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“Where are you?”  Who said that that’s the only way to start a phone conversation especially on mobiles.  Kenyans everywhere,in matatus, streets and elsewhere always start their conversations thus.  The other day, someone called me on a landline, office extension, from another extension and asked “uko wapi?”  Funny.  You’re so used to asking where people  where they are that you don’t realize you are calling the phone on their desk, a corridor away from yourself.

I have no problem with the question when you and I have planned to meet and someone is running late.  Where are you?  A few hundred metres from the coffee shop walking.  Where are you?  About a kilometre away from the meeting place (in car or matatu).  That makes perfect sense.

Then, someone flashes or sends the “please call me”.  I call you back (at my cost) and the first question you ask is Uko wapi?”  What!!

Some people, judging by the calls I hear in matatus, will not continue the conversation until they get an answer.

Then there are those who love to answer the question.  But with a big lie.  You are in a matatu right at Globe roundabout and the guy next to you picks the phone and starts to explain apologetically how he can’t make it to a meeting because he’s out of town, precisely in Naivasha.  I often wonder whether the person on the other side of the line catches the laughter of people in the matatu. 

The only thing is that its not funny when you’re on the receiving end of the lie.  Usually people don’t go that far to lie.  They lie that they are 500 metres away from the coffee shop, “give me five minute.”  Yet, they have not yet left the house.  I cannot understand how someone will lie they are 5 minutes away, when they know full well that they are over an hour away.

I wish my mobile provider would provide an indication of the distance between myself and the phone I’m speaking with.  Then there would be no need to ask where I am or to lie about where you are.

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