Cape Town Stories 15
Coming from a casting in town I decided to take the scenic route through the Company’s Gardens, a place I had loved coming to as a child: here we would buy peanuts in little plastic packets to feed the squirrels – the aim was to get them to eat out of our hands. Honestly today the thought of that repulses me, I find it hard to differentiate between a rat and a squirrel, really the only difference is the tail, is it not? But at the time it was too much fun coming to this place with its amazing lush trees, their old, thick trunks ideal for a game of hide and seek. Today a man played not hide and seek but peek a boo next to one of those trees as I walked passed. I saw him put his hand in his pants and take out his penis, and as I quickened my pace he said something generic like „Hey sexy girl!“ and then promptly began to pee. For a second I was relieved, but disgust quickly returned. I told him: „sies, don’t do that“ to which he replied, still peeing „I’m not watching you“. Uhm, how are you saying that while you are looking straight into my eyeballs? I am incredulous and kind of shocked at myself for still talking to him, all the while still rushing away: „No, but don’t say something like that to me while you are peeing!“ to which his literal response was a confused yet firm: „WHY?“. The type of why that does not actually mean „why?“, but rather „why not?“. I guess sometimes you just wanna whip out your penis and pee against a tree AND tell a girl you like her at the same time! Why not? I guess it’s a beautiful day in Cape Town if you just concentrate on the sound of the birds chirping as you run away.
Cape Town Stories 14
My sister and I went to grab a coffee down at the heavily overpriced Biscuit Mill (or Biscuit Müll if I may try a pun in German). It was so full we sat on the floor between hundreds of tourists (92 Percent German), drinking our coffee and trying to ignore the electronic music (uhm, Mauerpark much?) accompanied by a didgeridoo (seriously though, did they just copy-paste Mauerpark into South Africa?). The South Easter was not joking that day and so we had to hold on to our paper cups (I know, we are all part of the problem) to keep them from blowing away and my sister was getting increasingly annoyed at her hair smacking her face so she removed her flowery t-shirt, rolled it up and asked me to tie her hair with it.
Some people must have thought our hair-wrapping situation to be a performance piece, because as one old (white) man took a photo of us another old (white) woman literally stopped walking to watch us. No, let me rephrase: stare at us. I look up at her and say „Hi, what’s up?“. But she clearly does not enjoy crowd work because she just smiles and walks away. Oh okay than.
Some moments later we bumped into the dad of an old school friend of my sisters. We went to a rich private school and he was one of those men that lives on that side of the mountain where bougainvilleas grow the size of most peoples‘ houses and the swimming pool is placed conveniently between guest house and private tennis court. Anyways to cut a long story short, he wanted us to eat with him and his wife (I said yes immediately, I was hungry and who says no to free food and wine anyway!) and now to get to what I wanted to say: he is so rich he does not know the name Mitchells Plain. No jokes! He talked about how they purchase their organic vegetables for the hotel he owns from a farm in a place called „Mitchell…? Something Mitch-Plain?“. Guys! I am being so fucking serious right now! He lives in Cape Town! But he is so rich his mouth does not know how to say Mitchells Plain! The struggle is real I tell you!
Cape Town Stories 13
I had to go to Groote Schuur this morning. You know, the hospital placed conveniently next to the graveyard? Yes, it is bleak, very bleak.
Anyways, I needed to take the lift up to floor G and as I entered, a white woman stood shouting at a Black guy who had had the audacity to press his floor which was up before she could press her floor which was down: „No! I wanted to go down! And now you pressed before me and now it’s going to go up!“ She wanted to get out of the lift before the doors closed, pressing past people who tried to reassure her „Don’t worry, it will also go down“ but she could not be appeased: „No!“ she screamed as she jumped off the lift „I am going to Europe!“. We laughed.
Upon reflection I realise she may have actually said „No, I am going to walk“ (phonetically there is a similarity, say it loudly) because I later saw her again on floor G. But for the sake of this story a white woman screaming „I am going to Europe!“ because the lift would not go down just seemed funnier, no? So yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.
Cape Town Stories 12
I’m standing in the queue at Checkers. Behind me two policemen in uniform. One of them looks longingly at the isles of sweets strategically placed to tempt you while you wait in line. The other looks at him and loudly exclaims: „Why you looking for things now, inside the whole time I asked you what do you want. It’s Christmas, I can spoil you today!“. I smile at this romantic gesture. The other policeman notices my amusement and says: „He is lying, he is only saying that to you impress you, inside I said to him I want something and he said he only has a twenty Rand“. Lol. I’m so impressed.
Cape Town Stories 11
A night out in Cape Town.
I went out with a friend of mine to a shabby chic afro fusion restaurant that also functions as a club on some nights. A club in Cape Town looks like an old Cape Dutch Colonial style house, because it is – speaking of which, why is it that colonial architecture is so damn beautiful? Landgrabbers really had an eye for delightfully intricate design – now this Dutch style house is filled with old school Hip Hop interspersed with Nigerian Afropop – everyone sings along, everyone cheerses everyone, I bump into two people I have not seen in ten years, I drink a glass of red wine, reminisce with my old new friends about the good old days pre-gentrification (Woodstock, you feel me!), at 2am the music switches to Bob Marley’s slowest songs: international sign for “go home”. I get into my car (lies, it’s my parent’s), take with one or two people who I will drop off on the way home, force everyone to put on their seatbelts (They make them for a reason, Cape Town!) and then head up the road from Salt River Circle. When I spot the blue lights I have a short moment of paranoid panic (I had only one….and a half glasses!) but am relieved when I realise one of the policemen getting out of the van drawing a gun and pointing it into the side street. Phew, not a road block. Now in my slightly stoned mind – I did not smoke, but Ganesh is a small place and hotboxes quickly – I wonder whether car windows are bullet proof…can I just pass the police van? (Side note: my parent’s car has windows that you manually have to roll up.) Upon second thought, no, let me not get caught in the cross fire and just turn around like the cars behind me to follow an alternate route.
I get home, drink some water and am in bed by 2.30. That is my favourite thing about going out in Cape Town. You start early and end early and the next morning you can still get up to the sound of birds chirping at 10 am and have an entire day ahead of you sans the whole: fuck, I’m almost 30 and just wasted a whole day away being hungover in bed. I’ll probably go for a hike up Lion’s Head and while hiking I will look at the view and remember the drawn gun and wonder how on earth it can be possible that in such a paradise violence is a daily routine but then on my way home I will drive past old Cape Dutch style mansions and I will picture the people inside them and I will remember.
Cape Town Stories 10
At my parents house in Woodstock. There is a knock on the door which my mother goes to answer. A man, begging. She asks him to wait a moment, she has to return quickly to what she was doing, but she will send her husband to him in a minute. And so my father follows my mother’s orders and goes to meet the begging man at the door. He greets him, the begging man however shows no interest in my father; he is, he explains, waiting for the white woman’s husband. My father tells him that he is in fact the white woman’s husband. The begging man tells my father not to tell lies and repeats once more, that he is waiting for the white woman’s husband. And so my father replies, again, that he is precisely this man the beggar speaks of to which the beggar, growing impatient, replies that my father is crazy and that he cannot in fact be the white woman’s husband. My father repeats, this time in Xhosa, that the husband of the white woman that the begging man speaks of truly stands before him, but the begging man has already turned around and left. He has no patience to talk to crazy people he muttered as he walked away.
Cape Town Stories 9
Two brown people buying a muffin and two lattes on a sunny Sunday in Gardens. Not at a Pick’nPay, at an almost-fancy cafe where you can find croissants made with real butter and other foreign patisserie. No koeksisters. You feel me.
My card is rejected. Once, twice. No cash. The woman behind the counter – I presume the owner – is not amused. She does not believe that I want to pay. Has not smiled once. Not when we entered and especially not now, the third time I put in my pin code. I call my mother. (I lied when I said it was my card). My mother and I communicate in German. Hence I say something like: “Mama, die Karte funktioniert nicht, ich versuche gerade zu bezahlen”. The woman’s face changes instantly. No longer tense and irritable. My mom from her side sorts out the problem with the card, I hang up and look into a pair of customer friendly eyes.
Where are you from, what language is that?
Oh wow, you’re from Germany!
That’s so lovely, so your mother is German?
The payment suddenly seems not so important.
Such a nice place, my daughter once went to….
Two brown faces turn to look at each other. Both of us realise in her eyes we have just gone from being two poor Coloured people disturbing her business to two friendly tourists – exotic, not gangsters. I pay and I remember Pretty Woman and I wonder what the film would have been like had she have just tried to buy a coffee instead of an expensive dress.
Two brown people leaving a cafe with a muffin and two lattes on a sunny Sunday in Gardens.
Cape Town Stories 8
I’m getting out of the car just as a white parking attendant angrily chases away a black man begging. I tell him not to be so rude to people,and that he has no authority over what people do on a public street, but as was to be expected said white parking attendant does not appreciate a black woman calling him out on anything, so he quickly turns to vulgar language (okay, so maybe I swore first, but, you know). I do not back down and so he finally turns to telling me to go back to my own country. That was a first to me: White homeless South African man tells South African WOC to go back to her country.
Cape Town Stories 7
You know those sweet old retired grandpas you see leisurely wandering the streets of Cape Town? With friendly toothless smiles until you smile back and their smile turns into a lip smacking, tongue twisting cunnilingus imitation and then you realise their hair is not fucking grey from wisdom but just lack of pigmentation. And their souls are not pure and friendly but old and horny. Sies! Really now, Cape Town men take street harassment to another level. Risking their own lives to throw a „hey sexy girl“ and a licking of lips at you over their shoulder while they almost drive their bike into the car in front of them. Stop sexual harassment and arrive alive!
Cape Town Stories 6
You know those people who consider themselves good drivers? Those people who think that them being alive is proof of their excellent driving skills?
So last week I drove to work with a guy who gets high in the car. Now I wasn’t even stressed about him being high behind the wheel (because you know, when in Rome), what stressed me out is that he ROLLED HIS JOINT WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY!!! Don’t ask me exactly how he did it because obviously I had to shut my eyes damn tight in order to concentrate on praying to the traffic gods. But apparently I shouldn’t even be worried because he is such a skilled driver he can even do that when he is drunk! :O :/