The nolstagia of decades past

T

Growing up the only means of audio long distance communication in my village was using one of two telecom calling booths. I remember my mum always sending me to deliver messages to my uncle in Nyeri town. The huge five bob coin “King’ori” was usually sufficient. My favourite one was situated next to the most popular shop in the village ,Ha-Kimani. Calling back then was a complicated affair. You needed to make atleast 2 calls and spend several coins. The first one you called the booth nearest to whoever you were calling. The hard part was to hope sure whoever picked the call at the booth knew who you were calling.In this case ,the booth in town I’d be calling was next to a popular pub that my uncle frequented severally every day such that all I had to do was to request for the bartender to whichever stranger picked up the call .I’d add another king’ori if it started beeping as I waited for the bartender.I’d then tell her I had a message for Rambo, who she would immediately recognize and you can guess why from the nickname. If the message was crucial I’d request for him to be summoned then cut the call and hang around the booth waiting for him to call. He would eventually call and I’d pick up. Relay the message as quick as possible then hang up,if more feedback was expected we would schedule another call,of which WaKimani would usually receive and have someone summon me.Such was the nature of calls and we still remarked in delight “ciokire guteithia tamaka” whenever the topic of how convenient calling come up.Telecom was a huge government monopoly and every day more and more booths were added.We couldn’t imagine the situation getting better other than this. Owe to you if a storm started before you made your call,during the rainy season though. Usually one of two things happened in such cases. Either electricity was cut off or the phone lines were cut off usually from trees or tree branches falling on them or short circuiting in both cases it would take days before proper communication was restored. Those were the days man.We would shout for joy when “Adu a power” would save the day restoring electricity and communication to our lives. Now I stumble across rare washed up and forgotten booths in town and shout for joy at the nostalgia of decades past.

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