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Are You Manual or Automatic?

Sun, Sep 19, 2021

 

I am an Amazon Kindle devotee.

This small gadget connects me to Amazon.com, through the world wide web, and gives me access to any book I could possibly want – this of course, after surrendering my card details.

I embraced this gadget the same way I accepted the automatic car. When the automatic cars started coming into our market (at the turn of the century) debate ranged as to whether they were better than stick shift (manual) cars.

What I remember from the stick shift era, was this thing called ‘balancing’. If you did not get your accelerator and the clutch combination just right as you changed gears…you could be sure of your car jerking and stalling in the middle of the road; and your newly-licensed, brain locked, embarrassed self, sweating it out and not knowing what to do next. I was that driver who could not relax, always thinking about the next gear shift – was that a three or four? – and that deep concentration would not allow me to so much as wind down the window, let alone change the radio channel.

Driving uphill was particularly challenging… because, God forbid the traffic was moving slowly and you had to stop – and then start the car again. I lived with the fear of the car rolling backwards and right onto the bumper behind me as I tried to get the accelerator/clutch balance. There was this afternoon I needed to drive into the city from Kasarani. As Murphy’s law would have it, two trucks had stalled three-quarter way up that steep Allsops hill on the old Thika road. Public transport being the madness it is, in beloved Kenya… the Matatu’s created mayhem in no time. Suddenly there were extra lanes all over the place and everyone seemed to be ‘overlapping’ and dangerously cutting in to avoid getting caught up in the jam.

Yours truly had to inch her way up the hill. Clutch in, release slowly as you accelerate – enough to keep moving forward, but not too much as to drive into the car ahead of you or the Matatu trying to cut in. Ensure that you don’t brake because then you would have to execute a hill start and the chances of rolling backwards into the car behind you are very high. Suffice it to say that by the time I got into the city, I looked like someone had poured a bucket of water on me. I was drenched in perspiration – but thankfully in one piece.

I would later be introduced to the automatic car circa 2004. I had listened to people extolling the virtues of manual cars (reliability, feeling in charge, easy to repair or get spare parts) over the automatic ones; but the moment I got behind the wheel of that green, automatic, new (reconditioned) Toyota Corona (don’t get side tracked by the model) I arrived home. Not having to balance any whatnots under there was heaven…

I embraced reading on Kindle the same way. I refuse to understand my friends who will not read on a gadget because they like to smell or feel paper between their fingers. My Kindle is bae… I can write notes alongside what I am reading, read under the blankets, copy snippets to share on my WhatsApp groups (yes, I am that woman), check out the meaning of a word (yes, I am the connoisseur of fine words) and generally underline the important points (sometimes the whole book) in different colours; and oh, the thrill of carrying my entire library with me all the time!

That said… there is something irresistible about a bookshop… The shelves heaving under the weight of piles of books. The surprises hidden there just waiting to be discovered, the smell and feel of paper (wink)… the wink and tug from different titles begging ‘buy me, buy me…’

This time I valiantly resisted but came out with Drunk and Thursday – by Bikozulu – that master of the blogging craft (when I grow up… sigh). I spent a happy hour at Halfpriced books, a veritable treasure trove in Bihi Towers, Moi Avenue. They are also online and do deliveries!

What are you reading? Are you manual or automatic? Where do you buy your stash?

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