Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Escape 2014: Nairobi - A Private Tour

During our free time from our organized tour we meet with two acquaintances. Each one drives us around to places I want to visit. My parents are buried in Nairobi City Park Cemetery. After some driving around on new roads and a highway we find the entrance to the Cemetery. It is not maintained with no clear markings of the sections and grave site numbers. We find the vicinity of my parents' grave site and much later and with research I was eventually sent a picture of the actual grave site of my parents. I recognized the cross with the marble edging and the plaque with details. This calls for a second trip to Nairobi in due course.

Many class photos were taken on these steps
On our drive back to our hotel, we stop at the Dr. Ribeiro Goan School which I attended while growing up in Nairobi. It's now a private boys' school. As I step inside I am in a dark hallway. The quadrangle where our assemblies were held was blocked off into classrooms giving it an atmosphere of darkness as no natural light comes through this section of the entrance. The Science Lab and the Domestic Science Lab are still there in the same hallway across from each other; they are not maintained and are in the same condition as they were when I graduated in 1964. They look their age.

I recall the simple street we crossed over to attend Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church--now it is a major road that blocks the full entrance to it.

St. Francis Xavier Church taken from the car on the highway

The next day we are driven to my old neighbourhood of Pangani takes us through the Goan Institute Club now the Nairobi Institute. It is well maintained and thriving with a broader membership. Walking around this Club brings back many memories of dances, sporting and other events held here. Onwards to find my street, Madura Lane where my parents built our home in 1945.

Pangani Girls' School: I worked in that office on the right

Radiant Hospital: Dr. Haq's Hospital of my past
We stop at Duchess of Gloucester School now Pangani Girls' School; I worked here for a couple of years before I left for London England in 1967. It is the same as I left it; well maintained on the outside. As it is a Sunday, I cannot go inside as it is locked for the weekend. We continue driving to find Madura Lane.

We make another stop to take a picture of Dr. Haq's Hospital now The Radiant Hospital. I believe I was born in this hospital and I do remember I had my tonsillectomy here at the tender age of 6. I also recall, as a teenager, doing Legion of Mary visits to comfort ailing and terminally ill patients. Those were the days.

Pangani: Madura Lane is somewhere here

The roads look different as we pass by what I thought was Madura Lane, but no it is changed. It used to be a typical suburb with ranch type houses and gardens--some more beautiful than others. Now it is a sprawling neighbourhood of three-four storey apartment buildings with no structured sidewalks. Instead there are hawkers selling their wares. I was saddened to see this transformation.
St. Teresa's Catholic Church

We manage to find St. Teresa's Catholic Church amid the crowds and sidewalk hawkers It still stands as it was during my time of the 1950s and 1960s. We witness an active congregation waiting to attend the next Mass service. We drive back still trying to locate Madura Lane. No, it is no longer there. But my memories are there of many joyous and some sad times we had growing up in that neighbourhood.

It is time to bid farewell to my hometown, transformed as it is now but my fond memories of a beautiful and treasured past will remain with me forever.

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