Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conclusion - sent August 28th

We are now Kenyans.
Kenya performed its once-a-decade census on August 25th, 2009. They perform it all within a one to two day period and encourage everyone to stay home to ensure they are counted. We were taking the overnight bus from Mombasa back to Nairobi, when around midnight a flood of twenty-something-year-olds boarded the bus and began polling the passengers for the census.

Yes, we were included in the Kenyan 2009 Census! Brent Vernon, Katie Seikel, and Tara Hagan are registered as Drent (no last name), Kate Serkel, and Tara Hagan, respectively. There were some language barriers that resulted in differences and Drent being registered as a female. We were pretty excited.

  • I have the greatest friends ever. I posted the pictures here -
  • Surprisingly, they didn't really sell postcards in Kenya, so I will make some and send them out. Forward me your address if you want one.
  • If you're in New York, I am having a kickball game for my birthday on Saturday, August 29th at the East River Park on East 6th and FDR Drive from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. There is some concern over the anticipated inclement weather, but seriously? It's kickball. I think we'll be fine. Also, I already paid for the park permits and filled out the paperwork, so I am still going.

Kenya - sent August 21

We wrapped up Cairo and headed to Nairobi where Brent picked us up at the airport. We spent a day in Nairobi exploring and then started a four-day safari through the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru. Right now, we are back in Nairobi about to take a bus to Mombasa, which is along the southern coast of Kenya.

The drive through central and western Kenya and the safari were enjoyable -- rhinos, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, hippos, crocodiles, monkeys, the list goes on -- but the most remarkable part of the trip was when we arrived at the campsite outside the Masai Mara.

Brent has been to Kenya five times to build schools and teach English, and he recognized one of the guards/workers at the campsite. It was an old student from a school six hours away in 2003 -- David. He goes by Sammy now and has finished his primary school. He wanted to continue school but had to start working to support his family. We spent a good portion of our evenings talking with Sammy and enjoying the cool weather of the Savannah.

Cairo 2 - sent August 15

While walking along the Nile last night, Katie and I discovered the greatest activity known to man. We noticed these gaudy boats with neon lights and bumping Arabic pop. We were entranced and followed them. I have no words to explain the rest of the night.

For 1 Egyptian Pound (20 cents in USD), you can ride this neon fireball on water with about 50-100 other Egyptians for an hour on the Nile. The music is ridiculous, and the boat is filled with families and teenagers. We were probably the only non-Egyptians on the boat. A young girl and her friend got up and started belly dancing.

Yadda yadda yadda, Katie and I blew their minds with our sweet dance moves. It was pure bliss. They loved it. It was one of the greatest nights of my life, and at the end, they begged us to stay on for the next boat ride.

Again, the movie Taken started scaring me, and we left.

We wandered around Islamic Cairo. We met some friends and drank tea and smoked sheesha all afternoon. We might go to some handball competition tonight.

Cairo - sent August 14

Katie´s bag never made it to Cairo. She´s been surprising positive about the whole experience. The upside about flying Austrian Air - free red wine with every meal. The downside about flying Austrian Air - you find yourself trekking the desert to see the pyramids wearing the same yellow t-shirt you have donned for the past three days.

I thought I read it was only a two hour ferry ride to get to Petra. Turns out, it´s a two hour ferry ride, assuming you make it to Nuweiba, Egypt, which is a nine hour bus ride from Cairo. Due to the distance, we had to cut Petra from the trip, which means there is a BFE even when you´re in BFE.

Last night, while wandering through downtown Cairo, we stumbled upon an area of ahwas (sheesha cafes), where Ali the Nubian invited us to join him. Ali owns the cafe and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening drinking tea and smoking the sheesha (hooka) with him. He then walked us around town, introducing us to his friends. He is pretty much the most popular guy in Cairo. After a while, I got creeped out, especially since Katie told me the plotline to the movie Taken earlier in the afternoon, so we parted ways and ended up not sold into human slavery by the end of the night.

Today, we saw the pyramids. Other events of note, falafels are 1.5 Egyptian pounds, which is about 24 cents. I learned how to say, "I am here to find my ancestors." in Arabic.

Africa - sent August 12

I leave this afternoon for an African adventure.

The line-up

My best friends from high school will be making the trek – Brent Vernon and Katie Seikel.

Katie Siekel – dietician at OU Medical Center who just finished her MCAT

-- Katie has coached every national cheerleading camp since the late 1990’s. If you, a cousin, a niece, or a coworker ever attended a cheerleading camp anywhere in this country, Katie most likely was a counselor there.
-- We spent so much time in the
Great Reading Room during Finals Week, we had commemorative t-shirts made.

Brent Vernon – kindergarten teacher at a private school in Santa Monica

-- The only kindergarten teacher who has headshots; he’s so LA.

-- All through high school, Brent would memorize the Beyonce dances. Somehow, we didn’t know he was gay until a couple years ago.

The schedule

We are flying to Cairo for a few days to see some of dirt triangles. They are supposedly really old and at least 10 feet tall. Next, we are taking a ferry to Jordan to see Petra so we can fulfill our lifetime dream of re-enacting Indiana Jones using only puppets made out of Russet potatoes. Finally, we are heading to Kenya for a safari, some volunteer work and some frolicking on the coast of the Indian Ocean. My coworker Subin Thomas has suggested we sing the Lion King’s “Circle of Life” upon exiting the plane in Kenya. He’s an idiot.*

* Subin Thomas is awesome, and if you friend him on facebook, he’ll probably accept. This is primarily because we created his profile for him and he has yet to learn the password.

Hepatitis is a sham.

Before leaving for India a couple years ago, I attempted a hepatitis vaccination from a Flushing clinic on a Sunday morning where no one spoke English and they just gave me a shot as I sat in the waiting room. Because they never even gave me a band aid, I had to ride the seven train back to the city wiping the blood off my arm with my t-shirt. It was included in some India updates.

Anyway, it’s a two-step shot. I was supposed to go back to finish the immunizations. I didn’t. Fortunately, my financial position has improved to the point where I can entertain thoughts of affording luxuries like vaccinations**. Before administering the last shot, my doctor performed some blood tests, which came back showing I already had hepatitis immunization.

This could mean one of two things – either the Chinatown Flushing clinic is magic and administers the greatest medical service or Hepatitis and the notion of its immunity is all a sham.

**Although, my finances aren’t strong enough for me to afford the typhoid medication. I am taking my chances with that one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Television for Auditors

Submitted to Company Newsletter in September 2009

The other day, as I was settling down on the sofa about to dig in to my hearty home-cooked dinner of microwavable oatmeal from Trader Joe’s, I noticed this black square with a silver frame across the room from me. My television seemed so foreign at the time. As I was staring at it, I started to wonder how long it’d been since I’d turned it on – weeks, months? I honestly could not recall the last time I’d watched the television. This troubled me.

I had to figure out what happened to my affinity for the tele, and then I realized the reason I don’t watch the television anymore is because there are no accounting-related programs. For real. Who wants to watch Dancing with the Stars or 30 Rock? Dancing, comedy? Sounds lame, which is why I have created an idea for a new accounting-related program.

The obvious choice is Real World. “This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World.” Um, pretty sure this is every day in the audit room. We just need cameras and confession rooms.

I am sure you already some interesting characters on your team. The senior who carries her full-size rabbit with her to client meetings and has the furry creature conduct SOX interviews. The tourettes-afflicted second year with multiple personality disorder, who sometimes fills out SAS documents signing off as Jimi Hendrix and sometimes as Samuel L. Jackson. The senior with joint problems of a senior citizen, who makes your massage his ankles and crack his knuckles and soak his feet.

No, these are just people on my team?