Archive | 16:02

Under No Illusion

20 Mar
Two maiko performing in Gion.

Image via Wikipedia

Viewfromtheside’s Blog prompt: illusion.

I have always liked the Japanese as a race and culture and however else we habitually judge unfamiliar societies.  But their dignity in the face of one disaster after another this past week has left me full of admiration as well.  In almost any other country in the world, including my own, by now there would be looting and violence and protests.  Yet all we see on the news are polite bows as a soldier helps an elderly woman discover the body of her dead mother; lengthy queues outside food shops; people willingly taking on dangerous jobs for the greater good; decorum at every turn.  The agony these poor people are going through is etched in their faces, but not their behaviour.

I have always believed that civilisation is just an illusion and if we scratch the surface with even a minor disaster, savagery and selfishness will erupt.  I have never been more glad to be proved wrong.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

20 Mar
First Street, Harare, Zimbabwe

Image via Wikipedia

A while back I told you about the time the Hub took me on a business trip to Zimbabwe, when the car broke down and had to be towed back to South Africa.  The Hub was reminiscing today about some of his other trips, selling articulated trailers in sub-Saharan Africa.  He also told me about this incident which happened to his then-boss, John, an ex-Rhodesian, and I thought you might enjoy it.

In the early Nineties there was a foot-and-mouth scare in Zimbabwe.  Road blocks had been set up to ensure animals were not being transported.  John was driving a car, not a bakkie (pick-up truck).  He stopped at a road block.  You have to imagine the strong accents of both protagonists.

Policeman: Do you have any animals in the vehicle?

John [mistakenly believing he was a funny guy]: There’s a horse in the boot.

P: Please get out of the car and open the boot.

J: I was joking!

P: Please get out of the car and open the boot.

John got out of the car and opened the boot.  It was empty.

P: Hau!  The horse has gone!

J: No, I’m telling you: I was joking; there never was a horse.

P: Why did you let the horse go?

J: No, there wasn’t a horse; I was joking.

P: You know you’re not allowed to transport animals; now you have to find the horse.

J: I was joking.  Look, I tell you what: I’ll reverse my car up the road; I’ll drive back to the road block; and we’ll start again.

John did just that.  He reversed the car, then drove back to the same road block with the same policeman in attendance.

P: Do you have any animals in the vehicle?

J: No.

P: Okay.  You can go.


On the particular trip to Zimbabwe that I mentioned, the Hub took me and some of his customers to the Bamboo Inn in Harare.  At that time it was voted eighth-best Chinese restaurant in the world.  I believe it: I had never eaten Chinese food before (seriously), and everything was so delicious that my mouth fills with saliva whenever I think of it, even twenty years on.  But best of all were the spring rolls: no fat, no gunk, just fresh, fresh, fresh ingredients in a delicate case that I could have had for the whole of my meal if the Hub’s greedy guests hadn’t gotten there first.

The waitress was old but efficient, whipping away my plate almost before I was able to pick up my dropped chopsticks from the floor.  She asked me if I’d like black or groin tea?  Too shy to ask what groin tea was, I opted for the black.  It was years before I realised she was offering me green tea.

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