Posts Tagged ‘books’

Grim research

February 24, 2017

bomb

The morning after the bombings,

I realized that my bag held three books,

All on the lives of serial killers, grim research for a writing project.

Sure, but I admit I nearly laughed out loud thinking about rescuers who would find me,

How they’d look in my bag and think,’Whoa, maybe this one was for the best!’

-#WordWarrior Cristin O’Keefe in ‘All I’d leave behind’

a-writers-bag

My hottest poem

August 3, 2016

My hottest poem

Check out the link above to watch a video we did for one of the poetry pieces from my upcoming collection. Enjoy and please share.

 

 

Quote of the week-Mad

December 4, 2015

burn

Back in the middle ages

They burned unruly women at the stake

And out of the ashes of their bones

And flesh

Rose the Enlightenment and Reason fresh

 

And the white men declared

There’s no such thing as witches

They’re just crazy psycho—bitches

But we certainly can’t let them run free

Lock ‘em up and throw way the key

Yeah they said; lock ‘em up and

Throw away the key

 

Cause there’s nothing scarier than a woman mad/or

Aware of her own magic

Tragic how much violence is done

In the name of science

To ensure our silence

An excerpt from the poem ‘Revenge’ by Leah Harris

Tribulations of a book hoarder

May 22, 2015
That's what's up

That’s what’s up

BIKING FOR BOOKS

May 23, 2013

Braving the hurdles to provide reading materials for under-privileged children in slum areas 

NB: I’m running this story here because this year (2013), Anoop Singh Jabbal would like to cycle from Nairobi, Kenya to Maputo, Mozambique. The trip will benefit The Kenyatta National Hospital Children’s Cancer Ward in Kenya. He is currently looking for sponsors or supporters. To contact him email pinkcycles2005@yahoo.com

Tour De Dar 2011

Motorbike mechanic and cyclist Anoop Singh Jabbal aka Pinky, set out on a journey that would take him approximately seven days. He was ready to cycle from Nairobi, Kenya to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania-a 1,000 kilometer journey all alone on his hybrid bicycle.Image

This was in July 2011. His mission? To help raise money for Kale Children’s Library in Riruta Location, Nairobi. All he had for luggage was a ten-kilogram bag of clothes. In preparation, he carbo-loaded-feeding on plenty of carbohydrates two months before the tour. Anoop also focused on endurance cycling doing six to seven hours a day (even going out of town) on the weekends. He serviced his bike and built up on mental strength and self-confidence.

But why set out on such a journey by himself? “Initially, the plan was for me and two other cyclists to do it together. They pulled-out only days before on realizing how taxing the journey would actually be,” he explains. Owing to the burning need to help children access books outside class, Anoop decided not to cancel the trip and do it alone anyway.

He knew it would be challenging from the onset. To begin with, he was on a seven-day schedule, meaning he’d have to cycle six to seven hours a day. A myriad other challenges came up along the way. “On my way to Mombo, Tanzania, on day four, I almost got bitten by a black snake. I also had two punctures on the way. On day six, I had terrible food-poisoning after a rice and stew meal in Segera, Tanzania. It took me a whole day to recover,” he recalls.

Anoop also had to be careful about accommodation, having to stop only at places with the facilities. “In Mombo, Tanzania, I couldn’t find a place to spend the night as the hotels were fully booked. It was sheer courtesy that I was offered a tent and campsite at a local river lodge,” he says.

Anoop and his cycling mates had initially settled on the Dar-es-Salaam trip because they were looking for a place that would be a little bit of a challenge, sprinkled with adventure. “We wanted to have fun with purpose,” he points out excitedly.

This trip will remain embedded in his memory. “The scenery was breathtaking all the way. I still see the Pare and Usambara Mountains, the sisal plantations stealing across the horizons and the friendly people,” he clarifies with a smile that gets my imagination running.

Besides managing to raise books and money before and after the tour, Anoop carries with him a few lessons from the tour. “I learnt how to communicate with people of different cultures and how to tackle challenging events in life. When you are on the road by yourself, you also have the time to think about life and improving yourself. I believe I came back a better and more confident man,” he says.

Journey to Isiolo     

Across the country at the same time, Toto Chipeta, co-ordinator and founder of Kale Childrens’ Library and his fifty-five year-old American friend Kim Deprenger were cycling from Nairobi to isiolo, a journey covering approximately 450 kilometres. “Instead of using the highway, we used the back routes because we also wanted to experience the cultures and sounds of the local community. We completed the tour in fourteen days,” Toto explains.

Just like Anoop, Toto and Kim also bumped into many a-difficulties. “It was a very long tough journey laced with travelers diarrhoea, butt-numbness and saddle-rashes,’’ he summarizes.

Toto and Kim’s goal was to raise $ 5,000, but they managed to raise $800. “We realized that people were very skeptical because they didn’t know us. We had to do a lot of convincing and we had people calling us up later asking how they could donate,” he shares.

The connection    

Cycling to raise awareness about or for a cause is popular in many parts of the world. Compared to walking or running, cycling covers more ground. It is also less expensive that driving, which is also used for publicity.

The first Biking for Books took place in December 2008 when Anoop, Toto and Amrital Singh cycled from Nairobi to Mombasa (about 500 kilometres) in three days. Back then, they were able to raise Ksh. 64,000. “We used the money to build the library which has been running as is for years now,” Toto points out. Some of the supporters then were the Y.M.C.A, RYA (Ramgharia Youth Association), Cycle Land, Rotary Club and Plaza Beach Hotel.

The 2011 Tour De Dar and the journey to Isiolo were the second in the Biking for Books project. “We are still accepting books and sometimes cycle to collect them from well-wishers ourselves,’ Toto says.

For the next Biking for Books, Toto would like to get people who’d like to cycle (even if they aren’t professionals or fit) and take them on bike-rides.  “ We are still working on destinations, but the idea is to divide the journey into bits so that people can choose what suits them,” he adds.

The beneficiaries

ImageKale Childrens’ Library was established in 2009 and is registered as a self-help group. Situated in Riruta Location, Nairobi, its aim is to provide reading materials for under-privileged children in slum areas. Children in such areas have little or no access to reading (and learning) material outside of class. The library is open from 10 a.m to 8.30 p.m. daily and for only Ksh. 10, children can stay as long as they like.

“Parents want their children to stay at the library all day. For this to happen, the entire experience has to be fun. That’s why I introduced the Art & the Chess Club,” Toto informs me. The Art Club is fairly new, but Toto has already managed to source for markers and crayons for the children to express themselves when they need a break. Children interested in chess are also taught how to play the game. The library hosts the Rotary Chess Championship (sponsored by the Rotary Club) thrice a year.Image

Besides the Ksh. 10 charged to use the library, a fee of Ksh. 400 a year or Ksh. 20 a day is charged when you borrow a book. The library is currently 75% sustainable, but Toto says more sponsors and donations are needed. “Our objective for the future is to expand the library, purchase more books and introduce other media,” he clarifies.

The library is named for Toto’s best- friend, who has since passed on. Kale made it possible for Toto to complete his Diploma in Community Development and Social Work and this is Toto’s way of saying thank you. ‘It was the first unselfish thing I ever did,” Toto believes.

Running the library has taught him the need to be strong in faith when dealing with the community. “For something like this to keep going, you have to do it all for the love of the children. I have also learnt not to expect  ‘thank yous’, Toto adds.

But ‘thank yous’ come in the most unusual ways. On the wall of the library hangs a picture drawn by 12 year old Felix Namdee. Obviously, Felix drew a picture of Toto Chipeta himself, cycling.

 

GOD IS A STRANGE LOVER

February 2, 2012

One of my favourite poets (and who does wonders for my spiritual journey) is Carmelite nun Jessica Powers. I hereby share ‘God is a strange lover’, a piece I am currently relating to.

God is a strange lover

by Jessica Powers

God is the strangest of all lovers; His ways are past explaining

He sets his heart on a soul; he says to himself

“Here will I rest my love.”

But he does not woo her with flowers or jewels or words that are set to music,

No names endearing, no kindled praise his heart’s  direction prove

His jealousy is an infinite thing. He stalks the soul with sorrows;

He tramples the bloom; he blots the sun that could make her vision dim

He robs and breaks and destroys-there is nothing at last but her

Own shame, her own affliction.

And then he comes and there is nothing in the vast

World but him and her love of him

 

Not till the great rebellions die and her will is safe

In his hands forever

Does he open the door of light and his

Tendernesses fall, and then for what is seen in the

Soul’s virgin places ,

For what is heard in the heart , there is no speech at all

 

God is a strange lover; the story of his love is most surprising

There is no proud queen in her cloth of gold; over and over again

There is only, deep in the soul, a poor disheveled woman weeping…

For us who have need of a picture and words;

the Magdalen.

Crime-fiction book I like

January 13, 2012

BOOK TITLE:  TELL ME WHAT YOU LIKE-An Alison Kaine Mystery

Author: Kate Allen

Genre: Crime Fiction

As with most crime fiction mystery novels, ‘Tell me what you like’ is a hard book to put down. The first in Kate Allen’s Alison Kaine mystery series, she manages to capture and keep first time readers with her well-developed believable characters, humorous dialogue and fast-paced plot.

tell me what you like

Alison Kaine is a police officer who is supposed to be on vacation. Her plans to be out of town during this time are cancelled and she ends up at the park to pass time. There she meets Stacy, who plays as a goalkeeper in the lesbian soccer team. Alison and Stacy hit it off until Alison discovers Stacy makes a living as a dominatrix giving women their S & M fantasies. The mystery centers around the everyday lives of these lesbian women in a community where religious fundamentalists appear at every corner , even in the lesbian night clubs, to ‘straighten’ them out with the word of God.

In the backdrop of Alison’s new relationship, two lesbians are murdered in cold-blood. Once a cop, always a cop, they say and Alison Kaine pokes her nose into the mysterious murders time and again, pissing-off the male-officers officially on the case. Inspite of warnings to keep off the case, she  dives deeper into the detective work as she strongly believes that (being in this community) she has better chances of solving the murder. This she does with the help of her fellow lesbian neighbours Michelle and Janka who do some undercover work. The author manages to keep you going over the suspects subconsciously trying to figure out who the murderer might be.

Stacy, the detectives’ own lover tops the suspects’ lists, along with Dominique,  also a dominatrix. Both of the dead women were clients of Dominique. Carla, who Alison saves after an attack, is the only mystery because there’s just no motive or link; until she realizes  it was her (Alison) the murderer was after. The only reason she wasn’t attacked was because they’d exchanged sweaters in the basement while having a quickie with her earlier on.

The murderer is brought to light in slow bits. It could be the young Mark, a friend of Stacy’s. Mark, who  was brought up by four lesbian women until his birth mother came to reclaim him. He is the kind of man who takes matters into his own hands..

At the end of the day, we find out that it is the religious fundamentalists, whom Mark is a part of, that commit the crime. In addition to the mysterys’ exciting, informing and witty combination, erotica lovers will love the explicit sex-bits which left me squirming in my seat.

Watching Motivational DVDs at Work-Never Eat Alone

April 27, 2010

It was ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi

It is very rare to find people watching DVDs in an office (unless it’s a media company). The organization that I joined gets together after Monday weekly meetings to watch motivational DVD’s. I like this very much.

The first one I watched here was ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi. This DVD is based on a book he co-authored ‘Never Eat Alone and other secrets to success, one relationship at a time.’

The book apparently discusses the need for networking and human relationships for success in today’s world. Watching this DVD made me realize why Keith is recognized the world over as an expert on relationship development. He has also been named one of the world’s most connected individual. Really?

Now C.E.O. of Ferrazzi Greenlight, Keith has come all the way from being a Chief Marketing Officer at Deloitte Consulting. He also made a name as the youngest Chief Marketing Officer with a Fortune 500 company when he worked for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide before being recruited as Chief Executive Officer for Ya Ya media, an interactive entertainment consultancy before it was sold to Yahoo!

Back to the DVD. Here he talks about the importance of achieving your dream, understanding your audience (by asking questions), being yourself/genuine. He also believes that sharing and transparency, frees you because

 a) You are no longer controlled

b) People have empathy

He then goes ahead to explain the seven stage process to achieving success-beginning with ‘Focusing’. He (like me) believes that life conspires to have opportunities ready for you. He advises us to set the top three things we want and where you want to be in 60 days, three years, ten years.

Set targets. For example, make a list of 125 most important people for your success. Ask yourself “Who are the people I need to surround myself with?” These include spouses, family, friends and especially yourself. You also need to define what you have to offer the world. What services or products are you selling?

“You need to believe in your product and remember 50% is you, so believe in yourself,” he offers.

Aligning your goals is also necessary. Tell the people who surround you about what you want. As for the bonding process-establish real relationships that last, avoid small talk and go deep when you first reach out to someone.

Keith brings up the issue of belonging to a club. Get together with at least five people because for behaviour or lifestyle change, you really cannot do this alone. Plan dinner parties or share passions like jogging. Simply use things you are already doing to bring you together. This will allow people who care about you to help you.

Here, he also talks about how (also included in his book) he met Richard Branson. He would tell people around him how much he wanted to meet this man and how eventually when he did meet him, Branson had already received and read his book.

“As you run around trying to make other people successful, there are 100 other people trying to make you successful,” That’s the way it should be, he advises.

This DVD was very enlightening-especially on the art of networking and (from his presentation) there were lessons on how to be a great speaker. (necessary for Eudiah the performing poet).

I think that besides reading more on Keith’s website, I will try and get his book, ‘Never Eat Alone’ and his most recent ‘Who’s got your back?’

Some people I’ve talked to don’t like reading motivational or self-help books because they say ‘These books tell us stuff we already know.” Could be so, but then don’t they also bring out issues that we might have ignored or thought unnecessary? But for life enthusiasts, young entrepreneurs and ardent readers, every new book has something to teach us-even a new word or a new point of view is good enough.

A most interesting excerpt: ‘The story of the pencil’

February 28, 2010

The Story of the Pencil-From the book ‘Like the flowing river’ (thoughts and reflections)’ by Paulo Coelho.

I’d love to share this short brilliant piece found within its pages.

The story of the pencil

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. at one point, he asked:

‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’

His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to to her grandson;

‘I am writing about you, actually, but more important than words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. it didn’t seem very special.

‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’

‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.

‘First quality; You are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guidng your steps.We call that hand God, and he always guides us according to his will.

‘Second quality, now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. that makes the pencil suffer a little but afterwards, he’s much sharper. so you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.

‘Third quality; the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. this means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.

‘Fourth quality; what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. so always pay attention to what is happening inside you.

‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality; it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action.’



I AM MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER By Rosemary Kariuki Machua

July 10, 2009

33 years later, JM Kariuki’s daughter’s journal in a book

It wasn’t until I met Rosemary Kariuki Machua (JM Kariuki’s daughter) at the US Ambassador’s residence during a reception celebrating International Women’s Day that I thought about getting this book.

She was standing there dressed in a shimmering green outfit , animatedly talking to another equally well-dressed woman who I later came to learn was Sue Muraya, a brilliant fashion designer who said she had actually designed that very outfit that got Rosemary standing out from the crowd. I approached them and asked if i could take a photo of them -i later used it in a magazine. I was truly amazed at how well they responded but it wasn’t until i went ahead to jot down their names for the caption that she said her name and occupation-Author. knew there and then that this was the daughter who just recently launched a book.

Now, I had already received lots of messages about the book and the launch but I do not know why I never went out to get it. We exchanged contacts and I got the book the very next day.

I have been reading it in bits and pieces and you know what, I could easily read it again because some of the things she talks about are almost unbelievable especially towards the end.

One particular quote rings reasonable to me, that “My purpose is to share my story so that others may gain the courage to speak out theirs”, Rosemary says on page 108.

A couple of the people I discussed the book with did not understand why the book was centered on her-Rosemary, but I totally do. This is her journey, her search for understanding. See, here is a daughter who for years and years struggled to come to terms with who her father really was and why he had to die the way he did. Here is a daughter (and family) who feel betrayed by their own Kenya.

This story is more or less a journal and trail of experiences she has gone through since childhood. It brings us face to face with the situation of J.M. Karikuki’s unresoved murder, makes us question the injustices we have seen in the country over the years. Rosemary’s search is actually our nation’s search and who better to lead us through it than his own flesh and blood, his own daughter.

There is so much to learn about JM that newspapers or magazines wouldn’t have ever brought out-like small glimpses into who he was as a father and philanthropist-a human being. And yes, a couple of surprises about his relationship with Kenyatta, Kenya’s first President ; how boldly Rosemary admits, “The nature of the relationship between Kenyatta and my father was such that there was no way his cronies would have assassinated him without Kenyatta’s knowledge. I believe that Kenyatta was involved in the plot to some extent.”

I shed a couple of tears especially when she recalls the circumstances surrounding his death and thereafter when the family was having difficulties and there was no one (of his so called friends and family) to help because they thought (so did I) that JM was a millionaire.

Her story reminds us of what happened to JM and the fact that ‘History unresolved cannot be shelved’. Not that I have forgotten him. Hell NO! My family and I went in search of Ole Tunda and the site where his body was found all the way in Ngong Hills.

I just hope that the book serves its purpose:

a) To ensure justice prevails for JM and family (and the nation at large), though 33 years later, ‘m not sure how that will work.

b) This one has clearly been stated by Rosemary herself,“To share my story so that others may gain the courage to speak out theirs.”

This one I will attest to; This story has made me realize that one persons’ story could actually be an entire nation’s story. My passion to tell my story has also increased 5 ,or 10 fold, I think….


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