The rain is pounding outside the Chai House in downtown Nairobi. I’m sitting at a long empty counter which circles the cafe’s atrium, peering down at the darkly polished tables and white teapots. The cafe’s doors, which run all the way across the entrance, are always thrown open, so that the rain’s scent pushes up through the open atrium and folds itself around me. It’s a cold, dirty smell, redolent of fish from the City Market across the street, mixed up with the sprouty funk that a month of rain has unleashed throughout the central business district. Inside people rest their heads on their arms, or lean back languidly while their tea slowly cools.
It’s a slow day in Nairobi. The street is quiet, emptied for the May Day holiday. Also there was a big football game last night and I think a few people are still sleeping off the results. The sky is gray and bright, and the lights in the cafe shine warmly inside brass latticed boxes. It’s a good day to start a blog.