But operations are not cool and I am allowed to say so. I am sore and feeling sorry for myself.
Monday, 30 June 2008
Sunday, 29 June 2008
So, it is not that surprising that events that other people think are cool, I don’t quite get. This happened to me when I found myself on a road trip with people I didn’t know very well, and they decided to go to: Oxbraai.
Oxbraai is an institution amongst South African youth. And what I ask is: WHY??! People drive from all over the country to this tiny town in the middle of nowhere in the Eastern Cape, that, apart from this mudfest, is famous for: a giant fibreglass pineapple. It is true, I have seen it with my own eyes.
Once in Bathurst, this metropolis of pineapples, you drive to a place where (I think) they auction off cattle. Here you are charged actual money for the privilege of bringing your own music and your own alcohol. You park your car wherever you have space. Millions of other people arrive. They all play their own music out of their car radios. They start to drink. Then at some point, you all queue up for a piece of meat and a roll ( the meat is not even ox!).
Now really, I do not understand this. South Africans are famous for their braais, we do it well. We can have braais in our own backyards, replete with whatever delicious meat we want, and copious amounts of alcohol, and we can do it with our friends, and not have to put up with other people’s crap music if we don’t want to.
So why, why are people driving from all over the country to this backwater for an insipid slice of cow, to be eaten in the pissing rain, with no shelter in sight except your car? The year I attended, they had even brought in a few bands for our entertainment. For the first time. So, I was thinking, you mean to tell me that in previous years people had actually come to this thing and JUST for the piece of meat?!
Well, it rained from the moment we arrived. Everyone had brought beer. I don’t normally drink beer, but I had a feeling that I was going to have to make an exception because I could not see how I would get through this night without a fair whack of alcohol in my bloodstream.
People started drinking and dancing in the rain. We queued for some hours for our meat and piece of lettuce. We checked out the bands. They were not bad, but the dance floor was a mudbath. Everyone was covered head to toe in mud.
Some time in the evening, all the beer caught up with me and I needed to find a bathroom. At the door of the bathroom I found my friend, the only person that I really knew on this trip. She was standing at the door stopping everyone who was heading in. To each person she was announcing: “Urine is sterile. Don’t worry, urine is sterile. Go ahead, seriously, urine is sterile.”
This did not bode well. Now, we studied microbiology together, so I didn’t need to be told that urine is sterile, but why did these other souls need to be told?
I peered into the bathroom. The floor was awash with…stuff. Yes, I thought, urine is indeed sterile, but all that other… stuff, is not.
Once in, I surveyed the situation. The toilet bowl was a fountain, overflowing with…stuff. Oh God. (whywhywhywhy?!!) I realised that whatever I did in that cubicle would merely contribute to the fountain. I thought about it for some time. What could I do? I contributed.
The rest of the evening provided me with a dilemma. My first instinct was to get as drunk as possible in order to forget what had just happened. But that would inevitably lead to me needing to revisit that chamber of delights. After a while I gave in, curled up in my friend’s car, twitching sporadically, and prayed for morning.
Now, I know thousands of people love Oxbraai, and that is fine, I am not dissing it. I just don’t get it. I hope that one day someone will explain it to me. Either way, if you ever find yourself at the Oxbraai just remember:
urine is sterile
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Friday, 27 June 2008
I think our country needs a new name. I cringe at the thought of what the left wingers, the right wingers, and all those wingless folks who nevertheless love to peck such ideas to death and shit on their new suits, would say at such a suggestion. Ag, it has probably already been suggested.
It is true. I love the country of my birth, but we have a silly name. How many times have I had this conversation in my meanderings across the globe:
Where do you come from?
Yes, but which country?
Um, South Africa is a country.
Don’t you mean Kenya? And how can you be from Africa? You are white!
(As an aside, what about this one:
So, do you speak African?
We-e-ell. I have spoken in Africa. I have spoken to Africans in Africa in a language used by Africans. So, ye-e-es. Do you speak European?)
Eish. I feel sorry for Paris Hilton. She got a lot of flak over her South Africa - West Africa faux pas, but she was really only making public the understanding of the average non-African about Africa.
So, anyway, we need to get a better name, one that is not a direction. I see one problem with this idea though. And that is, it will be fraught with problems.
I mean, the whole name changing thing is a leetle controversial right now. Poor South Africans just don’t know where they are, what with road names changing back and forth, town names mushrooming overnight, and not being able to read a freaking road map half the time anyway because the street lights are out. There are more important things to spend the nation's money on, no one will deny.
I foresee much wrangling over the name of something as big as a country. How can you get a group of people with 11 official languages to agree on something that will represent them all over the world? I can imagine a conversation in the future:
Where do you come from?
Um, do you have an internet connection? Just need to check the current name status…
I reckon the government could set up a twitter account with name updates so we can all keep track.
Let us say it is to be a project for the future. As to the name, there is a word that is being bandied about the country and in hyperspace that I personally think would do perfectly well. It is a single, compact, relatively easy to pronounce word, and all those Z’s give it pizzazz. And it begins with an M, so we will be higher up on the lists of nation states.
For shor many people will object. But if I get asked which country in South Africa I live in one more time, well, I may commit a random act of map drawing, and then the world will really be misguided about our continent.
Thursday, 26 June 2008
(The US has its very particular problem politicians but I am not qualified to rant about them).
Don't even mention cops shooting at eachother on the highway and causing mass terror amongst drivers. I know these are not politicians. Nevertheless, one more mess. If your police behave like gangsters, maybe we can persuade the gangsters to behave like police?
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
3.The deviations are random. There are no rules governing these deviations. For instance, the letters "ough" can be pronounced in at least 7 ways:
Monday, 23 June 2008
I know you will never read this but I am writing it anyway (because I wanna).
You will be South Africa's next president, of this I am sure. I beg of you, if there is one thing you consider as president (I can think of many things worth considering, but this will do for now), it is to vastly improve the state of the AIDS campaign in South Africa.
Many of the people currently working as national and local health ministers seem intent on actively sabotaging treatment of AIDS victims. They are arrogant, cannot tolerate criticism, and put their egos before the lives of millions of their fellow people.
I understand why many people in South Africa are wary of all things Western, white, or scientific. These things have been cruel to Africa in the past. I acknowledge concerns over the toxicity of AZT. Many medicines are toxic in large doses, and in small doses kill off viruses. That is the nature of medicine. The trick is in the dose. Of course dosage mistakes can be made. But the benefits of administering ARV's outwiegh such risks.
We need people in charge of health that are humble, that can admit if they are wrong, that value the lives of other people at least a quarter of the amount that they value their own, and whose aim is to improve the health and lives of the people, not to push agendas.
It would be ideal if future health ministers held some sort of Biology degree. I studied Biology myself, and can point you in the direction of perfectly competent people of whichever race group you desire.
I am white, so I understand if you discount my opinion as one of those out to harm indigenous African people. I promise you, most people of all races in South Africa want the horror that is AIDS to be brought under control. We have no hidden racist agendas.
Many people have suffered more than they may have needed to. Whatever else you do or do not do in SA, make sure you choose the best health ministers available to you.
Over and out.
I live in a poo town. My town is drowning in poo. I have never seen so much poo in any other town, and I have lived in different parts of different countries, I have travelled, like, in the world and over the seas!
Seriously I have been to many towns in the world and in the UK and this one wins the prize. The only place that comes close is Observatory in Cape Town.
Apart from the person pooing on our steps (see previous post), there is poo on the pavements every day. Nearly every day. I live in quite a smart English town, quite posh even. Covered in poo. Every day I stare rigidly at the ground, doing the poo-dodge shuffle. And in between poo, there is vomit. I am not exaggerating here, this is also a puke town. I live outside a pub, and one of the nightly sound effects that I am subjected to is "spew".
Sho, too much poo and too much spew for me. The town my parents live in has a chewing gum problem, they have these disgusting cardboard squares stuck to poles at regular intervals, covered in saliva-soaked chewing gum, which is (apparently) better than having the stuff smeared all over the pavement. Give me chewing gum over poo any day.
It's a lovely town apart from the aforementioned bodily excretions. Flowers and everything. Just bring nosepegs if you come and visit, and wrap your shoes in plastic bags.
But when his girlfriend got pregnant he moved on to shops. He wasn't too good at it though, both times he got caught and gooied in jail. He was in jail while his son was born, poor guy.
He and his girlfriend have had some scary fights. They fight daily. Twice she smashed her fist into one of their windows, and there was blood all over our building for days. Hell, weeks. And the second time, they never replaced their window, just put a black plastic bag over it all through winter.
The thing is, he is a nice, friendly, genuine guy, and he means well, and uh, pity about the career choice and all. But he even asks us if his music is too loud.
Can you complain about your neighbours if they are polite?
There is a person who apparently (I have not witnessed it, thank god) poos regularly on one of the sets of steps up to our block of flats. I can complain about that. I hate to sound like a snob, but perhaps the area I live in is a bit dodgy.
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Apparently some people believe the world will actually end, while others claim a spiritual event of great significance shall occur. I got no further clarification from my mom on what this event will entail. She tells me that the ancient Aztecs/Incas/Mayans (my mom is a bit sketchy on the details) made or found these crystal skulls, which somehow or other will facilitate this event in 2012. How she did not tell me. My mom never seems to care about logistics, she just looks forward to the big day.
Well, seeing as the end of the world is quite a "big day", I feel I should mark it down for future reference. Only, I don't have a calendar or a year planner for 2012. Gee, I can't even plan my life one hour in advance, never mind 4 years in advance! So to avoid this momentous time biting me on the bum I am recording it here, on this blog.Of course, in 2012 I will not remember that I wrote this post, and so will not read it, and will be asleep while the skulls take over the world. But don't say I didn't warn you, whoever you are (who am I kidding, not even my gran would read the drivel I write).
I hope that I will remember, so I can stand at my window, singing "it's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine". I have been waiting for an opportune moment to do this ever since Y2K. I learned all the words, and there are many, and they make no sense, and then, nothing happened! I read this book where this guy had a theory that after Y2K Gorbachev would take over the world and become the "world Tzar"...but that is another story.
Saturday, 21 June 2008
Friday, 20 June 2008
and I know the fear, the heart in the mouth,
the hand on the phone, whispering my mantra
Take what you want, the TV is crap though,
you already took the good one, that one is someone's spare,
The picture is blurred and jumps around,
Just don't hurt us, we are not bad people.
Now I am over the sea,
and I think of my loved ones
and I whisper again,
please please do not hurt them
they are good people.
And ps, thank you for curing me of TV.
We're all running around trying to save face
putting a shine to the tarnished human race
Thursday, 19 June 2008
My best public transport experiences EVER were during the 3 months that I worked at Kirstenbosch. There is a bus route that goes through Bishopscourt, and I took the same bus with the same bus driver every day for those 3 months.
The exact same cast of passengers took this bus every morning: me, the token whitey (we must be politically correct), my friend who worked with me, a lone man who worked in the gardens (he was merely an extra, playing a similar role to me), and all of the ladies who worked as domestics in the uber-posh houses in the area.
These ladies were, well, wonderful! They talked and laughed and shouted and all knew each other and played tricks on each other the whole way to work. There was a ringleader, I think her name was Jo, who brought us all sweets, and chooned everyone and caused constant nonsense. Most of this nonsense went on in isiXhosa, much to my frustration, cos I couldn't follow what was going on, but occasionally they would break out into English. I remember her once declaring "I am a spy" and looking around at all of us, finding things that she could report to her "bosses". She also chooned the poor driver, a quiet, serious man, who in the presence of a bus FULL of women looked frankly terrified. She organised a collection on the bus for him at Christmas, poor man.
The best part of the trip, which was a rare treat, was when the ladies would suddenly break into song, these beautiful deep, rumbling Xhosa hymns, which they would harmonise and everything, as if they were all part of some bus-choir. That really gave me goose bumps.
My friend and I both agreed that the highlight of our Kirstenbosch working experience was the busride each morning.
Taking the bus in England is, well, not the same. The only songs that get sung are unintelligibly screeched out by drunken students, cos I think us European types are too inhibited to sing in public unless we are very very inelegantly wasted. Those songs can induce headaches and nothing more.
Otherwise we look forward, try not to touch, see, or notice anyone else, and there are no sweeties either!
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
- The time I was walking home at night from campus. I was walking towards Main road down one of the side roads. As I neared Main Road I saw a taxi whizz by on the Main Road pavement. A robot taking too long perhaps? I remember stopping, blinking a few times, and saying, nah I did not just see that. And my brain replying, oh yes you did, right past Pick n Pay.
- Another time on the freeway behind varsity, we were driving late at night towards Rondebosch, the only car on our side of the road, and we saw a taxi zooming the wrong way down the freeway that heads towards Cape Town. Me thinking, thank gawd we not on that side of the freeway!
- Another time (at band camp) - boyfriend and I -sitting in a taxi in Claremont waiting for the guy who collected money in our taxi to finish beating up the guy from another taxi. They were throwing eachother up against the taxi. I was all for climbing out the window and running away, boyfriend wanting to get into the fray and pull these guys apart. He made me stay on the taxi.
- The time I was wandering the streets (Main Road again) in the dark at some ungodly hour of the morning, trying to get to varsity, and I accidentally got on a taxi to Manenberg. The guy shouted something, I have no idea what (well, I guess he must have shouted "Manenberg" really, makes sense, but that is not what I heard. What did I hear? I have no idea, whatever I wanted to hear I assume). The taxi stopped, I got on, the guy (he looked very doubtful) asked me "something something", I guess he was saying "Mannenberg? and I nodded, again hearing whatever it was I wanted to hear. As the taxi was about to turn off Main Road, the guy asked me one last time with much skepticism and disbelief in his face, "Manenberg", and I finally clicked, and muttered "Gawd, no, I better get off here." (Not that I have anything against Manenberg, but it is quite far away from where I was meant to be, and me alone, and in the dark...). I was lucky that between the two of us there was one brain. The one whose brain it wasn't never did go to Manenberg.
- memories of being squished into a taxi meant to seat surely no more than 14 or 15 people? In the mornings they squished in at least 20, I remember semi standing, semi perching on some poor guy's knee with another guy's unidentified body part in my face, thinking how the hell am I going to get off this taxi?
- The (many) times when the taxi drivers would race eachother down Main Road. This was NOT fun. Ok, maybe just a little bit, they drove REALLY fast, but there was a small part of me that thought I was gonna die each time.
In a city where there is a freeway that drops off into midair, anything can happen on the roads.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
I know I am an ignorant fool, but that insert button on my keyboard drives me nuts! I just cannot figure out what it is useful for, and my finger seems to stray to that position quite often, and then all of a sudden perfectly useful, sometimes precious words disappear as I type. It is a nasty sight to see I tell you.
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Before that I watched whatever my Dad was watching, even golf if I was really bored, even freaking formula one if there was nothing else. When I was small I liked to watch Manchester United. No worries, I am now safely cured of such foolery. I was very small.
But my Dad was mad about rugby and cricket, so I became mad about rugby and cricket.
Now, back to my kakness. I have sadly lost track of the goings on of sport in recent years and I am ashamed of this. But the benefits of not having a TV outweigh this abject sport situation. Like, I actually leave the house.
There are times when I must draw the line at this ignorance, and the recent World cup Rugby tournament was one of them. It was vital that I get to see the games. The key to this was making a friend, and the sole requirement of this friend was that it have a TV. Boyfriend and I achieved this, and proceeded to watch the games.
It was somewhat trying considering our new friends included a horde of Frenchies, an Englishman who hated England and supported France EXCEPT for when we were watching with the Frenchies; and when England played against South Africa he supported England (to piss me off), and a Chilean, who according to national pride hated the Argentinians, but when against South Africa, supported the Argentinians (to piss me off). Nice.
At some point it occurred to me that we would be in the final, and that during the final I would be on a work trip with my English boss on a remote island in Greece. We were off to do work of a biological nature. (I know what you are thinking. No. NO. I did not do anything biological with my boss, in or out of nature. Think bacteria. No, not that kind of bacteria. Oh gods, I will shut up now).
Now, the Greeks are famous for many things. Their yoghurt is quite tasty, and their feta cheese. Some impressive architecture. BUT. The rugby she is not so beeg. I had a feeling that finding a place to watch a rugby game at the end of tourist season on the island of Milos, town of Adamas, population 1000, was going to be like getting a certain Health minister to give up garlic and ginger. Mos difficult.
I was correct. My boss was not that interested in the game himself, but on behalf of me who had ants in her pants, he enquired at our hotel of the chances of us seeing said game. The lady at the desk and her family were watching TV at the time. The lady thought that no, people here watched football, it would be unlikely that such a thing would even make it onto TV. I am not sure she had heard of rugby. Surprise surprise.
Suddenly the old man sitting weaving a fishing net spoke up. "Who is playing this game?" We informed him that it was South Africa vs England. He told us that he had lived in Joburg for many years and would be interested to see the game.
Are you seriaas? I was doubtful that he could actually do anything, I had a feeling he had not watched one rugby game since he had left SA. He mentioned something about a digital chip for the TV that he could borrow from a friend, so there was some hope.
On the night of the game there was an almighty storm that blew umbrellas and small children all over the show and caused many temporary blackouts. Nevertheless the locals were out in full force. We walked from bar to bar. They all had huge screens and on each screen was a different soccer game. Waaaah. We went to the hotel to see if our friend had found that chip thing. The desk was deserted and dark. It was late and we figured he had forgotten and gone to bed.
We went back out on to the streets in the barrelling rain, and asked in at some places if they were interested in watching a rugby game, or if they had access to it. Ever heard of rugby? Nope.
We swam forlornly back to our rooms. I surrendered, it was not to be. I sat on the bed in a puddle, flicking sadly through the channels, hoping for a miracle. No rugby to be seen. The time for the start of the match came and went. No chance. I sms'd my boyfriend demanding frequent score updates.
I kept flicking half heartedly. Suddenly I saw - was that- I flicked back. Yes, yes N-B-Yes! The rugby! There was a violent pounding upon my door. My boss was standing in the rain, jumping about like a Mexican bean trying to tell me that the rugby was on, that he had gone downstairs and the Greek man had been there and he had found the chip and tada!
Ok, the commentary was in Greek (you could hear very faint Afrikaans under the Greek commentary, cos they were speaking over a Supersport broadcast) and there were occasional losses of signal due to the general onslaught of rain and umbrellas and was that Mary Poppins? but we still got to see it. The TV blacked out completely in the last 4 minutes of the game but came back on for me to watch the joyous awards ceremony (boss not so joyous. Haha. Hahahahaha).
I was a very happy microbiologist bunny in Milos.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Here are the links:
The middle generations:http://www.litnet.co.za/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&cause_id=1270&news_id=46714&cat_id=190
Splat of angst: http://www.litnet.co.za/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&cause_id=1270&news_id=46715&cat_id=190
Meet Norm, my ankle friend. Norm goes everywhere with me, except my dreams.
I acquired Norm in a biker bar in Obs. I was later informed by a friend that NORMAL girls get tattoos in groups of no less than 10 and go to designer boutique type parlours in malls which will provide your chinese symbol/butterfly/fairy of choice for an exorbitant fee.
Jawellnofine, I have always been odd. It helps when you have no conception of what you are getting yourself into. I wandered into this bar alone and was greeted by the puzzled stares of many huge, leather clad men covered in skulls and other vaguely satanic symbols. Mkay. (I want my Mommy!) They were all drinking. Alcohol. Before midday (I had not been to the UK then so I had a somewhat naive conception of acceptable alcohol consumption).
I stammered my intentions to the barman. The tattooist dude came over and took me to his room at the back of the bar. He asked me what I wanted. I must say he looked somewhat bemused when I handed over my cellphone which had a screensaver of a cute cartoon turtle thereupon.
“You want that!!??”
I had a fleeting moment of self doubt then and I considered running away. But I nodded. Yes that is what I wanted. He resigned himself to this anomaly and set to work. Now the actual tattoo was not particularly sore, but the noise! Nobody warns you about the noise! In those few moments between him switching on the needle and putting it to my skin I thought that I was about to encounter a fate worse than death.
But it was all fine, and now I have Norm, he has been with me for 6 years and will be (hopefully) for many more. I am considering getting a lettuce tattoo to give him something to strive for.