Jozi

Late March in suburban Johannesburg,

The first day of Autumn, yet still the warmth

Of summer and everywhere the deep green

Foliage speaks of the coming of late rains.

 

Avenues lined with stately London planes,

In gardens oak and slender poplar trees

A most strange chimera of temperate climes

Verdant mark upon grassy Highveld plains.

 

Spawned in the shadow of Kruger’s Republiek

They struck gold up on the Witwatersrand

And in the crucible of empire

A great conflict engulfed the land.

 

Yet unscathed from war she did emerge

Mighty Jo’burg, Jozi, the place of gold.

I wish you well my friend, especially now

That your riches lie above the ground

and not within.

Shuffling Along One Day at a Time

The week just gone has been a mixed bag. Early in the week I decided, against my better judgement, to prod around my right inner ear with an ear-bud in order to remove some of the copious wax that had build up over the last few months. This happens periodically. On the previous occasion the result was that I compacted the wax against the eardrum and only after the frequent use of ear drops and much probing did the wax eventually budge. This was a painful wait of at least a week and despite being advised against the use of anything “narrower than my elbow” I’ve tried to preempt matters and remove the offending material and gone and landed straight back in the same situation. Basically, it’s all my fault and I shouldn’t be boring you with this stuff! 

An aspect of my health that I haven’t had any control over is a cold and cough that’s bugged me all week. Considering that it pretty much overtook my entire respiratory system on Tuesday it could probably be classified as the flu. That said it has not been too severe, more just a hindrance. My sleep patterns have been all over the place and I look forward to reestablishing control over my feeble corporeal being with the help of a few nurofen and alcoholic beverages (vodka, whisky, hot toddies? All advice gratefully received).

I did make it to UP on Wednesday. I arrived at the department a little after the designated time but was received without much fuss (except that I didn’t have the relevant literature to hand) by James and his study group in the staff room. This would have been a privileged experience indeed as an undergraduate or an honours student. However, this was a small group of postgraduates and as anyone in the world of academia knows postgraduates occupy a niche far closer to the teaching and research staff than do the undergrad underlings.

Afterwards James and I went for a couple of beers at one of the campus cafes. I had scurried past it a couple of times in that ‘other life’ of mine but had never had the audacity to stop and indulge in – what! – an alcoholic beverage on campus! Okay, admittedly I’d been corrupted prior to that (I was 24 years old even at that time); I was just a bit insular. Back then the main campus in Pretoria was less heterogeneous: black students mixed by the student union whilst white students fraternised around this cafe and others like it. Many of them were Afrikaans speakers. That was part of the reason I felt a little intimidated I suppose.

What a change a decade can bring. It just seemed that much more relaxed on campus. Students of all colours and creeds chatted and socialized. To see a young white girl and balck guy evidently at ease in each other’s company walking along, books and files in hand, would have been exceptional back in 2003 but today no-one batted an eyelid. Still there’s no doubt there are still huge challenges working towards complete racial and social integration. James told me about the EFF and AfriForum clashes recently and on-going demonstrations country-wide, agitating against fees, Afrikaans language-instruction, employment contracts etc. One can read all about it on News 24.

So I will be looking seriously at acquiring a project at the department this year. The two questions besides what exactly I will be researching (something to do with Karoo-age dykes and their distribution – there are economic implications) relate to a) where I will live and b) which passport I will study on. There are large concessions for local (SADC) students versus international students. Oh, yeah, and the question of £/$/R. As always.

Anyway life goes on and go on we must, as Yoda might say.

To round out this match report some photos from Zoo Lake up the road, a place of interesting provenance vis-a-vie Cecil, Alfred and Julius (explained below).

 

 

  

 

Some Interesting Tellie

I just sat down and watched a very curious bit of TV via the BBC iPlayer app on my tablet. Strictly speaking I shouldn’t be able to but with the help of a VPN (otherwise known as an IP spoofer) I am able to download program episodes as if I were doing so from within the UK.

My usual fare are espionage, thriller, the odd comedy and drama thrown but the programme I’m elaborating on here is a documentary episode showing on BBC3, also available for catch-up via the iPlayer, entitled Sex in Strange Places – Turkey

I was intrigued for several reasons. Firstly, I have a fond relationship with Turks and Turkey – not all of them of course – but having worked and traveled there for several months at a time I’ve made friends and acquaintances in many of its towns and cities.

Secondly I am fighting against the imposed sensibilities of my conservative upbringing and trying to take a healthy interest in the whole issue of sex and sexuality. I identify as a heterosexual male but I increasingly feel the limitations of describing ourselves confidently when we know so little about how other people identify. Sex is, after all, something all of us will contemplate at some stage and for most of us it will involve much more than contemplation alone.

Thirdly, and a little superficially I guess, I like the presenter, Stacey Dooley. She’s young (28), attractive and engaging, flashing a wide and disarming smile quite frequently. She wins over the trust of her interviewees with her smile and genuine empathy. To add to that I overheard somewhere that she’s from Luton, a town where I’ve spent a good deal of time in the UK. Like many Lutonians, who tend to of working class origin, she doesn’t always pronounce her ‘t’s or her ‘l’s which makes me a little sentimental and definitely not objective e.g. Water becomes wah-ah and girls become geh-wzah.

Anyway I found it all quite fascinating. The hypocrisy of many Turkish men and indeed society, is unveiled in this hour-long feature. I’d heard some of the proclamations through an Arab friend of mine who bemoaned the importance that Turkish women put on virginity at marriage. Apparently this is an expectation held by most Turkish men. An Algerian friend of mine alleges that young brides-to-be will go so far as to have surgical operations to try to ‘restore’ the undefiled state of their womanhood in order to meet this expectation.

In truth many of these same men are visiting prostitutes as Stacey discovers. Some visit transvestites because they are apparently more authentic whilst many married men frequent brothels. They choose to use prostitutes because they feel inhibited at home, unable to play out their sexual fantasies in the marital domain. 

Stacey manages to elicit some very candid interviews from some of her interviewees. One of the first, a prostitute names Hulya, elaborates on how many of her clients don’t even know the basics of sexual intercourse – which bit goes where! A man might penetrate his wife’s navel on their first encounter she says. Quite bizarre but a testimony to the virtual absence of sex education in the school curriculum.

There are also some touching interviews with an outgoing transvestite and a young gay lawyer who is trying to get justice after being raped by three men. His attempts to report this to the police at the time go unheeded and only with persistence and financial support from the broader community of independent lawyers does the case make it to court. At the first court appearance they are in complete denial and accuse him of lying. During the second court hearing the three fail to turn up at all. No action is taken by the authorities we are informed.

It makes me angry many times over for these and many other injustices which are perpetrated in this beautiful nation under the autocratic and religiously conservative Erdogan and his AKP. It also reminds me why I am so very against any sort of conservative ideology, usually dressed up under the guise of religion, which seeks to limit, prohibit and sensor people on the basis of their sexuality. I look forward to subsequent episodes in the series where Stacey will travel to Russia and Brazil for some further investigative work.

Evolving Challenges

I am back on my beloved continent since Thursday afternoon, courtesy of an indirect flight from London Heathrow via Addis Ababa. What a relief I won’t die on British soil: that’s honestly how I feel. Ridiculous perhaps to a rational being but I’m not such a person. This is really about rediscovering some self-belief, sense of purpose and, dare I say it, destiny.

It’s great to be reclining in the sunshine and temperatures upwards of 20C. Despite being in the clutches of a seasonal drought the meadows and highveld gasslands are green, testimony to the tenacity of the native flora. The humidity is moderate and rain has been forecast this week although people seem skeptical.

Next week I intend to go through to Pretoria again to see James, a Rhodes and Wits alumnus who I actually knew personally at the former institution. He is now a lecturer in igneous petrology at Tukkies (University of Pretoria). We spoke last May and he expressed an interest in taking me as a postgrad. I’ve dreamed (and dreaded) of taking this step for the last 10 years of my life. It feels like a last throw of the dice. It’s not just the money but the whole series of practical and bureaucratic obstacles that have to be negotiated and overcome.

I’m not going to revisit that chapter of life except to say that it was a mental minefield. Anyone who knows me personally knows how badly affected I was by the circumstances. Looking back now I can see how much of it, probably all of it, are the projections of loneliness. Thankfully I can recognise that on a certain level even if the reality of it has yet to be fully embraced. I still see brick walls, fences, concrete and enclosures but I also get a peek over those same barriers at the sweeping panorama of the Highveld and remind myself that everything I fear and loathe is bounded by this almost limitless landscape, so much greater.

I still recall those less fortunate souls, friends and colleagues, who didn’t manage to find a state of co-existence in this enigmatic country and continent. There are many and there will no doubt be others to come. It can be brutal and tribal, beautiful and soothing in turn. The land beneath our feet is perhaps our ultimate salvation for we all depend on it: white, black, Asian and mixed race alike.

On the postive side I will meet a relative of mine is on a short course in Pretoria next week and, as always, I have the unwavering support of my dear Ania from Warsaw. I hope to report back with some good news in a week’s time notwithstanding student protests and agitation from the likes of the EFF who seem to be responsible for the university being closed this last week after intense protests regarding the university’s language policy. These things are beyond my control sayeth the pragmatist in me. And this really is a moment for pragmatism. Let the head lead the heart on this occasion.

 

 

 

My Workaway and Other Stories

Well my time in France has come to an end. Should I be philosophical about it and conclude proceedings with a sigh and a “c’est la vie”? Certainly not! I have had a wonderful 6 or 7 weeks here. As you can tell I’ve managed to lose track of time. 

What can I say about the Workaway experience? It’s a great model providing you understand what it’s all about. You’re not going to earn any money working as a volunteer unless of course you have an established business operating independently of you (really, and you’re a travelling volunteer?); are dealing elicit substances from your backpack en route (not advised when crossing borders); or are adept at online gambling or trading (aren’t there better things to do with your time?).

Workaway is all about the experiencing things whether they be cultural, cuisine, landscape, urban, rural, musical.. whatever. If you are the sort to sign up for the scheme chances are you are open to new experiences and are actively seeking them.

From what I understand (it’s probably stated in the Ts and Cs), the host can engage you for a maximum of 5 hours a day in gainful employment, around which you can do as you please. There were days I worked more and days I worked less. The work was never dull and the time I had to myself was ample to explore my immediate surrounds and here and there go a little further.

I was fortunate that during both my Workaway placements I had reasonable hosts. Gérard, who runs his permaculture project on his smallholding near Poitiers was a lovely man and I say that without any subtext. If he could be accused of anything I suppose it could be that he is perhaps a little over-enthusiastic at times. I remember wandering into the barn-cum-workshop in the late afternoon or a Sunday morning to find him busy chopping metal bars or assembling something he had been imagining in his head.

However, he never made me feel obligated. Whatever he intended us to do was by invitation and suggestion. It was never a directive. It was also an exercise in communication across the language divide as neither of us had a firm grasp of the other’s language. Arguably my French was a lot better than his English but it still left much to be desired. Gérard’s talent lay in speaking slowly with ample gestures so that the essence of what he was trying to explain was conveyed despite my diminished vocabulary.

Hector, a Mexican man, with whom I worked at my next assignment had a different style. He was certainly more authoritative. I suspect it was partly a personality trait and partly cultural. I often felt as though he would have preferred to shout when I misunderstood him (quite often) but somehow managed to force himself not to. I was never really able to relax fully with ol’ Hector but I could appreciate that he was a very practically-minded individual. Everything he knew about building and wiring and insulating and so forth he had learnt ‘empirically’ as he put it. I certainly learnt a few things in this regard.

Hector liked his grub and every other lunchtime we would head off to the local Chinese restaurant in the neighbouring village, or occasionally a kebab for the sake of variety. His wife Ann was a nice lady, a very busy lady, who somehow found time to cook around doing homework with Hugo, the housework, as well as laundry, ironing and periodic nursing shifts. So far as food went I was well taken care of at both places.

The contrast was in the style of dining. Gérard and his wife, Mireille, took their time over a meal. It was more intimate, never rushed. We chatted and laughed and savoured each morsel whether it be a helping of cherry tomatoes from the garden or a piece of home-baked quiche. There was also the obligatory glass of wine with the afternoon meal, usually a rosé. For me this was the essence of simple, pleasurable French dining.

Hector and Anne’s boys (fraternal twins) were polite but I sensed that mealtimes were more an obligatory exercise which they would rather conclude as fast as possible so that they could get back to whatever they were doing before i.e. computing.

Spending time with the Gayón family also gave me an insight into living with an autistic child. Raphael was or all intents a normal boy of 15 whilst his brother Hugo was afflicted by autism. It manifest itself in the way he spoke (quite matter of factly without much intonation) and in his particularities. For instance, he obsessively played the same 1st person computer game the entire two weeks I was there outside of homework and mealtimes.

He hated loud noises or situations that might permit them. Therefore whenever the sliding door to the patio was opened he would block his ears. Even things like music emanating from my tablet would make him uncomfortable and I was asked to turn it off.

Seeing how the family had to adapt to Hugo’s particular set of needs was educational for me. Not something I had actively sought out but which I’ve benefitted from nonetheless. It couldn’t have been easy for the rest of the family yet they undoubtedly loved him. One evening he unexpectedly smothered his parents in kisses and hugs much more demonstrably than a normal boy of that age would do. I could see this amused, perhaps even pleased his father and lthough he maintained his cool demeanour I detected the hint of a smile on his lips.

He ate prodigious amounts of chocolate, waffles and yoghurt – too much as far as I was concerned – but I assume his parents permitted it in compensation for the things he would not get a chance to enjoy, unlike his brother Raphael.

Raphael was a very smart child, that much was evident. He spent most of his time on his computer either programming or reprogramming games (‘mods’), composing music or networking with friends remotely. He had a state of the art digital SLR which he brought along on an outing to an old castle/chateau on a hill overlooking the village. I told him of my interest in photography and he had quite unselfishly handed the camera over to me and told me to ‘shoot away’.

I sensed that he wanted to please me, to be liked. Did he feel the burden of being the ‘normal’ child and the expectations that must come with it? I had reason to ponder this on several occasions.

On a lighter note I would like to share a few anecdotes from my trip which illustrates some of the lighter moments traveling abroad.

1. Over lunch Gérard informs me that the next day he and I are going to Katia’s house. Katia is another Workaway host who is active in Gerard’s permaculture project. Mireille has not taken to Katia probably because she comes across as very assertive. Katia tells me this is because she came from a big family of boys. Her dad died early in her life as well. Personally I liked Katia. Beneath her matter-of-fact, let’s-get-down-to-business approach she was actually a very kind and thoughtful person.

Mireille fixes Gérard with a stare and states simply that is not going to happen because she has an appointment scheduled with her hairdresser in Vasles and he is supposed to drive her there. Gérard protests but her gaze is unyielding. Wisely he diverts his eyes to the fruit bowl, furrows his brow as if deep in thought, and after a few moments contemplation nods his head and proclaims that yes, he remembers now. The rendezvous at chez-Katia can wait till the weekend.

2. After Gérard’s project and a few days cycling along the Loire Valley I head down to the city of Toulouse where a friend of mine, Rui, lives. From the train station I catch the Metro to meet him near his house. I am seated in one of the carriages and, having nothing better to do, pick up a newspaper at my feet. It’s in French but with pictures of some local celbs on one side and an assortment of swimsuit models on the other including the South African model, Candice Swanepoel, stretched out in a two piece number.

Being a bit self-conscious I drop the paper back on the floor.
A few moments later an elderly Muslim woman dressed in traditional attire enters the carriage. A young girl kindly gives up her seat opposite me. The woman smiles and nods appreciatively. She sits down and picks up the same piece of newsprint, fixing her eyes on the page with the models.

Her eyes narrow and with a disapproving mumble she proceeds to tear the paper into little shreds! I catch the eye of the girl who gave up her seat a moment earlier. She is struggling to stifle a laugh. Most of the people around me are grinning in amusement although the elderly woman takes no notice.

3. Working alongside Hector one morning I turn on the digital radio app on my tablet. I is tuned to Smooth FM, UK. Annie Lennox is singing Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

Me to Hector: Hector, do you like Annie Lennox? (I am a fan)
Hector (busy installing an electrical cable) : Yes, I like Red Hat
Me: Mmmm, not sure I know that number.
Hector: Yes it is a good operating system.
Me: I mean Annie Lennox. Of the Eurythmics….ya know?
Hector (still busy with said cable): Listen, I would use it more but my clients require Windows Software.

Get it? Lennox/Linux. One sings, the other is an open source operating system. (LOL)

PS I still don’t know whether Hector likes Annie Lennox. Or the Eurythmics. Being a jazz player I personally think he’d like her Medusa album. Just a guess.

Le Jardin de Verrines: a lovely little place in Deux-Sevres, Poitou-Charentes, not far from Poitiers.

I arrived at le Jardin de Verrines on a pleasantly mild Saturday afternoon, the week before last. I have been here for 8 nights now. Le Jardin de Verrines is a small-holding belonging to an unassuming gent by the name of Gerard Deremetz. Gerard originates from Paris but it is hard to picture him in an urban environment, so at ease is he in the activities which preoccupy him on the property. But what exactly is LJDV?

In a nutshell it’s a permaculture project. If you, like me, are new to the idea think sustainability, harmony, recycling and all those compellingly ‘green’ concepts people like to talk up but which few actually take the time to fully implement. You can read about it on Wiki – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture – or look at Gerard’s excellent site – http://lejardindeverrines.ning.com. The idea is essentially one of living harmoniously within the local environment taking into account ecology, climate, soil as well as social elements. The idea is to minimise the impact on the ecosystem of the site through raising and harvesting food plants – trees, shrubs and vegetables – alongside wild plants: no artificial chemicals or pesticides employed; All waste products recycled (that includes human waste as well).

Reading that induced a reflex recoil perhaps? Isn’t that unsanitary? After a week of using the 3 natural compost toilets allocated to me near my caravan home I can tell you that it is not the case. You do your business and afterward cover it with a few jar-fulls of sawdust. It is not immediately evident the effect the sawdust will have but after 24 hours or so it absorbs all the moisture from the excrement and the result is remarkably odourless. If necessary you can add a bit more if there is any hint of an odour and it soon vanishes.

I will be here until the weekend. This week Gerard will be showing me how to construct a rocket stove. I’ve already seen one in use this last Saturday when a few volunteers came over and helped in the garden. One of them, Katia, brought her rocket stove along and cooked up some sausages. This was achieved with a minimal amount of fuel: a few twigs and softwood off-cuts. Last week I learnt how to arc-weld. Along with another helper, Paul, a young chap employed at the town hall of neighbouring Vasles (le Mairie), we manufactured a frame to support a bicycle.

On Thursday we went to the town of Saint Fraigne in the department of Charente, about an hour’s drive away. We delivered the frame to a group whom I assumed to be in part municipal employees and in part volunteers. Gerard demonstrated the principal and after our bike was mounted on the frame and attached to an old Siemens washing machine they provided. This all took place over the course of the day. Photos of the manufucature and demonstation are shown in the gallery below in addition to an uploaded clip from my phone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A link to the project on Gerard’s website: Step-by-step guide to creating the ultimate green washing machine

I don’t imagine that many of you watching this will feel enthused enough to go and dismantle your washing machine at this stage! But if and when it packs up and a new appliance is beyond your reach you will at least have an idea of an alternative solution, especially if you want to enhance your green credentials and want to boost your exercise regimen!

Here is another gallery on Google Photos which shows some snaps of the garden:

https://goo.gl/photos/GjPfdo1pnAWhFRza8

Beheaded Syrian scholar refused to lead Isis to hidden Palmyra antiquities

One of the real unsung heroes of the civil war in Syria:

Beheaded Syrian scholar refused to lead Isis to hidden Palmyra antiquities

http://gu.com/p/4bj9d?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_WordPress

This is why we need to promote tolerance and acceptance as a matter of urgency. Not just in Western society but abroad too. Boots on the ground, yes, just not more soldiers. Learned people like Khaled al-Asaad are the ones who make a real difference in these places because they are a permanent fixture. The people of Palmyra, let alone the world, will be considerably poorer without the insight and knowledge of such a scholar and academic. If Western advocates of democracy want to stem the flow of toxic ideology promulgated by ISIS then they need to make sure that his legacy is perpetuated. It’s probably time to sit down with the Syrian government and negotiate. They have been weakened considerably and will no doubt be open to dialogue. If the chance isn’t taken now then we can expect more of this outrage. What other solution is there right now?

Travels and the Unexplainable

Who we meet on life’s windy road and why we meet them has been pondered by many men (and women) from the time of Herodotus et al. Then again, who knows what musings preceded them and have been lost to the passage of time?

Some people like to attribute everything to a divine being whilst others purely to chance. I don’t rule out the former playing a hand of sorts but I don’t think we should overlook the importance of deliberate human interaction. By that I mean the will to step out of bed each day with a purpose of sorts. Those last 4 words are fundamental – “a purpose of sorts.” When I was a teenager this purpose centred on schooling (apparently a necessity but which held some interest too), sport (cycling chiefly) but most fundamentally, a desire to interact with the natural world.

Some people like to attribute everything to a divine being whilst others purely to chance

At some point these conflated interests unwound and intertwined with others. The desire to find love (and not just a lover) probably featuring most potently, not withstanding a desire for reconciliation with love lost (my father’s principally). I came away sourly wounded about 12 years or so back when my purpose seemed lost in the mire and conflict that life sometimes brings upon its human subjects.

Fast forward to the present and I look back at a third of my entire lifespan lived since then. It almost seems like I was born again into another life at the age of 24. On paper it would seem as though I’ve traveled far and wide in the intervening time span but it has been mostly in a rather linear pattern. Bouncing between the nations of Zimbabwe and South Africa for almost 6 years before heading north to the United Kingdom for a similar time again, notwithstanding months and weeks spent back in Africa every other year hence.

People would raise their eyebrows of course and even with some amusement remark on the ‘traveller’s wanderings’. I think I was even regarded with envy by some of my friends, similarly unsettled or at least yearning for more than their immediate environment could provide.

One thing that travel has taught me is that we actually yearn for some semblance of familiarity, even in the exotic. For me, travel has helped me confront my own predicament yet not cure it. I understand now more than ever before that people the world over go about the mundane and humdrum as a matter of necessity for the functioning of their respective societies, yet most do not rebel against their lot. I know there are those that have done and the consequences are sometimes tragic, with a nod to Syria and other nations in severe turmoil, but people are people are people…

One thing that travel has taught me is that we actually yearn for some semblance of familiarity, even in the exotic

I love the fact that there’s a pervading desire to be interconnected, that we all love food and laughter and that we make jokes about our bodies and the shortcomings thereof. Wherever I’ve gone this has been the case and there’s no reason to believe it will be any different in China, Brazil or Alaska.

So why I am I still so fearful about the past? Why the feelings of un-belonging and sadness that sometimes assuage me in the still, early hours of the morning before the sun has risen? I’ve long looked for reason in my own reasoning and it becomes null as though I’m traveling an endless trajectory along some sort of Mobius strip of human experience. Just the thought of a certain place and time is enough to elicit a sort of reflex response of dismay or distress. It is as if I’m living in the moment again. A form of PTSD? Perhaps, but without the violent experience that precedes such a condition. No, it’s more subtle than that. The challenge is in coming to view the past differently through my experience in the here and now.

I’ve long looked for reason in my own reasoning and it becomes null as though I’m traveling an endless trajectory along some sort of Mobius strip of human experience.

Actually, that is not just a conventional wisdom or my version of it spun out philosophically but the (wise?) words of a man I met recently in Cape Town. I met Carllo whilst staying in a backpacker hostel. He originated from another South African city but had chosen Cape Town to escape some sort of family feud, specifically a protracted dispute or argument with his father whom he refered to as his ‘nemesis’. Some of what he told me sounded familiar to a younger me and it made me sad to see him at war with his own father even if it were only in his own head.

I felt the same way about mine all those years before but now that I look back I see what I perceived as an implacable fortress as just that, my perception of the man. Seen from another angle he was vulnerable and old and emotionally detached; someone to be pitied. Circumstance is everything and it was the context of our relationship that made him seem like my nemesis. If only we could step back from the pictures we paint we would see things so much clearer.

Whatever his situation Carllo elaborated at some length on his own philosophy or pursuit thereof. As one who looked to the East he believed in the power of contemplation. He spoke about an essence that seeks to reveal. I don’t know much about these things so I don’t have a point of reference to established schools of thought or theology. What he did say, which resonated with me, was that situations would keep recurring until such a time as I would be able to face them with confidence (or was it honesty?). Interesting that.

What he did say…was that situations would keep recurring until such a time as I would be able to face them with confidence (or was it honesty?)

In fact, whilst eating a late-night dinner at an oriental takeaway somewhere in the heart of the city he sought to divine my own future by consulting this apparent ‘essence’. He foretold something of a future love to whom I would run to at the appointed time, whatever that meant, but also that I should stop writing! When I queried this he shook his head quite emphatically.

“Stop writing or it will bring you trouble…big trouble”. To be honest I was more flattered than concerned. Show me a writer who doesn’t want to be noticed, avoids controversy, and fears critical acclaim. All the same I wondered if he’d done a spot of intelligence gathering beforehand? Just simply Googling my name would’ve revealed that I had self-published a while back, that I had a blog and contibuted to various social sites and news feeds. But does this classify me as a writer? I doubt it. It could’ve been an inspired guess as to my inclinations based on the several preceding hours we spent in each other’s company. We had quite a bit to drink after all and had spoken on a range of thoughts and experiences.

The funny thing is that I would never have divulged that I had written anything notable without remembering that I’d done so, nor do I remember talking about writing in any shape or form. I’m intrigued but since I never did learn Carllo’s second name and am not living in Cape Town it is unlikely that I will ever get the chance to ask him again. Perhaps the essence of life intends it to be so…

I never did learn Carllo’s second name and am not living in Cape Town it is unlikely that I will ever get the chance to ask him again

The Taizé Mission and the Trouble Next Door

The second part of my recent trip to Antakya, the Hatay, Turkey.

These Archived Memories

When I questioned Barbara on her source of funding for the renovations she revealed that she was solely dependent on income derived from visitors to her guesthouses. She had originally come to Antakya in the mid-1970s to establish a Catholic church, now presided over by Fth Domenico, a Carmelite priest.

The church backed onto the Taizé guesthouse which she had established subsequently. She’d rented the various rooms and courtyards for several decades. She was by no means assured of keeping them indefinitely. In recent years wealthier individuals and families had begun to buy the older houses for restoration. She worried that her landlord/s might be enticed to sell one or other of the accommodation she rented were an attractive offer made by a prospective re-developer.

She worried that her landlord/s might be enticed to sell one or other of the accommodation she rented were an attractive offer made by a prospective re-developer.

On…

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certiores petere, appetere edoceri (seek to inform; seek to be informed)

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