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Of Soul-Homes, Sky-Temples and Safaris: Part 5 – Kenya

Of Soul-Homes, Sky-Temples and Safaris: Part 5

Kenya

Parting Thoughts

Me the beach by our hotel in Mombasa
Me the beach by our hotel in Mombasa
I was sad to go back. Masai Mara had been truly breathtaking. I had never before known the beauty of sheer expanse – trees were beautiful, forests were beautiful, and mountains, and lakes – but the beauty of the desert, the beauty of the savannah, of the prairie, of a faultless, sparkling, everlasting blue sky – beauty that is immeasurable – that beauty is truly sublime. I still yearn for that sky, for that air, for that world where man did not fear beast, and beast did not fear man, but every creature played its part in the great unfolding everlasting tale that is nature.

There are few places in the world where one feels genuinely happy, happy within. Mecca was one of those places; Saif-ul-Malook in Pakistan, and Masai Mara were others, and Mombasa, though very very lovely, was not – at least not for me. The beach was truly idyllic – powdery-white sands, balmy blue waters, plush green palm trees – and the White Sands hotel was truly honeymooner-heaven, with its spas and saunas and bars and nightclubs and white-curtained bay-windows. Mombasa was, overall, a rather merry little place, as all port-towns are apt to be, and the old Muslim quarter was just charming – it reminded me very much of the Walled City back in Lahore. Arab traders founded the island-city in the 11th century, and in 1698 Muslims from Oman won it back from the Portuguese after two centuries of abrasive Portuguese rule (incidentally, the famous Portuguese-built Fort Jesus isn’t that great at all – at least not after you’ve seen the Mughal forts of Lahore and Delhi!). The area was taken over by the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1840, and finally came under the control of the British in 1898, who made it the capital of their East Africa protectorate.

White Sands, Mombasa
White Sands, Mombasa
Not surprisingly, 70% of the population of Mombasa is Muslim, and it was here that I heard the azaan after a very long time. Some interesting trivia – the Swahili language derives from a mixture of native African Bantu and Arabic, which is why even today Swahili is strewn with Arabic terms – the word ‘Swahili’ itself is originally ‘sawahil’ in Arabic, plural of ‘sahil’, which means coast, and the word ‘safari’ is a variation of the Arabic word ‘safar’, which means journey.

I don’t know what you’d think, but I generally found the place too touristy for my liking. A great holiday spot for most people, I’m sure, but I’d much rather live two weeks in a tree-house in Samburu, or camp out at Fig Tree and see the leopards by night, or trek up to tiger-haven Rathangore in India, or to Kanchanaburi in Thailand and visit the fabled temple of the tigers (oh dream!).

Beautiful Kenya
Beautiful Kenya
Never underestimate the power of dreams, though. I may be just 20 and not very ‘experienced’ or ‘wise’ in the usual sense of the words, but that is a lesson you can never be too young to appreciate. My mother dreamt of the trip to Kenya, originally, when she was just 12 years old – and it happened (in its own time, but well enough). I dreamt of many other things for this trip, and they all came true (later on, in America!). I can’t tell you about that here, but let’s just say, Paulo Coehlo hit upon an elemental law when he said, “If you want something passionately, the whole of the Universe conspires to help you achieve it”.

If you want to get out, you will, if you want to be free, you will, if you want to hear, smell, feel, touch, understand, see the jungles for yourself – you will!

You just have to want it passionately enough. Leave the rest to the universe.

Now get your bum off that sofa and go see the world!

Kwaheri, na safari njema! (Farewell, and bon voyage!)

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