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April 7, 2020
Nawaz Khan Memoirs

Carrefour Sarit Centre: A positive post to begin with

Better to begin with a non-negative post (Yes, that means a minus times a minus = a positive post) (It will degenerate soon enough when my natural assholiness meets Kenyan and Afreekian Politicos and we experience the continued degradation of my beautiful country).

Finally, Sarit Centre has a supermarket befitting of Sarit Centre. Why is Sarit Centre special? It was the first. The vision of a man who went to Brent-Cross in UK. The Brent Cross Developer, Who himself made the UK’s first mall, Brent Cross when he went to USA.

The world, owes thanks to USA in terms of a shopping experience…

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Back in the 1970’s… you went to a draper (yes young-lings, a shop that sells cloth), then went to your favourite tailor and had the material made into your made-to measure suit (I refer to women) – we kids were taken to Deacons/Woolworths and bought mzungu-style clothes.

Shopping was done thus: For clothes – Wabera Street for us, River road for mum – Dad was Saville Row London for suits…

Food was “Chakki on Ngara” – Chakki means miller, and there was a muhindi with a motorized mill at the back, you bought what you wanted in terms of wheat, sorghum, millet – it went to the back, the motor was started, and as you messed about – it was pulverized into flour. Dengu, beans – everything was in open sacks on the floor, on pallets. Paper bags (plastic was not yet invented) and Kikapus made of sisal – (reed? Bamboo? Cane?).

Chickens – were bought from Kariokor market, slaughtered at home and put in the freezer – for the week, meat (goat or beef) was from a butcher in Pangani.

Groceries were from River Road grocers, and there was ONE supermarket in town – Ibrahim’s. At the start of “Gaurment (Government) Rd, now renamed Moi Avenue.

And so Sarit Centre happened. Then came the new wing – MADE FOR UCHUMI as anchor tenant – and the Kenyan shopping experience was transformed.

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Uchumi had EVERYTHING – and opened later, and on Sundays…

Ans so began the culture of the Mall.

Nairobi is a city of semi-empty lifeless malls… there is one in Kitengela – NOT ONE shop in the food court is rented… Naivas downstairs is packed…

Yaya was obviously a failure – due to a lack of parking – till that situation was rectified many years later, Yaya is now pleasant to visit.

Then Uchumi was looted and shut down… Sarit was dark – for you see – without an anchor tenant that brings footflow – a Mall is simply a shopping drudge… even the lights seem dimmer…

Then – a glimmer of hope – Carrefour was convinced to do a half-assed effort in the old Uchumi – which was decent enough and revived the shopping centre.

Yesterday, was Carrefour’s first day, so I went in to have a look.

1) Booze – cheeeeeeeeeeep! Those of you looking to party on a budget – look no further!
2) TV? Fridge? Meat? Processed meat?

Imagine a fruit section with MADAFUS? WOW! Hats off Sir.

Now – why I am transported back to the 1970’s – they have all sorts of Beans and Dengu in open sacks (on shelves not pallets), the fruit is now selected in brown paper bags, and there is a fruit-juicer chakki – not flour which lazy housewives wanting to kill husbands faster-faster no longer have custom-ground.

Size? BIG.

Lighting? BRIGHT!

Variety? IMPRESSIVE (Frozen and fresh salmon both) prawns from tiny to Jumbos rivalling lobsters in size…

Prices – really good! Candles – cheap! Why candles?  I see some of you have never seduced a woman with flowers, wine and candles “to set the mood”… Ciku the barmaid who sells “greasy bellybutton for 200/-” will have to suffice… but for those looking to up their game – candles – good value… Booze Good value… flowers…

As a test – I looked for the “extra-large glass tumblers” I use… and there they were 435/- each… smaller ones much cheaper, on special offer.

Now enough of this gushing shyte – back to reality…

Sarit Centre – Toilets have been SHITTY for a decade – smelly, 50% of taps not working… still the same…

Sarit Centre Contractor – seems to have my 13-year old son and his gang of reprobates employed to do the tiling, painting, grouting… Have you never heard of “acid cleaning”? There is more plaster overspray than a “3-year old girl painting for mummy” Have you seen the LACK OF BLENDING when the old tiles meet the new?

Have you never thought in 30+ years  –  let me paint and refresh the interior?  Upgrade the lighting?

Some “positive thought”…




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