Trick or Treat?!

I’ve never fully understood the merriment that is Halloween, apart from being the one day in a year when guys can legitimately wear eye-liner and walk down the street with speedos outside of their pants, demanding sweets (without being committed/arrested); and where a certain z-list celebrity female is papped wearing a mermaid’s get-up in public. My American friends on the other side of the pond however go Gangnam for this holiday.

Halloween used to be the one night in a year when I’d purposely ensure that I was AWOL from the house, or bunkered-in watching a movie in the dark, to avoid the need to re-oil the hinges on the front door and/or replace the batteries of my door chime in the aftermath. Needless to say, this makes me sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but bar humbug, the truth will set me free!

Halloween in South Africa passed without the faintest whiff of a trick-or-treater. No terrified screams from adolescent zombie-lookalikes to accompany the triggering of an arsenal of booby-traps I had rigged up along the length of my driveway. It was all rather disappointing.

Jokes aside, the concept of ‘trick or treating’ in South Africa would not fly. If a stranger were to turn up on a South African’s doorstep wearing a Scream mask and wielding a plastic blade, they would either be wasted by a 9mm on site, or become a human-sized dog-chew. There is also the scenario where a trick-or-treater, partaking in a ‘one-of-a-kind-police-supervised-trick-or-treating-session-along-a-select-street-in-Jo’burg-where-all-the-homeowners-are-paid-actors’, is mugged for the stash of goodies in his plastic jack-o’-lantern. Chortle if you will – this would inevitably happen.

Finntastic!

So what’s next for our intrepid canine warrior? Last night Finn took on the best of Mzansi in the Grand Finale of SA’s Got Talent 2012 and although he didn’t feature in the top three, he proudly represented the 4-legged demographic of the Rainbow Nation (and of course his parents). His act was proudly South African and set to the traditional Xhosa song ‘Qongqothwane’; or for all those (like me) who can’t get your tongue and palette around this, ‘The ‘Click Song’ by the late South African singer Miriam Makeba. The performance itself was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G; clever, entertaining and technically challenging and the judges, audience and contestants had nothing but praise for Finn and my wife throughout entire evening. The support which they received through social media (and beyond) was also testament to their extraordinary team spirit.

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My Daniel Craig Moment

Home Affairs Torture Tactics

3 years in South Africa has flown by, however this momentous juncture is not a cause for celebration, but rather tribulation as with it comes the expiry of my Quota Work Permit mid April 2012. The date is just around the corner and it has been causing me a number of sleepless nights, due mainly to the centrality of Home Affairs in the proceedings. The delay to my permit processing has led to another major headache; come the date of my current permit’s expiry, ABSA will freeze my account and I will have to revert to trusty bed mattress banking until I can supply them with a new permit number! I am once again at the mercy of a system and a ‘computer says no’ mentality.

This time around I decided to pursue the route of the spousal permit since I was assured that it would be a much simpler and all-in-all quicker process (and by virtue of the fact that I am now married to a South African national). I’d do just about anything to numb the ball-ache (picture the Daniel Craig torture scene from Casino Royale…yes, the one with the chair!) which Home Affairs knowingly inflicts on all foreign nationals requiring a temporary resident permit. Even those who are considered ‘skilled’ labour and contribute to the economic growth of the country do not receive a slightly preferential treatment. And yet an organisation such as SARS will gladly accept your tax money without so much as a second thought as to your immigration status? Continue reading

My House: Fort Knox

If you didn’t already know, crime is a serious problem within South Africa and many houses within the country have burglar bars fitted on opening windows to keep skellums out and your valuable stuff safely inside. If you’ve ever tried to fit a flat-screen TV through a set of these, you’ll understand why they’re there.

Eskom's take on romance

Here’s my problem with burglar bars though. The country, thanks largely to the help of Eskom, suffers from impromptu power cuts. Timetabled load-shedding, especially around dinnertime when you want to relax and watch TV, is becoming less widespread due largely to the fact that Zuma’s army of wives is no longer allowed to cook for him all at once. Ad hoc power failures still have a nasty habit of turning up at the most inopportune moments. Take for example my friend’s birthday party just last weekend; the power went off soon after we’d arrived. With no music and no lights, everyone beat a quick retreat after wolfing down the free food and drinks by candlelight. Continue reading

Taking Back Tomorrow

Vehicle hijacking is a popular pastime amongst the delinquent social class of South African society. Come to think about it; what else would an unemployed, fit and healthy individual with time to spare do on an otherwise uneventful day? The legal options are very limited indeed.

A recent census amongst primary school truants revealed that 86.7% of such individuals (remembering that 90% of all statistical data is utter codswallop) craved employment in an organised carjacking syndicate. One of the prerequisites of such a ‘job’ is that an individual must apply only after flunking their first term of high school and should not be able to do their 2 Times Table. Credit must be given where credit is due however; successful candidates are offered a sure-fire way of securing a lucrative salary and even spoiling themselves by occasionally driving the car of their dreams, i.e. one with an engine and four wheels. Bonus points are up for grabs in the syndicate’s ‘high-roller’ league table if the stolen car happens to sport either a Toyota or VW badge. Continue reading

Fly Me To The Moon

The domestic flight market within South Africa is big business and there is much home-grown airline talent who will try to entice the moths out of your wallet with their services to and from the major (and some not so major) hubs across the country. A couple of these carriers are sea dogs of the game so to speak – the likes of British Airways (formerly Comair) and the various guises of SAA, whether it be Express or Airlink. They get the job done, with a meal included.

New kids on the block are the low-cost carriers consisting of 1Time, Mango, Velvet Sky and my personal favourite budget airline Kulula.com (said with much background fanfare). The marketing genius of this airline alone should be enough to put bums on seats (more on this shortly). In fact, I used Kulula just this morning on a business trip between Lanseria and Durban, which prompted me to write a post about my airline experience.

When rolling oneself out of bed at 4am to get to the airport in time to catch the first flight of the day, it takes considerable effort to coax a smile to my face, especially considering how full Lanseria’s parking lot was at 5am. People – get a life! This is not to say that I can’t be pleasant to others before the sun has poked itself above the horizon, but for those of you who believe the myth that it takes less facial muscles to smile than not, this only ever works past 8am.
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“Viva Sun City!”

Palace of the Lost City: Tarzan's jungle mansion

I’ve only ever been to the self-proclaimed ‘Africa’s Playground’ once since moving to South Africa and to be honest my overall feeling was one of disappointed. Let me explain. I remember watching Miss World at some point during my childhood, seeing camera shots of the grounds, hotels and aerial views of the resort. It looked amazing on film….and I’m not referring to the contestants. The hype around this South African holiday mecca was enormous. The Tarzan movie was even shot at the Palace of the Lost City, where it was rumoured Michael Jackson had a private suite; or was he a majority shareholder?

Sun City, operated by the Sun International Hotel Group, had a lot to live up to in my expectations. When I was offered a weekend at the resort, I naturally jumped at the chance. I was lucky enough to stay in one of the Vacationers Club self-catering villas, which were very nice, however a little pricey for a weekend. Once unpacked, myself and friend headed down to the central entertainment area, the resort’s hub…followed by the baboons. Wildlife is great, although when stalked by entire troops of monkeys with larger than average fangs, bright red buttocks and a hunger for anything and everything which you might have on your person, it’s not might idea of an enjoyable encounter with Mother Nature.

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