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I don’t want to talk about the damn waitress…

But I have to, don’t I? If I don’t, someone might make the mistake of thinking that because I have white skin, that I must also be gleefully celebrating the financial boost she received after crying because That Bully of a Black Man decided not to tip her. We showed him! Didn’t we, white folks? We showed him. We showed him exactly how valuable white people are in comparison to black people. We showed him that we will happily overreact to the “pain” of a white stranger, while underpaying our domestic workers who loyally take care of our homes and children. A waitress cries because she didn’t get a tip, a person of colour makes a kind gesture towards her, and the internet goes mad and the crowdfunds her more money than most black families in this country will see in a year. If not two or three years. And I must celebrate it?

It turns my stomach. It makes me understand the black man’s hate for the white man even more than I have ever understood it before.

And before you go into a rage wobble: Yes, the man was rude (personally I don’t feel it was  quite as rude as everyone else seems to think but anyway) and he was a bit of a bully. Fine. You’ve probably done something similar before. To a telemarketer. A waiter. Whoever. The man fights for a specific cause and his zealousness spills over into life. I know most folks won’t get it, but I kind of do. I won’t say it’s “ok”….but even if it’s not ok, this ridiculous call for the man’s education to be terminated is a pompous white privileged overreaction if I have ever seen one.

I keep thinking to myself: What if it was me? What if I was the waitress who was bullied? Well…I’m usually quite good at the empathy thing but for heaven’s sake. If it was me I probably wouldn’t have gotten the shakes, then burst into tears, and rushed off to my friends so that they could pat me on the head and give me heart rubs. I probably would have been annoyed at the lack of a tip, and then grumped about it a bit to my empathetic waitressy friends. And then reconsidered waitressing because waitressing is hell.

But even if I DID burst into tears, and even if I DIDN’T understand the cause behind the give back the land comment and  even if I wasn’t able to look past the bitterness and the hatred and I was feeling all super sorry for myself…would I be able to accept all that hate money?

Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? It’s hate money. It’s fuck the black man money. We can all pretend that it’s about being against racism, but it’s not. It’s about a black man daring to be his honest douchy self with a white woman. Because no one is crowdfunding for the black waitresses who get lower tips than the white waitresses. And no one is crowdfunding for the Debonaires delivery guy who was purposely hit by a car a little while ago. This list could go on for pages…

The first R50 tip, I believe, came from a good place. It came from a place of I’m sorry you had a bad experience at the hands of a black man, but not all black men are bullies. It was a completely unnecessary gesture, but it was sweet. I don’t believe the rest of the 100k came from the same sort of place. That money comes from a place that dismisses black anger and doesn’t seek to understand it. Is comes from a place that scoffs at the very idea of white privilege. It comes from a dark place of serious denial.

So I’ve been wondering, if it was me, would I take that money? It’s a tough one. It’s a lot of money. No one’s ever tried to buy my values before, so I can’t definitively say that they’re not for sale, but I hope they aren’t.

I do like to think that I wouldn’t be able to take that money. I’d probably kick myself forever for turning it down because seriously, 100k is a decent trip the UK and I can’t afford that place in real life! But if I did take the money I don’t think I’d be able to forgive myself.

Because it’s hate money. As altruistic as we all like to believe it is, it’s hate money. It’s one-upmanship money. It’s money that yells loudly about how white people think that white pain is more important than the person of colour’s pain.

And I want no part in it.

Blog archives

Three Instameets in a Week

imageAs I mentioned in the previous post, last Sunday the husband and I decided to go to the Colours of You instameet in Govan Mbeki, and then on Wednesday we found ourselves at an instameet organised by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism at the South End Museum. Well, yesterday we ended up at a third instameet at Baywest Mall with the City of PE folk because we somehow stumbled across an RNews article about how using the #OhSnapBaywest tag will lead to one lucky instagrammer winning themselves a EOS 100D Canon for their efforts. I have to admit that’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a mall (unless you count the one time I went a little nutsy in a bookstore and when I got to the counter to pay the guy I was dating at the time pulled out his credit card and paid for all of it) and it was good to mingle with yet another completely different group of instagrammers (am I supposed to be calling the – us – igers?) Clearly this town has way more artists milling around than I ever considered. I’m really feeling kind of inspired to explore even more of my own city. I admit I’m kind of bad at that, usually. I tend towards being a bit of a shut in some(most)times, expecially now that I am taking saving money for international travel even more seriously than before. But I am starting to realise that you don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to enjoy the spaces around you. Silly that I already know this when I’m away from town. How come I don’t know it about being at home? Hmmmm…. Perhaps the hubby and I should go off and do our own instameet a little later… It’s ok to be addicted to taking pictures, right?

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On Instameetings

imageSo I need to stop starting blog posts with the word “so” but it’s really hard…so for this one I’m not going to. Instead I’m just going to get straight into it and tell you a bit about the new little piece of happiness that I accidentally found.

When we went to India earlier this year I admitted to my husband that as far as social media goes, Instagram is by far my favourite platform. A bit strange perhaps as I haven’t been Instagramming for that long, but for the short while that I have been, I’ve really been enjoying it.

You see, for me, Instagram seems to be this beautiful place of positivity. Every time I post a picture of my cat, the “likes” I get seem to say “Oh wow, I’m so happy for you that you’re having a happy moment with your cat!” and if I post a picture of something that has caught my eye, a flower perhaps, the likes seem to say “Oh wow, I’m so glad that for a moment in your day you stopped to observe and appreciate something beautiful”. If I’m travelling somewhere, the likes seem to say “oh wow I’m so happy that you’re doing what you love”, and if I post a picture of my child, the likes tell me “Yes, motherhood has so many wonderful moments”.

imagePerhaps this makes me silly. Perhaps this makes me a bit of an attention hog, or something negative, but I absolutely cannot help but feel that Instagram is this place where all the social media love goes. I do realise that is a bit of a lofty, airy-fairy ideal, but the thought of it makes me happy. And, the thing is, whenever I tap on that little heart, what  am really saying is “That’s lovely! I am so happy for you!”

Last week my friend Marion invited me to a Colours of You Instameet happening in the CBD which took place on Sunday. I admit I was a little intimidated because honestly I have always struggled to exercise any sort of creativity within a group. That coupled with the idea of trying to be creative with my three kids around me? Ha! You must be joking!! Creativity must be saved for when they are nowhere to be found. I haven’t learned to balance family life with art. Be creative? In public? Ha! I’ll just come along and watch.

imageWell, I found myself nestled between this group of beautiful people, all filled with art and beauty, and I have to admit this kind of thing can feel like a relief to people like me. What an incredible opportunity to mingle with all sorts of different people. I did spend a LOT of time making sure that my kid didn’t just dart off into the road and get run over by a car, but even though my momness was on full alert, my arty happy person got to peek out a little too. And it was glorious.

The best part: my kids loved it! Do you know how hard I have been trying to get these kids to lose themselves in creativity? I have no ide ahow to inspire it. I fail at this every single time I try! And yet there they were, just plodding along, photographing any old thing like it was nothing.

I don’t know how to say thank you for that.

imageToday we went on another Instameet. It was a different group of people this time, and while much of the vibe was a little different to the raw creative energy of the Colours of You meet, the positive effect remained the same. We met at the South End Museum – a place I have never actually wandered through before – and we got to mingle with each other while taking photographs and having a few laughs and giggles.

Some things are just good for your soul. I’ve been looking for something to replace the hole that dancing left in my life for the last eight years. It might be a little early, but I can’t help but think I might have found it.

Is that silly? I hope not…

 

 

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Review: The Kites Are Flying!. Michael Morpurgo

The Kites Are Flying!. Michael Morpurgo
The Kites Are Flying!. Michael Morpurgo by Morpurgo

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

A sweet and rather poignant book about the wall dividing Israel and Palestine. Very sad, but also hopeful. A good book for children I think, despite the seriousness of the content.



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Travel Bug Bites and Combatting the Voices in My Head

12744634_10153763236316117_4500512389828294865_nSo, even though I’ve always known that “travel” is one of those all-round Bucket List items that I desperately want for my life, something quite serious has changed in me in the last little while. A massive shift over the line between dreaming and doing has taken place, and while I am still not entirely sure about my “how” I am quite confident in my “why”. I can’t keep telling myself that you can only travel when you’re young, or when you’re single, or when you don’t have kids. I can’t keep telling my children that they can do anything they set their minds to, and encouraging them to travel as soon as they leave school and not stop for at least ten years, and then hide away to have a little sniffle about how I can’t manage to fit in all the things I want to do with my life and how I wish I had been brave enough before I became too settled. If I wait until all the kids have left the house, there won’t be enough time to fit it all in. And honestly I don’t know about you, but I have heard WAY too many horror stories about how someone finally retired from whatever they were doing only to succumb to some sort of fatal incident before even remotely getting to settle into their “real” life. I can’t do that to myself! Besides, we’re already a pretty unconventional family. We might as well continue adding to our list of all the things we do differently, right?

So I’m planning my next trip. And I’m almost ready to make it happen. I just need to squash that little voice of justification. I recognise the voice though. It’s the same voice that told me that dancing was ridiculous and that the happiness it brought me was of no consequence. It’s the same voice that told me that being a musician is ridiculous, even if it’s just for fun. It’s the same voice that laughs at me for wanting to write, because how on earth is that ever going to work?

I’m starting to figure you out, voice. And I’m getting better at telling you to eff off.

Blog archives

Selfies in India

12670061_10153728745466117_2390198794477463461_nWe’re halfway through April already and I barely remember March happening at all. What a strange year this is turning out to be. New things falling into place. Old things falling away. Sanity a thing of the past. You know how it goes.

Anyway:

I promised my friend Tammy that I’d give her the details of our itinerary when we were in India and, once again, figured I might as well blog it instead of just emailing it. Here I can add pictures and things and go all memory laney on myself if I want. Right?

Honestly though, I can’t stop thinking that what we did doesn’t really matter. It’s what you choose to do on your travels that matters. (more…)

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A South African in India

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I’ve been back home for well over a month now after our somewhat impromptu trip to India in Feb, and I have been so overwhelmed by the happenings of life that I actually haven’t gotten around to blogging a single thing about any of it. Of course now it seems kind of pointless and a bit back-tracky which I hate, but I did promise a friend that I would put together some tips for her so I thought maybe I could do that in the form of a blog post and then I can pretend to myself that I do actually write about nice things as well as things that are…well…less nice.

Of course one of the biggest factors in us choosing to go to India was the fact that our Rand stretches a little further there than it does in other parts of the world. I will, however, admit that this particular trip cost well over twice as much as the next trip I have planned. So, I’m learning. I’m learning how to work things out in a more cost-effective way, and all the while feeling exceptionally grateful to have somehow managed to wangle one of my favourite yet seemingly unattainable things into this life of mine.

Travel. Is there anything better? (more…)

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Where to from here?

I’ve just made some food for a man who is going around the neighbourhood and looking for odd jobs to do. As I watched him walk away I couldn’t help but wonder how the rest of his day will be. I am here, coddled and sheltered in my home, watching TV while I catch up on some work that I haven’t been able to get to with the kids here. I’m surrounded by the cats, enjoying my giant cup of pomegranate rooibos tea, and I’m quite content, despite the mundane and repetitive nature of the task at hand.

But what about him?

Where will he go?

Will he find a job today?

What will he do if he doesn’t?

Does he have somewhere to sleep tonight?

Where is his family?

How does he fix this hole that he is in?

If he got a permanent job today, would it make a difference?

How do you get to where I am without just being lucky?

Because that’s the only difference between us: luck.

And that doesn’t really seem fair, now does it?

 

Blog archives

Review: Puppet Master

Puppet Master
Puppet Master by Joanne Owen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Awesome book to pick up for a quick undemanding read. I love books like this because “quick and undemanding” usually translates to “romance novel” and while there’s obviously nothing wrong with the genre, it’s not my favourite. I love little books like this that are just a cute story without being too in depth, because my glory all this being a grownup with kids and work and life can get a little hectic so something simple does wonders for this busy reader’s soul. If none of that made sense then I truly apologise. Sleep deprivation…or something… Sanity deprivation….



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Post Indian Blues

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Folkies I am bluesing so badly since getting back from India almost two weeks ago! I have my next trip brewing in my head already which is probably not good. How do I even fix this? How do I find balance between my love for exploring the world and the rest of my life? Do other travellers experience this angst? I was looking forward to being home but I gotta admit it’s been one overwhelming trial followed by another ever since I got home. If it wasn’t for shared glasses of wine with a good friend (and a happy-I-met-her new friend!) I would probably be a lot battier at this point.

Will it help to actually start planning the next trip? Despite the financial limitations? This real life crap is a bummer. Thank God Tim Burton is bringing out Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and that Alice Through the Looking Glass is about to hit the big screen soon. Colour to look forward to.

I might need to hide under my duvet with a pile of books this weekend. I need to get this damn reset button to work.

Maybe that’s the problem though… Maybe I need to stop expecting that it will…

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Review: How to Be a Woman

How to Be a Woman
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t often pick up non-fiction-y books but I finally got around to picking up this one after wanting to read it for years. This is typically my MO. For shame. Caitlin Moran is hysterical, witty, and wise. I reckon that if you’re someone who’s all confused about feminism and what it means this might be a good book to start with. Not because it’s all preachy or anything, but because it is so real. I kind of just wish everyone would read this book.



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Review: Lady Oracle

Lady Oracle
Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adore Margaret Atwood. I wish she was my friend. I wish I had this sort of wise older human to hang out with and learn about life from. I guess my imagination and my Margaret Atwood collection will have to suffice. God I love this woman. Weirdly this is only the third Atwood book I’ve even read. Out of how many are there? I have heard that all her books are “so different” and I must admit it is a strange phenomenon this. How talented must you be to pull off this kind of consistent brilliance without ever becoming monotonous? Salut, Madam. You are a goddess.



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Review: Shantaram

Shantaram
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok so this book is super long which is great for folks who live on reading but I tend to live on coffee and sparks of anxiety born from attempting to raise children and not screw it up, and then I try to fit reading in between all that. The book is LONG, man! But, it is brilliant. And it was cool as hell to fit it in before I went off to India so I was super stoked about that. Roberts has a sort of lyrical way of writing that is wise and beautiful as hell. You can’t help but fall in love with his voice.



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How to Plan an Impromptu Trip to India

1024px-Taj_Mahal,_Agra,_India 

In eight more sleeps Ty and I are going to India. Three months ago I wasn’t planning to go to India. Going to India was never on my main travel list. To be perfectly honest with you, India has always been on my in case of divorce travel list. Thanks, Elizabeth Gilbert. I blame you. My comfortably married self who is currently not in need of an ashram, has been considering other destinations though. Germany, for one. And Italy. But not India.

Then, in November, I met Shobha. Shobha lives in Hyderabad, India, and she stayed with my folks for a couple of weeks while learning more about their business and she and I got along really well. Of course, she kept saying you should come and visit us in India and I of course kept thinking if only impromptu trips to India were part of my homeschooling housewife lifestyle.

You know how sometimes you go to your favourite online shopping store and you put a bunch of stuff into the cart before laughing at yourself and then closing the browser? I do that too. But with trips.

So, I thought maybe I should share what happened, because I’m kind of overwhelmed at how it worked out. Travelling is a luxury denied to most. As someone who barely makes ends meet, I must admit sometimes I don’t feel like I deserve this thing that makes my heart soar so high. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a little more doable than we allow ourselves to believe. As soon as you make it a priority, somehow it works itself out.

Play With Flight Apps

Out of curiosity about what kind of costs we were looking at for a trip to India, I decided to play around with a flight app on my phone. I was shockingly surprised to find that flights around the dates that I had randomly chosen were not that bad. Those are now the dates that we will be travelling. If I had chosen other random dates, we literally might not be going right now, because on further inspection, I fiddled around with other dates and the tickets went up by 4 to 6 grand. If those had been the first numbers I had seen I would have put my phone down, so don’t give up if the first numbers you get are bad. Play around a bit and you might come up with something you can afford.

Check Out the Sights

So I knew that the Taj Mahal was in India, but after that my knowledge was limited. Obviously ashramming was not an option (you go to those things solo, otherwise there’s no point as far as I’m concerned) so I had to figure out what the actual options are. Let me tell you, as soon as you start Googling India, you realise that you need to take off at least 6 months to get a proper feel of the place. Figuring out how to spend a mere 3 weeks is hard. I already know that when my kids are grown I’m going back for a proper amount of time.

Chat to a Tour Guide

 So, a lot of websites that I visited offered tour packages and I was curious about them but there were no prices. Finally, at one random site, I put in my details and hit send. The confirmation email arrived in my inbox, and I suddenly sobered up. How ridiculous! I don’t need a tour operator to contact me! I’m not going to India! That’s madness! So I deleted the email without confirming anything.

Well, the next day I received phone calls from three different tour companies. This was a little embarrassing as I wasn’t a serious potential customer, but I was upfront about my simple curiosity and none of my unconfirmed email follow uppers seemed offended by this or ever treated me like I was wasting their time. Soon I had three different quotes for what I wanted. The number was high, but it seemed reasonable.

 800px-A_man_in_traditional_attire,_RishikeshDo Your Own Research

 Not wanting to accept the high quotes on blind faith I started doing my own research. I tried to figure out what things would cost if I set about doing all of it on my own, and also contemplated just rocking up in India and going with the flow. The go-without-a-plan thing was easy enough to do in Thailand. Honestly, I’d happily send my kids to Thailand with a backpack and zero plans and feel pretty confident that they’d manage ok. But it doesn’t work like that for all countries. London and Spain, for instance, are scary as hell and it’s hard to make any sort of decision in those places without fearing that your weakly valued SA Rands are going to disappear way faster than you expected.

Anyway, I did the research and started to understand pretty well what things did and didn’t cost. I am almost 100% sure that just going with the flow and doing things on your own is probably the most cost effective way to go. But for this trip I decided that I’m ok with paying a little extra for a bit of piece of mind. We need a good break, so splurging on a few unnecessary extras seems like a good way to go.

I turned down two of the quotes I got and then worked with the tour operator who gave me the third. Together we changed a few things and managed to get it down by quite a few thousand Rands. I have to admit that a LOT of work went in to all of it, but I’m happy with the idea of what we’re getting (not sure if the idea and the reality will measure up but here’s hoping!) and I’m glad I put in the extra work because now I know that I have made the choice that I am most comfortable with.

Buy the Tickets

 If you’re comfortable purchasing tickets online then go for it! Personally I was a little weary that I was missing some sort of fine print so I contacted my travel agent. She managed to get me tickets close to the price that I had found online but with less travel time so I was super happy about that.

Get the Vaccinations

There are no compulsory vaccinations needed for India, although there are a couple of recommended ones. If, however, you are travelling to India via Ethiopia like I am, you need to get a yellowfever shot. The shot is valid for 10 years so keep that card they give you in case you need it for your next travel adventure.

Get the Visa

The visa application process seems to be a lengthy one with many forms and hoops, but at least it’s not too expensive. You’re looking at an overall costing of less than R500 per person which is pretty low compared to some costs.

Dream About Packing and Then Get Started

I haven’t started packing yet but I’ve packed in my head a thousand times already. I’m so excited I can barely contain myself any more. The anticipation of this trip, though very spur of the moment, has kind of kept me ticking for the last couple of months, a fact for which I am exceptionally grateful. 

800px-Lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera_Flower_Close_2048pxRemember That Things Are Possible

I feel like an ignorantly privileged jerk making sweeping statements like all things are possible, but I think pulling something like this off (and I assure you – the kind of wangling that had to take place in order to make this happen was a feat of talent!) reminds me that things like this can be pulled off. And it makes me feel hopeful. I pulled off a trip to Thailand in 2013. Then in 2014 I managed to pull off another trip to Thailand, this time with my husband. I spent 2015 feeling like our travels might be behind us for a very long while, and it felt a bit like a stone in my stomach. But we’ve done it, again. And I think I might be figuring it out that we can do this. We can live this way, over and over. We just need to do the wangling thing. We need to prioritise.

 

Image Credit:

By Yann (talk) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11204972

By Photo (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) – Own work (Own Picture), CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1608505

By Ken Wieland from Philadelphia, USA – Rishikesh man, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7317554

 

 

 

 

 

Blog archives

On Going to India

20160119_122445-02Well, a little while ago the Fedex man arrived with our passports complete with our tourist visas to India. This means it’s finally real. It means my husband and I will definitely be going to India in February and I can barely express my relief. I cannot wait to board a plane and lean my head against my husband’s shoulder while we decide which in-flight movie to watch together. I can’t wait to race through the airport in a rush to make our connecting flight in Ethiopia. I can’t wait to land in Mumbai and meet our first tour guide. I can’t wait to arrive at our first hotel and flop down on the bed for a minute before indulging in a shower and getting ready to start our adventure.

It’s silly, perhaps. These trips my husband and I have committed to taking. It’s only our second so far, of course, but we are hoping to make travel a regular occurrence. I always feel the need to justify this though. I always want to explain that yes we are not wealthy people, but travelling is so important to us which is possibly a ridiculous notion since in truth what we decide to do with our lives is irrelevant to anyone but us. Perhaps it is the small town girl in me still tries to steel herself against harsh judgements and gossip. How dare we do such a thing for ourselves! 

But then I realise: we are wealthy. Because we have the option of choosing to travel over choosing to purchase more material things like new cars or fancy toys or working towards owning our own home. We are able to live frugally on one salary while the other admittedly small salary can be saved for travel – albeit budget travel.

So instead of paying mind to judgements and subtle condemnations of my parenting, and instead of allowing my own guilt to berate me for choosing what I can only describe as a balm to soothe the many cracks in this otherwise hard life, I am going to indulge in this happiness. And I am somehow going to teach myself to focus on the happy stuff more often than I do the not-so-happy stuff. Because my God life is long, and the happy stuff at least helps to speed it up a little.

To my husband Ty….I can’t wait to go on this adventure with you. Thank you for being the kind of partner that has helped to make travel a reality. Thank you for being on my side and by my side and thank you for being such an amazing travel partner. I love you so damn much!