Monday, March 05, 2012

safrica through the looking glass

Houses in Camps Bay. Gah.
So I'm back. I'm sitting in our new office, in the heart of London (commute offers a new smattering of rant-riddled frustration. I have to take a train AND a tube to work now. Gah!), and my brain is mush.

I forgot how to lock my computer screen. I'd actually forgotten which keys to press. It's been that long since I engaged in a bit of frenzied typing.

Anyway, thought I'd share what I found most interesting about the trip back to South Africa. From a girl who hails from there, but now lives in London.

Good God they're friendly
Perhaps the stony-faced grumpiness of London has become my norm (don't look at me, and definitely don't try to speak to me), but hell, the sunny faces of South Africans is truly remarkable. I've never noticed this before. But people there have chat and are bubbly as fuck.

I was dragging my suitcase along the Gautrain platform, and one guy stepped forward and said, "Hey there!"

Woah. Do not approach me.

"I think you're on the wrong platform!"

Oh my God. It's speaking to me. And it has a smile on it's face. Do I run? Or do I play dead?

"Are you going to the airport?"

Is this a scam?

People talk to people in public places, and my theory is that they do this for two reasons:
1) The sun. When it's sunny and the heat delivers a steady flow of vitamin D into your face, you smile just by default.

2) Most South Africans don't commute under the Earth's crust. In fact, most I know use their own cars. So they don't deal with nutters all day long. Londoners do, so they are cautious to engage in any conversations with strangers.

It was so much better than I envisaged
Scared of seeing my friends again? Why in God's name was I scared? It was wonderful. I loved seeing my family too. Dad was particularly endearing, and spending time with Mum was fantastic. I miss them so much.

Slotting in is easy
Home will always be there and it will mostly always be the same.

I say 'mostly'
Things have changed in the two years I've been erstwhile. I noticed a change in the demographics almost immediately. Black people and white people do seem to be more integrated. There's a strong presence of demographic in adverts and all job sectors now. This is very evident.

Julius Malema got kicked out of the ANCYL while I was there
I'd like to think my presence had something to do with it, or otherwise very nicely coinciding with my celebratory mood.

We had a memorial for my aunt
I read a poem in front of everyone who came, and cried like a baby. As I get older, my ability to stop crying has got weaker. There were snot bubbles. But I'm glad I got to say something. Just not sure if anyone understood a word I was trying to say.

The Brit picked up a few words
One was 'lekker.' For some reason, I've never exposed him to this yet. He thought everyone was saying 'lacquer.' Seriously. He thought everyone was like, 'Hey lacquer man, it's so lacquer,' as in 'it's finished off nicely.'

I showed him the karoo, the Garden Route and a few good local places in Cape Town. I think he really enjoyed it, and also believes, like me, that South Africa is completely and uniquely beautiful. But he also - I suspect - believes that we have a LOT of political problems, just from dinner conversations with friends and family over bottles of wine.

I loved watching the seals in Kalk Bay too. Look at that beaut.
Joburg is still better than Cape Town
Before the Capetonians drag me down and get offended (it's happened on this blog before: pure outrage), it's because Joburg will always be 'home home.' And they drive so much better than Capetonians. (Sorry).

I go to Wales tomorrow. For a large launch I'm involved in. From Cape Town to Cardiff, here I come.


po said...

Haha Peas, I had a similar reaction when I stepped off the plane after being away for a while - suspicion and possibly terror. Why are these people smiling and talking to me! And looking me in the eye! It made me feel so good after a few seconds though that I slotted right in.

Cornelia said...

I've lived in CT for 3 years now. I miss Joburg every day. Weather is way better and people are sooo much friendlier. None of this I'm too good/cool/popular to talk to you crap.

Glad you okes had a good time in SA x

Val said...

Home is where the heart is after all. And if you come from Johburg then, obviously, you will like it better. Me,a Capetonian born and bred, I love my part of the world and wouldn't change it for anything - bad drivers and all. Of course, our roads are slightly better surfaced too from what I hear. :)
Whatever, glad you had a 'lekker' holiday however it was pronounced.