999

That’s the number you dial to reach the police in Kenya.

Last night I had one of those culture shock moments. Out our window, for the second evening in a row, our neighbors were burning something like old tires. Huge clouds of noxious smelly smoke billowed up. Some of it drifted into our apartment, in spite of our windows being shut. (Because the climate here is so mild, buildings aren’t sealed up like bank vaults. Double-pane windows are not needed.)

So thinking through a life-in-America grid, I called the police to see if there was anything they could do. Ring, ring, ring… about 15 times. I tried again - same thing.

Sometimes the lack of infrastructure here is annoying. But I can’t complain. My colleagues in southern Sudan don’t have a 999 to call.

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