Archive for April, 2011


out of africa – 5

The Native mind works in strange ways, and is related to the mind of bygone people, who naturally imagined
that Odin, so as to see through the whole world, gave away one of his eyes; and who figured the God of love as a
child, ignorant of love. It is likely that the Kikuyu of the farm saw my greatness as a judge in the fact that I knew
nothing whatever of the laws according to which I judged.

Because of their gift for myths, the Natives can also do things to you against which you cannot guard yourself
and from which you cannot escape. They can turn you into a symbol. I was well aware of the process, and for my
own use I had a word for it,–in my mind I called it that they were brass serpenting me. Europeans who have lived
for a long time with Natives, will understand what I mean, even if the word is not quite correctly used according
to the Bible. I believe that in spite of all our activities in the land, of the scientific and mechanical progress there,
and of Pax Britannica itself, this is the only practical use that the Natives have ever had out of us.

 The Somali town lay exposed to all winds and   was shadeless and dusty, it must have recalled to the Somali their native deserts. Europeans, who live for a long
time, even for several generations, in the same place, cannot reconcile themselves to the complete indifference to the surroundings of their homes, of the nomadic races. The Somali’s houses were irregularly strewn on the bare ground, and looked as if they had been nailed together with a bushel of four inch nails, to last for a week. It was a
surprising thing, when you entered one of them, to find it inside so neat and fresh, scented with Arab incenses, with fine carpets and hangings, vessels of brass and silver, and swords with ivory hilts and noble blades. The Somali women themselves had dignified, gentle ways, and were hospitable and gay, with a laughter like silver bells. I was much at home in the Somali village through my Somali servant Farah Aden, who was with me all the
time that I was in Africa, and I went to many of their feasts. A big Somali wedding is a magnificent, traditional festivity. As a guest of honour I was taken into the bridal chamber, where the walls and the bridal bed were hung with old gently glowing weavings and embroideries, and the dark eyed young bride herself was stiff, like a marshal’s baton with heavy silks, gold and amber.

The Indians of Nairobi dominated the big Native business quarter of the Bazaar, and the great Indian merchants
had their little Villas just outside the town; Jevanjee, Suleiman Virjee, Allidina Visram. They all had a taste for
stonework stairs, balusters, and vases, rather badly cut out of the soft stone of the country,–like the structures
which children build of pink ornamental bricks. They gave tea parties in their gardens, with Indian pastry in the
style of the Villas, and were clever, travelled, highly polite people. But the Indians in Africa are such grasping
tradesmen that with them you would never know if you were face to face with a human individual or with the
head of a firm.

An African Native Forest is a mysterious region. You ride into the depths of an old tapestry, in places faded and
in others darkened with age, but marvellously rich in green shades. You cannot see the sky at all in there, but the  sunlight plays in many strange ways, falling through the foliage. The grey fungus, like long drooping beards, on
the trees, and the creepers hanging down everywhere, give a secretive, recondite air to the Native forest. I used to ride here with Farah on Sundays, when there was nothing to do on the farm, up and down the slopes, and across the little winding forest streams. The air in the forest was cool like water, and filled with the scent of plants, and in the beginning of the long rains when the creepers flowered, you rode through sphere after sphere of fragrance.
One kind of African Daphne of the woods, which flowers with a small cream coloured sticky blossom, had an
overwhelming sweet perfume, like lilac, and wild lily of the valley. Here and there, hollow tree stems were hung
up in ropes of hide on a branch; the Kikuyu hung them there to make the bees build in them, and to get honey.
Once as we turned a corner in the forest, we saw a leopard sitting on the road, a tapestry animal.

Here, high above the ground, lived a garrulous restless nation, the little grey monkeys. Where a pack of monkeys
had travelled over the road, the smell of them lingered for a long time in the air, a dry and stale, mousy smell. As
you rode on you would suddenly hear the rush and whizz over your head, as the colony passed along on its own
ways. If you kept still in the same place for some time you might catch sight of one of the monkeys sitting
immovable in a tree, and, a little after, discover that the whole forest round you was alive with his family, placed
like fruits on the branches, grey or dark figures according to how the sunlight fell on them, all with their long
tails hanging down behind them. They gave out a peculiar sound, like a smacking kiss with a little cough to
follow it; if from the ground you imitated it, you saw the monkeys turn their heads from one side to the other in
an affected manner, but if you made a sudden movement they were all off in a second, and you could follow the
decreasing swash as they clove the treetops, and disappeared in the wood like a shoal of fishes in the waves.

A few miles out, in the Masai Reserve, the Zebra are now changing their pasture, the flocks wander over the grey

plain like lighter stripes upon it, theBuffaloare out grazing on the long slopes of the Hills. My young men of the

farm would come by, two or three together, walking one after the other like narrow dark shadows on the lawn,

they were afoot and aiming straight at their own object, they were not working for me, and it was none of my

concern. They themselves accentuated the position by just slackening their pace as they caught sight of my

burning cigarette end outside the house, and saluting without stopping.

There is something strangely determinate and fatal about a single shot in the night. It is as if someone had cried a

message to you in one word, and would not repeat it. I stood for some time wondering what it had meant.

Nobody could aim at anything at this hour, and, to scare away something, a person would fire two shots or more.

Outside was my mill manager, wild eyed and sweating in the lamplight. His name

was Belknap, he was an American and an exceptionally capable, inspired mechanic, but of an uneven mind. With

him things were either nearing the Millennium, or dark without a glimpse of hope. When he first came into my

employ he had upset me by his varying views of life, and of prospects and conditions of the farm, as if he had

had me up in an enormous mental swing; later I had got used to them. These ups and downs were no more than a

kind of emotional daily gymnastics to a lively temperament, much in need of exercise, and to which too little was

happening; it is a common phenomenon with energetic young white men inAfrica, particularly with those who

have spent their early life in towns. But here he came out of the hands of a tragedy, and was as yet undecided as

to whether he should satiate his hungry soul by making the most of it, or

escape from its grimness by making as little of it as possible, and in this dilemma he looked like a very young

boy running for his life to announce a catastrophe; he stuttered as he spoke. In the end he made very little of it,

for it held no part in it for him to play, and fate had let him down once more.

At that time I had an oldOverlandcar. I shall never write anything against her, for she served me well through

many years. But it was rare that she could be induced to run on more than two cylinders. Her lights were out of

order too, so that I used to drive in to dances at the Muthaiga Club with a hurricane lamp swaddled in a red silk

handkerchief, for a back light.

A Kyama is an assembly of the Elders of a farm, which is authorized by the Government to settle the local

differences amongst the Squatters. The members of the Kyama gather round a crime, or an accident, and will sit

over it for many weeks, battening upon mutton, talk, and disaster. I knew that now the old men would want to

talk the whole matter over with me, and also that they would, if they could, in the end make me come into their

court to give the final judgment in the case. I did not want to take up an endless discussion of the tragedy of the

night, at this moment, and sent for my horse to get out and away from them.

I rode into the Masai Reserve. I had to cross the river to get there; riding on, I got into the Game Reserve in a

quarter of an hour. It had taken me some time, while I had lived on the farm, to find a place where I could get

over the river on horseback: the descent was stony, and the slope up the other side very steep, but “once in,–how

the delighted spirit pants for joy.”Here lay before you a hundred miles’ gallop over grass and open undulating land; there was not a fence nor a ditch, and no road. There was no human habitation except the Masai villages, and those were deserted half the  year, when the great wanderers took themselves and their herds off to other pastures. There were low thorn trees regularly spread over the plain, and long deep valleys with dry riverbeds of big flat stones, where you had to find a deer path here and there to take you across. After a little while you became aware of how still it was out here.

Now, looking back on my life inAfrica, I feel that it might altogether be described as the existence of a person  who had come from a rushed and noisy world, into a still country.

A little before the rains, the Masai burn off the old dry grass, and while the plains are thus lying black and waste  they are unpleasant to travel on: you will get the black charred dust, which the hoofs of your horse raise, all over  you and into your eyes, and the burnt grass stalks are sharp as glass; your dogs get their feet cut on them. But  when the rains come, and the young green grass is fresh on the plains, you feel as if riding upon springs, and the  horse gets a little mad with the pleasantness. The various kinds of gazelles come to the green places to graze, and  there look like toy animals stood upon a billiard table. You may ride into a herd of Eland; the mighty peaceful  beasts will let you get close to them before they start trotting off, their long horns streaming backwards over their  raised necks, the large loose flaps of breastskin, that make them look square, swaying as they jog. They seem to  have come out of an old Egyptian epitaph, but there they have been ploughing the fields, which gives them a  familiar and domesticated air. The Giraffe keep farther away in the Reserve.

At times, in the first month of the rains, a sort of wild white fragrant Pink flowers so richly all over the Reserve  that at a distance the plains look patched with snow.    

As I knew nothing of their laws the figure that I cut at these great courts of justice would often be that of a Prima  donna who does not remember a word of her part and has to be prompted through it by the rest of the cast. This  task my old men took upon themselves with tact and patience. It would also at times be the figure of an affronted   Prima donna who is shocked by her role and, refusing to go on with it, walks off the stage. When this happened,  my audience took it as a hard blow from the hand of destiny, an act of God outside their understanding; they  looked on it in silence and spat. The ideas of justice of Europe andAfricaare not the same and those of the one world are unbearable to the other.

To the African there is but one way of counterbalancing the catastrophes of existence, it shall be done by replacement; he does not look for the motive of an action. Whether you lie in wait for your enemy and cut his throat in the dark; or you fell a tree, and a thoughtless stranger passes by and is killed: so far as punishment goes,  to the Native mind, it is the same thing. A loss has been brought upon the community and must be made up for,  somewhere, by somebody. The Native will not give time or thought to the weighing up of guilt or desert: either  he fears that this may lead him too far, or he reasons that such things are no concern of his. But he will devote

himself, in endless speculations, to the method by which crime or disaster shall be weighed up in sheep and  goats,–time does not count to him; he leads you solemnly into a sacred maze of sophistry. In those days this went against my ideas of justice. All Africans are the same in these rites. The Somali have a very different mentality from the Kikuyu and a deep contempt for them, but they will sit down in identical manner to weigh up murder, rape, or fraud against their  stock at home in Somaliland,–dearly beloved she camels, and horses, the names and pedigree of which are  written in their hearts.

People who  dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom. It is not the freedom of the dictator, who enforces his own will on the world, but the freedom of the artist, who has no will, who is free of will. The pleasure of the true dreamer does not lie in the substance of the dream, but in this: that there things happen without any interference from his side, and altogether outside his control. Great landscapes create themselves, long splendid views, rich and delicate colours, roads, houses, which he has never seen or heard of. Strangers appear and are friends or enemies, although the person who dreams has never done anything about them. The ideas of flight and pursuit are recurrent in dreams and are equally enrapturing. Excellent witty things are said by everybody. It is true that if remembered in the daytime they will fade and lose their sense, because they belong to a different plane, but as soon as the one eams lies down at night, the current is again closed and he remembers their excellency. All the  time the feeling of immense freedom is surrounding him and running through him like air and light, an unearthly bliss. He is a privileged person, the one who has got nothing to do, but for whose enrichment and pleasure all things are brought together; the Kings of Tarshish shall bring gifts. He takes part in a great battle or ball, and wonders the while that he should be, in the midst of those events, so far privileged as to be lying down. It is when one begins to lose the consciousness of freedom, and when the idea of necessity enters the world at all,
when there is any hurry or strain anywhere, a letter to be written or a train to catch, when you have got to work, to make the horses of the dream gallop, or to make the rifles go off, that the dream is declining, and turning into the nightmare, which belongs to the poorest and most vulgar class of dreams.

The thing which in the waking world comes nearest to a dream is night in a big town, where nobody knows one,  or the African night. There too is infinite freedom: it is there that things are going on, destinies are made round you, there is activity to all sides, and it is none of your concern.

OUT OF AFRICA -3

The Kikuyu are adjusted

for   the unforeseen and accustomed to

the unexpected. Here they differ from the

white men, of whom the majority strive to

 insure themselves against the unknown

and the assaults of fate. The Negro is on

friendly terms with destiny, having been

in her hands all his time; she is to him, in

a way, his home, the familiar darkness of

the hut, deep mould for his roots. He

faces any change in life with great calm.

Amongst the qualities that he will be looking for in a master or a doctor or in God, imagination, I believe, comes high up in the list. It may be on the strength of such a taste, that the Caliph Haroun al Raschid maintains, to the hearts of  Africa and Arabia, his position as an ideal ruler; with him nobody knew what to expect next, and you did not know where you had him. When the Africans speak of the personality of God they speak like the Arabian Nights or like the last chapters of the book of Job; it is the same quality, the infinite power of imagination, with which they are impressed.

To this characteristic in my people I myself owed my popularity, or my fame, as a doctor. When I first came out to Africa I travelled on the boat with a great German Scientist, who was going out, for the twenty third time, to experiment with cures for sleeping sickness, and who had over a hundred rats and guinea pigs on the boat with him. He told me that his difficulty with the Native patients had never been any lack of courage in them,–in the face  of pain or of a great operation they generally showed little fear,–but it was their deep dislike of regularity, of any repeated treatment or the systematization of the whole; and this the great German doctor could not understand.

 But when I myself got to know the Natives, this quality in them was one of the things that I liked best. They had real courage: the unadulterated liking of danger,–the true answer of creation to the announcement of their lot,–the echo from the earth when heaven had spoken. I sometimes thought that what, at the bottom of their hearts, they feared from us was pedantry. In the hands of a pedant they die of grief.

Rarely, rarely, have I met such a wild creature, a human being who was so utterly isolated from the world, and, by a sort of firm deadly resignation, completely closed to all surrounding life. I could make him answer when I questioned him, but he never volunteered a word and never looked at me. He had no pity whatever in him, and
kept a little scornful laughter of contempt, and of knowing better, for the tears of the other sick children, when they were washed and bandaged, but he never looked at them either. He had no wish for any sort of contact with the world round him, the contacts that he had known of had been too cruel for that. His fortitude of soul in the face of pain was the fortitude of an old warrior. A thing could never be so bad as to surprise him, he was, by his career and his philosophy, prepared for the worst. All this was in the grand manner, and recalled the declaration of faith of Prometheus: “Pain is my element as hate  is thine. Ye rend me now: I care not.” And, “Ay, do thy worst. Thou art omnipotent.” But in a person of his size  it was uncomfortable, a thing to make you lose heart. And what will God think,–I thought,–confronted with this attitude in a small human being?

I had the Church of Scotland Mission as a neighbour twelve miles to the North West, five hundred feet higher than the farm; and the French Roman Catholic Mission ten miles to the East, on the flatter land, and five hundred feet lower. I did not sympathize with the Missions, but personally I was on friendly terms with them both, and regretted that between themselves they should live in a state of hostility.

The French Fathers were my best friends. I used to ride over with Farah, to hear Mass with them on Sunday  morning, partly in order to speak French again, and partly because it was a lovely ride to the Mission. For a long  way the road ran through the Forest Department’s old wattle plantation, and the virile fresh pinaceous scent of
the wattletrees was sweet and cheering in the mornings.

The Scotch Mission I did not know so well. There was a splendid view, from up there, over all the surrounding Kikuyu country, but all the same the Mission station gave me an impression of blindness, as if it could see nothing itself.

Kamante always carried himself with much collected or restrained dignity, but this time he shone with repressed triumph as well.

All Natives have a strong sense for dramatic effects. Kamante had carefully tied old bandages round his legs all
the way up to the knee, to arrange a surprise for me. It was clear that he saw the vital importance of the moment,
not in his own good luck, but, unselfishly, in the pleasure that he was to give me. He probably remembered the
times when he had seen me all upset by the continual failure of my cures with him, and he knew that the result of
the hospital’s treatment was an astounding thing. As slowly, slowly, he unwound the bandages from his knee to
his heel there appeared, underneath them, a pair of whole smooth legs, only slightly marked by grey scars.When Kamante had thoroughly, and in his calm grand manner, enjoyed my astonishment and pleasure, he again
renewed the impression by stating that he was now a Christian. “I am like you,” he said. He added that he
thought that I might give him a Rupee because Christ had risen on this same day.

I had an Evening School for the people of the farm, with a Native schoolmaster to teach them. I got my
schoolmasters from one of the Missions, and in my time I have had all three,–Roman Catholic, Church of
England, and Church of Scotland schoolmasters. For the Native education of the country is run rigorously on
religious lines; so far as I know, there are no other books translated into Swaheli than the Bible and the hymn
books. I myself, during all my time in Africa, was planning to translate Aesop’s fables, for the benefit of the
Natives, but I never found time to carry my plan through. Still, such as it was, my school was to me a favourite
place on the farm, the centre of our spiritual life, and I spent my pleasant evening hours in the long old
storehouse of corrugated iron in which it was kept.

Kamante would then come with me, but he would not join the children on the school benches, he would stand a
little away from them, as if consciously closing his ears to the learning, and exulting in the simplicity of those
who consented to be taken in, and to listen. But in the privacy of my kitchen, I have seen him copying from
memory, very slowly and preposterously, those same letters and figures that he had observed on the blackboard
in the school. I do not think that he could have come in with other people if he had wanted to; early in his life
something in him had been twisted or locked, and now it was, so to say, to him the normal thing to be out of the
normal. He was aware of this separateness of his, himself, with the arrogant greatness of soul of the real dwarf,
who, when he finds himself at a difference with the whole world, holds the world to be crooked.

Kamante was shrewd in money matters, he spent little, and did a number of wise deals with the other Kikuyu in
goats, he married at an early age, and marriage in the Kikuyu world is an expensive undertaking. At the same
time

I have heard him philosophising, soundly and originally, upon the worthlessness of money. He stood in a  peculiar relation to existence on the whole; he mastered it, but he had no high opinion of it.

All Natives have in them a strong strain of malice, a shrill delight in things going
wrong, which in itself is hurting and revolting to Europeans. Kamante brought this characteristic to a rare
perfection, even to a special self irony, that made him take pleasure in his own disappointments and disasters,
nearly exactly as in those of other people.

I have met with the same kind of mentality in the old Native women who have been roasted over many fires,who have mixed blood with Fate, and recognize her irony, wherever they meet it, with sympathy, as if it were
that of a sister.

The Masai, the nomadic, cattle owning nation, were neighbours of the farm and lived on the other side of the river; from time to time some of them would come to my house to complain about a lion that was taking their cows, and to ask me to go out and shoot it for them, and I did so if I could. Sometimes, on Saturday, I also walked out on the Orungi plains to shoot a Zebra or two as meat for my farm labourers, with a long tail of optimistic young Kikuyu after me. I shot birds on the farm, spurfowl and guineafowl, that are very good to eat. But for many years I was not out on any shooting expedition.

Still, we often talked on the farm of the Safaris that we had been on. Camping places fix themselves in your mind is if you had spent long periods of your life in them. You will remember a curve of your waggon track in the grass of the plain, like the features of a friend.

Out on the Safaris, I had seen a herd of Buffalo, one hundred and twenty nine of them, come out of the morning mist under a copper sky, one by one, as if the dark and massive, iron like animals with the mighty horizontally swung horns were not approaching, but were being created before my eyes and sent out as they were finished. I had seen a herd of Elephant travelling through dense Native forest, where the sunlight is strewn down between the thick creepers in small spots and patches, pacing along as if they had an appointment at the end of the world. It was, in giant size, the border of a very old, infinitely precious Persian carpet, in the dyes of green, yellow and black brown. I had time after time watched the progression across the plain of the Giraffe, in their queer, inimitable, vegetative gracefulness, as if it were not a herd of animals but a family of rare, long stemmed, speckled gigantic flowers slowly advancing. I had followed two Rhinos on their morning promenade, when they were sniffing and snorting in the air of the dawn,–which is so cold that it hurts in the nose,–and looked like two very big angular stones rollicking in the long valley and enjoying life together. I had seen the royal lion, before sunrise, below a waning moon, crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears, or during the midday siesta, when he reposed contentedly in the midst of his family on the short grass and in the delicate, spring like shade of the broad Acacia trees of his park of Africa.

Out in the wilds I had learned to beware of abrupt movements. The creatures with which you are dealing there are shy and watchful, they have a talent for evading you when you least expect it. No domestic animal can be as still as a wild animal. The civilized people have lost the aptitude of stillness, and must take lessons in silence from the wild before they are accepted by it. The art of moving gently, without suddenness, is the first to be studied by the hunter, and more so by the hunter with the camera. Hunters cannot have their own way, they must fall in with the wind, and the colours and smells of the landscape, and they must make the tempo of the ensemble their own. Sometimes it repeats a movement over and over again, and they must follow up with it.

When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find that it is the same in all her music. What I learned from the game of the country, was useful to me in my dealings with the Native People.

The love of woman and womanliness is a masculine characteristic, and the love of man and manliness a feminine characteristic, and there is a susceptibility to the Southern countries and races that is a Nordic quality. The Normans must have fallen in love with the foreign countries, first with France and then with England. Those old Milords who figure in the history and fiction of the eighteenth century, as constantly travelling in Italy, Greece and Spain, had not a single Southern trait in their nature, but were drawn and held by the fascination of things wholly different from themselves. The old German and Scandinavian painters, philosophers and poets, when they first came to Florence and Rome, went down on their knees to adore the South.

A queer illogical patience towards an alien world came out in these impatient people. As it is almost impossible for a woman to irritate a real man, and as to the women, a man is never quite contemptible, never altogether rejectable, as long as he remains a man, so were the hasty red haired Northern people infinitely long suffering with the tropical countries and races. They would stand no nonsense from their own country or their own relations, but they took the drought of the African Highlands, and a case of sun stroke, the Rinderpest on their cattle, and the incompetency of their Native servants, with humility and resignation. Their sense of individuality itself was lost in the sense of the possibilities that lie in interaction between those who can be made one by reason of their incongruity. The people of Southern Europe and the people of mixed blood have not got this quality; they blame it, or scorn it. So the men’s men scorn the sighing lover, and the rational women who have no patience with their men, are in the same way indignant with Griselda.

As for me, from my first weeks in Africa, I had felt a great affection for the Natives. It was a strong feeling that embraced all ages and both sexes. The discovery of the dark races was to me a magnificent enlargement of all my world. If a person with an inborn sympathy for animals had grown up in a milieu where there were no animals, and had come into contact with animals late in life; or if a person with an instinctive taste for woods and forest had entered a forest for the first time at the age of twenty; or if some one with an ear for music had happened to hear music for the first time when he was already grown up; their cases might have been similar to  mine. After I had met with the Natives, I set out the routine of my daily life to the Orchestra.

My father was an officer in the Danish and French army, and as a very young lieutenant at Düppel he wrote home: “Back in Düppel I was officer to a long column. It was hard work, but it was splendid. The love of war is a passion like another, you love soldiers as you love young womenfolk,–to madness, and the one love does not exclude the other, as the girls know. But the love of women can include only one at a time, and the love for your
soldiers comprehends the whole regiment, which you would like enlarged if it were possible.” It was the same thing with the Natives and me.

The Natives have, far less than the white people, the sense of risks in life. Sometimes on a Safari, or on the farm, in a moment of extreme tension, I have met the eyes of my Native companions, and have felt that we were at a great distance from one another, and that they were wondering at my apprehension of our risk. It made me reflect that perhaps they were, in life itself, within their own element, such as we can never be, like fishes in deep water which for the life of them cannot understand our fear of drowning. This assurance, this art of swimming, they had, I thought, because they had preserved a knowledge that was lost to us by our first parents; Africa, amongst the continents, will teach it to you: that God and the Devil are one, the majesty co eternal, not two uncreated but one uncreated, and the Natives neither confounded the persons nor divided the substance.

The Natives were Africa in flesh and blood. The tall extinct volcano of Longonot that rises above the Rift Valley, the broad Mimosa trees along the rivers, the Elephant and the Giraffe, were not more truly Africa than the Natives were,–small figures in an immense scenery. All were different expressions of one idea, variations upon the same theme. It was not a congenial upheaping of heterogeneous atoms, but a heterogeneous upheaping of congenial atoms, as in the case of the oakleaf and the acorn and the object made from oak. We ourselves, in boots, and in our constant great hurry, often jar with the landscape. The Natives are in accordance with it, and when the tall, slim, dark, and dark eyed people travel,–always one by one, so that even the great Native veins of traffic are narrow footpaths,–or work the soil, or herd their cattle, or hold their big dances, or tell you a tale, it is Africa wandering, dancing and entertaining you. In the highlands you remember the Poet’s words:

Noble found I

ever the Native,

and insipid the Immigrant.

The Colony is changing and has already changed since I lived there. When I write down as accurately as possible my experiences on the farm, with the country and with some of the inhabitants of the plains and woods, it may have a sort of historical interest.

The geographical position, and the height of the land combined to create a landscape that had not its like in all the world. There was no fat on it and no luxuriance anywhere; it was Africa distilled up through six thousand  feet, like the strong and refined essence of a continent. The colours were dry and burnt, like the colours in pottery. The trees had a light delicate foliage, the structure of which was different from that of the trees in
Europe; it did not grow in bows or cupolas, but in horizontal layers, and the formation gave to the tall solitary trees a likeness to the palms, or a heroic and romantic air like fullrigged ships with their sails clewed up, and to the edge of a wood a strange appearance as if the whole wood were faintly vibrating. Upon the grass of the great  plains the crooked bare old thorn trees were scattered, and the grass was spiced like thyme and bog myrtle; in
some places the scent was so strong, that it smarted in the nostrils. All the flowers that you found on the plains,  or upon the creepers and liana in the native forest, were diminutive like flowers of the downs,–only just in the  beginning of the long rains a number of big, massive heavy scented lilies sprang out on the plains.

The views  were immensely wide. 

 Everything that you saw made for

greatness and freedom, and unequalled

 nobility.

The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it, was the air. Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air. The sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, weightless, ever changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has a blue vigour in it, and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills and the woods a fresh deep blue.

In the middle of the day the air was alive over the land, like a flame burning; it scintillated, waved and shone like running water, mirrored and doubled all objects, and created great Fata Morgana.    Up in this high air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.

The wind in the highlands blows steadily from the North North East. It is the same wind that, down at the coasts  of Africa and Arabia, they name the Monsoon, the East Wind, which was King Solomon’s favourite horse. Up  here it is felt as just the resistance of the air, as the Earth throws herself forward into space. The wind runs  straight against the Ngong Hills, and the slopes of the hills would be the ideal place for setting up a glider, that
would be lifted upwards by the currents, over the mountain top. The clouds, which were travelling with the wind, struck the side of the hill and hung round it, or were caught on the summit and broke into rain. But those that took a higher course and sailed clear of the reef, dissolved to the West of it, over the burning desert of the Rift Valley. Many times I have from my house followed these mighty processions advancing, and have wondered to see their proud floating masses, as soon as they had got over the hills, vanish in the blue air and be gone.

We grew coffee on my farm. The land was in itself a little too high for coffee, and it was hard work to keep it  going; we were never rich on the farm. But a coffee plantation is a thing that gets hold of you and does not let you go, and there is always something to do on it: you are generally just a little behind with your work.In the wildness and irregularity of the country, a piece of land laid out and planted according to rule, looked very
well. Later on, when I flew in Africa, and became familiar with the appearance of my farm from the air, I was filled with admiration for my coffee plantation, that lay quite bright green in the grey green land, and I realized how keenly the human mind yearns for geometrical figures. All the country round Nairobi, particularly to the North of the town, is laid out in a similar way, and here lives a people, who are constantly thinking and talking of planting, pruning or picking coffee, and who lie at night and meditate upon improvements to their coffee factories.

Coffee growing is a long job. It does not all come out as you imagine, when, yourself young and hopeful, in the streaming rain, you carry the boxes of your shining young coffee plants from the nurseries, and, with the whole number of farm hands in the field, watch the plants set in the regular rows of holes in the wet ground where they are to grow, and then have them thickly shaded against the sun, with branches broken from the bush, since obscurity is the privilege of young things. It is four or five years till the trees come into bearing, and in the meantime you will get drought on the land, or diseases, and the bold native weeds will grow up thick in the fields,–the black jack, which has long scabrous seed vessels that hang on to your clothes and stockings. Some of the trees have been badly planted with their tap roots bent; they will die just as they begin to flower. You plant a little over six hundred trees to the acre, and I had six hundred acres of land with coffee; my oxen dragged the cultivators up and down the fields, between the rows of trees, many thousand miles, patiently, awaiting coming bounties.

There are times of great beauty on a coffee farm. When the plantation flowered in the beginning of the rains, it was a radiant sight, like a cloud of chalk, in the mist and the drizzling rain, over six hundred acres of land. The  coffee blossom has a delicate slightly bitter scent, like the blackthorn blossom. When the field reddened with the  ripe berries, all the women and the children, whom they call the Totos, were called out to pick the coffee off the trees,together with the men; then the waggons and carts brought it down to the factory near the river.

It is impossible that a town will not play a part in your life, it does not even make much difference whether you have more good or bad things to say of it, it draws your mind to it, by a mental law of gravitation. The luminous haze on the sky above the town at night, which I could see from some places on my farm, set my thoughts going,  and recalled the big cities of Europe.

And it was a live place, in movement like running water, and in growth like a young thing, it changed from year to year, and while you were away on a shooting Safari. The new Government House was built, a stately cool house with a fine ball room and a pretty garden, big hotels grew up, great impressive agricultural shows and fine flower shows were held, our Quasi Smart Set of the Colony from time to time enlivened the town with rows of quick melodrama. Nairobi said to you: “Make the most of me and of time. Wir kommen nie weider so jung–so undisciplined and rapacious–zusammen.” Generally I and Nairobi were in very good understanding,and at one time I drove through the town and thought: There is no world without Nairobi’s streets.

http://www.designmom.com/2011/04/nine-de-la-fressange-haircut/

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Last week, I found a blog post by Seth Godin.  He talks about failing in order to be successful. All of us fail. Successful people fail often, and, worth noting, learn more from that failure than everyone else. The first thing that I thought about is how the lean philosophy talks about rapid experimentation using the PDCA cyle.  If we are experimenting then by definition we will fail.  It is what we learn from these failures that can help us impr … Read More

via Beyond Lean

Change the way you look at world

http://in.education.yahoo.com/news/yeducareers360/change-way-you-look-world-20110330

plab links

http://www.mediafire.com/?3gkrp7brng2179j

Qs

Don’t promise when you are happy…Don’t

 reply when you are angry..Don’t

 

 decide when u r sad

parents

Think about honoring your parents this

birthday instead of expecting presents

from them.  They gave you a body, so say

thank you to them for the rebirth you

currently enjoy.

love this dialogue –

Abed: That’s why I was willing to change

 for you guys—because when you really

 know who you are and what you like

 about yourself, changing for other people

 isn’t such a big deal.

Abed Nadir: When you really know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for others isn’t such a big deal.
Jeff Winger: Abed, you are a God. If you’ll all excuse me, I have a man to beat in pool while wearing shorts.