An enchanting rooftop restaurant and hotel, once home to the last Swahili ruler of Zanzibar. During restoration, thousands of abalone and oyster shells were found in its courtyard, hinting that once a mother-of-pearl-jewellery shop operated here. A rich Indian merchant used to trade from the building, and legend has it that he would dry carpets of sopping rupee notes (from the ships) on the floors! Emerson Spice House is drenched in opulent Arabic/Indian appeal, and its cosy cushion-seated eatery oers unparalleled views across Stone Town’s skyline.


At home on leave, my confidence was growing, although I was still prone to make a fool of myself when pursuing a real girl. My stunted chat-up lines were poor offerings, usually borrowed from someone else, though having been stripped of all timing and context and style prior to delivery. I used the crutch of demon drink, which banished my shyness and unfolded my tongue and conferred me with a talent to amuse that lasted the evening. I remained a real whizz with bar-girls in the Far East, drunk or sober. I could laugh and joke with them with easy fluency and although they never forgot their job of extracting as much cash from me as possible, I could tell I was good company to them – certainly better than the many who treated them as meat rather than people, and made it clear their only attraction was that they took their clothes off easier than most girls.

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