Binyavanga Wainaina, Nairobi, Kenya


Windows on the World

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

I have lived in this cramped little cottage near Ngong Forest in Nairobi for the past year. After many winters abroad, I find myself unable to work indoors. Nairobi gets very cold in June and July, but I like to work free of the prison of the house. I love the tingling pullover of night sounds and forest sounds and the bite of cold breeze and distant cars and stereos. Sometimes I close my eyes and sway my arms into patterns to move with the sensations of the strong bitpieces banging about in my temples. The bitpieces are almost always word-based moods. They live and die fast. When the bitpieces catch characters or a probable course of narrative action, my fingers start to keyboard peddle furiously. If I stop, the whole world crumbles. If the bitpiece world crumbles, I stop. Days, sometimes bad-mood weeks can go by before momentum is found again. Tennis helps. And fermented millet porridge. And my lover. —Binyavanga Wainaina