Disclaimer: If you don’t bank with Standard Chartered Bank, don’t read this piece. This is only for Stanchart clients. Kindly. For the rest, there are some snacks and tea on the table outside the door. Thank you.
I’m rubbish with money. I know folk who actually budget. They actually sit down every end month and write down where every cent will go. I don’t do that. I tried it once after attending a Centonomy Class years ago but I reverted back to my old ways. What I do is once I have paid the necessary bills and sent some money to save for rainy days, I just wing the rest of the month. God has a way of handling the rest of the month but only if you don’t panic and place your faith and trust in him. The Lord will not let you starve or buy a cocktail for 1,200 because the Lord gives bread and he knows all happy-hour joints. But you have to have faith first. That’s key.
So how do I monitor my expenditure? I don’t. But I try and I do this by constantly swiping my Visa card. That way I can peek at my statement and wonder what the hell I was doing buying an edible underwear for 800 bob at 2:30am on April 7th 2019. (Stanchart clients don’t judge each other, guys, that’s for the guys eating scones and tea outside the door).
Recently I went to renew my Visa Debit card at the Yaya Center Branch. My old card was peeling at all edges from overuse because I’m always sticking it in PDQ machines. It looked like I peel fruits with it. It was beginning to look ugly and contagious. Honestly it didn’t bother me, but waiters and waitresses were starting to step back with a start every moment I handed it over to pay a bill. It looked like it would infect someone with something that you have to take three capsules twice a day after food to cure. That’s how you know you have a bad disease when you are told to take your meds after a meal.
Anyway, I go to the banking hall near the bookshop. There are three tellers and a raised table where a young staff sits looking busy. As I fill my form a gentleman in a cap walks in. I notice him because he’s wearing corduroy trousers. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw anyone wearing brown corduroy trousers. When you walk in corduroy trousers they make the same sound a car wiper makes when its raining. Folk like to throw around the word outliers. A guy runs a marathon in under two hours and he’s slapped with the tag outlier. You find someone who speaks six foreign languages – French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, German and Luo – and people want to call them an outlier. The real outliers are people who dare leave the house in corduroy trousers. It takes great fortitude to wear corduroy trousers.
I have this dark fantasy that one day I will actually witness a bank robbery. That bad guys with guns and hats walk into a bank as I’m filling a form and actually shout for everybody to lie down on the floor as they do in movies and then proceed to rummage through drawers for money, stuffing bills in their pocket. But they don’t hurt anybody. And nobody tries to be a hero or anything like that. I hear a voice of one of them thugs telling the other, “Vaite, ambia huyo msupa akupatie combination ya vault.” And I instantly recognise the voice as someone I know. Because not many people say msupa, at least not in a tense moment like that. And when they are gone and we stand up, dusting ourselves up, bewildered, confused, our ears ringing with adrenaline, someone saying, “Oh my God, did we just get robbed?” as if we it looks like we just disembarked from a luxury cruise, I think to myself, I know one of the thugs! He has a day job. He walks at Jafferys Sports Club! He goes to Mavuno! I know a thug!
Anyway, I knew – rather disappointedly, I will admit – that this man in a corduroy trousers wasn’t going to rob the bank. Because corduroys are so heavy, you can’t run in them. It’s like running in wet jeans. You will be caught. I overhear the man telling the teller, “Habari yako?…Eh he?… Kazi iko salama?” They must know each other. “Haya, I’d like an RTGS.” The teller says something and he says. “…yes..for 14 -million.”
I slowly turn to look at him again. A good look, this time. My first look was a casual amused look because of his trousers. This second look was of, intrigue. He’s moving 14-mil as casually as I send my grandmother an Mpesa of 3K. He’s in his late 40s. Or early 50s. Definitely a businessman. He looks like the kind of guy who deals with spare parts but also farms on the side. Maybe he’s paying salaries. Maybe he’s just bought a big white 39ft boat for his villa in Malindi. He looks like an honest man. I can’t describe that look.
I’m with my son, by the way. He’s drawing something on a piece of paper. As I wait for my debit card replacement, the man walks wanders over to us and says hello to my son. Children are the greatest ice-breakers. My son looks at me as if seeking approval to engage. His eyes seem to ask, “What’s the family code on talking to men in corduroy trousers?” I smile at him and so he says hi back. The man asks him, “Do you own the bank?” He looks at me briefly, that look adults exchange when one of them is bullshiting a child. “You know you can also own this bank?” The guard standing nearby chuckles. My son goes back to his drawing because he doesn’t have time for such talk. Why the hell would he want a bank for? Maybe a bouncing castle.
I get a new Visa Card. It shines. The staff, comes with a piece of paper and says, “Do you know of our promotions?” Then hands me this piece of paper with stores that offer discounts if you swipe your card over this holiday season. I scan the list out of politeness and then an idea occurs to me, which is the point of this article.
One of the outlets on the list is this place called The Refinery Grooming in Village Market. It’s a men’s only grooming lounge. It’s got that masculine vibe about it with the all-warm tones of brown with wooden parquet floors, a classic gentleman’s haunt. The barbers use those old-school clippers. They use classic Babassu and Bergamot range of products. I don’t know what that range of product is, but they smell great. It feels like you are in an old movie where you are the don and you are driven back left. Their pedicure/ manicure rooms are private cubicles and you recline in these deep leather chairs a TV remote in your hands. You can watch a movie/ Netflix with headphones on. Drinks are on the house; whiskies and wine. I have been there twice when they just opened their doors. It was fantastic. It’s not a place I’d be able to frequent, though, because a simple 40-minutes haircut is 3,000 bob. A 20 minute beard trim is 1,500 bob. They have this thing called a Gentleman’s Wet Shave that they use a hot towel to shave going for 2,500 a pop. If you want there is a VIP room for complete privacy going for Sh1,000 an hour. (You really don’t need this, unless your whole back has hair and you are shy).
For that amount service is through the roof. The staff is amazing. If you care to know, there is this hot jango chick with amazing skin at the reception, I don’t know if she’s still there. If you go tell her Biko said hello. If she remembers me.
I’m not the target market. For sure. But it’s a hell of a place.
But it’s the end of the year and if you are looking for a year-end gift ideas for a man, this is the place. Of course, he will twist his nose at the very idea of going for “grooming,” because we are men. We want to grow nails so that we can use them for hunting and gathering. We imagine that doing a pedicure will reduce our machismo. Nobody will admit it but that shit feels good; you sit there, headphones on, watching The Irishman on Netflix as this lady removes soil, grass and other forms of debris your toes have gathered since childhood, while you sip your whisky.
If you have an amazing boss. Send him there as a year-end gift. If your brother has had a horrible year, send him there for one of their relaxing treatments. If you have a client who has kept you afloat whole year, don’t send another cheesy package of whisky glasses with his name on it. Send them there for a manly experience. If your man has been amazing this year but he has a skin that looks like an elephant’s hide and no oil known to man can moisturize it, send him there for a scrub.
Because they have this 15% discount if you pay using Visa. But if all else fails, you can also get other discounts on gift ideas here on this link: https://www.sc.com/ke/promotions/my-stanchart-privileges/#17741-ke
It would be very cool if you don’t bank with Stanchart but you read this article to the end.