For the longest time, my brain has found it hard to internalize Friday as a working day. This is probably because of the culture in the industry that I work for. When I was a junior analyst about six years ago, we had this overarching weekly publication that went out on Monday evenings. Our CEO used it to woe clients (especially foreign ones) as it gave them all the critical information about our Capital Market, at a glance. It goes without saying that he placed a lot of weight on the report. We had to be extremely thorough, and no doubts were ever to be cast on the veracity of our publications.
He was quite easy-going and hands off (something I loved about and borrowed from him) and very few things made him livid. One of them was carelessly written reports in terms of verification of content and the lack of adherence to his preferred fonts and layout. He had painstaking attention to detail, something I appreciate him for to date. He would spot a wrong font or improper alignment of tables from a mile away, and we would all be at pains to explain how that slipped through the cracks.
His other pet peeve was inability to meet deadlines. He gave us the leeway to set our own deadlines on when we would hand over work and he would hold us to our word. Say I promised to publish a report on some bank by the 25th of September. Chances are when giving my timeline, I would have picked a random date (day) but all the same, I knew that I would be done by the end of September. He would show up at my desk on the 26th of September and catch me by surprise.
“Where’s my bank report, Joy?” He would inquire, as he looked over his glasses at a sheet of paper in his hand. He always walked around with a piece of paper, an annual report or a financial journal.
“Which one?” I would be tempted to ask, just to show him that I was quite the multitasker and not always fixated on one product. But, of course, we all knew when humour was welcomed and that would not be one of the instances.
“You’ll have it by the end of the week.” I would look up and respond, then immediately get back to punching the keys.
“I don’t pay you to warm your seat.” He would say as he walked off to put the next culprit through the wringer. Needless to say, his approach instilled in me the discipline to set own goals (at work) and work towards them with minimum supervision.
The weekly report, however, literally gave me nightmares for the first few months I handled it. On Friday afternoons, while the senior analysts and traders would be hatching lunch plans, I would have my ear phones on, metal rhymes furiously blasting from the ear buds to keep any possible distractions at bay. The team would then head out for lunch which would run from 12.30pm to 3.00pm. After all, they had earned their stripes. Sometimes, they would ask me to join them. But when I imagined how much progress I would make on the report in those two and a half hours, I would gracefully decline the offer and humbly have my lunch at my desk as I put in work. The weekly report was murder.
There’s this time (still in my formative years) my girls and I went to party on a Friday night, having left the office at 7.00pm. After letting our hair down and dancing the night away, we all slept over at one of their houses. We were four of us with only one bed and a couch to share. When I got up the following morning, one of my friends had this bemused look when she saw me. She was in the kitchen whisking batter while I was reaching for water at the dispenser. Her look had me thinking that my morning face was quite unsettling, but it turned out she had a different issue in mind.
“What’s the last page?” She asked me as she settled her now perfectly beat mix on the kitchen counter.
“What do you mean?” I inquired, rather confused.
“The last page. You said that over and over last night in your sleep.” She went on.
“No way. What were you doing listening to sleep talkers anyway?” I asked.
“I am a light sleeper and I can easily hear something as light as a cat’s footfalls in the dead of the night.” She said.
“So, what did I say about the last page?” I asked.
“You talked for almost two minutes, half the time incoherently. While I may not recall much, I definitely recall you saying the numbers on the last page were incorrect.” She blurted and went ahead to pour the mix on the pan which had been heating up for a while.
“You were extremely cut up about it.” She added.
I burst out laughing.
The Last Page was a term we coined for a table that we placed on the rearmost section of our Weekly Report. It was a statistical summary of information that was extremely valuable to clients, most of whom did not bother to read the preceding information and would always jump straight to the Last Page. As such, it had to be accurate.
I explained that to my friend.
“Your job must really be stressful if the Last Page has become literally nightmarish.” She said.
“I chose to think of it as the pursuit of excellence. It is never easy.”
That was seven years ago.
I am still in the same industry but obviously, I am handling a different role and someone else is having nightmares attributable to the weekly report. I like to share my story with the young’uns. While I have met extremely aggressive millennials, some of them tend to get discouraged with humdrum routine work, not realizing that it is a necessary evil. At the formative stages, burning the candle at both ends is inevitable.
On Fridays, I don’t book any meetings (except lunch ones) and I don’t do any work. I read. I catch up on the weekend Financial Times features, I read write ups by investment moguls and reports by international analysts on sectors that interest me. At about 12.45pm when my stomach begins to rumble, I head out for lunch. Mostly, I have lunch by myself but sometimes I join my colleagues from the trading desk. Occasionally, I catch up with friends.
Last Friday was too beautiful to have lunch alone. The sun finally came out after we had experienced bone-chilling weather for most of the week. We agreed to have lunch at Stavrose, a homely restaurant at Eden Square that mostly serves Asian cuisine. We picked it for its proximity to our office and its unrivalled Poussin Chicken. Its extra outdoor sitting was also highly welcomed given the warm weather.
My colleagues got there before me and decided to order Chinese Prawns and Beef Mshikaki for starters. I wasn’t down for the idea of having starters as I wanted to remain hungry enough to enjoy my Poussin Chicken. The prawns were served with rice and would make a main course for one person. The Beef Mshikaki came with salad. Being a lover of seafood, I decided to taste the prawns and was shocked at how flavourful they were. Shamelessly, I ended up having three out of the four pieces, leaving only one piece and the Beef Mshikaki to my two colleagues!
“So much for –I don’t want starters-!” Said one of my colleagues, imitating my voice.
“Only a fool doesn’t change their mind!” I retorted, wiping the butter from my lips, which had me looking like I had tasked my two-year old daughter with applying lip gloss on me. After about half an hour, the Chicken Poussin, which is Stavrose’s holy grail, was served. As usual, it did not disappoint.
As I took photos of the meals, it suddenly occurred to me that I could share photos of incredibly delicious meals that I have enjoyed in the recent past and where any interested party could find them. I am not a food blogger, so don’t expect too much detail about the food. Just trust the pictures.
Stavrose- Eden Square
Nyama Mama- Delta, Westlands
If like me you place significant weight on ambience when narrowing down your restaurant choices, Nyama Mama’s Delta outlet will be up your street. It is the most enchanting place I have been to lately, with colourful decor that oozes warmth despite half of it being mostly open. I love the creativity in the design and presentation of most of the meals and cocktails. The crockery will make you miss your grandma’s home.
Mambo Italia- Lavington Curve
Besides going there for lunch, I tend to frequent the place over the weekends especially for dinner. It makes a perfect late night hangout area for the family as it has a small play area that will keep toddlers busy. My kids love the pasta and Swahili Pizza while the mister and I always go for Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast, Fillet Stake or Grilled Red Snapper. The mashed potato is not the typical lifeless kind. It is creamy and you could easily have it without any gravy. The kiddie meals are fairly priced.
Ankole Restaurant- Kilimani
Some friends swore by the Congo Bongo Chicken and the Mchicha; which is exactly what I ordered. I was alone, so I didn’t get to try out any other meal. Going by the gratification that meal accorded me, I will definitely be back. The meals are however quite pricey.
Java- Whichever, really.
I like Java for its consistency. I doubt the Carlifonia Garden Salad or the Java Special Chicken Curry are any different in the Kericho outlet from the Nairobi ones. The prices are ok, but the service is getting worse by the day. I hate waiting for food for over 30 minutes, especially my breakfast after a 15 kilometre run!
I went there for the first time about a month ago on a Friday for lunch. Much as I had know about it for a while, I wasn’t too enthusiastic given the negative publicity. A friend convinced me that the place served the best pork in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). I doubt he has sampled all the pork in SSA but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I was completely unabashed as I wiped the tray clean with a piece of Ugali, not willing to leave anything behind. It was undoubtedly the best, globally. You can take that to the bank.
Mama Ashanti- Muthangari Gardens
If you are looking to try out West African dishes, Mama Ashanti has you covered. I was there over the past weekend and had Chicken in Peanut Soup. I chose Egba as the accompaniment which is cassava flour pounded in palm oil. It tasted like Ugali that had been soaked in Elianto so naturally I reminded myself not to be too adventurous next time. The soup was just the right kind of spicy, awakening my spirits after a gruelling run. I loved that the chicken slid off the bone easily.
Newscafe- Adlife Plaza
Once in a while, when I don’t feel like writing from home, I drive to Newscafe at Adlife Plaza in Yaya. The place gets loud with chatter from revelers, but it doesn’t affect my productivity as long as no one talks to me. The Cheese & Spring Onion Samosas are delectably piquant.
Amani Cafe- Ring Road Opposite Chase Bank
The service is pathetic. You will wait for your meal for light years but you will find yourself going back because their salads are mind-blowing and the portions quite generous. They also serve biryani on Thursdays, which serves as a wonderful consolation if you haven’t been to the coast in a while.