It’s said Eve came from Africa. And that’s why perhaps the Africans believe that “nothing is too heavy to take back to your Mother.” So while I can claim to be from a place that held the cradle of civilization, I think Africa in all its raw grandeur can always claim to be the cradle of humanity itself. It’s where the boy Tarzan had been told, “Tarzan! You have to be humble if you want to live in the jungle.”
My closest friends know what South Africa meant to me many moons back and thus it seemed apt that this was the place where I learnt some of the most important messages of my life. Some were just plain vanilla good; some disturbing; some even raising more questions than solving.
- And while I sit at the 19th Floor of the Westin overlooking the harbour waterfront, where the giant Ferris Wheel still is lit up, waiting for the network finally to connect me to the rest of the world, I want to write.
And that’s when I realized, how important this blog has been to me to let out my inner self even when friends were not around. I have never remembered birthdays. Neither did I for this blog. But a few days back it did complete its four years and that deserves a standing ovation.
- This was the first trip where I went around spending money left, right and centre. While I was coming to Cape Town, everyone under the sun warned me that it was an expensive place and it turned out just that. Everyone warned me to stay safe, in more ways than one, and probably it was not as bad. Yes, the main markets seemed to shut down pretty much by 6 and the grandeur of the evening bazaar of Istanbul was missing. But the markets showcased the beauty of the raw African talent and their art. Wares came from every nook and corner of Africa, each figurine representative of the tribe they were made by. I think that scared me a bit. I was no longer a backpacker running behind a truck to take me to Jhajjhar and it made sense to play safe.
And that’s when I realized, I behaved like a spoilt rich kid who was a sissy and the nomad was dying.
- Green market square was a unique place to window shop. As soon as I entered it, I remembered all the horror stories you read as a kid about African dolls coming alive in the middle of the night. The graphics were different than whatever I have ever seen. If I were more conversed with art I could have said what they were, but to me it seemed more like extremely well done stick graphics; as if nothing much has changed since the days the Maori danced their spears and told their grandchildren of the lion they had tamed. And how sad they were that the King had gone on to become another star in the sky. In that market, I met shopkeepers who weren’t the best of them all. And in some faces, it showed desperation to close a deal. The value chain was perhaps as bad as it is for an onion farmer in India. The same artefacts were selling at double the cost 10 kms away at the waterfront. Perhaps this sale would mean buying there dinner for the night. And there she told me, “you are talking about 10 Rands and the coffee you will have tonight will cost you more.”
And that’s when I realized, the fight for survival is the greatest fight for all.
- One night after a great dinner at Camp’s bay where I for the first time touched the waters of the Atlantic, we hailed a taxi to come back. The gentleman was twice my size and for some reason we did feel scared. But then we got talking and he was the most inquisitive man I have ever met. He had questions on India, on religions, marriages and everything else possible in a 20 minute drive. In fact, I wish in the future I get only such people working with me; an undying desire for knowledge.
And that’s when I realized, stereotypes are ingrained in our first impressions.
(to be continued)