Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You are smart!

Now, when I think of people being smartly dressed I think of good tailoring, pencil skirts, suits, outfits suitable for a wedding, shiny shoes, coiffure-d hair. Needless to say, I am not, even in Britain with its mod cons and beauty treatments on tap, a model for smart dressing. Yet, here I am often met by the greeting ‘you are smart today’. This is made more remarkable that a good 90% of my clothes have seen considerably better days. Three of my dresses have been sewn up by my own fair hand and being the first to admit my faults, this does not mean a great job has been done. The bottoms of my jeans are now permanently stained a pale reddy-brown and after 7 months of cold showers and no visit to the hairdresser my barnet certainly leaves something to be desired. However, thanks to a diligent boyfriend my shoes do tend to be buffed and polished, so at least my feet are keeping up appearances.

People who are actually smart
I think perhaps the criteria for me being smart is, that occasionally, I match. By this I mean I might wear a grey t-shirt under a dress and a grey cardigan – I don’t have the ability to be anymore co-ordinated than that. My main problem is that I’m drawn to patterns and as such find my wardrobe tends to clash. If that is the criteria then people must be pretty easy to please. However I’m not sure that this is the case.  Nine out of the ten people who tell me that I am smart are considerably smarter themselves, dressed in handmade kitenge outfits, ironed shirts, smart trousers and polished shoes.

All I can surmise is that living in Kabale they see so many travellers passing through who are a bit dusty, worn looking, sweaty from the gruelling bus or matatu journeys that they are just used to white people looking  a bit worse for wear. Therefore someone who has showered recently, has managed to brush their hair and at least made an attempt at wearing clean clothes just looks smart in comparison!


  1. Hi there! I've just moved to Kampala two days ago to work with a non-profit in Nynama (about 30 minutes outside the city) and came across your blog (My friends actually emailed it to me because they found it such a smart, witty, fun read!) I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of being totally new to Africa for the first time. If you're near Kampala and would be up for meeting for a coffee, please do let me know! My mobile here is 0701908629. If you text I can send you my email. And if you're not in the Kampala area, it would still be wonderful to chat by phone with someone with so many months in Uganda under their belt. Thank you sooo much and hoping we connect soon :) -Aditi

  2. Hey, thanks for your message and also thank you to your friends for recommending it - that's super nice! I'm actually pretty far from Kampala (about an 8 hour journey in fact) so coffee seems unlikely but I will send you my email address via text if that's useful?

    Hope you enjoy your Ugandan experience ^_^