Friday, October 08, 2004

Reach out and touch someone???

cape town, south africa

If you want to see a South African cry… take away her mobile phone. These people are seriously obsessed. This country lives and dies by SMS. Go to a restaurant and watch people sitting down for dinner… I remember learning that the soup spoon goes on the right and the salad fork to the left of the dinner plate but no one ever told me where to put my cell (apparently formal dining requires the mobile phone to be placed next to the bread plate). I do a lot of my school work in a computer lab in the library and if I close my eyes and just listen, it’s easy to feel like I’m back in Vegas… Hey! Some guy next to me just one the progressive jackpot! Nope, it was just his girlfriend calling with an SMS smiley. I suppose it makes sense for everyone to have a cell in a country where the telephone system is sketchy at best and I can even understand why SMS is so popular as regular airtime is charged by the millisecond… but come on people, sometimes you just need to unplug! When I go out for diner with someone at home it just seems natural to turn off my phone… or not even bring it (I can hear the collective gasps of everyone I’ve met in South Africa). I was at a movie last week with some local friends I’ve met here and it wasn’t more than a minute after we left the theatre that I noticed everyone was unusually silent. When I turned around, all four of them were madly plunking away at their phones. I was suddenly struck with the old analogy of a million monkeys at a million typewriters… I just had to laugh.

Monday, October 04, 2004

L.A. beats with an Oakland booty

durban, south africa

The black women in this country are proud of their big asses. For real. You go to a club and they're bouncing around like Shakira having an epileptic fit, smaking their butts, all the while looking over their shoulders to make sure the booty is "doing its thang". Now before the PC police come down on me for saying it, you've got to understand that its a whole other world over here when it comes to the differences in the races. I was on a bus in a little town near Lesotho in the Free State and as I sat squeezed between two rather robust Lesotho women the driver/tour guide asked me what I thought of these beautifully fat women. I sat their stunned. He asked if I knew what it was that made these women so fat to which the women burst out in laughter... much to my relief because if they had reacted as most women I know to being called "fat" I think the carnage would have been gruesome. The women I met in this part of the country didn't want to look like Britney Spears... I think they'd sooner eat her for lunch if she wasn't so boney. Back home our attitude to racism is to deny that there is any difference between anyone: "who cares what people look like, we're all the same inside". Over here its a little different. It's not a faux pas to talk about the differences between the races. When you're describing someone to a friend and you say "that black guy" or "the indian girl", the music doesn't screetch to a stop and the room doesn't suddenly go deathly silent as everyone in the room stands stunned at your flagrant racism. I suppose its just a product of a unique history that created a deep rooted attitude in South Africans that being open minded to race doesn't mean being colour blind. It means being proud to be different.

A final word to the wise... when a big mamma decides that its time to shake her bon-bon on the dance floor, you best stand out of the way.