I have a problem, a souvenir from Zanzibar that’s lasted longer than I’d anticipated. Two months after the end of my trip I still have zebra-striped arm hair.
One of my favorite traditions in Swahili culture is henna. On my bus from Arusha to Dar Es Salaam I saw women with henna-covered feet and hands and immediately decided I was going to get some henna of my own. Most people think of henna designs as an Indian tradition, but I soon realized that East Africa, especially Zanzibar, was a frequent stop of travelers from all cultures, including India. The henna I had applied in Ahmedabad was beautiful but a different, Indian influenced, design. Zanzibari henna designs are more detailed and often mixed with black dye. And that was the problem, not only did the henna show up excellently on my skin but it also showed up excellently on my arm hair.
As far as I could tell most people in East Africa don’t have any arm hair at all so this wouldn’t be a concern of 99% of people using the “special” henna. With the detailed design I didn’t initially notice anything amiss but two weeks later, as the henna crumbled off my arms in the shower I noticed my new ⅓rd white, ⅓rd black and ⅓rd striped arm hair design.
How could I go out in public all patched and striped? I considered shaving it off but thought I’d give bleaching a try. Now I have ⅓rd really white arm hair, ⅓rd black and ⅓rd extra contrasty striped arm hair. The bleach had no effect whatsoever on black hairs and turned my remaining natural hair glistening white. I’m finally starting to get used to it but I’m wondering what you would do… there’s a poll on the right.