What you need to know:
One of my favourite times is when I find myself on a salon chair in Kampala being pampered and taken care of by very kind and smiling staff, but more interesting are stories that come with a salon visit. Never a dull moment!
My relationship with Kampala beauty salons is one of passion and discovery, throughout the years I checked many of them and had my share of joy at good outcomes and disappointment when the result was not as expected. Finally, I found my ideal salon and stuck to it.
Although the service seemed to be consistent, the happenings in the salon were always quite animated, never a dull moment indeed. I have always been impressed by the passion Ugandans have for being well groomed, nails and hair seem to be on top of the list when it comes to looking good.
There is no visitor that comes to Uganda and won’t notice and comment about the young men carrying a basket in their hand with a manicure set, going around town finding clients who are interested in a quick nail fix. You would often see a shop attendant –regardless of her age- seated on a small stool, while the young man is cutting and polishing her nails.
A weekend visit to my salon will always include meeting a bridal party, and it is always a joy to see the process of how the bride, her maids and flower girls are being prepared for the big day. This while, the matron is running the show and fixing what seems not to work.
I have also noticed that while brides in the Middle East become hysteric, difficult and demanding, most Ugandan brides are very comfortable in their skin, maybe because they know they are such beauties anyway. Among other clients are little boys who often scream and demand to sit in their mom or dad’s lap when they are having a haircut.
However, little girls sit on the chair for hours and hours while their hair is being pulled and braided, I guess the virtue of patience starts with girls from a very early age.
And in the middle of these affairs, someone comes with food and drinks for the entourage. Everyone knows it is a long day ahead. So, pieces of chicken, packs of chips and juices are carefully consumed especially by the young ones who should not spoil their costumes.
On that day...
One day, I was early, so I saw a bridal party entering the salon. Everyone went to a designated chair to start the process of hair, nails and make up, and then she came in! Not the bride, but one of the entourage.
This young lady without even sitting on a hairdresser’s chair looked so naturally beautiful. Her flawless skin, amazing smile and others body features and were all she needed.
There was nothing that the beautician could have added to this already perfect young lady, but I guess she just had to follow the group.
One of the most interesting experiences I had was when there was this security alert all over town, right after the Westgate saga that took place in Nairobi. Most malls became a nightmare at their entry points, long queues for security checks were created and there was this lingering fear of the unknown lurking somewhere in the mind.
Still one day I decided to brave my fears of a possible attack and ended up in the manicure, pedicure chair. After chatting with the salon attendant about what I needed to be done, I had a chance to look around and check who else was present. And, what are they up to! Lo and behold, look who is on my left, one of the well-known Army generals!
He was having a haircut and chatting with another man who was seated on the next chair, a CEO of a well-known newspaper in town. To my right, a lady Minister was getting her hair done.
It seems the government was well represented there. Now, whether that should have made me feel safer or not is another story for another day! Let me put my pieces together to tell you then.