Starving, I wasn’t the only one. My companion and I had just missed the lunch hour and there was no food on the table at our residence. We decided to drive to a near by local place for a quick grab. Having driven for about ten minutes we entered a medium sized compound where a large muddy-white building with a high triangular roof stood right at the centre. There were faded bold black letters that read ‘Moshi Club’ across the middle of the face of the side wall.
It was around 16:30, the place looked largely deserted. Ours was the only car at the car park and with the exception of the five staff members sitting under a tree at the edge of the compound there seemed to be no customers around. The chef wearing his white jacket and black trousers sat in the middle of the group laughing heartily as he shared some stories, a younger boy who could have easily passed for a Gardner was leaning on the fence reading a newspaper while the rest of the group just sat casually each doing their own thing. This kind of emptiness is not surprising for a major public holiday;Good Friday.
I opened my car door and stepped out to check whether the place was opened for business. Once outside the comfort of the car I could smell the fresh muddy earth. My feet sank into a cold soft mushy surface and the soles of my shoes were covered in mud. It had been raining and there were still light splashes in the cooled atmosphere. I walked through a small fence of poles and chains and then climbed the steps into the entrance of a veranda where I noticed a circular ‘Ndovu Beer’ brand picture sign, futon sofas arranged at opposite sides of wooden square coffee tables stretching along half of the veranda floor, a wooden partition dividing the veranda into halves, high squared pillars on the left edge firmly holding the veranda roof and on the right there stood the house’s front wall with a door that served as the first visitors’ entrance into the house.
I walked through the door into a bar with a colourful display of bottles on the top shelf and a high dark brown wooden bar counter separating the drinkers’ high stools from the bar tender’s area. It was dark but I could make out the different parts from the light that came through the doors from the partially grey sky. Turn right at the end of the bar and there was another door with a glass peep window that led to the snooker room. The snooker table could be seen covered in a dusty white sheet. Next to the snooker room was a door labelled ‘Gents’. Opposite the bar there were large glass doors dividing the house into two parts, entrance number two.
Through the glass doors and I found myself at the front of a hall with two large speakers at each of the back corners and additional glass door leading to another side of the Veranda. It could easily have hosted a dance night where swing, jive and disco moves from merry visitors could have graced the hall’s floor over the years. On the far right side of the hall there stood a wooden screen behind which there were two doors one leading to the kitchen and another to the ladies changing room and toilets. I walked to the middle of the hall, I looked above the door that I had come through and I could see several rectangular boards; a green board with white writing listing life time members, a rectangular board listing male tennis fixtures and another listing female fixtures (they seemed to be outdated lists but the age was unknown).
It took about 5 minutes to investigate the inside of the house, I could confirm that I was the only one there. A few minutes later I could hear foot steps as the head waiter joined me.
‘There seems to be no one here are you opened for business?’
‘Yes we are, but there have been no customers so we were just relaxing outside.’
‘I am here for a bit of lunch what would you recommend?’
‘Steak, I think you’ll enjoy that.’
‘How long will it take to get it done?’
’20 minutes just have a sit and I’ll call the chef.’
The waiter made his way outside as I walked behind him to inform my company that the place was open. We walked and sat on the chairs at the Veranda. A cheerful waiter came over to take our drinks order.
Looking from where I sat I could see ‘Coca Cola’ branded plastic garden chairs arranged in groups of four. It seems that during sunny weather visitors have the luxury of sitting at the garden under the tree shades and the blue sky but on this day the chairs were leaning on tables to drain the rain water away. Past the garden, through the metal net fence and at the edge of the green golfing field I could see the silhouette of the snow covered mountain Kilimanjaro shying away behind a screen of silver clouds.
Returning my senses back to my area of seating I could hear the melodious sound of the rain water dripping from a pipe at the veranda’s roof top making a splash every time the drops hit the water paddle on the ground.
A colonial lantern style black lamp was placed at the pillar’s wall just below the roof above my head.
The air was crisp and clean and the departing rain prompted me to walk away from my seat and go around the house’s grounds to admire the setting.
I walked past what looked like a B.B.Q stove.
Wooden cheering benches.
Tarmac tennis court with a bumpy surface, water paddles, faded white marking lines and old net posts.
Tennis practice court separated from the main courts with a metal fence
The squash court, a tall old building with muddy colour and netted windows. A black board on the top right side of the front wall listing a group of names with honourable mention.
When the tour was over I went back to the veranda. My steak was ready and right on time! I walked to a metallic container with a tap at the bottom. Your standard makeshift hand-wash basin!
I sat down to enjoy the meal. The meat was slightly cold but it was juicy and had a spicy ginger taste. I wish it could have been hotter but the side dish compensated for the slightly failed steak. The most amazing part about the food is the price. The cost of the meal and drinks was about 5000 shillings that is approximately 2 pounds!
The air, the aesthetic view and the atmosphere here were perfect for a spiritual detox. This place is worth a visit just to enjoy the scenery and have a casual meet up with friends. The mood is relaxed, the food is better than something you would prepare at home and the air is as fresh as it comes. Having been built in 1920s Moshi Club has seen a great history, the change in attitude, cultural mix and social thinking of the people that passed by but there is no much documentation of this around. I wish there was more information about the architecture and the mission of this place- What kind of cuisine was served over the years? Some photographs of founding members and details of the events that took place inside the hall and outside the courts.
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