01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Keeping up Appearances 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Keeping up Appearances


It’s that ‘end of the academic’ year time again.  And with it the expat exodus off to pastures new.  Is it my imagination or are school holidays getting yet longer? Definitely time to have a leg wax and a pedicure.  It’s been a while and the weather here has been conducive to trousers every day – so I’m overdue an appointment. To avoid embarrassment when stepping off the plane back home, I’ll face the crazy parking, the guy holding a yellow wheel clamp at the ready, puddles, mud, hawkers and get ready to get pampered.  Poor me!

Joking apart – would I have ever dreamed of having a professional pedicure (ie not my wobbly daubings of nail varnish and a pair of rusty nail clippers) if I had ever left England? No.  I remember that I was first introduced to the concept of a pedicure in 1999 by a kind friend in Tanzania who took me by the hand and said ‘no really, it’s okay’.  And now I’m hooked because these lovely treatments, normally the preserve of film stars and actresses, are actually fairly affordable here! 

In fact, there are more than a few aspects of life here than resemble popular American reality TV series.

Some people really do have;
1.       Drivers..  yes drivers!  AND these drivers can sometimes be deputised to do your grocery  shopping.
2.       Pedicures, manicures and hair blow dried weekly!
3.       Facials (oooh – the guilty pleasure) and massages
4.       Cooks (can you believe it!)
5.       Full time employees at home including nannies, gardeners, domestic staff.

And don’t assume that this is the preserve of one hedonistic tranche of expat life.  Some local Kenyan and Indian families absolutely trail blaze when it comes to this genteel way of living.  A memorable tea was served to me at a friend’s house by an Indian domestic worker who had been flown in as a personal chef.

But is the domestic worker sphere changing? Certainly it is slowly altering in Nairobi. Most house staff members will not ‘live in’ these days.  8 hour shifts with a half day at the weekend is the norm and in some cases, salaries are rising to the levels earned by office workers.

I had to add this photo because it just made me laugh!

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