Fifteen Hours

Flying is generally messy. It’s like ordering a burger on a first date. Because then you have to open your mouth so wide there is a danger of your date seeing your epiglottis, which would be showing too much too soon. Flying is messy because you never know who you will sit next to; it’s not like in church where you can always move. In the plane you might sit next to someone who drinks throughout, which means you have to stand up and let him pass each time he has to go empty his bladder. Or (the worst), a person who hogs the armrest. Or a man who wants to hold your hand during take-off. Or an attractive woman who makes no sign, at all, of having acknowledged your presence as a living thing. Or someone who wants to talk and not stop until you either nod off or you start bleeding in the ears. If you are careless, like I am, you also have to know where your passport is at all times. And you have to remember to disembark with your Kindle, the loss of which, in my opinion, is almost as bad as losing your passport.

 

Food doesn’t taste good at 40,000 feet because your taste buds change at that altitude. I sleep fitfully during flights and during those intermittent periods I have short, snappy and bizarre dreams that I’m a drying plant. Or I’m enslaved in a small house in an open field in Athi River. Or I got a job in City Hall.

 

Flights are messy because you can never look out the window at passing trees and the landscape or wave back at a naked child holding a cob of roasted maize or stop to pee on a shrub and connect with mother earth. I also hate being confined in one space for more than an hour, knowing that I can’t leave until someone says on an intercom that I am ready to disembark.

 

So what was it like to be in a 15-hour non-stop flight to New York?

 

The beginning was great. There was a buzz. It felt like we were the chosen ones and we were going to heaven. It really did. It felt like all our sins were forgiven, every last one of them, everything we said on Twitter that the Lord wasn’t pleased with was forgiven and once we landed we would start afresh by avoiding apples. There had been traditional drummers and women dancing at the boarding gate to send us off to Kingdom Come. I had a window seat in economy towards the very end of the plane but then I looked at the middle second last row and saw it was empty so I changed seats because I planned to turn the two remaining seats into by own Business Class and stretch my legs out. That is until some Indian guy joined me and I was so pissed I wanted to pull the hair off his arms one by one. I had run the Stanchart half-marathon that morning and had planned to sleep through the flight. Nonetheless, there was great feeling of bonhomie in the plane. A rising hubbub of chatter and laughter as people looked at the gift hampers and fiddled with the inflight entertainment and removed their shoes and drank juice.   

 

Jeff Koinange’s voice came on the intercom to welcome everybody onboard in his dramatic fashion (“….direct from JKIA to JFK. I repeat, direct from JKIA to JFK. Ooooh my.”) Then Jeff’s Hair came on the intercom and said we had the pleasure of having Kenya’s second president on the inaugural flight after which the voice of Baba Moi (Nyambane) came on and made a few jokes to cheers and a smattering of claps, which illustrated many things to different people; nostalgia, patriotism, love or delayed Stockholm syndrome.

 

We were told the president and his VP were outside flagging the flight off. I didn’t see them because I was in the middle row devising violent ways in which I could reclaim my Business Class from the Indian guy. When the plane’s wheels left the runway there were cheers and I sat there thinking; wow, man has devised a way to keep this 227,000kg machine with over 220 people on board up in the air for 15 whole hours, yet this same man still gets killed by a mosquito!

 

The first few hours were great. We were headed towards West Africa. It was almost 11pm. Food was served. It was a new menu by Chef Kiran Jethwa (owner of Seven Seafood and Grill at ABC Place) who was seated across the aisle from me in the last seat, which he would turn into his own Business Class later on, much to my envy. The real Business Class had VIPs; CSs, ambassadors, CEOs etc.  The Indian guy was in an animated conversation with Susan Wong, who was seated in front of me. He was talking about taking some time off to visit his friends who own a house up in Long Island or something. Talking of Long, I wondered why Wong – my friend – would even be engaging him – the enemy. After dinner, guys started ordering drinks. Okay, some had already started ordering drinks before dinner but now it seemed like a good time to order more drinks. While up in the air, flying over Central Africa Republic or just getting into Cameroon airspace, it didn’t matter that it was early Monday morning. When you are up there, there is no day of the month, or time of day, for that matter. It’s just an open space that seems expunged of time or season. It’s just you in this formidable Dreamliner hurtling through a void of blackness.

 

Shoes off, I settled in to continue reading “Ali: A Life” By Jonathan Eig, Muhammad Ali’s biography.  It’s top-notch sportswriting. You will learn that contrary to what you know, Ali never threw away his Olympic Gold Medal in Ohio River after he was refused service in a “Whites-Only” restaurant because he was black. You will also learn that his grandfather was a slave. The book laid Ali bare, made him human, faulty. He was the greatest, as the world knew him, a good father but also one who was there intermittently, one who played with his children but got bored with the tedium of raising them and so left that task to his wives. He had a harem of women and never hid it from any of his wives. He made tons of money and lost tons of money. Then he made more. He was a great fighter but greatness outside the ring mostly came to him, it was thrust at him by his talent, obviously, but mostly by the time he lived in, that zeitgeist and by what he represented – a famous, cocky, outspoken, rich black man at a time when black men were not supposed to be famous, cocky, outspoken or rich. Above all he was a generous man, a big-hearted man, a man full of laughter, a man everybody loved; even the white men who at first hated him for being an “ungrateful nigga draft dodger” as I think president Reagan called him. Read it. You will learn something from it, be it on finances, fame, fatherhood, passion, ego or the downside of shagging girls and making many children with them across the countryside.

 

After midnight I wore my neck-pillow and nodded off.

 

I don’t know what time it was, but I must have stirred briefly to see the cabin crew serving mini burgers. I mentioned that I’m prone to weird dreams during flights, right? So I thought I was dreaming. Burgers in a plane? Have you ever woken up pressed and you stumble in darkness in the direction of the loo afraid to open your eyes should you completely lose your sleep? That’s what I felt, seeing them serving burgers, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t dreaming but I also didn’t want to lose my sleep over burgers. So I slept. I was later told that the burgers were to die for and I hoped they would serve them in Business Class when I flew back but they didn’t. So maybe I was dreaming.

 

Speaking of which, I have a friend who keeps saying that he has to save to fly Business Class one day. I told him not to bother because Business Class is a curse. I have been extremely lucky to have often flown Business Class for work. I could never afford it on my own. For my personal trips I fly Economy and I’m always miserable for it. KQ upgraded me on the flight back and the Dreamliner’s Business Class is luxury. They take your coat to hang. They call you by your name. In Business Class you are an individual, your are Mr Biko.  In economy, on the other hand, you are Seat 33D. There are hot towels in Business Class. Champagne. Whisky list. Assorted wines. A longer menu. Silver cutlery. Down the aisle they push a trolley full of newspapers, both local and foreign like New York Times, The FT, Time Magazine. The TV screens are bigger. You have your own armrest, so no need to start a fight with a stranger, which means the people in Business Class have a stable resting heart rate. But most importantly they have flat beds. I mean your seat goes all the way down – as flat as an envelope – and it turns into a bed. You sleep like you would at home. You sleep like it’s end month. On your seat is a vanity kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, combs, floss and other such tools of vanity.

 

And so Business Class will completely ruin you for Economy Class. I told my friend, “Once you fly Business you will never be happy in Economy because you will know what you are missing. But if you have never flown Business you will be at peace in Economy because ignorance is bliss. In fact, you will be happy to just be called sir, and not by your name. You will never know that somewhere in the plane someone is having a warm bun. So unless you have run into a big inheritance that will see you flying Business all the time, take it from me, stay in Economy, you will be grateful for it.” I have this analogy – do you know what the game rangers do to a lion that has tasted human flesh?

 

I woke up when we hit a small pocket of turbulence and the seatbelt sign came on. We were half way through the Atlantic Ocean according to the plane locator on the screen. I asked for water and ice. I asked the chap behind me if I could switch with him and stretch out because he was alone. He said we would take turns. So I went on the in-flight entertainment to pick a movie. If there were two things I could change in that KQ flight they would be (1) The in-flight entertainment. It wasn’t expansive enough for a long flight like that. For instance, I wanted to watch Empire but there were only two episodes so I didn’t because that’s like starting something that you won’t finish. Literally. I would have been excited to find something surprising, like the latest season of Atlanta. (2) The Indian guy. I’d make him evaporate and claim my throne in my Business Class and rule that kingdom until New York.

 

So I went back to my book. At this time most people were asleep. The lights were off. A few people used overhead lights to read. The plane hummed in silence. It felt like what it might feel like being in a submarine, but a submarine in the sky. Back in Nairobi it was getting to 8am while we were losing time by crossing time zones, our bodies trying to figure this change like a fish would try to chew gum and failing.

 

After an hour the gentleman behind me woke up, tapped me on the shoulder and we swapped seats. I stretched out on the  three seats and seduced sleep. I slept on and off, balancing on the edge, avoiding having my feet extend on the aisle on the other side, dreaming that my face had completely disappeared under my beard and nobody could recognise me, dreaming that I had forgotten my name.

 

I woke up to find most people awake and the lights bright in the plane. We had three hours to get to New York. There were groups of guys hanging around the gurney, glasses of alcohol in hand, chatting and laughing. The cabin crew were very friendly and helpful and engaging. They didn’t drink though, imagine if they had? They would even be more friendly and helpful and engaging.

 

Fifteen hours is a long time. In 15 hours people make friends. In 15 hours you are confined in the same space with these other people you start feeling like you are related. You start feeling like you are a family because you are all suspended above the earth’s surface. In 15 hours it doesn’t matter if you are Luo or Kikuyu or Kalenjin or Pokomo, you are people in a plane. You think a lot in 15 hours. You finish books in 15 hours.  In 15 hours you can start a relationship, have one fight and even decide you are going to get married. There are relationships that don’t last the time it takes the KQ flight to get to New York.

 

I went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth and freshened up then came back and started reading. Then I did interviews called Vox Pop. This is where you speak to people “randomly” about a particular issue.

 

So for example, a vox pop would go something like this.

 

“Sir, if you found yourself on a seat without any seatmates and you planned to stretch and sleep throughout the flight but some guy came and sat at the end of the seat, what would be the appropriate punishment for him?”

 

“Which media house did you say you represent again?”

 

“Uhm…I have a YouTube channel.”

 

“A Youtube channel?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“What do you channel?”

 

“YouTube, sir.”

 

“I’ve never heard of it.”

 

“Never heard of what, sir?”

 

“That thing.”

 

“Youtube? It’s a new thing.”

 

“New like Instagram?”

 

“Instagram is not new, sir.”

 

“Well, I don’t know if I’m the right person for you or this channel.”

 

“You are, sir. You have a strong square jaw, great for Youtube.”

 

“And where will you run this?”

 

[Sigh] “On my Youtube channel!”

 

“Will I at least read it before it runs?”

 

“LOL.”

 

(Isn’t it strange that this is how some young people speak nowadays? I was speaking with a lady not long ago, a face to face conversation like humans used to interact in the stone age, and I said something to which she said, “Lol”, to mean she was laughing, or rather she decided to abbreviate her laughter. I found that disturbing as hell. That now they are too busy to laugh, that they have to laugh in abbreviations. What is next, instead of shaking our heads will we instead say “SMH”?)

 

The whole plane erupted in applause when the wheels of the KQ bird touched down on the JFK runway, New York, on the cold October morning. It’s like how people clap in the movie when the hero (always American) saves the whole wide world (from bad terrorists with beards) and gets the girl (blonde) and together they walk, his hand draped around her shoulder, limping into the sunset to live a life of laughter and crepes every morning. If we had been asked to stand and sing the national anthem I’m pretty sure we would have, with our hearts both strong and true and firmly stand to defend in common bond united, like our anthem says. It was a special moment. A sense of pride, of achievement, even though one might have missed the famous burger.

 

As Kenyans we don’t get many chances to feel proud. Hang on, let me strike that and speak for myself. As a Kenyan I never get many instances where I’m mighty proud of being Kenyan. I can count the instances on one hand. Mostly they involve athletics, our marathoners, and how when they win they all stand on the podium, position one, two and three, and they glisten with blackness and triumph and the anthem is played and everybody cheers them. That feeling is better than eating a pawpaw. The other is seeing a KQ plane in a foreign airport amongst other airlines, looking sexy with a white, black, green and red tail.  It’s nostalgic. It feels safe. Familiar. It’s like seeing a family member on foreign soil. You feel nothing can go wrong. You know they can never turn their backs on you should shit hit the fan, because they are Kenyan and you are Kenyan.

 

The other time I felt patriotic was in 2014 when we went to receive the Dreamliner for the first time and I was part of the media group that were driven all the way into the runway, the parts where nobody goes and the cameramen set up their forest of cameras on long tripods on the grass patch. We had downloaded this aviation app that had been monitoring the plane’s progress by the second and we sat there and waited in the sun without complaining.

 

It was one of those days that the blue sky was bruised in areas with big, fluffy white clouds. We milled around and five minutes to touch down we stood and waited, the cameramen powering their cameras. Suddenly we saw a glimmer in the sun and we saw her; our first ever Dreamliner; Boeing 787-8.

 

Never mind that we weren’t the first African airline to own one, because Ethiopian airline had beaten us to it two years earlier. Never mind that KQ was the punching bag we liked to sucker punch (often deservedly), the one we give grief, online. Never mind that it was costing them Sh 11 billion, even at a time when they were on the ropes. Never mind all that. Nobody at that airport did.  What mattered was that it was here and we were there and we were swelling with pride as Kenyans and this gorgeous plane was a part of our family and in our family we might fight and not even like each other often but sometimes we sit down and remember that we are family.

 

We watched her glide slowly towards us, the cameramen peering at her through their camera lenses. She was like a big bird that could take instructions. A bird everybody wanted to have perched on their shoulder. And she was our bird. I don’t care for planes but when it got closer I marveled at how new it was. How it shone like a new shilling. How sexily her nose was shaped. A nose you playfully wanted to rub your own nose against. Its wings bent slightly towards the tip in a show of engineering magnificence. It’s body streamlined and curved, built as a show of modern aeronautics, yes, but also built for seduction. It’s underbelly was a pristine white, the underbelly of a newborn sulphur-crested cockatoo. Thunderously but elegantly it lowered itself towards the runaway, it’s wheels ready to kiss its new home in a squealing screech. It was the most grace I had seen on a plane. It seemed to know that and also seemed to know that we had been waiting hours on that tarmac for her. It seemed to know that even the president was waiting for her. And when it touched down after 15 hours in the air, the traditional dancers leaping and beating drums and swirling their sisal skirts and finally the doors opened and out came a man – I don’t remember who now – carrying a long pole with the Kenyan flag attached, the whole place erupted in song and dance and pomp and cheer and ululation. What a spectacle. Boy, you had to be there to feel it.

 

Everybody was happy to finally be in the Big Apple. I thought I’d suffer through that long flight but I didn’t. It was a decent and fun flight.

 

***

KQ put us up in one of the best hotels in the city, The Marriot Marqui right in the heart of New York. My room, on the 28th floor, directly overlooked Times Square. At night I had to shut the curtains tight to lock out the bright lights of consumerism flashing on the massive billboards right outside my window. America, New York to be precise, always seemed to want you to buy something from her; a gadget, a holiday, an airline ticket, a drink, a shoe, a dream. New York wants to take and take and take. It wants your attention, your money, your time, your imagination, your passion, your heart. It’s a hungry city with hungry people. In return it leaves you with an impression that you want more, that you deserve more.

 

There are two apps that I found very useful while in New York that can be useful for folk who are travelling abroad and for guys in diaspora.

 

HERE WeGo App

Very cool app. Unless you are Uhuru Kenyatta, nobody roams abroad. Which means once you leave your hotel you fall off the grid. Google Maps don’t work. Which means you get on wrong trains and you get lost. Then you have to ask a Syrian who sells mushkakis on the streets and speaks a smattering of English where Penn Station is. With this app you simply input your destination and it gives you directions that you can use offline. This was my most trusted companion in New York. It was precise in time and distance and location. If you have this app you never have to ask for directions.

 

Rapidtransfer App>> http://bit.ly/2JPoatC

Someone in diaspora introduced me to this app. Mpesa obviously doesn’t work abroad, but you can send money back home through Rapidtransfer. You can send it as Mpesa or Airtel Money. Great for sending money for cement when you are building back home or money for school fees and such like things.

 

***

 

It’s from my room on the 28th floor that I waited for my message. I would leave the hotel and when I get back I’d call the reception and ask, “Hi, any messages for me?”

 

“No, sir. Not yet.”

 

“Are you certain?”

 

“Yes, Mr Beeku.”

 

“It’s Biko….B.I.K.O”

 

“Sorry, sir. I see from our system that you have asked for the urgent message to be communicated to you immediately. We will when it comes in.”

 

“Of course, of course. It’s just that it should have come by now. I just want to make sure that it’s not mixed up with other messages or it’s forgotten or sent to the wrong room.”

 

“No, nothing like that will happen. It shall be delivered to you as soon as it comes in. May I ask the nature of this message or from whom you expect it from?”

 

“Well, uhm, Toni.”

 

“Oh okay, is there a second name?”

 

“Toni Braxton.”

 

Pause.

 

“Might this be Toni Braxton the singer?”

 

“There can only be one Toni.”

 

“Oh. Well all right, sir. Does she know you are staying with us?”

 

“She should. She does.”

 

Pause.

 

“Toni Braxton, you said.”

 

“Yes.”

 

[Pause]

 

“Is she not married, sir?”

 

“Who told you that?”

 

“No, I meant – “

 

“It’s an open relationship. She’s been waiting for real love. Besides now that I’m here she might -”

 

“I don’t think Birdman will be happy, sir. He looks like -”

 

“He looks like a bird and where I come from we eat birds.”

 

Pause.

 

“Well. Uhm, anything else you would like, sir?”

 

“No. Just Toni.”

 

**

The registration for the writing masterclass is still on. Please email to info@199.192.19.46 to lock down a slot.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

113 Comments
  1. Biko, we do say smh in actual conversations. Of course we’re too busy. We don’t want the latest tweet or latest Instagram post to pass us by. God forbid you talk 2 more minutes when I could be using that time to be on my phone.

    Economy it is Biko, we shall stick to our lanes. But a little luxury never hurt anyone, should we be lucky to be farming eggplants that have returns of millions of shillings. This should make it to your patriotism wall actually. For a country that maize farmers complain of poverty, when they farm the staple food, cucumbers and eggplants are fetching other people millions, interesting times.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip, low-key wondering if reality hit you that you’re just like the rest of us when you came back from your heaven-bound trip.

    I’m getting that Mohammed Ali book right now!!!

    36
  2. Lol!!!

    Funny thing, I wanted to submit LOL as a comment but turns out it’s not long enough of a comment and doesn’t deserve to be submitted.

    The internet is a strange thing sometimes but oh well, Stange times are here

    11
    1. Jooooy!! Finally found someone that I know on this lane, Kate K here from YAI, the internet it sure is a strange thing at times

      1
  3. Reading that, imagining what I miss because I have never been on a plane. Biko you have seen life, and those places you go we can only dream about. Someday we will go to Ibiza and the world will know. Or Palawan. Or Mombasa, still.
    Our athletes are the only source of pride I have ever felt as a Kenyan.

    I hope Toni calls you, or leaves a message. Thank you for making me feel poor.

    23
  4. “Is she not married, sir?”

    “Who told you that?”

    “No, I meant – “

    “It’s an open relationship. She’s been waiting for real love. Besides now that I’m here she might -”

    “I don’t think Birdman will be happy, sir. He looks like -”

    “He looks like a bird and where I come from we eat birds.”

    12
  5. This is a more than fair documentation of this infamous flight. In fact I now feel like I have traveled to New York via KQ on both business and economy class. I even have a beef with an Indian guy. And I’m not sure how I feel about missing the burgers. But in all honesty I don’t like burgers that much.

    I hope I get to make this flight as a tourist some time.

    Can I also say 15 hrs may be enough to strangle someone that won’t shut up?

    44
  6. Wow, Biko, this is good…really good, loved every bit, I am here laughing in the office and my workmates think I am going crazy…The things you make us do…

    3
  7. Great read

    “Is she not married, sir?”

    “Who told you that?”

    “No, I meant – “

    “It’s an open relationship. She’s been waiting for real love. Besides now that I’m here she might -”

    “I don’t think Birdman will be happy, sir. He looks like -”

    “He looks like a bird and where I come from we eat birds.”

    Biko, ukiendelea hivi, you wil not see heaven.

    11
  8. I beg to add one other moment of pride. That day we hammered the Ethiopian football team at Kasarani Stadium. I could clear Kenya’s debt to China if I had my chequebook.

    Toni hasn’t called yet? Do we need to speak to Birdman for you?

    28
  9. Oh Biko… This piece is just a MOAB(Mother of all Bombs). Really loved it. Had me laughing my ass off.. And the way you described that 787-8 in there had me too excited for a second… I’m a plane fanatic… Wanted to do aeronautical engineering after high school but my folks were just like, “Sit your ass down. Don’t you see we’re flying economy in this life plane and here you are wanting to do courses in first class,” and yadda-yadda. So I settled for Computer Science..And here I am.. 26 yrs of age.. Never been on a plane but at least I’m working my hat off and saving for that first class course someday. Thanks for the experience shared. This piece will go down as one of my all time favourites… Coming from a silent fan over the years since 2014.. I rarely comment but this piece… Oooh my (Jeff’s Voice Over)

    73
    1. i’m 26 too but never been on a plane. I must pay for my mother, my daughter and I very soon to travel on a plane in 2019, at least just to Mombasa. I’m working my ass off too(I pray it doesn’t go away though)

      2
  10. …..man has devised a way to keep this 227,000kg machine with over 220 people on board up in the air for 15 whole hours, yet this same man still gets killed by a mosquito! I think about this every single time i fly.. i marvel at the human mind – the leaps we have made but also the journey we still have to complete. We somehow managed to get a bus airborne but never figured out how to prevent airborne diseases.

    14
  11. What a story! My oh my! …felt like I was with you Biko, just seated at the end of the very last row. Then I remembered that on that very day when the sexy bird with a sexy nose lifted its broad wings off JKIA, I was in shags roasting maize late in the night.

    2
  12. I like your writing, have read your blog for more than 6 years. I think feedback is great especially if it can help improve. Sometimes I struggle to read your post, today’s is one and it comes across as though it was hard to write and it’s a Tuesday is here with us kinda read. Back in the day I laughed at every single post and all my friends read you. Get back some of that juice. Keep writing.

    24
    1. I miss that juice too. I remember this one article he wrote a few years back about mother’s union, it really cracked me up, that’s when I fell for Biko’s writing. These days, I only come back to chase that high he used to give me with his words. This article tried, but I miss Biko wa kitambo.

      12
    2. I totally concur. Remember the article ‘3 AM Man’ ? That was some writing! Though thank you Biko for being consistent over the years

      4
      1. Yesssssssss …. That’s my favorite post of all time. Not only on his blog, but on any blog. After that post and some like that, I consciously began to keep my expectations tamed to an open minded sort of state, and embrace whatever post came my way without feeling the urge to sigh with nostalgia from ‘back in the day’ type of writing. After all, he is only human, and humans move on to the next stage. So that’s what I tell myself; that is was a stage his writing.

        1. That then means he was his best when he started the blog, it was funny and that stage was most entertaining for me. He writes well, though he was funnier in the early posts.

          2
  13. Great read or should i say great and hilarious read. Biko on thing is for sure, mosquitoes are here to stay the same as cholera. Wanting to make big changes without considering this small changes that prove deadly in the wrong run.

    With this new generation, its time you blend in and go with the flow. They say if you can’t beat them join them. Am just curious if there is any good you have captured from them. Something to take home. Ha!

    Lastly am glad you were part of the team that represented us to our first direct flight to New York. Who else but Biko to deliver such a nice master piece. Almost felt like I was there.

    Coming to think of it , does history change in books and in our schools? Do they? Surely does such a milestone pass us by or its never that serious.

    1
  14. Pwahahaha..Toni should just respond, now that New York is just but 15 hours away.

    Apparently, there was a maiden KQ flight in the opposite direction..from NY to NRB, and KQ sponsored a couple white influencers/travel bloggers for that flight. You bet the African American influencers threw a fit, stating how there’s a lack of diversity and each time some big promotion is to be had, they are ignored.
    Being the patriotic Kenyan, the type that says “Yes my circus, yes my monkeys,” I covered a wee bit for KQ stating that on the maiden NRB to NY flight, KQ did their best by putting Kenyan media/influencers on that flight. I hope KQ will remember me when they are doling out upgrades.

    I think it is very possible to go on Business Class without having the dough. But it takes work and oodles of time.
    One just has to master the fine print of travel and credit card loyalty programmes. Study the point system, do all your shopping on some of these cards to earn points or air miles. In short, be a travel hacker (not the nefarious criminal type..no….just the type that is aware of the system and plays by the rules, and pays their credit card bills on time.)
    As well, travel frequently..cheaply..sites such as secretflying.com can be useful in this regard.

    8
  15. I said something to which she said, “Lol”, to mean she was laughing, or rather she decided to abbreviate her laughter. I found that disturbing as hell. That now they are too busy to laugh, that they have to laugh in abbreviations. ..hahaha

    Lol….

    1
  16. You should have met Toni and the receptionist was very kind… . felt like i was on the plane myself, so many ways i would have rid myself of the Indian. Beautiful read.

    1
  17. ……………….and in our family we might fight and not even like each other often but sometimes we sit down and remember that we are family.

    This is true. May we all remember this.

    1
  18. …..seeing a KQ plane in a foreign airport amongst other airlines, looking sexy with a white, black, green and red tail. It’s nostalgic. It feels safe. Familiar.
    This so true… I once saw a KQ plane amongst other airlines in Abidjan and although I was not traveling to Kenya, it felt nostalgic. I restrained the urge to point at it and say…..”that is Kenya Airways and I am a Kenyan.”

    3
    1. Yes Akelo. I have had I pleasure of being the only black woman in a huge international airport. Nothing can beat that feeling. Nothing.

      1
  19. your love for Toni is epic.. then this.. where i come from we eat birds. Birdman, its the man suffix that saves you.

    Biko, where did the 40s go? I miss those.. I sure loved the insights. Bring them back please.

    3
  20. well its about time i travelled on one… Ever since that Malaysia plane that disappeared in the Bermuda triangle i have always been paranoid about flying..

  21. You took me on this journey with you. My curiosity is quenched and aroused in equal measure.. Now I know the dreamliner. I will make that flight soon…business class, not economy. Because I want to experience the drinks, food, sleep and hear my name and not 313A.
    Your description of the Boeing is so from the heart I could feel it, because that is how I feel when watching our athletes…its such a moment of pride for me. They make me feel so proud being Kenyan, my heart swells with joy, I don’t think I celebrate them enough. Bravo to our elite brothers and sisters.

    As always keep your kindle close. Nice read.

  22. Oh Biko how i miss my flying days, your description of the plane and how people behave is absolutely true and i couldn’t help laughing out so loud in the office. you are such a bomb and a great writer thanks for the write up.
    by the way i ordered for some green tea when can i get it? am far away in Ghana.

    1
  23. Nice read as always. Im spreading the word here in west Africa guys are getting to read your blog and appreciate it.
    The Toni Braxton part though.. didnt see it coming it cracked me up.

    1
  24. Laughed and laughed and laughed out loud at this one! And no, I did not say ‘lol’. I actually did. I actually laughed out loud.

    You outdid yourself on this one, Biko. In my humble opinion.

    This one I will read (and laugh out loud at), again and again.

    Well done

    1
  25. I love your writing Chocolate man. Thank you for the laughs and I am off to get Ali’s book. Do let us know if Toni ever did come by. Hugs to your Indian friend. Loool!!!

  26. I have to confess as I was reading the article, all I was looking out for was the Toni part. Great article as always. Your words are addictive. The way you use them paints vivid mental pictures in full color. Thanks for my weekly fix. I didn’t know why guys were so obsessive and clanish…now that I am card carrying member. I gerrit.

  27. I was speaking with a lady not long ago, a face to face conversation like humans used to interact in the stone age, and I said something to which she said, “Lol”, to mean she was laughing, or rather she decided to abbreviate her laughter. I found that disturbing as hell. That now they are too busy to laugh, that they have to laugh in abbreviations. What is next, instead of shaking our heads will we instead say “SMH”?)

    Biko i swear this is me. Tempted to type/say it cause ive been laughing while reading your articles since 8 when I got in the office. But since ive never met you leave alone ave a conversation with you I know we must be many..PS I hope My boss is not a “biko” cause otherwise i’m screwed. Great article!!! and hilarious men.

  28. Mmm i am done hoping that one day il be on the other side of the curtain unless its something i can sustain untill i die. Biko you have killed that dream of mine slowly and nicely. I would never want to be miserable in economy coz i can never afford business every time i travel. Its a beutiful article.

  29. “wow, man has devised a way to keep this 227,000kg machine with over 220 people on board up in the air for 15 whole hours, yet this same man still gets killed by a mosquito!”…hilarious

  30. Catching up on all the articles I hadn’t read the past two months was the highlight of my leave during this festive season..this article left me in tears….wah,have been bursting out loudly anytime I recall your conversation about Toni….long live Biko!