Every once in a while I get to hear people from the rural areas describe a city, the most commonly used adjectives are in the line of busy, chaotic, luxurious and the like. There’s the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to live close to a central business district (In no particular order). I can imagine the transition for someone not used to the rural lifestyle, seeing lots of traffic, barely bearing with the high levels of pollution, congestion among other cons. On the other hand, an expatriate relocating to Nairobi CBD may have a different experience and point of view altogether: To reference what would quite possibly be the most oblivious expectation I read on an expatriate blog was the expectation to have a lion living in the vicinity of backyards. In an attempt to delve much deeper, one has to carefully dissect the perks and challenges of being a ‘foreigner’ at home or in another country.
To begin with, a rural dweller may be impressed by the architectural appeal and history of the surrounding buildings. The distinctive brick structures along Kenyatta Avenue always fascinates me. The history of the buildings adopting a brick, stone, concrete feel can be traced back to the early 1920s when only buildings that fit the brick description were allowed to stand at that location.
While ‘foreigners’ at home may be enticed to migrate to the city, the move being informed by the perceived luxury of the city life, the opportunity costs begin to sink in. A choice between the otherwise simple village life of calmness, tranquility, less pollution versus the broad streets, shopping malls, multi-storey buildings and the list goes on…
A move certainly isn’t a vacation as such. There’s a lot to get used to, a lot to learn and adapt to. As a friend of mine once told me, perhaps self-evidently, you don’t go out to Oloitokitok for clubbing. Yes, you will witness the majesty of Africa’s largest mountain, Kilimanjaro, live in a gated farm and perhaps experience ‘the American dream’ on the farm. But the downfall creeps in when it comes to the risk of unforeseen events. In such instances, rural folks could be on their own. Imagine an instance where your house and belongings are burnt beyond recognition before the fire brigade arrives, because you live so far from CBD, the rescue team had to traverse half the globe to reach you!
I don’t know about you but personally, I wouldn’t mind the rural area… There’s no Stanchart marathon or random Olympic event or closing of roads. I see myself relaxing in my backyard, sipping mint tea in the comfort of my garden and not on a chewing- gum, and cigar spattered pavement. Life would still go on, maybe a little bit slowly. But then again, I would be able to get along just fine without being dressed in the latest fashion.
Living in CBD or a rural area, give your take.