There are instances in this world where everything just falls perfectly into place. Funnily, barber visits have increasingly been giving me this sort of sensation. It starts with how conveniently close it is from home; whether using a matatu (taxi) or driving. There’s even free parking (whether it is ample or not is a different story altogether) with two guards manning it during the day.
Walking inside, my phone instinctively connects on to their Wi-Fi network. Yes, they have uncapped Wi-Fi! Go figure! Though, between you and me, it’s purely aesthetic in that before I have had time to check a second webpage, I am seated down and Kariuki is throwing a cloak around my torso, ready to start.
Pleasantries done with, he begins to shave. If I’m chatty he will engage: mostly I close my eyes and let him work. He’s methodical; each stroke precise and brutal to the hair. I barely feel it. He is often lured into a verbal altercation with the others in the quaint room. Occasionally breaking off into rib bursting laughter, he still doesn’t allow the shaver to dig into my skin. I’m terribly relieved as it means there will be no excruciating stinging pain at the end when spirit is dabbed over my head and I seat still feigning virility.
He is soon done, in which case I am ushered into the adjacent room where a bevy of women on standby to wash off the collateral are assembled. Again, decisive hands moulded by working on thousands of scalps are let loose. My eyes remain shut lost in punitive thoughts. However, all this is broken in the ensuing barrage of products that are laced on my head. This I struggle with, each and every time, as Baby Oil is the only thing I know.
What should follow is a massage, but I consistently refuse it. Not that I have anything against it, but almost an hour has elapsed and I normally come in when I have a hectic schedule planned. I do not have the time. Yet each time the masseuse responds in shock; like I’m missing the best part and I could have, in fact, done away with all the rest. The other patrons seated next to me without fail remark “Si unipatie yake basi!” (“Why not give me his share!”)
Chuckling, I go to pay Ksh 300 ($ 2.85 or ZAR 38.69 or € 2.52) and my day resumes.
If most wine interactions could only be like this… Something that comes awfully close for me is the Madame Marlbrook that is, dreadfully, no longer being produced by Klein Constantia (farm I used to work for). The lady was invariably a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc with the periodic addition of Chardonnay, which was fermented and aged in old French barrels for about a year. I’d been keeping a 2008 in my closet for some time now but I found an excuse to open it recently.
The colour was deep golden, indicative of the age and oak contact. The nose was riddled with lemon grass, hay and marzipan. The palate tangerine, toasted nuts and some slight honey. Despite the age it was delightfully fresh and lengthy on the palate. Each flavour lived symbiotically with the rest. This makes it drink with ease. Medium bodied, I’ve even managed to successfully pair it with lamb, chicken and some fish in the past. Most would probably struggle with the fading fruit, but I thought it was phenomenal as always. It’s a stunning wine, but just not incredibly memorable.