Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (ISBN: 978-0-9547023-3-5, Ayebia Clarke Publishing, Ltd., 2004) was first published in 1988, but escaped my notice for many years. I kept seeing the compelling cover on the shelves of Exclusive Books in O.R. Tambo airport in Joburg and I finally decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did. This is a very good novel. Continue reading “Book Review: Nervous Conditions”
I could write a book about misheard song lyrics, and maybe someday I will. From Jimi Hendrix’s “excuse me, while I kiss this guy” to Dylan’s “knock knock knockin on Kevin’s door.” But one of the most persistent misheard lyrics in my mind has been the Rolling Stones song “Bitch.” Which says “must be love, it’s a bitch.” For many years, in fact until only recently, I heard “monkey love, it’s a bitch.” Granted, monkey love makes no sense, but I was greatly disappointed when I learned the true lyrics. Such a letdown.
I have no great love for the monkeys of the Grand Palm Hotel and Casino in Gaborone, Botswana, however. They are menacing little terrorists. Continue reading “Monkey Love”
The Hotel Job
This is something a little different. A new piece of fiction, in sort of the international spy thriller genre. Just something I’ve been playing around with, inspired by real events in South Africa in 2014 which saw a Rwandan former spy mysteriously strangled in his hotel room.
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. All characters are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.
Smith was standing in another bland and sterile hotel lobby. As he waited for the polite but nervous receptionist (Thumi, Trainee, according to her name badge) to figure out the credit card swiping machine, he pondered the complete lack of any identifiable culture that large international hotels displayed. Continue reading “The Hotel Job”
The heat portends rain. It’s stifling, calm, sweltering. The kind of heat that leaves you with no recourse but to take a mid-day nap under a fan that languidly stirs thick simmering air but provides little relief. You wake up sweaty and confused. By late afternoon dark clouds loom on the eastern horizon; edging slowly closer, accompanied by the distant and low rumble of thunder and the far away flash of lightning against the gray-black sky. The sun is soon overpowered by the darkening sky, creating an early false sunset. Confused birds fly into the treetops to roost prematurely. A squawking ibis flies overhead announcing her displeasure. Soon the fanfare begins. Loud kettle drum crashes of thunder follow short on the heels of brilliant flashes of lightning that streak from sky to horizon. Continue reading “Pula”
!It’s all in the name#
This story from the South African Associated Press syndicate about Namibia renaming a town really rubs me the wrong way. (Update: The original story has been taken down, but here’s a similar one from The Guardian) ABC news in America picked it up and posted it under their “weird news” category. Because a sovereign nation choosing its own appropriate place names is so weird, apparently. Continue reading “!It’s all in the name#”
It’s the simple things
I was mildly scolded by an older Motswana lady in our office this morning for not going around to greet everyone when I arrived. I had come in, gone straight into my office and turned on my computer and started work. Much as I have done almost every day for the past ten years in DC. But Gaborone is not DC. And Batswana observe protocol. And the common courtesy is to acknowledge everyone in the office each morning when you arrive. She was sweet about it, and the way she said it was cute, like, “oh we didn’t even know you were here today, because you didn’t come greet us when you arrived.” But her point was made. In her own subtle way she was informing me that I had been rude. Point taken, Mma. Tomorrow I will issue a Dumela Mma when I arrive. And she will smile and give me a hearty Dumela Rra in return. Continue reading “It’s the simple things”
What you think you know about Botswana is probably wrong
My impression is that few people in the US know much about Botswana, and if they are familiar with it at all it is probably because of the #1 Ladies Detective books and TV show. Or Animal Planet shows about the Okavango Delta. Neither of which is a realistic representation of this funky little landlocked nation. The Ladies Detective thing is cutesy and quaint, but it is as realistic a representation of life in Gaborone as the TV show Northern Exposure was of life in Alaska. In other words, not very. Continue reading “What you think you know about Botswana is probably wrong”
Musings of a jetlagged mind
Sunrise in Gaborone, Botswana. Waking up with instant coffee. It may be instant, but it’s not coffee. To be fair, even Nestle doesn’t make that claim. They call it Ricoffy, a blend of chicory and instant coffee. A chemical slurry. But at 5am it’s something hot and liquid. Africa is the home of the coffee bean. So why is it so hard to find decent coffee here? Shopping list: buy Rooibos tea. And something besides Ricoffy. Continue reading “Musings of a jetlagged mind”
10 YEARS, 28 COUNTRIES: 2010. PART 2
NOTE: Click on the pictures for a larger high resolution version.
2010 was a busy year for travel. I documented travel to Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in Part 1. I also made two trips to Namibia in 2010. The first, in February, was to participate in a rhino capture operation in Etosha National Park. Those photos are documented here. The second, in July, was a trip with my father to celebrate his 60th birthday, which will be documented in Part 3. Continue reading “10 YEARS, 28 COUNTRIES: 2010. PART 2”
10 YEARS, 28 COUNTRIES: 2010. Part 1
Time for the next installment of the photographic tour of ten years with my job. In 2010 I traveled a lot, visiting Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in one trip and then going to Namibia twice, in February and July. I’m going to break this into two segments because I have a lot of pics from those trips. Continue reading “10 YEARS, 28 COUNTRIES: 2010. Part 1”