Friday, September 17, 2010
So, as is customary, I've been asked a fair amount of whether I feel homesick.
The answer is, give or take, 'No.'
There are aspects of home that I certainly think about, but I don't particularly crave or pine for them. Yet.
I've been told a variant of things by non-Brits. That I'll get homesick at the 3 month mark and glamourise South Africa, that it'll take me 3-6 months to settle in properly, and that I shouldn't go home for as long as possible.
I've been here a little over two months. And don't plan to visit home for another 8 months.
The stuff I think about and consider is this, maybe it will even surprise you:
Am I going to lose the ability drive?
I took the Brit's car out last weekend for a spin around Putney, as I'm starting to panic that my incredible Fe-Driving will disappear.
It was with a distinctly grannyish effect that I drove his vehicle. I think about how it was to drive Ludwig quite a bit.
I do love the Brits. Sometimes when they talk or throw banter around, I think, 'Did you really just say that?' At their best they are a fiercely eccentric nation, manage the driest forms of wit, and are usually polite [if they aren't pikeys.].
At their worst they are stoic, very serious and can be cold.
I hear the few Saffas that work in my building before I even see them. I do miss the sunny, laid-back, casual South African working environment.
I think the big difference is that you can read South Africans quite easily; the Brits it takes a little longer.
Funnily enough, not the weather. Yet.
All hail ye, it's getting crisp. Winter is on it's way. I both fear and celebrate it, much like people who choose to remain on location when a hurricane breaks. I fear the shorter, dark days to the driving rain and wind.
Suffice to say, am rearing for the challenge. On how I'm going to handle it.
I've started to stock up on coats, scarves, boots and tinned beans.
I used to eat biltong every single day of my life back in Saffaland. I'm not sure whether this is exemplary or grotesque, but one things' for sure, it was excessive.
The brit took me to a biltong shop in Barnes last weekend. Where I think the dude behind the counter was playing the whole accent thing up completely.
We were in hysterics.
"Ja cheers hey!" and "Ja I recks the graze in London is kak bru, you gotta try my billoes hey lank."
Well it was great biltong. I ate a kilo in two hours.
Remember my god son, Brian? My god dog? It's too sore to even talk about. I miss him to the ends of the Earth, and he wasn't even my dog. Let's leave it there, as I don't feel like crying today.
And finally...the space
There's no getting around this. I would be lying if I said otherwise.
But the thing I miss most about home? The space.
I came here fully knowing that London is cramped. And that you trip over people's feet every time you walk outside. And that you live in a box. I wasn't for a minute imagining a Serengeti-sized bedroom, come on.
However, there are days when I get home exhausted from a day out, mainly from fighting through crowds. It has definitely affected me. Weaving my way constantly through throngs of people just to get to a train platform. Jumping over suitcases, squashing in between people on the tube, or fighting my way through a wave of humans at tourist spots like Covent Garden and Piccadilly.
That said, I'm learning how to deal with it. In three easy steps.
1) Keep Calm And Carry On.
The British solution to every crisis. (That and a cup of tea. Tea solves everything.) I got stuck in a traffic jam of sweaty humans in Clapham Junction station the other day, and it was fast hitting crushing level. I almost started to panic. Literally closed my eyes and meditated whilst standing there, poised, with sweaty palms. Until it passed.
2) Visit popular tourist spots out of peak hours
So, I'll conduct a meeting in Oxford circus on a Tuesday morning, instead of going there on a Saturday afternoon.
3) Grew some balls
If you don't grow a large bag of man-testicles, you're going to get crushed/swallowed alive.
I now push, elbow, and barge my way through a stream of people, while making no eye-contact, like the rest of London.
Before I was naively letting in people before me at the ticket machine, (am I nuts?) Now I just flail through the crowds muttering things like, 'God, FUCK off will you?'
Speaking of trains, I go to Bournemouth tonight for a wedding. My first British wedding, which should be interesting. The couple is mates with my Brit, and will have to dress in appropriate attire in the train toilet.
Please pass the hand sanitiser.