December 21, 2012

The new world.

I'm not a fan of New Year's, but I'm definitely a fan of any given new year. A fresh calendar sheet also makes for a fresh start in my mind. And though I don’t believe that the world will end today, it may as well function as an early new year's cut in my personal calendar. I will be very happily sitting on a plane in a few hours, singing It’s the end of the world as we know it…, and probably annoy some people too. I won't care. It shall be a new world for me tomorrow.
You know how Facebook recaps your passed year? In pictures, words, highlights... I thought the idea was quite neat till I put mine together and discovered that two of the four 'cover' pictures of me are one and the same, one in b/w and one in colour. When I had put it as my cover picture at the beginning of the year I almost immediately changed it, because friends kept on telling me they could see my nipples. Yes, I am fully closed in the picture, though laying down, which probably added to the nipple appeal and makes me wonder why Facebook didn't censor it to begin with.
Anyhow … since I found the representation of my whole year in these pictures a bit screwed, I thought it was maybe time for my own recap. Then I realized it might not be Facebook's fault that my year feels screwed. I don't even want to think about this past, still present year, anymore, I just want it to be over, because it was all sorts of screwed up. So I just want to take the lessons I learned and forget it ever happened. Sometimes things happen and all you can get out of it, is the fact that you walk away with a lesson learned. This time around I'm taking all the lessons and run. Yes, it has been one of those...
I knew the year started a bit scraggily. Nothing majorly wrong, but nothing quite right either. Things did not not fit, but they also didn't fit nicely.
A home away from home, the studio I was teaching at, was taken away from me.
A had a relationship, which wasn't quite right from the beginning and thus I was stuck with a boyfriend who had not the slightest understanding why I was upset.
A family who wanted to be supportive, but could neither be with me one hundred percent, nor tell me the truth. The truth that he was simply not right for me. Finally a painless end and the million thoughts and questions that still follow.
An affair to forget, which made me doubt my self-worth and sanity. After that I thought things were looking up.
Then things got back to scraggily with the evil travel agent, a chapter still unfinished.
After that I started to question the future. Again. As I have done so many times. When I start to feel like the woman from Chocolat, who needs to leave when the wind starts to blow, calling her away. In the movie it was a good thing of her defying the wind. In reality there is no evil wind to overcome, except the South Easter, which is quite literally knocking me over the head.
A new yoga studio, which couldn't become home.
Challenges conjured up and dreams crashed.
No new dreams on the horizon, all new opportunities still hiding. Some stress, some anxiety.
I guess, the usual suspects.
Now I take a breath. A deep one, because that's what I teach, one must do when things get tough, so I must do it myself, even though I sometimes don't even believe myself that it will work. I remember that not only can I draw the mental and official line between this year and the next very soon, I also remember the goods things which happened, the things I was blessed with. The things which don't make this year lost or a waste of time or just lessons learned.
I made a new friend, which I have missed here without knowing it.
I travelled more this year than ever before and each trip showed me this new side of myself, which I liked. A lot. A side I'm trying to bring out every day and though I usually fail without sweet mint tea or the discomfort of a tent, I still try.
I have written stories, which some of you liked, you told me so and it actually meant the world to me.
Two wonderful girls in my life are going to have babies and make me the African giraffe auntie. I'm going home for Christmas and will hug them both. And my parents, my siblings, my nephews, my good friends, and my old friends, who insist we must have coffee, because it simply has been way too long.

So on this more positive note Vacation Me has appeared, immediately ordered a G&T, and decided that this new and better world will start right now at the airport, because I shouldn't even wait for tomorrow.

Happy Holidays!

December 11, 2012

When there’s no elf in sight…

… look for a blogger for help.

I’m in awe of bloggers who manage to not only write regularly, but also have a full time job, a house, a gym routine, and/or copious amounts of kids to distract them from blogging. I’m even more in awe of them at this time of the year when they manage to put together a lovingly and carefully selected lists of gifts appropriate for various budgets, friends, family, and enemies alike. Give me one full time job and I’m not only just barely managing my own Christmas shopping, I barely survive. Can you tell I’m sick? Yes, perfect timing, I know. Adding to this that I have readers on three continents (fancy that, huh?!), I just think that compiling a Christmas shopping guide will just throw me over the edge and in the end prove useless for everybody involved. And yes, I am way too late anyhow according to more organized people, who know better.

So instead I will just give you 2 little gift ideas for 2 really tricky categories which I happen to have in my own family. Just in case you have them too and are getting stuck (and probably slightly crazy by now):

The nephew.
What is it with boys and them being so darn tricky to please? I have tried it all: from roaring and walking dinosaurs, which got eaten by a T-Rex within a week, to Ngami Ngami surfer necklaces, which went, probably appropriately for a river god, down the drain while brushing teeth. Nothing sticks with them. All gifts for boys ultimately get boring, broken, or lost.
This year I decided to have none of it and my two nephews are getting something useful. Sorry, boys! I’m getting both of them a copy of The Lorax because a) they can learn English with it b) it teaches about trees and c) it’s awesome. In addition I’m buying them each a tree through Greenpop (contact robyn@greenpop.org for details if you are keen too). They are getting a certificate with their names and the GPS coordinates where the tree will be planted, so they can go visit the tree if they ever come to Africa.
Yes, I am fully aware that something plastic which makes noise might be more appealing, but in all honesty, I don’t care…trees matter and boys should know! 

The sister-in-law/ friend*.
*Who also works in fashion and has extremely picky intricate taste…
… and then tells you she wants an African top or dress. Whatever this may mean. Ja, right. That is so not happening. You guys know my opinion about SA fashion. It would just be a fortune spent on a piece ending up in the closet/living in a box/being given to the maid’s daughter. If you have similar problem case in your circles, I suggest heading to Merchants on Long or straight to the incredible Tammy Frazer. Though buying a fragrance for someone can be a bit tricky, I decided that her solid fragrances were worth the risk taking. If I were to be wrong I’d be actually quite happy as I would just keep the Chapter No 3 which I bought for my sister-in-law for myself. Then again how can one go wrong with a locally sourced coffee and orange blossom smell packaged in a locally crafted wooden box?

So there…hope I could help. If you were to ask me for a parents shopping guide, I have to bail. I’m blessed with parents who don’t want presents and mean it and, since I usually ignore this sentiment, are ridiculously happy with soap and pictures of me. Seriously, you want my kind of parents when Christmas shopping!

December 5, 2012

Bikram mon amour - part II.

 
I don’t like to just copy and paste something I see on the internet. Sometimes I do, yes, but in general I think it makes for a lazy blogger. Today is different though as I just found something on the Yogazone Facebook page and it just hit me:
 
























This explains why all my relationships in the past haven’t worked out - I actually have never dated anyone who does Bikram too. Dah! This is what I need:














Problem solved, next please!

November 29, 2012

Seasonal dreams.

I am in season. I am busy. So busy that I have made no excuse for my daily pasta and wine consumption for the past week. Now I have come back to the office after a client meeting and find myself alone and not busy, so here I am saying hi. I realized I might be a great multi-tasker in my job, but not so much in my life in general. I cannot work so much and have a social life and do yoga and write. Or even any of the two. I even put off a date request for … well, let’s just call it simply the dessert part of any date. I basically refused sex handed on a silver platter. Sex in front of the door as Marie would call it. I know, I know…but honestly I just couldn’t be bothered with the effort to shave my legs or change my sheets.
With season I am not only lacking time, but quite frankly also inspiration to entertain you. Since I can’t even be bothered with a simple date, literally the most excitement I had last week was a dream. A dream I had about a male model who came to one of my castings. He looked a bit like Ryan Philippe and was in an appropriate age bracket for me i.e. above 25 and also not completely stupid, so I may have taken my time with him and laughed just a little bit too much at his jokes. So that night I had a dream that I married him. In a white dress, with a religious ceremony (huh?), and while my uncle was sneaking sips of red wine out of a coffee mug during the ceremony. I am not sure if the traditional tendencies in me this dream displayed should concern me or just the fact how excited it made me to marry a cute blonde surfer guy. Any Freudian feedback? I’m off to have the usual in season after work G&T and maybe do my nails, just because…tonight, I can.

November 14, 2012

Thank you, CSI.

I have watched more CSI episodes than I care to admit and the guy at DVD Noveau cares to give to me. To my dismay I have learned if a bit involuntarily, that most of the stuff they do on the show is not really real and the police don’t actually work like this. When I first found out I was shocked and quite a bit disappointed; I thought unlike SA’s police force, NYPD was living in the land of Obama and endless possibilities.
Yesterday I was especially hit hard by this reality as I could have used some digital magic and cross-referencing of cell phone signals and such. My lawyer told me that the sheriff was unable to deliver summons to the evil travel agent as the address I had given was locked and vacant. Did I have another one? Mh. No. Luckily the internet is my friend and though CSI is not real, I am a super sneaky spy when I need to be. In fact, thanks to Facebook stalking, aren’t we all these days?
Anyhow, I put my skills to good use only to find out more horror stories about the woman and to learn that I am apparently not the first to send summons and waiting for funds from foreclosed auctions.
I cried a bit on my way through Garden Centre and when I got home decided the moping needed to stop. Instead of pondering upon the crappy year I’ve had so far, I tried to list the things to be grateful for. This went well for the parts of I made some awesome new friends, went on three trips, had a really horrible attempt at a relationship, but I learned - Flip! What did I learn? I don’t think whatever I did learn was worth the effort, but was faced with the task to turn it into something to be grateful for. That’s when karma kicked me in the butt and I found stinky maggots in my trash. Again. Luckily I had already taken my contact lenses out so they were a bit fuzzy, which was a good thing. They had also mainly stayed in the confinement of the trash cupboard and I hadn’t had dinner yet, which was also a very good thing. Have I mentioned that sight of maggots makes me gag? I think their only useful purpose in the world is to eat rotten flesh out of wounds and thus save lives. Then again I saw them do that on Bones and after learning the truth about CSI, I should be more suspicious of what is true on any given show really.
So, no I don’t believe that maggots have a soul and I don’t care about finding a maggot friendly way to kill them. That is that and there is no need to go all P.E.T.A. on me when I say, I enjoyed the little popping sound they make when being squashed by a paper towel. That was about all I could enjoy about the process and thus I found the reason to be grateful for my past relationship: Love is when he cleans her flat of maggots. Another reason to be grateful for is learning that I can do it myself and unsupervised wine consumption helps while doing it.

The rest of my evening was blissfully uneventful and I amused myself with having a funny dream about said ex-boyfriend. So what can I say? This being grateful business really does work…

November 9, 2012

Very worldy me.

Yesterday I enjoyed the first no wind day on my balcony and I decided to celebrate the eminent arrival of the weekend and the Cape Town World Music Festival by having a little worldly evening myself.
So I ate Italian tomato salad and Mexican tortillas. I drank South African wine and had some German wine gums for desert. I sat outside on my balcony on my Moroccan puff while wearing my Moroccan Djellabah to read my book about an English boy who ends up in Persia. Then I watched some American series and then snuggled into my Egyptian cotton sheets (or so I was told…).

Okay, fine, I will admit that it was never a proper plan, it just worked out like this…but as it stands I’m now properly prepared and the weekend can commence. Have a happy one!


New tomato selection box from Woolies, which got me overly excited for some odd reason. Love the funny shapes and colours.






































My new, well, actually vintage Moroccan puff on my finally wind still balcony. Bliss.






































My new and perfect summer version of sweatpants. And if you object that it ain’t very sexy, may I add that a) sweatpants are worst and b) I have already scored once while wearing it and c) nobody saw me, but the parking guard. And no, there is no connection between b) and c).

November 6, 2012

Seasonal change.

Sorry, I have been quiet…I blame the two little kittens and our two little interns. They are each exhausting in their own right and I find only the kittens cute. Add into the mix that I am not used to work full days anymore after this long winter and I am just tired all the time. On top of it I have just been missing and daydreaming of New York. Which seems a tad ungrateful considering that the wind has finally stopped howling and I am about to have sushi with bubbly on the beach for sunset. I know, I know…I just wish that maybe for a day or so I could wear my old motorcycle boots with thick socks again, my Alexander McQueen coat which makes me look like Sherlock Holmes with my matching cashmere newsboy cap, and drink what Starbuck’s calls African Redbush Tea. Fancy name for good, old rooibos, right? For some reason I always liked it better on the other side of the globe on a crisp, cool autumn’s day and for some reason that’s where I want to be right now. I’m craving change…

I was about to add a little cartoon of a Sherlock Holmes here, but I couldn’t find one with motorcycle boots or holding a teacup instead of a magnifying class. The only one I liked I found was a vampire version of Sherlock which is undoubtedly awesome and I could relate to it, but it came from a website of someone who seemed a little too disturbed for my liking to link. If you are really want to see it, google Vampire Sherlock Holmes Cartoon.

October 31, 2012

Secret Society.

I will admit that sometimes I’m a bit envious of wannabe somewhat famous people/blogger for being invited to events which serve free champagne and macaroons. Usually I’m not. I prefer to buy my own drinks and treats and enjoy the freedom of not having to feign excitement over a not so exciting goodie bag. Or having to write about an evening even when it didn’t surpass a re-run of Friends on the entertainment scale. I realized a while ago that in these cases, working an event with easy access to the bar stock can be way more fun than receiving a personalized invitation which will only soothe my ego.

Last Saturday I wouldn’t have minded being an official guest, but attending in the function of mingler, decorator, baby-sitter, food pre-taster, hug giver, and enthusiastic noise maker while eating the food was much better…
My wonderful, talented cousin Thekla was asked to cook for one of the Spier Secret Festival dinners. Her parents own one of the original houses on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch, which they currently rent to Rheta Erichsen, who was hosting the secret dinner. The house itself is magical. It is full of nooks and crannies filled with memorabilia and stories of generations. The centre has always been the kitchen with various family members and selected friends cooking, tasting, exploring, eating, and sharing. It seemed almost logical that such a house would make the perfect stage for a special secret dinner and that Thekla, daughter of the house, should cook, sharing family traditions and even some secrets from this kitchen.

I had won tickets for the Toffie market so Adam, Thekla’s husband, and I started the day by drinking our way through some barrels of Chenin while chatting to old and new friends. We also stuffed our faces with everything there was from dumplings to Eton Mess and smoked cheese braai broodjies, so it was actually surprising I was still able to eat anything at all in the evening, not to mention the amounts.
In the afternoon we made our way over to the house where we were put to work and art&crafts was mixed with bubbly and posset tasting. From there I went on to baby and cat sitting while decorating the garden. While the house is reminds of the wardrobe of Narnia, the garden is as if Alice in Wonderland has sprung to life and the cat perfects it as it looks like the Cheshire cat sans grin. The property is small, but there are paths and a fountain and a pond, tables in different corners, a swing, and a platform which used to host my aunt’s summer bed, but was now converted to a stage for the musicians. That’s right – we had our own private band! Rheta had already decked the trees with lights and I was allowed to add pincushion proteas to the tables and work on perfecting the welcome cocktail.
That was all well and good and a fun way to spend an afternoon, but now I want to rave about the main part: the food. I learned through various historic novels that back in a day when a noble person was holding a banquette they not only served several courses, but each course consisted of several dishes. That’s how I imagine what it would be like if you were to eat at El Bulli every night and that’s what we got on Saturday, but without any explosions or test tubes. Thekla’s whole approach to food is simple and she cooks with an almost off-handed ease. Her menu was based on local, seasonal ingredients and childhood memories of cooking in her mother’s kitchen.

Summer was in the air with the first mozzies and rugby fans roaring over the walls when guests started to pour in. Each host was allowed to pick the amount of people they could cater for, but somehow Rheta was assigned everybody who was left and so we ended up with an eclectic group of almost 30 people and so everything was served buffet style.
We started with a variety of dips, crudité, and pot baked bread which revived the meaning of ‘breaking bread’ and was a nice touch to add for a group of people who didn’t know each other. If you think I got in by nepotism, you are right; if you think I’m biased, you are probably right too, but still…the dips already won over the toughest food critics amongst the guests and it only got better from there. The main starters were a raw Asian salmon trout salad and a plate of artichokes, which led to lots of laughter when Thekla was explaining how we needed to eat them as it involved lots of sucking and licking. And before you accuse me of a dirty mind and because some guests didn’t understand the subtle difference: you suck the leaves and then you lick your fingers and not the other way around.
For the mains we were snaking around the kitchen island and had the opportunity to make new friends over duck and lamb, both falling of their respective bones, rice pilaf with roasted vegetables, and mozzarella with peaches on greens. With smacking lips people went back for seconds only to be told that there was going to be not one, not two, but three deserts, which still required space. And so we also queued for hazelnut apple cake with koeksister ice cream, rice pudding with berry compote, and refreshing Mrs Moxon’s Posset.

After desert I decided it was time for a nap. So holding my full belly I quietly snuck out and made my way home. When I went to bed I dreamed of meals fit for a king and when I woke up I thanked the gods that I can call such a cook family and just invite myself for dinner whenever I need to feel like a queen for a day.

p.s. If you do wonder where the pictures of the food are, which will make you lick your screen, you will need to ask the master of the kitchen herself as my camera refuse to work after dark.

Thekla shot by Walter Koeppe.









October 25, 2012

Pride and Silliness.

Sometimes people do very silly things in my opinion, which leads to the companies they work for do very silly things. Usually I try to let it go for my own peace of mind, but sometimes I simply cannot. Some things just irk me too much in their incredibility or ridiculousness and then I have to get it off my chest. I think I will blame David Thorne. I’m fully aware that just like him this makes me somewhat of a condescending arse and so far I haven’t had much positive results from any company, but I just can’t help it. Sometimes you need to speak up out of principle regardless of whether you change a stupid person's mind or the world.Today I’m also a bit bored, so I was in the right mood to make a little mountain out of this pool cleaning company:


Dear Pride Pools,

Just for your consideration: Today I found your flyers in my mailbox. Which surprised me, because as anyone can clearly see, when standing in front of my mailbox, I live in a block of flats. I would assume before you send someone to drop flyers off, you would do some research as to the areas in which people actually have pools and may need your services. The next pool I know of is in Company Gardens and it's really a pond and the neighbours like it nice and green. But hey, it's up to you if you want to waste the money and effort on an area which is completely pool-less.

However I engage actively in improving the environment and plant a lot of trees - hard work, let me tell you - so I'd appreciate it if your flyer dropper (I’m sorry if I sound flippant, I really don’t know the proper job title) would only leave one flyer (which as you may have gathered I still think is too much) and not four in my mailbox. Four are just annoying and I would never contact such an annoying company even if I had a pool!

Sincerely,


Any

 
I know, I will probably be stuck in the hell of eternally dirty pools and no pool cleaners in sight if I ever move to a house with a pool.

October 24, 2012

Seeing purple.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit funny. Not quite blue, but not quite right either. So I decided to do the world a favour and not leave the house after work except for a quick stop at the shops. Coming home I was realizing that I wasn’t blue, I was a bit purple. I was in a purple mood of sorts. Whatever this may mean, I saw that there was quite a bit of beautiful purple, lilac, and lavender around my flat so I started to take some pictures. Funny enough by the end of my mood had turned quite rosy so you may just get a pink post next, but for now I give you my little purple world…











1. Purple basil in front of my purple chair cushion.
2. Some fresh lavender.
3. Camera Obscura, a band I have never listened to, but a poster I love.
4. Purple section of my colour coordinated book shelf - children's books only.
5. Dinner before it became dinner.
6. My favorite oversized shot glass.
7. Spicy sprouts.
8. French violet sirup to be mixed with some bubbly soon.
9. A pizza box with model z-cards instead of pizza. I love the stencil.
10. My lilac wall thanks to Carmen and Gunther, because otherwise I would have never finished it.

October 22, 2012

Secret inspiration.

A somewhat happy Monday to everybody!

 I mean as happy as a Monday can get. The quotation mark was purely inspirational. I’m trying to make the Monday sort of okay by reading a bunch of inspirational quotes – I know, what am I thinking? – and it seems to be working. If found some that I really like on Laws of Modern Man via Miss Emma Jude and realized that though I’m obviously not a man, most of them still apply. For obvious travel agent of doom reasons this is the one that has stuck most:

























So, thank you Mr. Robert Brault from Connecticut! I think those words of yours are very wise and I’m working hard to make them true for me.

On a completely unrelated note and inspired not by a quote, but by all the secret suppers popping up like there is no tomorrow, I have written a secret story. If you read it, you will understand why it’s secret. Limited edition only and never to be published, email me if you want it: anysroad at gmail dot com.

October 18, 2012

Coco love.

I think we have sufficiently exhausted the fact that I love all things coconut, right? Lucky for me I double checked my old blog posts to see if I had already written about my love for coconuts before writing this one. NOT! I found the one where I did and I even called it life lessons from a coconut, because that’s how important I think they are. You can read it again here and then go out into the world and eat/drink more coconut.
The drinking part was always a bit tricky in Cape Town as it was really hard to find coconut water for a long time. PnP carries fresh ones sometimes, but I learned that lesson in the Seychelles – they are bloody heavy and won’t easily fit in my yoga bag.
Luckily Wellness Warehouse has caught up with my wishful thinking and is now carrying nicely bottled coconut water from Coco Life. Tada. Let me just say having my little bottle after class yesterday was the highlight of my day. And yes, it was even better than the kittens. That's why I thought I should work on more of these highlights and I wrote this letter:

Dear Coco Life person/people/owner/marketing/PR team,

will you please sponsor me? Feed me coconut water trice a day or at least once after each Bikram class? I will even wear a t-shirt with your logo if I have to though I'd prefer little shorts. You know cotton, tight, short shorts, saying coco life across the bum. Smart people and cute boys looking at my behind in class would surely get the reference to the Coco de Mer coconut which actually looks like a bum. What do you think? You can also just send me coconut water if you are not keen on the shorts/bum idea, I won't be upset, promise!

Sincerely,
your biggest fan*

Any


I will keep you posted on the progress.

 *I know it sounds a bit creepy/stalkerish, but they need to know that I'm not joking around, I really am their biggest fan.

October 17, 2012

Pending.

Again I have a pigeon nesting underneath my balcony. And this time his/her/how does it work with pigeons? cooing sound is driving me insane. It’s day and night and already started to infiltrate my dreams. It drives me up the wall. Other people shake their heads at me, by other people I mean my mother, as this is apparently a soothing sound for some. For me it is worse than a jackhammer and it makes me want to bang my head against a wall. So I started to seek advice and after more head shaking the general consensus seems to be to drown the little pigeon eggs in some sort of acid in hope that mum/dad pigeon will jump off the balcony in sorrow afterwards. Problem with this is a) hitting the eggs correctly while not dissolving my balcony with the acid and b) getting over the fact that I will be destroying two little pigeon eggs. And while I’m not a vegetarian or think pigeons are cute (especially the ones with the evil red eyes!), I can’t get myself to do it.
Call me crazy, but to give the pigeon babies a chance at a happy yet annoying life and my mind a chance at some peace, I made a deal with the universe: they are allowed to live if I get my money back from the travel agent of doom. Since I handed the whole case over to my lawyer, their lives is now in his hand. This is really good news for them since I would literally trust him with my life, so surely two little pigeons will have no reason to complain. They will get a proper knight in shining legal armour to defend their nest.

Anyhow… that is the latest on this issue and I’m now trying my hardest to ignore my crying credit card and snap out of my bad mood in the meanwhile. Today at the office it was easy, because guess who joined the team?






































One is called Basti as it was mistakenly thought to be a boy and got stuck with the name. He is napping in the pending tray. Pending cuddles and kisses of course.



The other one, a real boy, still needs a name. I call him Professor in the meanwhile, because he looks like an old professor with tufts of white hair sticking out his ears.

Needless to say productivity was low and shrieking was high around here today. The good news is that they will be back tomorrow – hooray!

October 15, 2012

Honey, I hate you.

After a rather crappy week, my weekend was nothing but sunny and filled with loveliness. I wanted to tell you about it, but then I got side tracked by reading tweets I hate. And I thought why not and who wants to read about a great weekend that is over on a Monday anyhow?
You may or may not think me weird, but I follow quite a few people on Twitter who make my blood boil. On a good day I can restrain myself to respond, but just like watching a car crash, I cannot not read them. I have recently decided to unfollow all Born Again Christians to save my poor heart rate from climbing too high, but I still sometimes secretly sneak a peek at what they have to say instead of having a second cup of coffee. I don’t know what it is and yes, maybe I need to see my therapist for it. Secretly I believe that I am not the only one though. Am I? Please say no!
It starts with certain words that people use, which can drive me crazy. Mind you, I know that is a very personal thing and it probably irks as many people when they read me talking about bubbly as when I read the word champers. I mean, come one – what are you doing to a beautiful word like champagne (Freudian slip as I wrote world instead of word first). It ends up sound like a mix between chipmunks and hamper and all together quite like JC Le Roux. Another one is rad. There are few people, in very few situations who can get away with rad. Just because you are born and bred South African doesn’t necessarily qualify you. I guess a lot of it is about context. It sounded cute when Dorothy quipped about Lions and tigers and bears! and added a charming Oh my! to it. It didn’t sound so cute when the girl from 50 Shades of Grey uses the phrase 79 times (this girl actually counted* and that’s the first book only!) and in various situations ranging from being spanked to great alleged sorrow because the spanking stopped.
Then there is the habit of calling people lovelies. Not even my favourite yoga teacher can get away with that one. That is not Twitters fault, but I should mention once and for all that I am quite allergic to most terms of endearment by strangers. Surprisingly enough I have only told a person once that I wasn’t his dear and I think I sounded so harsh that we both got a fright. Usually I will just return the favour and savour the secret knowledge that if I call someone honey or darling, you are at the bottom of my shit list and not my new best friend. I should add that in this case I don't love to hate these people. They just simply annoy me downright.
Twitter is different and if you are unfamiliar with the concept, you’d be surprised by how much junk one can write with 140 characters and why I still read it. There are the obvious, boring, mundane I had a banana for breakfast tweets, which I can easily ignore and accept that probably not the entire world is enticed by my excitement about eating Sushi on Sunday either. Then there are the ones that are clearly geared towards steering controversy, which I also usually ignore quite easily. But then are the ones that really hit me somehow. Yesterday a girl tweeted about a typo done in an article about a horrible charter accident in Hout Bay. The article talked about a diseased person, which was clearly a typo and she pointed that out in not one, but two tweets. Nobody likes a know it all, even journalists are allowed a typo once in a while, and I simply failed to see her point all together. If you read the article, surely you would get what they meant to say?! Which by the way was horrible, so who the heck cares that you spotted a typo?? Obviously she must have been as annoyed by the word ‘diseased’ as I was subsequently by her tweets. Am I annoying anyone yet? I could apologize for the rant, but I needed to somehow blow off steam by other means than talking about the travel agent of doom. And don’t we all have them - the things, people and words we just love to hate? What’s yours? Please share so I know I’m not the only one.
In the meanwhile I will try to simply unfollow this person and write a story about bunnies and kittens, better for my mood and for my heart rate.

*Read her review – very funny and very true and you may just feel inspired to read the actual book afterwards just so you can add your snarly comment.

 

October 10, 2012

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Call me naïve, but I don't understand how people can just lie to your face. To my knowledge nobody has ever cheated on me and if any of my friends have ever lied to me, I will believe it was in my best interest. I don't understand how people you actually know can be devious and deceiving for their personal advantage. Yes, I know there are bad people out there who steal and kill from individuals or entire nations, but that to me seems a more faceless transaction that I can understand on some level. I can get that – some people are bad people. What I can't get is that I lived with a girl for almost a year and in the end she cheated me out of last month's rent. After promising she would pay it, she refused once she had moved out. I was completely baffled that someone who I had shared dinners and wine with, chatted and laughed, would just lie to my face to her own advantage. In hindsight I shouldn't have trusted someone who drinks JC LeRoux and puts peppers on her pizza and cheddar instead of mozzarella, but I just thought we were a tad different. Mind you, I got my money back through the deposit which came to me, but still...I was more upset about the feeling that she betrayed me in some way.
Now it has happened again. I have been hinting at the travel agent from doom and just found out that she and not the airline has made a mistake. Apparently she booked me on a one way flight to Morocco and conveniently forgot my return. A return flight, for which I had to pay again almost double of what the initial ticket had cost me. For the past five weeks she pretended to chase up my refund with the airline and only yesterday, after doing my own research, did I find out that she fucked up. The money is one thing. Having this amount off my credit card makes me incredibly nervous, but somehow the personal betrayal feels worse. She cheated me and lied. It’s that simple. Or she made mistake and then lied. I don't know yet. It doesn't make a difference. She lied and not once, but over and over again.
So, sorry, if I have been a bit drab, but this story has been weighing me down since I got back from holiday. I have been anxiously waking up each morning, checking my phone first thing to see if I have gotten the refund into my account and then more anxiously trying to get her on the phone with answers. My calls which have been dodged and her promises to call back broken. I'm just feeling really sick and tired of it all. What and when will be the end of it? I don't know yet. Luckily I do know that one of the best lawyers in town is family and he shall set her pants on fire on my behalf!

October 9, 2012

A curious assortment.

There are different yoga studios for all sorts of different people. There is Kundalini and Iyengar and Jiva Mukti, there is Ashtanga and Vinyasa, Bikram and good old Hatha, and those are just the ones top of my head. The idea that all these different styles could not only co-exist in peace, but also be taught under one roof, seemed impossible for a long time and is probably still snubbed by the true defenders of (insert your kind of yoga here). Cape Town is a liberal melting pot not only for people, but also for yoga styles. So we are blessed, or cursed, depending on which side of the mat you stand, with multiple studios offering a blend of yoga styles like Hot Vinyasa, Express Bikram, Acro-Yoga in the forest, or Yoga with weights. Seems like we Capetonians like to mix it up. Interesting enough all these studios still have their very own set of followers. There is the old, established studio that gets all the newbies, the one where all the suburban Mums go and a few pro Rugby players (which might explain why all the Mums go there), the one with the really serious yogis and where all the teachers practise, and then there is the one with the models, the acrobats, and the yoga Barbies. That’s where I currently go and yes, I like it. Though sometimes I’m astonished by this curious assortment of who considers themselves yogis today.
The other day we were all in the room before class started; some chilling, some stretching, and some performing circus-like acts. Only one girl was checking emails on her Blackberry. Apparently I was the only one slightly disturbed by the sight of a phone in the room, because nobody else even looked. Back in the day I remember people would ask us politely if they could take a phone in on silent. These were usually doctors or midwives and on emergency call. But she? Call me judgemental, but for some reason she didn’t look like a doctor or a midwife and surely a call back for a go see doesn’t qualify as emergency?
She wasn’t alone though in her profession and it made me wonder if models get sponsored yoga clothes. They always wear colour coordinated outfits, which need to be adjusted frequently throughout the practise to stay coordinated. Well, it’s a tough world out there right in front of the mirror, so you gotta look good while sipping on your designer water bottle. Same goes for the long, swooshy hair and why would anyone tie it up properly beforehand so it won’t come undone while you are hanging out in downward facing dog?
The acrobats are a whole other story. I once saw a guy in tight biker shorts worn over tights. I wasn’t quite sure if that was his regular ballet dancer look or if he was hoping for added sweating thus more weight loss in the heat. I didn’t think he needed it as he had a nice six-pack and strong arms which pushed him in and out of handstands for a warm up. There is usually quite a few of them. One I have seen a couple of times and I swear he must have escaped the circus, because that was the last time I saw such upper body strength and control. I didn’t think what he was doing qualified as yoga, but I will admit I was starring. It was kind of like getting an exclusive sneak-peak at Cirque du Soleil.
Then there are the proper yoga Barbies. They are usually a mix of girls who have either been practising for years or are just blessed with incredible flexible limbs. They look like a proper pretzel while they make you feel like the Weisswurst to go with it. It takes a solid ego to put your mat down next to them and you have to remember really hard that yoga is not about what it looks like from the outside, but what it feels like from the inside. And before you think me really mean, I used to love my Barbies and yes, I’m simply also a bit envious of these genetically blessed ladies.
My mother, a yoga teacher for most of her life, would probably shake her head at what we call yoga these days and who does it. Sometimes when I wait for class to start I do too. But then the acrobats, the models, the Barbies, and I all get into Child’s Pose and the room becomes quiet. That’s the moment when I make my peace with this assortment of so called yogis. At the end of the day whatever brought us onto the mats, now we are here, all doing yoga. Who cares if someone came for spiritual enlightenment or a slimmer waist line? Yoga is for everybody. Even if your hair is too shiny to be true.

P.S. After last night's class I think it is vital for your information that I add another group to this assortment: the moaner. Monica Seles had nothing on the girl I was next to yesterday. She may have just voiced her annoyment with me as I was late (may I add second ever class only!!) or because she was having a hard time, all well and good, but boy I was confused by these sounds coming from her. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sounds when doing yoga at all, let it all out if that works for you... but she, she must have been practising for a porn star audition. Nobody makes sounds like this when they are laying still and not think of a certain something!

October 5, 2012

And then there was Dior.

Rember what I wrote yesterday? That was all AD. As in ante Dior. As in before I saw that:






































How much would I love to get married in a black and navy dress? And can you tell it has my name on it?
And call me easily distracted or flaky these days, but I also changed my choice of groom after seeing the video below. I don't think it gets any better, sexier, intriguing, smart, mesmerizing than him.


October 4, 2012

Crazy beautiful.

Admittedly this post is a bit random. It’s a funny Thursday so just bear with me and go with it, okay?

My friend sent me a poem about a Martini and I thought it a good opportunity to tell you why Martinis are like boobs and why I don’t drink them anymore. Then I saw the new Saint Laurent collection and now life will never be the same again.
Fashion rarely makes my heart beat faster anymore, but this - I mean can we talk about these dresses? Or maybe not, we could just sit here and stare at them. Yup, that’s what I will be doing for the rest of the day.










































I call it The secret meeting of the Witches of Eastwick and Cardinal Richelieu at the Jardin Majorelle. From now on I will be just like all the other girls, dreaming of my wedding day, picturing all the details. I shall be wearing the crème dress with cape and my groom will be the master himself. After all who cares if you have a gay husband if you can wear things so beautiful every day of your happily ever after?

October 2, 2012

One ring.

I realized I haven’t told the story of when I was 21 and madly in love with the older man. Older only he was 36, which at the time seemed significant, especially because he still managed to behave like a 15 year old which caused all the tragedy in the end. Oh yes, I forgot to mention – it is a tragic love story. The reason why it came back to my mind was that the ring he had given me broke yesterday. No, not the kind of ring you think now (and I would sincerely hope a diamond ring doesn’t just break like this), but a ring he had given me as a Mitbringsel from a trip to Berlin… but let’s start at the beginning…

So little 21 year old me was interning at an ad agency and waitressing at a nearby hip restaurant for some H&M spending money. We had a lot of regulars and one them was Oli. I’m not sure how he ended up with this cutesy nick name, because he was anything but, but this was how I called him. He was a generous and polite guest, a photographer, stylish, and I should add for full disclosure: he looked like a turtle. Mind you, I’m not being mean, I’m being objective and it didn’t matter a thing to me.
One night he and his friend were the last customers and annoyed me to no avail, because I wanted to leave and started very loudly to clean the tables next to theirs. Next thing I knew his friend went to the bathroom and he stood next to me awkwardly. I think this is when I started to melt because if a grown man can look so awkward and shy when asking you out – ups, I gave it away – it is quite endearing. In hindsight I don’t know if the way he asked is officially stupid, but to me it was even more endearing and scored him a big yes.

Oli: What do I need to do that you go out with me?

Me: Dah. Ask me!

No, that is a lie. That would have been the witty answer. I was a perpetual broke intern with a love for fine food so in fact I told him to ask me out for dinner, which he did and we were happy to find out that we shared the same favourite restaurant.
Off we went and on we got. We became the bestest of friends. Well sort of. In hindsight, again there is a lot of hindsight here, but I was little so forgive me for being so stupid, it wasn’t very nice of him to ask me out while he still had a girlfriend. Which was why we were just friends. Friends with desert. Not what you think. Real desert. We would always only have mains and deserts, but never starters.
At some point the girlfriend was no more. And then came the weekend he had to go to Berlin for work. Have I mentioned that since knowing him I refuse to go out with still life photographers? They are a funny breed. If you fuss about inanimate objects all day, you kind of lose your way with people. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. So we said our goodbye, as friends do, and I jokingly told him to get me a Mitbringsel from the trip. In fact I was only half joking, because who doesn’t want presents always?
He came back with a very pretty little bag. Girls want pretty little bags, the smaller, the better in fact. Mine must have been the smallest one ever, because it came with not one but two rings. A pink and a blue one and though for the untrained eye they may have looked like toy rings out of a gumball machine, I knew designer when I saw it. More than that they were me! That was the night we first kissed. I’m not even going to try giving you a feministic pretence that the jewellery didn’t have a part in this. Don’t you even dare to think badly of me for going out with a turtle just because he gave me nice stuff and deserts! I was crazy about this man deserts or not. If I wouldn’t know better now, I would say I was even madly in love with him and so attracted to him, writing this story now my heart is still racing just a little bit.

So that was the good part of the story. The tragic part I prefer to tell quickly: he rekindled with his ex, lied about it and unfortunately got caught. You all saw that coming, didn’t you? Well, I didn’t and it led to some door slamming and messages on his answering machine á la I meant what I said when I told you to never call me again! from my side. Guys, if a girl says that it is usually a lie and she wants nothing more than for you to call her. He knew that and even called at parents’ house where I had fled in my despair and was greeted my laughing mother Ooh, so you are the man who broke my daughter’s heart!?I guess everything is a bit dramatic when you are 21, right? I gave one of the rings to my friend afterwards to make a statement, but I don’t think I was fooling anyone and he never knew about it anyhow. There was also a steamy sequel in Paris a few years later, which probably wasn’t a smart move, but who can think straight when overlooking Paris at midnight?

And now the ring broke. Just like that. I’m not even sad, the ring and the story had done their time. I think unlike Frodo I won’t make a big fuss and a trilogy and just put it in the trash.

October 1, 2012

Happy happy for Miss Cotton Candy.

Ja, ja, I know I said I usually don’t do birthday posts…whatever… I hereby declare birthday posts the new 3D pop-up cards! We all pretend we don’t want one, but secretly we are dying to be young enough again to qualify to get one. Luckily there is no age limit for a birthday post. Not that the receiver of this post should be worried as she is only my age anyhow. Wink*.

A birthday post (toast to follow in private) to my most wonderful, cotton candy friend (read the whole story why she is called such and how to spell cotton candy in Arabic here) , Julia – happy Birthday!

Wishing you lots of …
























…and something cotton candy colored:


















…and of course:



















I love you dearly my friend and am so happy and grateful to have you in my life!
xxa
 *Yes, I actually wrote wink. Sue me.

September 28, 2012

Struggle for the good.

Many wise men believe that struggle is good for you. Maybe they are just telling us this to try and make some light of a horrible situation, but you just have to look at the Dalai Lama und you will believe it works. At least in theory. Maybe you actually have to be a bit holy to start with.  

Bikram, though nobody but himself would count him into the same category of wisdom as the Dalai Lama, believes it too. Not involving hunger, oppression, and forced migration in the struggle, hi just happens in the quaint, contained environment of a yoga mat. Which, if you do yoga, you will know, can be the most liberating of all places, but also the most scary. Quite often changing on a daily basis. He doesn't mind that inconsistency and he doesn't mind the scariness. It all comes with the struggle and struggle is good. Usually during locust he will actually animate his students to struggle harder like struggling is your new best friend. If you get uncomfortable in any posture really, well, just struggle some more and believe in the old-fashioned slogan of what doesn't kill us, makes us harder.

Another yogi friend of mine puts it a little less harsh and simply says that you gotta put in effort till it becomes effortless. On the mat or off I think that applies to almost anything in life. Some things ain’t easy and we need to work hard to get through. Which we usually try to avoid, because we like the way of least resistance. I think struggling has become a lost art in our world of 90 day marriages, 2 minute noodles, and a whole lot of general quick fixes. Maybe we should reconsider and try to relearn this art and actually bite our teeth into something else than a fast-food burger.
Instead of letting it all go and having it easy, maybe we should struggle a bit harder? After all the Dalai Lama is quite awesome, so wouldn't it be neat to be a bit more like him? Or at least manage a perfect locust one day?

In case you do wonder what brought on all these questions and less than happy thoughts… it wasn’t my perfect locust posture. I have just struggled a lot lately with life and on the mat and am trying to make sense of it. My yoga practise always seems a nice metaphor for what is going on in my life. Yesterday again I had such an intense class, my blood felt it was boiling and I could hardly lie still for a breath or two and I really, really struggled. Thinking about it and how it made me feel, I realized that it might not be a bad thing. That in fact a bit of struggling might just be exactly what I need to bring out some good – on my mat and off.

September 27, 2012

Not funny.

So apparently I'm funny. A lot of people tell me after reading my blog. I guess I'm not as funny live. Not sure what this says about me, but I tend to be a glass is half full kinda person so I just take it as a compliment. There is also the usual amount of suspects that pretend to be amazed to find out that I am German. What? A funny German? Never heard of that! It's like an English man with good teeth. (In all fairness I personally know plenty of funny Germans and no English man with good teeth, but I would hate to feed the stereotype.)

These days I am not feeling very funny though. I don't want to constantly mope, but life is just feeling niggly at the moment. Though post-Morocco depression is slowly vanishing, it seems to just have made space for dull, everyday normality. Summer still far away, money from the travel agent of doom still not transferred, and my date request still unfulfilled, except for my aunt mentioning a nice guy Dude, who I will only be able to meet next year and whose real name she can’t remember. Hey Dude, want to go for a drink? Bleh. Can you tell I am having a hard time spicing things up? So I do what any sensible person would do, I drink more, but besides that this statement makes me sound like a true alcoholic, I feel dreadful the next morning with my bikini figure slipping further into the bottle.

The one and only thing that really helps right now is again yoga. Unfortunately not in the comforting, peaceful way, but in the let me kick your ass really hard way. Everything feels more intense than usual in my practice and I often get a simple feeling of well, if I survive this, I can survive anything. Yesterday when I had this thought I almost started to cry. Then we went into camel and it kicked my ass right out of it. Try it – next time you feel like crying for no stupid reason or other – do a camel. The crying I postponed instead for when I was in bed. No idea where it came from, but it actually wasn’t so bad. This morning when I found the tissues and remembered, I couldn’t actually remember what initiated the little outbreak. Oh, well. Sometimes you need to cry and sometimes you need to be kicked in the ass by a camel and if you really lucky the sun might just shine when you wake up.

September 25, 2012

Golden and grey.

In case you wonder what I did this weekend… on Friday afternoon I went to Wine at the Mill to buy something nice to drink away the sorrows I have due to the travel agent of doom. That worked so nicely that instead of just buying one bottle, the owners and I drank one right there at the shop and I walked out with another four. What can you do?
That night I went to Toffie’s pop-up dim-sum dinner with a room clad in gold and more gold a.k.a. Chenin Blanc in our glasses. And of course no one wanted to go home and be sensible after this so we went to a house party. House party as it was hosted in a new bar called Peter’s House. Tada!
Saturday I woke up with a big fat hangover, a class to teach, and no wallet. I did not feel golden anymore and looked a bit grey too. Not an ideal combination, but somehow I managed to survive class and my wallet managed to survive a night on the backseat of Claire’s car in Obz. To show my joy of reunion I took the wallet to the market where I bought - well, everything that my hangover stomach demanded: crepe with ham and cheese, sushi, and for some reason or other cake pops. All of which was quite delicious and got me safely fuelled to Betty’s Bay. There I spent the next 48 hours hibernating with my aunt and uncle in great stormy weather. It was impossible to do anything useful but lie on the couch in front of the fire, entertained by movies, the Kindle, and little naps. I didn’t write except for a few tweets which all included the joys of chilled bubbly and were probably quite repetitive. I didn’t even feel bad about it. I just enjoyed the calm and ease, which was only disturbed once by the excitement brought on by double yoked poached eggs for breakfast.



















Much more exciting than silly, old green eggs I think!

Last night I went to the meat-eating side of the family and was fed an entire, yummy animal of some sorts. This in combination with the left over relaxation from the weekend has calmed me down so much that I didn’t even yell too much at the travel agent when I finally got a hold of her this morning. We shall see how long it lasts… In the meanwhile I will use the good vibes and finally spend some time on the mat and hopefully type some clever thoughts as well.

September 20, 2012

Chicken McNuggets.

Morocco is many wonderful things, but it didn’t seem very animal friendly to me. I’m not a vegetarian so I didn’t mind that the only meat free food option was overcooked vegetable couscous. I did however mind seeing little monkeys on a leash, horses in front of carriages baking in the sun as well as chameleons and tortoises in cages at the beauty stalls in the souks. I didn’t dare to ask what they were used for, but imagined their ultimate purpose to be horrible concoctions of ground chameleon powder and made by order tortoise combs. I thought it saver to refuse to buy anything at any place with still-alive animals. In case you wonder why I didn’t feel sorry for the snakes and I guess to be PC I should – I don’t like snakes and don’t care for them at all. Sorry.
Then there were all the little donkeys, carrying heavy loads and sometimes us lazy tourists, goats tied into a tree for a picture-taking-money-making-scheme, and the scrawniest little kittens, which I wanted to take home with me. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. The scrawnier and smaller the better as the more I would be able to fit in my luggage. And so everybody back home could get cute little kittens as presents and not rely on my non-shopping abilities at the souks. In the end they were all too cute and I decided to rather take none than leave any kitten behind.
And if all of this wasn’t disturbing enough, we then found these little chicks in Fez:







Since posting this on Facebook they have created a storm amongst my friends and to my astonishment conquered many hearts. The general mood goes from WTF? to How do they do that? and then to I want one!. Well, at least my friend Alex expressed these three stages in one comment. Yesterday Julia and I were simultaneously browsing through my Morocco and skyping.

Julia: Ooooooooh. What is that? 

Me: What is what?

Julia: The little coloured things?

Me: Oh, they are chicks.

Julia: Ooooooh, how cute!!! But why are they coloured?

Me: So kids will buy them. For 1 dirham. They are like live Tamagochi. Isn’t that horrible?  

Julia: Nooooo, they are sooooooooooooo cute. You should have totally gotten one!

Me: But it’s horrible! I almost called PETA. They even put them in little plastic bags with only tiny holes when you buy one. 

Julia: Jaaa, but not for long, only till you get home. You should have gotten a pink one!

Me: And then what? Hide it in my shirt and take it on the plane?

Julia: Yes, totally!

Considering that I wanted to take a gazillion scrawny, little kittens home hidden in my luggage and my cousin once carried her rat in her jacket pocket from Cape Town to Germany this request is actually not as outrageous as it may seem.

Me: Taking a pooping, little chick and put it in my shirt for a 30 hours plane ride? Are you serious?

Julia: Yes. (Pause) Okay. 30 hours might be a bit long, it’s so little.

Me: Yes. So that’s why I didn’t take one. Plus it’s still horrible.

(Pause)

Julia: I wonder what it will be when it grows up.

Me: A chicken?

Julia: Will it still be pink?

And that leaves us with the question if also a chick needs to get its roots done every four weeks.

September 19, 2012

A date request.

I am aware that this might make me sound a bit desperate, but still, I will just put it out there: I need a date. Vacation time is over, summer isn’t here yet, I need something fun to cheer myself up. No worries, guys, I don’t want to marry you or make you the father of my future children or otherwise entrap you in any way. I just want a date. I want someone to take me for a nice dinner, a little stroll through the park, and maybe some light yet steamy midnight snogging. No further obligations, you can just call me the next day and tell me you are leaving town to join the Peace Corps. I will believe you and you don’t ever have to see me again. Unless of course you are stupid like the guy who told me he was moving to Houston and still managed to run into me in NYC two months later. Then rather tell me you are not over your ex yet. That excuse works like a charm and I’m well used to it, in fact I can take it without any tears. 
 
What kind of guys need apply? 
  • Due to recent circumstances I have lowered my age range (Cousin, do you read this?!). So with just 25 years of age, you are good to go.
  • Mind you, please have some sort of a job so you can pick up the bill. Don’t tell me after dinner that you really would like to, but unfortunately can’t pay for me because your parents’ cheque hasn’t cleared yet (yes, that has happened more than I would like to admit). Also asking me for petrol money to get home is a deal breaker. 
  • It would be nice if you were taller than me so I can wear heels without making you feel, well, small.
  • Don’t mention of God or Jesus over dinner. Or after. Especially not when we get to the snogging part. 
  • Photographers and general creative, I dig you! But I can also tell the good from the bad and the ugly. If you are a photographer, you should be able to take pictures that will remind me of the days when I had a crush on Nathaniel Goldberg or even better remind me of my brother. Which is not that weird as it sounds. He is just very brilliant and may have spoilt my aesthetics for life.
  • Don’t wear white shoes. I hope I don’t need to elaborate this one further. 
  • Be a bit daring. You could even suggest going to the movies. Though you will know that I generally hate going to the movies and so your only option is to lure me to the Labia via strawberry gin slushies.  
  • Which brings me to: Do not not drink. We simply won’t get along. I have tried the AA/teetotaller route many times, it just doesn’t work for me.
  • Last but not least: please have a sense of humour. If you are reading this and don’t get offended by me writing a list (and don’t be fooled, all girls have a list, I just happened to put it online), if you might even crack a smile here and there, yes, that would be a good start.
Thank you for your consideration; you know where to find me.
 
 
Any

September 18, 2012

The real life cleanse.

Just like a Bikram teacher can’t be faulted for saying “lock your knee” way too often, an Intrepid group leader can’t be for overusing the phrase “real life experience”. I learned that half way into my trip and was actually quite relived when I did, because before I thought it was a personal catch phrase of Issam. 

You ask what a real life experience is. I will say it’s something you’d call mundane or normal when in your natural habitat. The things you do any day, every day in your life and you probably mope about and even call them boring sometimes. These real life things usually only morph into real life experiences when undergone by someone who is foreign to your world. Then they move from things to experiences and may just become utterly exotic and exciting. Obviously it works both ways so once you leave your real life behind and travel, you also might find the extraordinary in the everyday. Thus not a bad motto when you are a tour operator.
Our real life experiences came in form of camel burger lunches, the best olive oil sampled Fatima’s mud house, freshly gutted calamari goo from my arm directly onto my plate, and our visit to the hammam. To clarify: a Moroccan hammam is not a spa, but more a very public form of bucket shower and your knickers might come off. We were warned though I still think that Issam left out quite a few important factors one should know before entering. Lucky for you, you have Lucy, Peta, and me as gunny pigs and who live to tell the tale.
We went in fully equipped and had paid for a the ultimate hammam experience: a luffa, black olive soap, and a lady to scrub us. In the changing room we took off everything except the knickers (we all agreed we weren’t going to give them up that easily) and then looked around a bit puzzled. A lovely and very naked lady asked us whether we spoke French. The fact that my French was probably the best of the group made me answer that yes, indeed I spoke a little. I promise right here that I shall never show off my non-existent French again! Translating how much you have to pay for a nos nos or a Solero is not the same as being explained the intricacies of the hammam. All I understood was l’eau, which was sort of a given considering we were here to get clean.
Still pouring French on us, the lady ushered us into the first room and gave us each a bucket and a cup. Easy enough, we filled the buckets and were shown to a corner in the completely tiled room. She quickly cleaned it by pouring our buckets out and we obviously were to sit down on this now clean-ish floor. There we sat - an Australian, an English, and a German girl; knees pulled and hugged to our chests with eyes wide open, trying not to watch two women next to us too closely:



From left to right:

Bucket with water.

Scrubber with luffa and knickers, but otherwise naked. I would know as she was scrubbing me later while I held her boob (I didn’t volunteer for that, but it only seemed polite as she was after all doing all the work!).

Scrubbee with no knickers. Arm over her head and leg too. Not sure how it got there though mine did as well when it was my turn. 

We averted our eyes from the scenario in front of us when we were gestured to start putting soap on and then pour the refilled water buckets over ourselves. Said – in French-, understood, and done. Though still no lady for us in sight, so Lucy started the procedure on her own. A little while later the scrubber (see picture above) was done with the scrubbee (though she continued on her own and let me tell you, it looked like it hurt!) and told me to come with her.
I should add here that before we went, I have had this vision of women working in a hammam. In my vision these women all had a uni-brow, a big mole, and always looked really grim. I’m not sure where this idea even came from, but I was very relieved that the real hammam lady didn’t look anything like it. In fact she looked quite friendly and that she had to squash me onto the marble floor was not so very torturous as it sounds and was after all part of the process.
Unfortunately Peta didn’t get so lucky. In fact her scrubber looked very much like how I envisioned them to look like. To complete the stern hammam lady look she wore a little turban with her knickers & nothing else. That she never smiled was probably due to her lack of front teeth.
It might have been unfortunate that the very same woman then went to collect Lucy as she came back empty handed. Did my friend not want to have her massage I was asked. Well, apparently not, because Lucy snuck out five minutes later and we didn’t blame her.
So then it was just Peta and I left to be scrubbed. And scrubbed we were. We were also rolled from our backs to our sides, arm up, arm down, and repeated with each leg. My knickers were definitely coming off, though my lady was nice enough to pull them back up on a regular basis. Luffas, even when wet, are rougher than you think and these ladies didn’t stop just because they encountered your throat or a nipple. We were pushed onto our stomachs, almost kissing the floor, and I felt like a dirty slave girl the one minute, like Cleopatra being pampered for Marc Anthony the next. Finally my expensive, tiny travel shampoo was discovered and poured all over us for a final wash down and a little stretch.
Then we were done. And clean. Probably cleaner than I have ever been in my life.
We left with our head spinning and slightly shaky legs to be greeted by the dusty afternoon and big grins from the rest of the group outside. Lucy had already spilled the beans. What happens in the hammam definitely doesn’t stay there and luckily so as reminiscing about it makes me laugh every morning in the shower where I give myself a mini hammam. Without the knickers.

September 17, 2012

No shop stop in Marrakech.

In case you wondered why I didn’t get proper presents, but only personalized pictures from Morocco…

I like shopping as much as the next girl. Unlike most however it’s not a happy event for me, I don’t use it for boyfriend punishment, and I don’t need girlfriends’ advice for it. Or anyone’s advice in fact, least of all from a sales person. Growing up in Germany, when at least back in the day there was no such thing as commission, a young girl learned quickly that sales people are not your friends. They are rather gods and goddesses, towering over their counters, hording the sizes a mere mortal could actually fit in to, and woe to whom who would actually dare to approach them with a timid Excuse me please…. Excused one never was. Scorned, looked up and down, and in best case simply ignored. Their behaviour taught me early to make it on my own in the shopping world.
Can you imagine my horror fresh off the boat and into a New York shop only to be greeted by a lot of very shiny smiles? Too sweet voices asking me how I was and how they could possibly, please, desperately help me with something. Some even dared to touch my arm in order to steer me towards a shelf or, if I was already holding a garment, towards the cash register. It took me a while to understand that most sales people in the States make a large portion of their income through commissions, but even once I knew that, it didn’t help. Worst of all was Victoria’s Secret. I actually wondered if they had their employees attend seminars how to fake smile, shrill the voice, and become an extra scary person adorned with a pink bow?
The combination of both worlds, being ignored and being jumped by sales people, has left me with a guerrilla shopping approach of I shop fast, I shop alone, I shop in silence. This has served me well so far. A few extreme situations have called for more desperate measures and I took the honest approach of explaining to the especially annoying salesmen that they would make more money of me by just leaving me alone. That works like a charm every time and I don’t really care whether they consider me a bitch or not, at least they make money and I don’t have to leave the shop empty handed.

Unfortunately all strategies failed me in Marrakech. That might explain why I didn’t have to pay overweight charges on my luggage, which could be considered a good thing.
Issam, our group leader had already advised us to do our shopping in Essouira as it would be much more relaxed and literally a lot cooler. I didn’t want to listen. I never do. After a morning spent wandering the streets and shops, I hadn’t nearly crossed half off my list, but my enthusiasm was spent and I took a nap instead. Yes, you read correctly: I was on holiday, it was broad daylight, there was stuff left to buy in the shops, and there I went to bed instead. Mind you the riad we stayed in was particularly beautiful, so I guess one could book the nap as sociological enterprise and not a waste of precious holiday time. And after all I had an extra day for all last minute presents, including those for myself, in Marrakech.

A rookie error.

I immediately knew once we arrived I only sort of liked Marrakech. Djemaa el Fna, the main square, was loud, busy, and had people coming at you with monkeys, snakes, horse carriages, and scooters from all directions (It’s apparently one of the busiest squares in the world according to Wikipedia, so it wasn’t just me, being too touchy-feely with my assessment.) Our real life experience dinner at the food stalls was nonetheless even to my liking and with the prospect of midnight ice cream I also didn’t mind a little detour through the souks on our way home. That was till we actually got there. I am a bit at a loss how to describe how horrible it was. Maybe try to understand how much Victoria’s Secret scares me and then imagine the souks of Marrakech as a Victoria’s Secret on Red Bull. Red Bull with acid. Red Bull with acid and techno music playing (fyi: I hate techno!). Once you have this mental image, you will understand how daunting the prospect was to me to finish my holiday shopping there. I should have taken a page from Jen’s playbook. Over ice cream later her face was just glowing, conjuring dreams of Sex and The City II with the prospect of having an entire day and a half to frolic through the shops. I don’t think I have ever seen a person that excited. I certainly couldn’t share the sentiment, but after her lost luggage debacle she really deserved a money-spending-frenzy-treat.
The next day was spent with sightseeing and chilling by the pool, but by the time Sunday came around I had run out of options. I gathered all optimism I could find, my walking shoes, and a shopping list. I shouldn’t have. I should have joined Andrew at the Sky Bar with some topless-by-default French girls and a six-pack of overpriced beer. Or taken another nap in my Barbie room. Or have a snake charmer charm me. Anything else really. 

Bonjour.
Hello, Miss.
Please come inside!
Want to buy some shoes?
Here look!
Salaam.
Come, come!
Look, lady!
Bonjour.
Hello, Miss.
Please come inside!
Beautiful carpets.
Want to buy a bag?
Here look!
Salaam.
Come, come! 
Look, lady!
Bonjour.
Hello, Miss.
Come inside!
Want to buy some jewellery?
Here look!
Salaam.
Come, come!
Look, lady! 
Smile, Miss, you must smile! - He got lucky not to get smacked in the face by me to wipe his smile off. 

You ask the valid question how I could manage not to buy anything at all amongst 5000 stalls? I’m still not sure how that was possible. My money simply refused to leave my wallet, my feet refused to enter any shop, and explaining to them that they needed to rather leave me alone in order to make a sale, was just not in our common vocabulary.
I had lasted only two hours before I emerged empty handed and exhausted in a part of town I had never been. Lost is a place too and I was happy to be alive for the time being, but I also felt defeated. I had shopped for a living for years and now I couldn’t even get a few measly souvenirs? It was then I decided to recall my inner troops and went back to the hotel for a strengthening nap and a reenergizing shower. I would regroup at dawn.
Refreshed and refocused I put on my sternest look, grabbed my much reduced shopping list, and went off to conquer the souks again. This time I would take no prisoners. Within my allocated time I managed to get two jars of kohl and little silver boxes to keep it in, haggled the price of a couple of antique pillow cases down to a third, and finally gave up on the idea of finding any type of appropriate gift for 10 year old boy as souks don’t sell Pokemon & Co. I was content and for everything else there was duty free. So I dragged my parcels up onto the roof of Café de France just in time for sunset. From here I could finally see what Jen saw – the beauty of the souks, so lovely and so enticing when far, far away…

P.S. And this is why you didn’t get a present from Morocco. Maybe next time, I promise I will practise on Greenmarket Square!

 

 

September 13, 2012

From Morocco with meatballs.

Before you start reading and get disappointed: no, there is no recipe for meatballs in this post. Go google! Just a little visual reminder of the dish I could have (or maybe did) eat every day:



I know I have been lazy, but I promise I will tell you stories of Morocco. Ever since coming back however I seem to lack energy. I blame it on my now again almost sugarless diet. It makes me grumpy and sleepy. But that shouldn’t concern you and you deserve stories. I did think about how and if one can squeeze two weeks full of magic, excitement, and enough mint tea for a year into a blog post. Or two. Or three. Or how many would it take? And in what order?
Chronologically? Makes sense. Then I would have to start with Casablanca though and as my travel companion Peter spelled it out nicely– Casablanca is a dive. We all got ripped off in the taxis and the only beautiful thing there to see is Mosque Hassan II, which closed due to Ramadan. I however almost managed to still get ripped off there as well (which I only realized later after borrowing someone’s French number chart and could figure out how much they wanted from me). Then a stranger asked me whether I was American and my immediate response was: Why? Am I fat? (Forgive me my wonderful, slim American friends! I don’t even know where that came from…I think it was my guilty conscious because of the sugar loaded mint tea.) My taxi driver later just stared at me when I told him I was from South Africa and declared: But you are not black! I refused to reply to that or tip him. Good about was the ice cream that night, though topped immediately by the one in Essaouira and Marrakech. So no, Casablanca was no good and chronologically is out.
Mosque Hassan II - Casablanca's one and only gem.






































Maybe order of importance? I wouldn’t even now where to start, except to put Casablanca last on the list. It was definitely a highlight when the carpet shop owner told me I was beautiful and his assistant offered me 600 camels, which with a value of 10-30k/camel would make me quite bling in camel terms. Since nothing came of it though as I gracefully accepted the compliment, but declined the assistants offer, so it won’t make for a fulfilled story with happy end.
I also thought to just bail and not right anything with the excuse of the trip motto what happens in Morocco stays in Morocco. Then I thought everybody's dirty mind would just go crazy and in the end sharing is caring.
Lucky for you, I decided to just do what I do best and tell you random stuff about the trip. Stuff that I liked, loved, or had always dreamed of. Experiences I will remember for years to come and the little things that made this trip one of the bestest* in my life. So stay tuned for tales of the scary lady in the hammam, my no-shop stop in Marrakesh, scary cats in the desert, and how we had drinks with an STD…

*I am still aware that this is not a word. It should be though. I love it and it looks right to me. Sometimes there are situations when best just doesn’t cut it. Spell police, if you were there, you would understand.
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