Reserved, honourable Mr Malik. You wouldn't notice him in a Nairobi street - except, perhaps, to comment on his carefully sculpted comb over - but beneath his unprepossessing exterior lies a warm heart and a secret passion. Not even his friends at the Asadi Club know it, but Mr Malik is head-over-heels in love with the leader of the Tuesday morning bird walk of the East African Ornithological Society, Rose Mbikwa. While Mr Malik hesitantly plans how he will ask Rose to the annual Hunt Ball, flashy Harry Kahn arrives in town and makes it clear that he too has Rose in his sights.When Mr Malik blurts out his feelings at the Club a wager is set - whoever sees the most birds in a week will ask Rose to the ball. With boats, planes and guides to get him to the choicest bird-watching spots in Kenya, Harry Kahn's soon noting down everything from pearl-breasted swallows to spur-winged plovers. But, Mr Malik's not so easily beaten and with unorthodox methods and far-flung adventures of his own, he's determined to stay in the game.
First published 2008.