over your bumper and ended up with his face embedded in your windshield, the pedestrian continues his slow-motion run to the pavement/gutter/dirt verge.

There, he accelerates to walking pace.

I think this is why there are no successful Kenyan sprinters. The fastest time clocked for the 100 metres would be 5 minutes 33 seconds.

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