Happy Derby Day

Normally, I do at least a little revising and editing for blog entries.  In honor of the special day, I’m blogging stream of consciousness…

I watched “the rugby” from Scrumpy Jack’s last night.  In an exciting match, the hometown Stormers won by a landslide.  I think I acted the part of rugby fan pretty well, convincing two blue and white striped fans behind that I was knowledgable enough to sit in their section.

The university semester is fast coming to an end.  I’m over the hump of regularly scheduled class work, with “only” final research papers and a Thesis proposal to finish in the next two weeks.  Once these are finished, my mind is dialed in to the World Cup and a two month circuit through southern Africa.

I’m excited and ready to expand my knowledge of South (and southern) Africa beyond Cape Town.  It can be difficult to really get out.  Yesterday morning, I took the train to the center of town with the intent of catching the next bus to anywhere.  It turns out that the next bus left 6 hours later and arrived “anywhere” at two in the morning.  Cape Town is effectively excluded from the rest of South Africa, excepting the Garden Route and the Cape Peninsula, both beautiful, but lacking any perceptive difference.

I’ve recently become addicted to “How I Met Your Mother.”  My housemate, Jimmy, has the first four seasons on his hard drive.  Lacking a television, I’ve taken to watching an episode to wind down after class.  “An episode” has turned into 3 or 4 at a time.  That Ted and Robyn really crack me up…

Ultimate Frisbee Nationals are this weekend.  Due to my mandatory attendance at Rotary meetings, I haven’t been able to play on the national team, but I went to watch the UCT matches today.  My ultimate involvement has been a recent development (last 5 years of my life?) and I am constantly amazed at how much fun frisbee people are…

I constantly fail at setting the alarm correctly at my house in Observatory (granted, not the safest area of town).  My housemates, after laughing and making fun of me, ask me, “well, how do you set the alarm in your country?”  Chagrined, I reply, “well, we don’t really do alarms in most places.”  The culture of security is one of the strongest distinctions between here and home.  An example: I drove through “horse country” a few weekends ago.  There were rolling hills, solitary trees, barns surveying luscious green and a particularly South African trait.  Outside the picturesque and paradigmatic white picket fences were larger metal gates with razor wire at the top.

Today is one of the days I’m most homesick to be away from Louisville.  I love the excitement of the

Kentucky Derby, the buildup and the climax, the pageantry, the parties, the beer and the betting and most of all the beauty of the whole event.  So here it is, if you’ve survived this far, Kevin’s Derby winner from halfway across the world….drum

roll…wait for it…. Conveyance Super Saver! But don’t hold it against me if you lose any money, I spent about 45 seconds making that pick… (not to mention, I’ll probably erase and change it once the race is finished!)

Enjoy your friends, family, taco dip, and mint juleps.  “And down the stretch they come…!!


The Khayelitsha Haka

After an average day’s drills of chucking the ball around and seeing who can kick it furthest, we split our group of 10 kids into two teams to play a match.   Now, I know very little about rugby tradition or pre-game preparation, but it seems that my team (who named themselves the Stormers, after Cape Town’s team) had an organic sense of how it works.

First, you stand around in a circle and talk about whatever comes to mind (as long as it has nothing to do with the game), then you take off your shirt and start taunting the other team.

Pre-game taunting has a long tradition in rugby.  For those of you who are either American or have not seen the movie Invictus, there is one team in particular that is well known for their pre-game intimidation: the New Zealand All-Blacks.  The Haka is a cultural tradition originating with the Maori people that the New Zealand rugby team performs before important matches.  Simply put, it’s a war dance, and pretty intimidating at that.  Watch a clip here.

Spontaneously,  the Stormers began what I can think of no better name for than the Khayelitsha Haka.  They all began moonwalking, grabbing their crotches, singing and dancing like Michael Jackson.

I wish I had had my camera, because my boys were pretty impressive.  Lacking that, I’ve photoshopped (instead of working on a paper) what I imagine it must have looked like:

Recent Events

Complications with internet access and complications with class work load leave me needing to condense several events into one post.  My professors were unsympathetic to my blogging responsibilities…

  • Conflict in Africa.  This time, instead of learning about it, I’m teaching it.  I’ve switched volunteer organizations so that instead of teaching English, I’m working with a university organization to teach Rugby in Khayalitsha, the largest township in Cape Town (with as many people as in the city proper).  The kids come to play in the grey slacks and maroon sweaters of their school uniforms, usually removing their black dress shoes to play barefoot.   They have started teaching me the various “click” sounds (which are not easy), while I’ve pretended to teach them something about rugby.
  • I tend to underestimate the wind in this city; I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.   Yesterday was beautifully sunny, so I decided to multi-task by going to the beach to enjoy the sun while trying to get reading finished for class.  FAIL.  Going to the beach on a windy day is like being a part of Ishtar.  If Lawrence of Arabia could have been filmed here.   My textbook will forever be leaking grains of sand and I got FRIED.  My head is peeling brown splotches.  (gross.)  Walking to the car was a comedic experience.  If I had made a silent movie, it would gone viral on YouTube.
  • Not indifferent to the politicizing surrounding it, a discarded Cadbury wrapper lay crumpled upon one of the desks as I peered down from the gallery.  No matter how much Max Weber tried to prepare you for the monotony of the political process, a visit to Parliament still seems significant.  The room screamed out in ochre hues, the desks of light, yellowish wood, the leather chairs in beige, and the fading carpet a strange yellow with a multi-colored pattern in the center.  Water waitresses circulated and politely took orders.  Heckling and catcalls and private conversations from the half full assembly spiced the speeches.  The occasional speech in Xhosa or Afrikaans rustled three or four to reach for their translators.  There were a large number of large women in traditional dress.  Two-thirds of the horseshoe of seats were reserved for the ANC, while the rest seemed a conglomerate of white parties.  Topics included the readiness for the World Cup and maintenance of Robben Island.  I enjoyed the air conditioning for awhile and tried to make eye contact with the members before giving up and heading home.

  • Attended Ash Wednesday service at St. George’s Cathedral, Desmund Tutu’s former church.  Good sermon, nice ashes, impressive use of 3 languages in the liturgy.  Too long, too verbose, non-contemplative.  (For a completely different Ash Wednesday experience, chew on this).  We left early, had a coffee, then caught a performance of “Infecting the City,” a free public arts project consisting of a wide range of performances at various venues across the City Bowl.  We saw “Dancing Jesus,” a guy with a fake beard and a wig tap-dancing wildly to a re-mixed hymn.  It formed a remarkable juxtaposition with the stately liturgical service.
  • One of my housemates, Kasia, had a fairy tale themed birthday party at the house recently.  While several others actually rented costumes ranging from Shrek to Alice in Wonderland to Peter Pan (tights and all), I used my niece, Alex’s, stuffed frog to create my outfit: the frog who turned into a prince.It was a very interesting party, as it boomed on through the French doors from the patio into my bedroom at 3 am on a school night…I have a badly-placed room in a badly made house.  I’m next to the stairs and the patio (which serves as our living room/beer parlor) and below a girl who apparently does step aerobics when she wakes (before me) every morning.Pre-party preparations required the frying of chicken, which Nicole and Kasia taught me how to do.  They, of course, found my ignorance hilarious, since the one thing everybody knows about Kentucky is KFC.