Wednesday, March 21, 2007


On Sunday we joined the Kabira Country Club. It was the ex-pat thing to do. I struggled with it much less than J, but then again, I’m new here and still having found memories of being a member of the North Andover Country Club back in the day and J has already spent two months hanging out at Kabira. Already I can see that they can be annoying. On my first day there, which was in fact my second day in the country, I was sitting at the bar by myself using the wireless Internet while J and N. were at some meetings. I had two Styrofoam cups in front of me from the coffee J. and I had brought in with us earlier that morning. The coffee had been nearly finished when we arrived and since then I had ordered a couple of bottles of water and lunch. A manager-looking guy walks up to me and asks, “Is this your first time here?” I thought he was going to kick me out for not staying in the hotel or belonging to the club. I nodded and gave my most charming smile. “We do not allow outside eatings here,” he says. Meanwhile, I’m not really sure what he is talking about. “But it’s your first time here, right?” Since I’ve already said yes, I continue to nod politely and smile. Finally he points at the Styrofoam cups. “No outside eatings can be brought in,” he says again. I explain that the cups were empty when we came in and I wasn’t able to find a trashcan. “It’s your first time,” he says, “so I understand, but you can’t bring in outside eatings.” To which I’m thinking, "You guys are really really anal, but I’m impressed you noticed it was my first day."

This didn’t actually bother me too much in general—I was just happy they didn’t kick me out. Things that did bother me: They wouldn’t even consider waiving the joining fee, which is in addition to the annual fee, after J had stayed there for two months and given them a considerable amount of business; they charge for towels.

We played tennis yesterday. When we arrived a guy strung the net up for us and then stuck around to be our ball boy. I’m not complaining about having a ball boy, but we had no idea how much this guy cost or if we simply supposed to figure out how much to tip him or what. We stopped for a water break about a half hour into our “game,” (turns out I suck at tennis; J is quite good) and J asked our ball boy how much he got paid. We both heard him say 30,000 Shillings. This is about $20 US. Neither of us said anything and we went back to playing, both of us with a small stone in our guts. I was thinking we would never be able to play tennis again. This last half hour rally would be our last. I mean, we pay Kabira all this money to join and then we’re expected to pay that much money on top of it just to play a lousy game of tennis? Because how do you tell a guy, no, thanks, we don’t need a ball boy, we’re (seemingly) rich ex-pats out for a jolly game of tennis and this is how you make your living running around for us, but we don’t need you?

Soooo, it turns out our ball boy said he makes 3,000 Shillings or $2 US. Total relief to know there is tennis to be had. S. and C. are planning a tennis round robin the week before their wedding and my goal is to not be an embarrassment OR a liability.

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