Doppelganger is in the eyes of the beholder, and sometimes the beer holder.
I don't know about you, but I often see people who look familiar in a crowd or on the street, only to get close to them and realise it wasn't who I thought it was.
For some unfathomable reason, over the last couple of weeks I have been seeing what the Germans call 'doppelgangers' almost everywhere I look. But first, let me explain exactly what a doppelganger is.
It is, according to my online dictionary, 'someone who looks spookily like you (or someone else), but isn't a twin.' My 'msema kweli' tells me that 'Originally, this was a type of ghost. The word doppelganger is German and literally means double walker - as in a ghost or shadow of yourself (or someone else).
Years ago, when I was a lad, I saw my own lookalike walking towards me on a Nairobi street. The fellow teenager was a complete look-alike of me only in very different clothes.
We both noticed the resemblance and as we passed each other, turned to look back at each other as if to confirm it wasn't an apparition. I have always regretted that we never stopped to chat. It might have been fun.
By the way had the incident happened in the same vicinity less than a decade later, when my colleagues and I used to frequent a bar just up the street that we had christened 'Potholes' after the craters in the pavement outside and in the floor inside the bar, I might have blamed the beer.
Years ago, when I was a lad, I saw my own lookalike walking towards me on a Nairobi street. The fellow teenager was a complete look-alike of me only in very different clothes. We both noticed the resemblance and as we passed each other, turned to look back at each other as if to confirm it wasn't an apparition. I have always regretted that we never stopped to chat. It might have been fun.
More recently, however, the look-alikes were not of me but of friends and other people I know. The very first was on the TV. I was watching an edition of Come Dine With Me SA when one of the participants in the show appeared on the screen and I could have sworn it was my friend with the sunny disposition from Nakuru.
For a few seconds I wondered how he had come to live in Cape Town without my knowledge and it was only when the man in the television spoke with a Capetonian accent, that I realised that he was a doppelganger. That said, even then I had to pinch myself as the lookalike even had the voice and mannerisms of my Nakuru pal.
A few days later I was taking a smoke break outside the office when I thought I saw one of my favourite South African broadcasters coming towards me. The only thing that stopped me rushing up for an autograph was the fact that I know from the broadcaster's many posts that he works out at the gym and does not often wear three-piece suits.
I caught one or two other people staring at the heavy-set man in the suit too, but as he passed right by me, I realised once again I had fallen for the doppelganger effect.
I wonder if people ever stop these look-alikes and greet them only to realise their mistake? It happened to me once in a Nairobi club, but while the guy I was supposed to resemble is a friend, neither of us thinks we look alike.