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When I got confused for a spy in Kenya


Saurav Arya

[Round Table India caught up with Saurav Arya, a friend and participant in the making of this portal, since the earliest discussions when we brainstormed for ideas to create virtual platforms for communications by and for Dalits, Adivasis and Bahujan.

Saurav Arya is a ‘supply chain professional, a photographer and a traveler on a mission to travel the entire world, twice.. grow old and then tell stories of adventures in exchange for a coffee and a brownie.’ As he says in this interview, he believes ‘that consciously or unconsciously, we all travel in search of fulfillment, creative freedom and spiritual growth. Traveling is something intrinsic in us. We all want to explore and experience new places, people and situations. We all were nomads till we discovered agriculture.’

He has been to around 40 countries until now, and seems to have gathered a rich treasure of memories: anecdotes, pictures, videos and above all, wisdom that belies his age. We are very happy to share a couple of his travel anecdotes.]


I bought a thawb for myself when I arrived in Mombasa thinking that it will act as an ice breaker and help me get underneath the skin of the city.


Soon after getting into my new avatar, I noticed that I’m getting too much attention from the locals. Much more than I was seeking. They must be thinking – a tired and tanned desi guy wearing a thawb and carrying a backpack, what’s wrong with him?

I was a bit tired after the overnight bus journey from Nairobi and probably not ready for the overwhelming attention. I decided to move southwards from the town in search of a quiet beach to chill. To get towards the south from the Mombasa island, you’ll need to take a ferry at Likoni and then a matatu or motorbike taxi to reach Tiwi, Diani or Ukunda beach. I took a motorbike taxi and adjusted myself at the backseat after struggling a bit. Only if you try it yourself you’ll get to know how challenging it is to ride or take a backseat in a motorbike wearing a thawb. The road was muddy, the weather rainy and the motorbike driver was a bit uncomfortable seeing me struggling with my thawb. It was then that he asked me the question I was expecting.

Taxi Driver : Why are you wearing a thawb? People here will confuse you for a spy.

Me: So you think I’m not a spy?

My reply silenced him for a while and his silence made me curious. I thought it would be good to change the topic to relax him a bit and get back to him on this later.

Me : So which is the best sea beach here?

Taxi Driver : Tiwi, Ukunda, all are same. Do you have a booking?

Me : I don’t have any booking but let’s go to Tiwi beach and we’ll figure it out there?

On the way to Tiwi beach, we had to stop when it started raining heavily. We got under a shed and the poor taxi-driver who couldn’t gulp my joke, questioned me about my background and travels to be sure of my identity. I think he was not totally convinced with my answers cause when we arrived at Tiwi beach and I tried enquiring for a room in a hotel, he said something to the guy at reception in Swahili and probably that made the reception guy say ‘no’ to me.

‘Ah, so they think I’m really a spy’, I murmured to myself frustratingly.

The taxi driver being prejudiced about my identity was making things difficult for me inspite of helping me out, so I paid him the fare and asked him to leave me alone in my search for a place to crash. It was mid-day by then and I was shit tired. More than entertaining any questions or giving justifications, I needed a cozy bed to nap. While I was sitting at the beach wondering which way to go and what to answer when they ask me why the hell I’m wearing this thawb, I saw a public change room towards my right.

Ten minutes later I was napping in one of the cottage of Coral Cove cottages, Tiwi beach.


When I told Antony that I can help him expand his business globally by promoting his wood-crafts on social media, first he smiled and then he rolled on the floor laughing.

saurav 1

Born and brought up at Tiwi beach in Kenya, Antony has been witnessing the best the nature has to offer for the last 52 years in his life and although it seems like he does not have enough money to buy a new pair of denims, he is probably richer than most of us reading this post. Richer in time, quality of life and peace of mind.

I guess he puts his wood-crafts on display in his small shack at the beach not to do any business and make money, but just to meet travelers like me and ROFL at their crazy ideas.

I left Tiwi beach feeling a bit jealous of Antony and later that day I slept thinking – what stops us from being like Antony?

Wouldn’t you want to be like Antony? What is stopping you?

saurav 2

 [Look forward to more travel stories, pictures, wisdom from Saurav in the future]


 Saurav is blogging about his travels here.



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