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Archive for September, 2011

Across the road from the hotel

Were about as many facilities as there are in the whole of Mahe; restaurants, a theatre, a spa, pharmacy, Woolworth’s express type thing (south African version is posh and this one was food only) and shops. Notably one called the safari and outdoor company. I thought I’d have a nosy round thinking it would be like Blacks or Go Outdoors, it wasn’t.

It was a designer hunting shop by all accounts, guns, fatigues,ammo, anything you might want to kill things and just in case you were unclear as to the shop’s purpose, they had a nice little wall feature. Isn’t it funny how countries can be so culturally different? FAIL.

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Smile you’re on conference camera

Why does it happen?

I might like to open my mouth but that doesn’t mean I like to be on camera but somehow I find myself on it anyway, pretending to be a press office being savaged by a media pack. Wonderful, I sounded like a five year old with a cold and looked like my mum, what a combination. Method actor I wasn’t, I’m not sure that I was meant to laugh but more worrying was when the footage was played back, the rest of the group laughed too. Were they laughing at me, at what I was doing, was it my voice, my hands waving about idiotically, the fact that I looked like a cornered chicken? What? And it’s not like I could ask them was it? I didn’t know these bleedin people.

FAIL.

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Negotiating the self in conference

People you’ve never met before – work colleagues – strange city, only yourself to rely on the big question – will I come across as a total *ob?! I wasn’t trying at all but I couldn’t help speaking – that may not have helped. It was a major geography challenge, where you are from? Kinshasa.. hmmmmmm,I’ve heard of it, don’t tell me, no please don’t,oh ok then, DRC, oh right ok, great (*hit, *hit, what’s that stand for? Don’t Remember Clearly?) Oh, Democratic Republic of Congo. Aha, Gorillas! No, most of them are in the Republic of Congo*, Eh, come again? That’s what you said isn’t it?

FAIL.

* Democratic Republic of Congo was formerly Zaire and changed it’s name in 1997 and has about 70 million people. The other one – is it democratic who knows? – has only 4 million. Granted I had a better excuse to not know that than not think that Huddersfield was down south from Manchester but in my defence an easy mistake to make when Manchester was the centre of the universe.

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Little things

My room had a bath – hurrah!

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The closest I got to Joburg…

Afternoon of my arrival and  tour had been organised of Soweto. It was difficult to really get a sense of it because a) it covers a huge area b) we were in a minibus c) we didn’t have an awful lot of time.

What I did see of it, was, bizarrely, two chimney stacks from which you can bungee (admiring the artwork was quite enough for me) and a community centre/museum that a guy we met was setting up. He talked about the community, and how life was under the joke they called apartheid. He appeared to be well liked in the community, the collection of remnants of how people used to live testament to people sharing his vision of marking how life was for them, and the community bonds that helped them all through and get on whatever their background ( not minding so much it seems as white south africans did if someone was black or coloured). There were some children outside who kept peeking in, curious as to what we were all doing, but they soon lost their  attention when our guy gave them a broom – a broom – to play with.

ha I don't think so

I’d have liked to spend more time there but we had to go. What was interesting was that money had obviously been ploughed into the area, there were houses made from brick (says everything that I use this as an example of it being better than it was) – a step up from the ‘squatter camps’ that we’d seen in outside Cape Town and actually, just across the road from where we were. The houses may be better but try swinging a cat.

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Arrival

It’s weird travelling without the other one, I spend way more time faffing with my passport and tickets, putting them in safe places, wondering where they are, did I leave my boarding pass in the toilet – life is so much more inconvenient when you only one pair of hands. Then again, I don’t miss the nagging about being at check in, passport control, the gate on time… anyone would think I had a reputation for being late, which to note – the only time I’ve ever nearly missed a plane is when the other one mistook the landing time as the take off time – a fact that he’s not allowed to forget :  )

I managed to get on the plane all on my own and off it too, and felt rather silly being met by a man with a sign with my name on but as it was Joburg Airport was rather glad of it. There’s a  bizarre division of labour though, the guy holding the sign, isn’t the one that drives you to wherever you going, a fact that became quickly evident as I chunnered on apologising for being late to the guy, who nodded enthusiastically until someone else came along and carted me away. He didn’t seem to interested in my conversation either and it was a 40 minute drive to Pretoria but then he probably didn’t need to know my opinion on drivers overtaking on both sides travelling down a 5 lane motorway- what do I know, I’m not South African,  Seychelles has only 2 lanes near the airport and I hate driving. Ho hum.

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Pre Pre Pretoria

To the tune of Notorious by…Duran Duran of course. Extra point for where they got their name from?*

I blame the other one, I really do.

Anyway, yes South Africa for a work gathering that lasted only two days but which because of flights out of Seychelles (only direct one being Air Seychelles) meant I arrived on the Tuesday and left on the Saturday. News that I’d be close to a shopping mall was you can imagine, very happily received.

* from the film Barabarella

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