It’s that time of year again in Nairobi. Christmas craft fairs. I am reliably informed that Bizarre Bazaar that took place last weekend is a lot like some of the ones you get in England – i.e. with very expensive stands peppered with smart looking lady stallholders selling highly priced smock dresses made in Mauritius, paintings, handmade paper and the like. But I have never been to one of these, so I honestly wouldn’t know.
Sadly, I find can’t go to a Christmas fair in Nairobi without being significantly more focussed on what I would like to buy for myself, than the task of buying Christmas presents. I look at pairs of earrings and pretty, decorative things for the house. The reason for this is because there is almost nothing priced at under £50, so buying anything is an indulgence.
I learned over past years that it inadvisable to ask the price of anything, lest you fall over in a dead faint. This time I did look at a beautiful linen apron, but when I learned that it cost 6,700/- shillings, I died. I also liked a pair of pottery table lamps but they cost £100.....each, so I left empty handed. I thought, if I was rich enough to buy this stuff for presents, then whoever I was buying for would either think I had gone nuts or would be blissfully unaware at me bankrupting myself in one fell swoop. You could not exactly describe shopping at Bizbaz as bargain hunting; it’s more like splurging on things you really don’t need and to hell with the Christmas shopping list anyway.
I must admit, I do like to go along for the chicken tikka and naan, Dorman’s coffee and the socialising. The late evening shopping was fun, that is, once you’d run the gauntlet of a circle of unidentifiable Karen mums circled around a table at the entrance in the semi-darkness drinking wine and gossiping. My husband found some fellow motor bike/diesel head/KC friends and spent the evening happily talking ‘knobbly tyres’. This year, whilst window shopping, I identified an amusing sort of stall holder’s uniform that comprised; long embroidered Tibetan style or homemade velvet coats for evening and see through kaftans for daytime wear. So now you know.
My mother-in-law gave me strict instructions to do all my xmas shopping at ‘Bizbaz’, so that she can kindly carry the gifts back to England for the family in a week or so’s time. With seventeen nieces, nephews and godchildren in England, this is no mean task. My excuse for accomplishing absolutely nothing thus far is that, having been enormously relieved not to see the police loitering at the same spot as last Friday’s incident (the old heart rate was racing I tell you), my turbo spectacularly blew up. Fortunately the break-down happened not far from home, but once my husband had towed me back, identified the problem and told me how much it would cost to fix the car, all shopping plans were immediately cancelled.
The Craft Fair in December is generally better for smaller gift items and by then I am generally in an honest panic about xmas shopping – so hope that I fare better there. How I’ll get the things back to England though, I don’t know. Perhaps I’d better resort to gifts ordered online that arrive on the door mat unlabelled and unwrapped. This might make a refreshing change from endless flow of cliched beads, kikoys, scarves, flip flops and rag dolls that perhaps all our family and friends are well and truly OVER by now, having received the same African stuff from us for the past ten years. How do other expat wives do it? Oh, the trials and tribulations of living overseas!