Tuesday, April 28, 2009


“Are you hating your country? Need a pep-talk? Why not ... talk to foreigner who is living in SA!”

It really is the best way to remember how wonderful life here can be.

After a weekend of culture clashing goodness, this was probably my best lesson.

A best mate was out from America. And while we scoffed down tasty Adega prawns (and drank good red wine that is not going to be so affordable come July... uh oh!) she told us her tales of how it is to be living outside of SA. Her main lesson to us was that the news from SA never seems to convey the SA spirit.

Even the GOOD NEWS SA cannot remind you of the “je ne sais quoi” of our land. You just have to keep the reminder in the back of your mind until you come home. Inject the “vibe” into your veins before you go through O.R’s Customs.

That the news that travels over the seas seems to get sieved and all ‘life’ gets left behind. Be Warned, all you will hear when over the borders is going to come off in a very negative way. You only hear the bad tales. And if you don’t keep the reminder of the happiness and “BEing”, you’ll become pessimistic of what a life being lived here involves.

And then I drank more affordable good SA wine. Before "affordability" and "wine" no longer feature in my Aussie-living sentences!

Sunday was spent lunching on curry made with love by Indian ex-pats. By sunset, we shook with fear at the idea of further courses and tasty food.

They spoke about how amusing it was to see SA learn about loadshedding. They’ve been dealing with it for decades. They recall that as kids almost getting beaten if they had left a desk light on when they walked out of their rooms. They cannot believe the waste of electricity we allow here in SA – a view of Sandton or the CBD at night, walking through a mall when the shops are closed and yet every appliance is still running! It is all insane to an Indian national.

(Even my mate who now lives in Michigan, USA, was telling us tales of loadshedding & black outs there! First world living revealed.)

They say how our politics resembles theirs, but 20 to 25 years back. Why theirs is all about accountability these days. How we are just learning. Give us time.

It is always good to hear. That they’ll keep living here. They are enjoying it.

Friday morning's French Class is always that the Frenchies can’t get enough of this country.

That some days it is perspective, not “SA biltong tokens”, that we need.

...And the Saturday culture clash?... enjoying an Afrikaans Bachelorette’s. Bare-bummed waiters. Belly dancing lessons. Tequila being poured down one’s throat by the bleach-blonde tannie [aunt]. And sokkie musiek to make one dance like the fool you should never forget you are :)


Don't believe a word I write said...

While at the airport on Monday night, I overheard a friendly young Dutch tourist asking the local woman next to me a few questions about taxis and hotels, while we waited at the luggage carousel. The local woman could hardly have been more dismissive or reluctant to help this tourist, and yet the Dutch woman persisted. The local woman fiiiiinally kind of warmed up a little but ended up, in my opinion, giving a really negative impression of where one can and can't go in Joburg, without supplying reasons or descriptions or anything that would have been of worth to the tourist. And yet the tourist still smiled happily and thanked the rather awful local woman for her help. I just thought that if the Dutch woman could still be chipper after such an interaction with that South African, our country must really have impressed her prior to that.

boldly benny said...

Sounds like a great weekend! I really enjoyed this - thanks Champers!

Very interesting tale Ms DBAWIW!

Champagne Heathen said...

DBAWIW - Ja, I gotta say, I don't agree with this whole "South Africans are the friendliest" anymore. I think we are paranoid grumpy folk when it comes to public interactions. Wait. Dammit. I am trying to talk us up!

Benz - thanks! And pleasure, hope I can keep entertaining... during those moments when I get some air before being sucked back into the swamped-and-over-worked sludge!

Don't believe a word I write said...

Hahahah, agreed C. Heathen.
I was in New York last year, and apparently my finding New Yorkers exceptionally friendly was the cause of much mirth among Americans, who largely regard New Yorkers as the unfriendliest, most brusque of all Americans. Sigh. At the risk of sounding horribly paranoid, if only we didn't have so much to be paranoid about! ;-) ;-)
P.S. Thanks, Benny.