Monday, 9 July 2012

An Unexpected Adventure

It was early Saturday morning when Dadonator roused us from our whiskey-laden slumber. Must've been around 5am, even though he wanted to hit the road by 4:30, he must have recognised that Bruce and I would be of little to no use as back-up drivers without an extra hour.

We were leaving Pretoria, barely 24 hours after landing in Joburg and driving through there to visit my Pa in hospital. The night before, I was determined to stay, but there was no need. And my dad would need assistance behind the wheel if he wanted to get back to Cape Town by Saturday night. We started the trek well before sunrise, with dawn chasing our backs, yet dark enough to still feel like night time. Me, in my brother-in-law's Mazda 2, which he graciously loaned me for the trip to Pretoria at 1am on Friday morning, Dadonator  in his Jetta (the one just before the current model) hurtling along to North Riding to drop Robin's car before beginning our homeward journey.

The stopover at Robin's place was brief. He had a 6:30 flight to Cape Town to catch, and we wanted to hit Kroonstad by breakfast time. Once there, we managed to catch some Super Rugby action while downing Steers and too-milky coffee at the petrol station diner. It hit me that it had been a while since the three of us had watched a rugby game together, and far too many years had passed since my dad, my brother and I had been on the long road together. It must have been more than a decade ago. Far too long. Far too long to not do what had been such an integral part of our young life. The long road. The packed cars. The skottel-braais at picnic spots at the side of the road. Sitting on pillows and bedding that hours before had kept out the cold that creeps so easily into a car in the dead of night. The cold that lingers long after the sun has risen and sits golden ahead of you, casting a fiery orange glow on everything.

I took the wheel from Kroonstad. The 1.4 TSI is a marvel of engineering. Mated to a six-speed manual gear-box that manages cruise control surprisingly well, it seems this car was built for trips like this. Bruce went into hibernation in the back seat. Dadonator got some shut-eye. Bear in mind that the last time I drove this route was back in 2008 in a Toyota Hilux 2.7 with Robin Adams. It was a company car that we had volunteered to drive to Cape Town after spending a rather long time working from the Johannesburg office. Back then, it was -7 degrees outside, Robin was behind the wheel, we were devouring a bag of apples, singing Kylie Minouge's "Put your hand on your heart" and Adele's "Cold Shoulder" - apparently the only two songs Robin and I had at the time that we both didn't mind listening to for more than a thousand kilometres. It was around 3am. I wasn't paying attention to the road and chose instead to focus on not freezing to death, despite the heater being on full blast, drying my eyes and making me drowsy.

So this time, four years later, it was me driving, in daylight... and I missed the turn-off. One lane slips off along the N1 to Bloemfontein, the other along the R34 to Welkom. In my defence, there was an old Ford F150 bakkie towing an ancient caravan three sizes too big doing all manner of drifting across lanes, so I was less focused on the signage than I was on not dying. But along the R34 we went.

Dadonator stirs from his light slumber and says "this doesn't look at all familiar". I said that we'd get to Bloemfontein eventually. The road was smooth and empty, we avoided much of the roadworks and the ubiquitous trucks that make travelling at a constant 130km/h virtually impossible. We saw some bits of the Free State that we'd never before laid eyes on. Through mining towns and fields of lucerne, freshly cut so the ground looked like a vast stubbly face of an old man who hadn't shaved in a few days. When we re-connected with the N1, Dadonator suggested I pull off as he'd found another back route on his Blackberry's GPS that would bring us back onto the N1 at Three Sisters. I looked across the car at him, he looked to the back seat to find my brother still comatose after two hours of driving, then back at me. I could tell his tired eyes had a glint of excitement in them despite the dark sunglasses he wore. A smile crept over his face only now beginning to show some semblance of ageing. It struck me that I hadn't looked at his face for too long. He could tell what was going on in my head. I barely nodded my ascent before he broke my gaze to look at the road and said "take the N8". His voice lacked the confidence of a man who knew where he was going, but bore all the wonder that had been welling up inside me simultaneously... the prospect of adventure.

We followed the N8 for what seemed like forever. On the road, time passes slowly, but one tends to notice its passage more coherently, so that by noon, it feels like it should be 3PM. With nowhere to go but home, with nothing to do but drive and drink in the beauty of South Africa, and nothing to concentrate on but the road and harmonising John Denver songs with Dadonator (he's so good at that), it's one of the closest things to bliss I have found.

Following the N8 as far as Petrusburg, we peeled off along the R48, a road that at times is so straight with surrounds so uniform one scarcely feels like you're moving at all. The grass grows tall right up to the edge of the shoulderless road, so the car's turbulence causes it to wave behind fluidly. That image in the rearview is something I can only describe as serene. There were potholes that needed dodging, sure, and at times I found myself driving on the wrong side of the road, if only to preserve both my dad's Jetta's suspension and my brother's continued and inexplicable death-like sleep. Follow the R48 along Google Maps and you'll find stretches so straight it defies old-world road engineering.

It's along this road that we stumbled upon the delightful town of Koffiefontein. Once a diamond mining boomtown, it's a shadow of its former self. It's lost its glint. It's sheen is gone. But the small-town dorp feel of the place is a suitable veneer for the deep economic problems so evident just by driving through it. This place has a rich and shadowy history. I'd like to go back some day. We thought, based on the name, that we could grab a cup of the strong stuff, but we were disappointed and decided to continue. The R48 then took us through majestic flat-topped koppies completely uniform in their height, as if someone had heaped up the ground with their hands and then, in one fell precise swoop with a Katana, lopped off all the peaks in one lateral blow. We crossed the mighty Orange River exiting the Free State and into the Northern Cape on a bridge that can only accommodate one vehicle at a time. We had yet to see another car since leaving Petrusburg. It was completely vacant. We could have been the last people on earth, but for the aeroplanes thousands of metres above travelling through air so cold and windless, their jet-stream vapour trails hung in the air for hours at a time.

Hanging a right at Philipstown, we could've continued straight on to meet the N1 at Hanover via the R389 but this was an adventure, dammit. On towards De Aar where we failed to find a place to stop and eat. Heading out of the town I looked over at Dadonator, who again read my mind and said, "let's keep exploring, boy". We met up with the N10 and stopped over in Britstown. I fell in love. There's a hotel there where we stopped for coffee and scones. A whistle stop, really, as the afternoon was dragging on and dusk would soon be upon us. We didn't want to be on unknown roads at night. This hotel... majestic. Its stucco walls are peeling, its cuisine is French, its garden is gorgeous, its courtyard Italian, its wines magnificent. If I ever get married again, it's happening there.

The final stretch of the adventure would take us to Three Sisters first along the N12 and then peeling off onto the R398 through the Richmond district. Dadonator took the wheel from Britstown. I preferred not to sleep, and decided on helping him stay awake. Talking, singing, laughing, feeding him Fanta, biltong, water and Doritos while Bruce slept on in the back seat. It was just before reaching the N1 that I witnessed one of the the most beautiful sunsets I had ever had the privilege to see. Purple, orange, gold, bronze light streaming across the Karoo from the west painting the Three Sisters, those iconic koppies outside Beaufort West, in a palette far too beautiful to find words to describe.

I looked over at Dadonator's weathered face, concentrated solely on getting us home safely. Then out to my left at an oasis in the semi-desert. Lush, green and alive amidst the dry, arid flatlands where dinosaurs once walked. In that moment, I was entirely content. I must have sighed, because when I looked back at Dadonator, he was looking at me. We didn't have to say "it's been too long" or "I really miss this" or "that was an awesome adventure". No, words would have ruined the moment. Just a feint smile, a nod, and the memory of those words as we left De Aar.

"Let's keep exploring, boy."

Thursday, 7 June 2012


Chris de Burgh once sang: "I have never seen that dress you're wearing, nor the highlights in your hair that catch your eye, I have been blind"

Sometimes, something happens that makes you see something that you may not have noticed consciously. Seeing something for the first time always feels to me like a new discovery. Sure, you've laid eyes on the thing a hundred times, but when you truly see something, acknowledge its presence, its exuberance in the space in which it finds itself, when the light is just right, when the accompanying moments lock the memory so tacitly it is immediately recalled from the ether. Instant beauty, instant smile.

Sitting on the mountainside in a spot I had been to scores of times before, I had reason to stop and pause. The sun was setting and the light was catching her hair in such a way that made it glow like fire. A deep, smouldering fire as of embers, but raging with intense heat. It took my breath away. The orange of the setting sun, making everything look like life was Instagram'd.

The city carried on below, oblivious to the beauty of that moment. The quiet moment. The realisation of the absolute clarity that accompanies epiphany. Turning to leave, she pointed out the setting sun. Never before had I realised that at that time of year, one could see the setting sun from this spot I had visited too many times to remember, often alone, often accompanied by an entire car-load of friends, often just with one Other... I saw it for the first time. And it was as if I was watching the sun set for the first time.

We'd shared sunsets before, but this particular sunset was coupled with another spectacular birth of light. The full moon was bright and yellow and rising slow off the horizon. Sun and Moon are by no means mutually exclusive, but on this particular day, they appeared to be. One's brilliance could not, would not, be overshadowed by the other.

We're drawn to the light. We're children of the light. Watching the retiring sun, and witnessing the lazy moonrise. Its light casting shadows unusual for dusk, when everything should be wan and ashen, instead luminescent, writhing and alive. Take the time to notice these things you cast your eyes on and yet don't see.

Allow your eyes to rid themselves of the scales masking the spectacular as ordinary. It's been far too long since that sunset-moonrise, but since, there have been plenty more moments of noticing things. Paying closer attention to that moment your eyes meet across a distance, a wink and a smile that says the unspeakable, that moment you check your phone at exactly the point in time a message comes through that shakes your being, makes your tummy flip, your face flush, your knees a bit wobbly, and is accompanied by a simultaneous sigh that defies the laws of the space-time continuum.

Instant smile.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Terrific Tin Can Tuesdays

How do we make South Africa better?

We do it by helping out wherever we can. We donate money, we give blankets, we support drives once or twice a year, pat ourselves on the back, and feel chuffed. Attending a blanket drive doesn't necessarily mean you automatically deserve that feeling of self-satisfaction. By bringing that one blanket along, you certainly have made a difference.

But the difference I'm thinking of making is a huge one. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the CT Angels. You can find them on Facebook (find them here:, and hashtag them on Twitter (#CTAngels). They've done amazing things. We all know how hugely successful the Twitter Blanket Drive was. More than one and a half blankets were donated. But I still got the feeling that we could be doing more as Capetonians.

So my suggestion to Fatima Razzak was this - let's do something every three months. And the next big thing we're looking at doing, is assembling food. Canned food. Now, I know how sometimes having to go out of your way to help sometimes is the only thing hindering you from doing good. And that's ok. We're going to make it easy for you.

"How?" I hear you ask. Every Tuesday in July, we'll be collecting your cans at one of the busiest intersections in Cape Town. Right outside the CTICC, Coen Steytler, where the N1 and N2 converge to bring most of Cape Town into work. Here's all that's required of you:

Step 1: When doing your monthly/weekly shopping, slip a few extra cans into your trolley.

Step 2: Bring them along to work with you on any Tuesday in the month of July

Step 3: When you reach the traffic lights at the CTICC, hoot, and one of our volunteers will come running over to collect your cans.

Helping to make a big difference in three easy steps.

We aim to be at the intersection every Tuesday in July (there are five of them) between 7am and 9am, and then headed out of town at the same intersection at the Waterfront exit between 4pm and 6pm. And all you have to do, is bring us your cans.

We plan to do a very similar thing at major intersections in the northern suburbs. I'll post soon with a full timetable for all the intersections we're planning on hitting.

Winter fast approaches, and August is our wettest month. Let's help try to make Winter that little bit more bearable for those who are far less fortunate than you and I. When tweeting about it, kindly use the hashtag #TerricTincanTues along with #FollowSA and #CTAngels.

Let's do this, Cape Town.

Monday, 28 May 2012


What is home? What constitutes that feeling of complete groundedness and belonging?

Home is not a place. It's not where you lay your head. It's a feeling. There isn't a city or town in this country I don't feel at home in. There was a time I hated Johannesburg. And I learned to love it. I fell in love overnight.

The morning after the night before saw me participate in the Men's Health Urbanathlon back in 2010. It was a 13km run/obstacle course that took us through Sandton. It was a perfect morning. Clear skies, bright sunshine, I think the temperature must've gotten up to 28 by 8am.

I headed back to my guest house in Illovo, and after a long, drawn-out soak in the tub and a hot, steamy shower to rinse off after, I was drying myself when I thought I heard someone moving furniture across the wooden floors in the room above mine. Turns out it was thunder.

Moments later, rain was pelting down, lightning was crashing all around, car alarms were going off, dogs were barking. The thunderstorm lasted about 25 minutes. The whole time, I stood there, naked but for the towel around my waist, door still wide open onto the lush garden just beyond the rough-hewn stone pathway, gushes of water off the roof, hitting the still-warm ground creating a magical bed of steam enveloping the agapanthus and clivia. And then it was gone. Silence. No traffic noise, no dogs, no alarms, no thunder, no rain. Just the soft trickles of water finding their way back into the earth. The air was clean. There was peace. It was majestic.

Durban became home for me in much the same way Joburg did. It was almost an overnight experience as a result of a culmination of events. And that's when it hit me: home is that feeling. It's the culmination of events the result of which will always be greater than the sum of its parts.

Cape Town is my home. Always has been. But that true feeling of belonging, of collective memory, of shared moments lost to time but eternally satisfying, that true sense of foundation, of grounding doesn't come from a physical location.

It's that moment her hand seeks yours out and finds it. That moment just after your lips part after a kiss goodbye. That hug that says "everything is going to be alright". It's being in the same crowded room, apart and not even having to look at each other to know what's going on in the other's head. It can happen anywhere. It is by no means tied down to a place.

That's when you know you're home.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Midlands Meander

I posted recently about Byron and Adél's wedding. I flew up to Durban, stayed over on Saturday, drove about two hours to Granny Mouse's Country House (en route to Balgowan) along the N3 and back to Durban that night around 10pm. It was a truly whirlwind tour, with my flight back to Cape Town scheduled for 6am Monday morning, and incredibly tiring.

But there were some incredible memories and inspirations to be drawn from the trip. The flight, the excitement of adventuring through Durban - my last visit there having been for the Currie Cup final back in 2010, the occasion of which yielded a revelation that changed my life - the drive through the breathtaking Midlands Meander, the peace resting in the valley in which Granny Mouse's is located, and the realisation that no matter how awesome the journey, it means very little when no-one is there to share it with you.

It was about an hour out of Durban on the N3, headed towards Pietermaritzburg, when I passed a troupe of Vervet Monkeys. Seen by many as pests, and certainly on a trip to Sedgefield years back, I can attest to their mischievousness and general destructive behaviour, I found myself slowing down, wanting to point out to whoever it was in the car with me that there were monkeys at the side of the road. I live in the city. Seeing wildlife along the roadside is something I will never tire of. Hell, I still get excited to see squirrels in my garden.

There was no-one else in the car with me. I felt somewhat sad, knowing that Loved One would've enjoyed the drive, would've enjoyed the adventure, that many stops would be made and tons of pictures taken.

You see, we often forget that the destination is only a small part of the purpose of a journey. While my destination held awesome wonderment in store for me, I still longed for a driving partner. It was only a little two-hour jaunt, but it was a little two-hour jaunt that took me through some incredible valleys, past the quaint town of Hilton, past a troupe of monkeys, alongside a noisy gaggle of Harley Davidson motorcyclists, and saw me being overtaken in a flurry of high-pitched noise and flashes of red and black by some or other gang of Ducati-mounted demons.

For the most part, I found myself reaching over to the passenger seat with my left hand, and finding none to meet it. Words are useless when road noise is whirring through the thin doors of a rented Getz, but the feeling of another hand meeting yours, soft and smooth, is comforting.

When fingers interlock, there is the most amazing sense of calm that betakes one. Solid ground, as my best friend describes it. It augments every experience. Even just walking down a street, sitting in a restaurant, lying on a couch quietly watching crappy TV... suddenly, the mundane becomes sublime.

With the simple application of another human's hand in yours.

Things I Have Left Behind

This isn't one of those deep, introspective pieces on the things I have left behind me as part of my emotional and physical growth and ageing process. No, contrary to my very together appearance, I am rather forgetful - particularly when leaving a place I've spent the night (or a few nights) in that happens not to be my own home.

I tweeted a few of them under #thingsihaveleftbehind but I thought it might be an interesting list to look at again. So, here it is...

1X 3/4 bottle cologne, Joburg
1X exfoliating facecloth, Joburg
1X exfoliating facecloth, Durban
2X pair of socks, Port Elizabeth
1X full bottle shower gel, Durban
1X pair underwear, Port Elizabeth
1X tub matte hair wax, Joburg
1X heart, San Francisco

Monday, 21 May 2012

God Among Men

I'm dedicating this blog post to my grandfather, Pa. Jack Eley. At 84, still a legend.

I know what you might be thinking; two blog posts in one day? Isn't that against blogging rules? Well, seeing as this post ties in with my previous post, I hope I'll be forgiven.

I'm privileged to have a grandfather. Not many people do, and I've had him for as long as any adult human being can hope to have a grandfather. That is to say, long enough for him to see me become a man. And I pray every day that I am the kind of man that makes him proud.

You see, he isn't only a grandfather by nominative designation. He's grand in every sense of the word. I was telling my best friend the other day that he is the best man I know. The very definition of tall, dark and handsome. A strikingly good-looking man, Pa is wise. His wisdom often masked by his dry wit sharper than any words the sharpest among us could spend hours thinking up. He just spat them out. A never-ending string of witticisms.

 Once, while in the bathroom on one of our many holidays to Kleinkrans outside Wilderness (Pa and Granny owned a house there), Bruce and I asked him to hurry up so we could go to the beach. He remarked from behind the locked door: "then hand me the scissors". "Why?" came the inquisitive reply from Bruce. "So I can cut off."

Pa taught me how to play chess. I learnt from him patience, and the importance of measuring my words. Pa is a retired Shepherd in the New Apostolic Church. And while his preaching over the altar was often hard to swallow, I don't recall Pa ever causing offence. All of Pa's decisions were deeply considered decisions.

He'd always known I love animals. We'd spend hours in his perfectly manicured garden in Garlandale looking for chameleons, learning which plants were edible, how and when to prune, which flowers prefer which feed, and how you could increase your fruit yield by nailing iron nails into the trunk of your fruit trees. For one birthday, he gave me an ancient book called The Manual of Zoology. For others, they were books about gardening, flower varieties and other interesting topics.

When things seem to be falling apart around him, Pa is a centre of calm. He is peace personified. Always ready with advice, but only if asked for his opinion. Pa would never impose. He loves sport, and has impeccable taste in music.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years back. Granny got hold of every piece of literature she could about beating cancer through diet. I'm convinced she cooked him healthy. He beat cancer. Read that again. A man in his 70s beat cancer. He had a heart attack. He survived. Spent the minimum amount of time in hospital. He's suffered a stroke before. He nailed it. I'd begun thinking my Pa was Chuck Norris.

Now, as he lies struggling on a hospital bed in Pretoria, frustrated by his current condition after Tuesday's major stroke that has him paralysed on his left side, possibly for good, unable to speak, possibly for good, banging with his right hand against the bed-rails, defiant against weakness and failure as ever, he remains my superhero.

Beat it Pa. Beat it in its stupid face.

The Happening

The frailty of the human body was once again laid bare to me this week, as was the immense power of the human spirit.

On Tuesday, my maternal grandfather - known to me as "Pa", and to Bean as "Pa Ping" - suffered a major stroke. His recovery thus far has been little short of miraculous. While on holiday in Johannesburg with my folks, he went to lie down and three hours later when someone went to check on him, they discovered he was lying rather awkwardly and immediately rushed him to hospital. I got the call from my mom on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, after much prodding for information from my side, she told me he would be paralysed on his left side for good. I took the news, swallowed it, and moved right along.

On Thursday, about 20 minutes before I was scheduled to go on air, I got a BBM message from her saying "Please call me, boy". Naturally, I felt the sickening rise of bile to my throat, the giddying light-headedness, and the ghastly anticipation that this would be that call. Thankfully, it was not.

But it was bad news.

Mom: Pa's not going to recover
Me: OK
Mom: His organs are failing
Me: OK
Mom: His pacemaker's keeping him alive
Me: OK
Mom: OK
*hangs up*

I cried.

After the show, my brother (I call him Bruce) called.

Bruce: When are we going?
Me: I'm on my way home now
Bruce: What time are we flying
Me: I don't know
Bruce: We have to get there
Me: I know
Bruce: So are you going to buy tickets? I don't have money.
Me: We'll get there

We flew out on Thursday night, drove through to Pretoria and arrived there at around 02h30. We spent three visiting sessions with Pa on Friday.

Session 1 - ICU
It's 11h00 and Pa is lying on his back, hooked up to machines that monitor blood pressure, heart rate, other vitals, but most importantly, cranial activity. The pacemaker inserted as a result of his heart attack not too long ago is keeping him alive. The pulse is so strong, I can see it in his neck. His eyes open. The makings of a smile accompany the firm, vice-like grip from his weathered right hand completely enveloping mine. He moves his eyes towards me as I tell him Bean wanted me to pull his nose for her (He makes a sound that sounds a bit like "ping" when she does, hence the name she's given him). He's weak and in ICU, but his grip remains as strong as the hands that toiled all those years in the garden, and held me aloft at birth. The nurse remarks that his progress has been incredible. "We thought we'd lose him overnight".

Session 2 - General Ward
It's 14h15 and Pa has been moved out of ICU. He's not out of danger, but I take this as a good sign. He's vocalising grunts and moans, and begins rhythmically beating against his bed. I'm convinced he's trying to communicate via morse code, but I don't recognise the rhythm. I curse quietly at myself for not remembering what I had learnt in Cub Scouts. He's so strong he nearly topples the drip that's connected to his right arm after yanking on the tube. He's frustrated and angry. Bruce breaks down in my arms. I comfort him with my arms, his heavy sobs into my chest punctuated by me telling him how proud we should be of Pa for fighting like this. He's so much stronger than we give him credit for. For Bruce, the pain is seeing Pa helpless. For me, it's a sign Pa hasn't given up. Granny affirms our belief that she can cure anything. "Just let them release you to me, Jack. I will fix you."

Session 3 - General Ward
It's 19h15 and the whole family is there. Me, Bruce, Dadonator, Mom, Brian (mom's brother), Robyn (mom's sister), Ollie (Robyn's hubby), Cherné (Robyn's daughter) and Ryan (Robyn's son). Pa has become immensely frustrated. I have a feeling he doesn't want us seeing him like this. He's pointing, murmuring, but we don't know whether or not he'll ever speak again. The only time he's calm is when we pray, which we've been doing all day. Cherné remains silent, tears rolling down her perfect cheeks. Ryan awkwardly shifts on his feet, Ollie rescues him by taking him to the hospital kiosk at the entrance. Robyn's in tears, my mom is broken, Brian remains stoic, Dadonator keeps saying things that don't quite fit, Bruce is in between sobs, and I'm against the wall, on the outside while remaining indoors, looking into a situation I am inextricable connected to, but removing myself from emotionally. I've had my cry. That's not what Pa needs now. What Pa needs isn't tears. What Pa needs is something to fight for. Looking at the love in this family, he has.

I was satisfied that I had said my goodbyes were he to take a turn for the worse, but mostly I was hugely encouraged by his progress. Myself, Dadonator and Bruce drove back to Cape Town on Saturday.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Cavendish Kitchen

So, last week I was asked to be a celebrity chef. Barring the obvious stumbling blocks of my not considering myself a celebrity and the glaring fact that I am grossly untrained in the ways of cheffery (that is a word, right?) I accepted because isn't it any on-air presenter's dream to have an awesome cooking show? Well, it is mine, anyway.

Wednesday, May 16th 2012 was the date set for the Cavendish Kitchen launch (find it on Twitter as #CavendishKitchen) where us "celebs" would get drawn alongside a restaurant whose signature dish we would spend an hour entertaining crowds making at the CTICC over the weekend of the 24th-27th in Cape Town. Mine takes place between 12h00 and 13h00 on Saturday 26th of May, and I'll be cooking with Col' Cacchio - yeah, I know. You can actually taste my excitement. Well, I can, anyway...

Well, people of the interwebs, it appears I need your help once more. See, if I win this here little cook-off, that's R5000 for my preferred charity, which is, as you all know, the Woodside Special Care Centre - a home for severely mentally and physically handicapped children.

Here's how you can help: tweet @goodfoodSA and keep hounding them that I should win (don't forget the #CavendishKitchen tag) and also click this Facebook page (, like it, and vote for me there. I know together we can do this, interwebs folk!

It's 5k for some kids at an organisation that can make five thousand rands stretch further than Pravin Gordhan could ever wish to stretch them.

Ready, steady, cook!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

What Love Looks Like

There can be no mistaking the look of love.

This weekend has been a stark reminder of that. One of my best friends in the whole world, Byron Drew, tied the knot with Adél Colyn at possibly one of the coolest weddings I have ever attended. The ceremony and subsequent full-day celebration was the perfect combination of formal, relaxed and downright awesome.

Tables were decorated in a Bohemian theme, the company was great, the food exemplary and the love abundant. Exchanging their vows, I'll never forget Adél's face as she tried to restrain her tears, eyes locked with Byron's throughout the ceremony, in a mixture of admiration, love, respect and complete trust.

Later, during the speeches, a couple married for a touch over 30 years didn't catch me staring at them with admiration. The glances they shared mirrored the look Adél and Byron shared. It was inspiring stuff. My conversation with the experienced wife later that evening centred around this principle: The reasons we fall in love, are not the reasons we stay in love. I struggled to grasp the concept until I had mulled over and rationalised the concept of the evolution of love. Love evolves. But the looks remain.

It's the moment eyes meet, even fleetingly, even inappropriately, even when a lingering look is nigh impossible, that takes one's breath away. In that instant, you're lost to the world, but undeniably home. We romanticise those moments where "my eyes met yours from across the room" and until that happens, you will doubt it could exist.

Yet, it does. The moment the eyes meet, and a glance is maintained just long enough for those watching to feel a pang of jealousy that they're not being allowed into the conversation the two of you are obviously having without using words, made more beautiful by the blinked affirmation of both pairs of eyes, the too-long exhalation of breath after, the awkward shifting in one's seat, betrayed by the look of smug satisfaction that in that moment, the world belonged to just the two of you, and that in that world, you were safe from everything else.

This past weekend was a whirlwind of such looks and the realisation of the evolution of love. From one couple still young in love, but maturing in the understanding of their emotion, to a newly-wed couple yet to discover even more things to love about themselves and each other, to a couple actively working on their love even after 30 years together - the look between two lovers is unmistakable.

That's what love looks like.

Friday, 11 May 2012

South Africa's Stain

To say racism is a uniquely South African malaise would be a lie.

I've experienced racism in many forms, particularly growing up. One of my favourite childhood memories among many that involved Dadonator piling us into the car for impromptu road-trips saw us arrive in a small town somewhere along South Africa's back-roads.

It might have been Standerton, but I could be horribly mistaken, and wouldn't want to give Standerton a bad name. We arrived in the town rather late that night, in either a Ford Sierra or a Sapphire (I could tell you which if I knew how old I was at the time, but I don't remember). My dad, Dadonator - with his fair skin, sandy hair and green eyes - went through the front entrance of a hotel to sort out overnight accommodation (we were the adventuring type of family, not one for reservations, but more on that in another post). After paying for the room, my dad proceeded to bring my mom and I in, brother on his arm, asleep. Upon seeing my raven-haired mom, and my mocha-coloured me, The Inn-Keeper hurriedly ushered us back out of the front entrance and into our car.

Now, initially, this had gotten my pre-teen blood boiling, despite having had very little understanding of the recently abolished Apartheid system and the light breezes of change yet to come. But then I remembered, on the same trip, my mom being sent into cafés and taverns in the Transkei and Ciskei to ask for directions because my dad feared his pigmentation would not be met with favourably. The Inn-Keeper then leant in through the driver's window of the Sierra/Sapphire and whispered to Dadonator "pull the car around back, I'll let you in there".

It was somewhat of an adventure. A breakfast buffet was sent up to our room, so as not to disturb the other guests with our brownness upon a chance sighting, despite us checking out of the hotel just before the sun rose. We all have anecdotal stories of our country in her former veil. And yes, the division sown by the regime of the time did much to strengthen our already entrenched, deeply divided and fractured racial and cultural partiality.

The deep racism we bear is not the result of Apartheid. Apartheid just made it worse. Why is it that we South Africans hate each other so much? We encounter it daily. It's as simple as a colleague questioning my African-ness. As simple as brown people from the western coastal regions of South Africa asking why the darker portions of the population traversed the Fish River in the first place. It comes to the fore in our comments about refugees, or letting the word k****r slip forth from our mouths and fingers.

Let me just briefly express how much I hate that word. Not for its racial connotations. Not for its supposed similarity to calling an African-American person a negro, nigger or coloured. But because of its original meaning. Its Arabic root. Unbeliever. Denier of God. Infidel. Hider of the truth. Maker of iniquity. Those preceding N-words and the C-word strangely roll off my tongue easily, particularly when I'm rapping along to Jay-Z or Dr Dre. But I can't bring myself to calling another human being a k****r. See? I can't even type it, I'm so ashamed of its existence.

Now, we look at ourselves and say "that's not me! I'd never say that, even in anger". Watch your racist self when you hear a black reporter or politician pronouncing the word "ceremony" as ce-REM-ony or "circumstances" as cir-CUM-stances. And yet, when Victor Matfield rapes the English language five ways till Sunday, we look at him, fawn and say "shame, he's trying. It's his second-language". English is, for the large part, the second-language of most South Africans. Wait, what's that? "But reporters, anchors and politicians have a responsibility to speak correctly. It's their job". Yes, it's Victor's job too. This isn't about Victor. This is about our reaction to just hearing someone's voice on the other end of the telephone line and thinking "oh, God" with a sigh.

We judge far too easily. And it's that deep-seated, entrenched racism that's holding us back. We are all South Africans. Different, sure. With common threads? Maybe, but sometimes they're tenuous at best.

We forget that the world looks to us with pride that we were able to negotiate a complete regime change without a civil war. Was there bloodshed? Of course! A mass exodus of panicked South Africans packing for Perth? Yes! Did we go to war? Were those stocks of tinned food put to good use? Has the country truly gone to the dogs?

I hope you answer that last question with a resounding "No" and are able to look at yourself and say "I am a racist. But I'm going to change that". Our racism is an inherent disease, and no amount of national discourse, embargoing of words, censorship of tongues or hugs and handshakes and pledges of unity is going to change that.

Make the change in yourself. Then teach your kids. Because it breaks my heart when I hear my daughter say "you know my best friend Tshepiso at school, the black girl?" She's four. Come on, South Africa, we're better than that.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Cape Town

This is an insider's perspective of an outsider's experience.

To quote Holy Scripture, I have somewhat against you, Cape Town. You are the city of my birth. The city of my growth. The city I love. But you have disappointed me.

No, not anyone in particular. Just your general you-ness. I had always thought Cape Town was the Friendly City. Having spent an inordinate amount of time in Port Elizabeth, and countless trips to Durban and Johannesburg, I find this to be somewhat of a misnomer. In fact, there are entire countries far friendlier than Cape Town's purported platonicism (here's looking at you, New Zealand).

From the lack of courtesy when we drive, the lack of engagement when queuing at a till, the inconsideration of stopping our cars right at the line when turning right so that when the light turns amber, no-one but us can continue on beyond the intersection, the way we rant on and on about the Gautengers during festive seasons, to the welcoming of guests and outsiders into our spaces, be it at work or at home... we're not exactly the friendliest bunch.

Now, I know I'm going to get plenty of backlash for saying so, in fact, I welcome it. But I feel that Capetonians are some of the most superficial, shallow and cliquey people I know. I think it was Hayibo that said it best upon the release of the hit sci-fi movie "District 9", when describing why the aliens decided to arrive in Johannesburg: "Durbanites would've been too busy putting Sharks stickers on the space craft, and Capetonians wouldn't have bothered with the aliens until it was cool enough to be seen with them" (I'm paraphrasing here).

It's this La Cosa Nostra crap that irritates me. This our thing. We other outsiders. It's us and them. We're helluva friendly to each other. We're even friendly in front of outside people. But we seem to struggle to make them feel welcome.

Nowhere is this more evident than the recent AFCON debacle. I am in no way picking sides, nor do I intend to argue for either government, local government, SAFA, the organising committee or even the tourism people who say visitors will be missing out on Cape Town's natural beauty come AFCON 2013. Let's face it, Cape Town would attract and welcome visitors anyway, AFCON of te not.

But again, it's this "this is the way we do things around here (and we'll be damned if we're forced to change)" thing that gets to me. It's an excuse I hear time and again. "This is the way we do things here". What bollocks. If "this is the way we do things here" then the Mongols would never have conquered Asia, we wouldn't still be using Latin in the modern world, hell, we might not even be cooking our food.

Cape Town, you are the city I love. I have lived nowhere else for longer than a few months. And you will hate me after this post. Why? Because your cage has been rattled. And being open and honest about ourselves sadly "isn't the way we do things around here".

It's time to buck the trend, mi amigos. Competing within the borders of this fantastic, phenomenal and promising country can only hold us back. Who cares if our traffic lights work all the time (unlike up north)? Who cares if really bad traffic means we're on the road for all of 30 minutes? We should care that our service delivery and education may be above par, but really, Cape Town... did you do that? Yourself? Or the people we voted in to ensure our City works. Stop claiming the hard work and sacrifice of others as your own before happily waving the fruits of said hard work and sacrifice in the face of others as if you've earned it.

It is entitlement, plain and simple. We are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful, vibrant and eclectic cities on earth. The least we can do is share.

Let's make sure when we invite someone in, we make them feel at home.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Power of You

I am truly overwhelmed.

Anyone who had ever doubted social media as a vehicle for positive change has really wasted their time doubting.

Within hours of asking for cake for Bridget - - we have cake. Well, not only cake... we have cupcakes, cakes, juices and snacks.

So now, let the thank yous begin:

First up, two people who jumped onto my plight quickest: Rucinde Edson (@Goddess_Rae) and Cape Town Bru (@CapeTown_Bru) who went ahead and got Charly's Bakery involved (@charlysbakery ) who have gladly offered to bake a cake for Bridget. And that was just on Twitter.

Rucinde has also pledged to donate snacks and juice for the party via RealNet in Athlone. A huge thank you for all you've done... and on your birthday too (Happy Birthday, Rucinde). Thank you also for roping in Pick 'n Pay's Support Office, who, via Olfa Solomon, the Regional Customer Service Coordinator is donating a cake for the party too.

A HUGE thank you has to go out to Lameez Smith Nielsen, who runs a charity bakery called Cakes from Heaven. She is making a massive birthday cake saying "Happy Birthday Bridget" with all sorts of chocolate niceties as well as 110 cupcakes for the more than 100 guests who will be in attendance at the party on Friday 30th March 2012 at the Woodside Special Care Centre. This, via Facebook.

The power of the internet. The power of social media. The power of you.

I cannot put in words just how much all of this means to me.

May you all be blessed.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

We Need Cake

So, I'm never any good at asking for things. In fact, getting my favourite dish cooked for me for dinner by Wife is a bit of a stretch at times.

However, there are times like these. Times when a man must swallow his pride, get down on his knees and humbly call upon the charity of the intertubes and ask... for cake.

I do a lot of charity work (for free, mind you, but I don't like to talk about it) and one of my preferred charities is the Woodside Special Care Centre. This Centre - find them here: - has been caring for severely mentally and physically handicapped children since the 1970s. And they do phenomenal work.

Like any non-profit organisation, they struggle. But that's not the purpose of this post. I want to tell you about Bridget.

On Friday, March 30th 2012, Bridget turns 50. I can't begin to tell you what an achievement it is that a woman so severely disabled has been able to live this long. She has outlived her own mother, and was one of the first residents to be admitted to Woodside making her a resident here for 34 years.

What I am asking of you, Internet Users, for a Cake to celebrate Bridget's birthday.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Super Bean to the Rescue

This is the power of  Hannah-Bean, Spawn of Witten.

The other day, wife wakes me up at some ungodly hour - like 06h30 - to ask me to rinse her car down. Now, to put this all into context, she works very close to a major construction site that includes a new road being built. To say her car is constantly covered in dust would be a gross understatement.

Being the man I am, I grumbled, rolled out of bed, crept into a pair of shorts, slid into a tatty t-shirt and headed to the front yard still crusty-eyed even after brushing my teeth. Now, as any man would know, dust happens to be waterproof. So rinsing down a dust-covered electric blue vehicle is like trying to counter a gale-force gust with a well-directed fart - no matter the intention, it simply will not work. So instead, I decided to just wash the damn car.

Just before I was about to rinse it down, wife emerges ready to leave for work - despite the hour still being somewhat ungodly by my standards (07h00) - looks at her now clean, albeit soap-sudded vehicle and says "I just asked you to rinse it."

Now, I'm pretty adept at using the English language, but I'm sure "I just asked you to rinse it" can in no way be interpreted as "thanks for washing my car". Either way, I responded by telling her it was the worst thank you I'd ever heard, proceeded to rinse the old girl down (the car, not the wife) and trudged back inside.

My day, now so very nearly ruined at such an early hour, needed rescuing. After my shower, hunched over the sink shaving, Hannah-Bean arrives in the bathroom asking if we can "do that thing we do that we saw on Boomerang". Dads have fantastic memory. I instantly knew what she was referring to. What followed made my day...

Me: Shhh... be vewwy quiet. I'm hunting Wabbit.
Bean: *imitates chewing sound* naah, what's up, Doc?
Me: I'm hunting Wabbit.
Bean: What's it look like, Doc?
Me: He's got long pointy ears..
Bean: *interjects, pointing her fingers at her temples* Like this?
Me: And a white fluffy tail...
Bean: *shakes hips to imitate a tail-wiggle* Like this?
Me: And he hops around...
Bean: *begins hopping around like a rabbit* Like this?
Me: Saaay... you look a lot like a Wabbit

At this point, four-year-old superhero Bean can no longer contain herself. She bursts into raucous laughter, and my half-shaven face - the other half of which is still covered in shaving foam - erupts into a guffaw along with her.

Day made.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Random Gusts

They happen at the most inopportune times.

Loved One might almost be wearing a tiny skirt, or you might be sharing a time-stopping kiss, when suddenly *random gust of wind*

But it's the kisses I want to talk about here. Usually, in my experience, the romance of the kiss dies somewhere around the second year of kissing the same person.

Badly Drawn Boy sang a song called "Fewer Words" in which he warns never [to] trivialise the kiss.

It does happen to so many pairs of lips that they never find quite the right pair of lips to be mated to.

Sometimes, there is a pair of lips, a tongue and some teeth that fit together on a face of which the whole becomes so much more than the sum of its awesome individual parts, that one can scarcely imagine ever growing tired of clumsily placing one's own face against aforementioned face of perfection with as much regularity as one can muster.

There are the everyday, garden-variety kisses, sure. But provided it's the right person being kissed, even the casual, sometimes awkward side-of-each-others-mouth-greeting-in-public kiss, or the lazy sun-beating-down-on-my-back-and-I'm-just-enjoying-being-stuck-to-your-face-without-us-having-to-do-anything-else kinda kiss, they're all special.

And then there are those kisses that literally defy space and time. They cause rips in the space-time continuum. Where both parties connect in a way that renders all other physical activity for the foreseeable future incomprehensible. One simply cannot move. One is temporarily paralysed. The earth moves not. Time has, for all intents and purposes, stopped. The bugs have gone silent. The air stands still. Loved One's eyes are still closed, as is one's, and the pairs of lips are mere microns apart, lost - in that momentary eternity - for always...

*random gust of wind*

As if the universe hates it when two people freeze time by simply enjoying making out.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Couch Times

Never underestimate the power of the couch.

Loved One lying on one's chest, the sound of your heart beating in her ears, your hands in her hair, her breath slowing and deepening as she slips into sleep.

Often, we get wrapped up in overt displays of romance. Candle-lit dinners, grandiose dates and expensive gifts can so easily be replaced by lazing on a tree stump by a mountain stream, chilling on a rock, a long drive, a walk through a park, or just simply watching bad television together lying on a couch listening to the sounds of each other's breathing and heartbeat - and with phenomenal results.

It really is the little things that count the most. It's in moments like those that the true nature of a relationship is brought to the fore.

Are you able to just sit in each other's company doing very little else but sit? If I had my way, it'd be that way every day.

And starry-eyed I would remain forever.

The power of the couch.