January 24, 2009

A slice of my life

This post, like the vast majority of posts before it, was posted at an Internet cafe in Mthatha. (They don’t actually serve coffee.) I take for granted my trips to this place but some of you might be interested in one or two aspects of this slice of my life.

First, the cafe is at Mthatha’s largest and newest mall, the Plaza. The Plaza has a terribly-designed parking lot so I always go in the back way to avoid the choke of traffic. That means I frequently end up parking in an area watched over by the same parking attendant. Here she is.
I don’t actually know her name (yet) nor she mine. The car I drive has African Medical Mission stickers on the doors so she calls me, variously, “African Medical Mission,” “African Medical,” or, best of all, just “African,” which I definitely am not.

(When I first wrote about parking attendants on this blog, some of my second-grade correspondents in South Carolina wrote to ask what kind of guns they used to guard my car. As you can see, she is armed with nothing fiercer than an umbrella - for the sun - and it is hard to get her off her crate most days.)

Then I get to the Internet cafe and plonk myself down. This cafe has opened since I’ve been here and I was so eager for them to open I was actually their first customer before they even opened. It is a family business, run by a young man, his wife and their assorted siblings and I am well known to all of them, so well known, in fact, they let me go online even when I don’t have the money with me because they know I’ll be back soon enough to repay them.
Because I am on the clock when I go online, I quickly get sucked into the online world of e-mail, blogs, and news and whatever other tasks I need to accomplish. I get so absorbed in that world that I shut out the (considerable) noise around me and forget where I am. Reading my e-mail or the news, I could be anywhere in the world, wherever events are happening or people are writing to me. So it comes as a bit of shock when my time ends and I gradually re-enter the world of Mthatha. After reading so much English, what is most shocking is that the babble of voices around me is in Xhosa. I take a moment to readjust to the reality of where I am and head back to the car.


Heidi said...

This is a fun window into your daily life!