Traffic Jam / In The City

Nostalgia bangs against the new. Even as its space is mediated by the new.

In Nairobi’s now-infamous jams, one encounters time as sound—a temporal choir emerging from stalled cars. In this democracy of sound, one bathes in memory. Is showered by sound waves.

One might call this the traffic benga.

A scene: on a major highway, traffic lights are kissing. Yes means No when the red light and green light are on simultaneously. This is not a metaphor. Yet it is.

Confused, I ask the cab driver—who is making arrangements to drink tea with friends—about this “coincidence.” What do cars do when Go means Stop. With the casualness of the old Nairobian to the newly-arrived—that I grew up in Nairobi does not mean I am not “newly arrived.” Accents are deceptive. Casually, he looks and doesn’t look, understands and does not understand my question. And says, finally, that it does not matter.

Traffic is being directed by cops.

We have (non)-working traffic lights that are working too hard, so hard that they are confused about sequence and coincidence, and cops.


Wait for the policemen.