Posts Tagged ‘bananas

Finally back in ATL as of this morning. It’s always a rude awakening to come back here. The customs agents, airport staff and generally everyone at Atlanta Airport could use an attitude adjustment. I realize they’re probably tired of answering the same questions all the time, but you know what? It’s their job. Just f”ing do it and try not to be rude. It’s not like I’m thrilled about going through customs after a 20 hour flight, but I stay nice and keep smiling. [Update: If I’m going to bitch about the airport, I should also write something good too… On my way out of ATL, I realized I’d forgotten to mail some letters only after I’d already made it through security. The only post-office is before security, meaning I was going to have to exit out and re-do the whole thing. I was talking to one of the guards and he very nicely offered to take the mail for me on his way out after work. I wasn’t sure if I should leave it, one of the envelopes had a check in it and the other was my dad’s birthday card. But he seemed trust-worthy and I was being lazy (Surprise! me lazy!) so I said a very grateful thank you and left it with him. My dad let me a know a few days later he got his card, so he definitely kept his word. I didn’t want to JUST complain when there was someone who helped me out.)

Anyway, after my non-stop from South Africa, I took a banana off the flight, which was dumb. I just wasn’t thinking beyond the fact that I have no food in the house. So, when the agent asked if I had food, I honestly said, “yeah, but just the banana I got at breakfast on the plane.” I didn’t know that meant I had to go through the “goods to declare” line AND he didn’t bother to tell me.

So I head off in the “nothing to declare” line and of course I get the Indian guy. Who of course is condescending and dick. The first thing he does is make sure to pronounce my name just perfectly with a proper Indian accent. Yeah, we’re Indian. I get it. Then he asks: “So, what’d you buy?”  I told him the truth, which was just some jewelry. And he says, like he’s trying to trip me up, “So you have ivory?”  Um… no. What. The. Fuck. I know I gave him a look of  just complete annoyance.

Anyway, he sends me to the other line at this point. Ok, fine. So the guy there asks, “What food do you have?” and again, I say, it’s just the fruit they gave us on the plane. And he goes, “well, technically you’re breaking a quarantine law by having that.”

OK, here’s the problem. I didn’t get into it with him because I didn’t want to be hauled to jail, however, how does it make any logical sense that a banana and/or any other fruit (the people behind me had an apple) that was perfectly fine and edible in-flight magically becomes a lethal weapon once it’s on land? HOW? Again, I know he’s just doing his job but I wonder if they ever stop to think how stupid it is?? And I know there are probably sound agricultural reasons for this, but sometimes I also think that sweeping generalizations were made into laws so it’d be easier and nobody would have to use common sense. Ever.

I got to the next customs agent and we were just chatting and she told me that there is certain chocolate that’s not allowed in the States either. Kinder Eggs. I didn’t know this until this morning… she said it’s because they’re considered a choking hazard.

So, let me get this right. I can’t bring a banana off a plane because as soon as we got of said plane, it physically changed properties from a nutritious fruit to a possibly deadly carrier of disease and I can’t bring Kinder Eggs (which are freaking sold all over the place in duty-free) because the US government thinks I’m stupid enough to die from eating the non-candy part of candy….

Yeah… Welcome home.


Kenyan people are really nice and really chatty.  It makes for fun trips when you’re in the car for hours stuck in traffic and driving to clinic.

Yesterday, during lunch, the delivery person brought watermelon as dessert, which got one of our colleagues telling us about how watermelon is nature’s viagra. This led to some heated discussion on if this is true, and according to him, it very much is and eating too much watermelon can cause ‘twitching.’  We had the giggles all through lunch. But! Obviously, if nature creates a ‘pick-me-up’ it also has to have the opposite, right? Yin and yang…. so we then learned that papaya is the antidote as it’s a depressant! So apparently, if you don’t want any unintended twitching, you should always serve papaya and watermelon together. Which… gross.

Mind you, this was all in the same conversation as the world ending in 2012, UFOs landing in Kenya millions of years back and how we should have magnetic flying cars by now.  But for hours we discussed fruit and its effects on the male libido (male only, of course).  One of our other coworkers (we’ll call him E) quietly said, “Well, papaya’s out of my budget now.” And again, we all giggled and asked if it’d been replaced with watermelon. He said yes, but he didn’t want to eat anymore at that moment. (This entire conversation in the States would’ve ended with a sexual harassment lawsuit…)

We stopped at a true farmer’s market on the way back to Nairobi, where the women (and men) come running with their fruits and veggies to sell, right at your car, straight from the farms. We all decided we would not be buying any papaya that day, especially E. As he said, he “still needs a photocopy of myself” (i.e., he needs a child)…

Here’s the other thing I’ve learned in Kenya. People will throw their wares at you, hoping to trick you into buying them. This happened with the Masai women on our way into the Mara for safari: they leaned into the car, put bracelets on our wrists and then we got asked to pay for them. Um… no. It happened again at the market. I turned to look to the window and all of a sudden, E was just holding a single, random banana, looking around, trying to give it back to its rightful owner. But they didn’t want it! It was in his hands, so it was his… he just had to pay for it. Finally, the older woman took her banana back after he explained he had no need to buy that single one or the whole bunch. Have you ever watched someone try to find the owner of a lonely banana and people avoid eye contact so as not to admit it was their’s? I never thought I would… but I have now. Awesome.

Kenya makes me laugh, a lot. I love it here.

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