When I arrived at JFK from my Nairobi through Dubai flight, the first thing I noticed was that many people had headphones and were listening to music either from their phones or iPods.
Back home, having a phone has always been a privilege and very few people have iPods. In Kenya, there are only four telephone service providers. Weak signals and poor reception are common challenges, especially in the rural areas. Mobile phones are also more expensive to acquire than here in the U.S. Though with recent developments, such as lowering of tariffs and the installation of the optic fiber cable, things seem to be looking up for the telecommunications industry.
The first thing I ate on arriving was pepperoni pizza. The amount of grease that came out of it as I tried to fold it scared away my appetite. With time I realized that most of the foods here are either greasy, sugared or artificially flavored. Even today, I am still perplexed at the large portions of food served at almost all eating places. Back home, food is served in moderate portions so that if one needed more, they could always ask for more. So now, I always have to request politely to the people concerned, so that only one spoon be served before I get a mountain of food on my plate. I must acknowledge, though, that many people don’t see the portions as huge; they see it as enough. Thereafter, in my various interactions I realized that America has different standards of measurement from most of the world.
Back home, I was medium size but when I came here, I am considered a size small to extra small-something that upset me terribly! Being fat as a woman or pot-bellied as a man is a good thing in Africa. It is a sign of wealth. For a married woman being fat means that the husband is able financially and can provide abundantly for his family. Here in America many people don’t look at being fat as a good thing.
It must be noted that most of the food in Africa is natural and fresh, as opposed to the artificially-flavored, refrigerated food mostly consumed here. Because of the larger population, which causes a higher demand for food, agriculturalists have been pushed into finding faster ways of food production. And now, after much practice, I am able to state temperature in Fahrenheit instead of degrees Celsius, distance in miles in place of kilometers, and weight in pounds instead of kilograms that is used in most of Africa.
Achudi is a member of the class of 2014.