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Sunday, August 9, 2009
Gosh, it's good to be back in Durban,
By the way, today is Women's Day! So I am publishing some images of a typical South African scenario - 'A day in the life of Empowerment Films and it's all-male cast....Hold on! there were 2 girls > Production & Line producer (never worked out what that is!))
The great thing about travel is coming home. After sorting out my space in some familial corner of Musgrave rd I dust off my Chinese motorcycle and head off down memory lane to get back into what makes this such a wonderful city,
First stop, as always, is to head downtown and find a new lunch place. There are so many and so varied that it seems that I will never run out of new culinary experiences. So I can be choosy. My favourite is somwhere cosy but on the pavement, so I can smell the sound of the city. Carol, the ubiquitously charming waitress asks me if I am bringing my work to lunch. I don't even hesitate in booting up XP as I reply to her that maybe I am bringing my lunch to work. She, continuing to open my cold beer, remarks that it's ok as long as I enjoy my work as much as my lunch. I say that it certainly will determine whether I come back or not. She swings her ample hips and leaves saying all in one movement, "No, that depends on the service."
I chose well today. I write easily when people are passing close to me. If I look over the street I see a tall glass building reflected in a short glass building. Me, the street, the people, my laptop and big business all flowing together like the Umgeni River in flood. I feel instantly powerful and free at the same time.
I wore a suit today, despite the cool and being on a motorcycle. I just wanted to be anonymous, melt into the city norm. It works. Despite being the only whitey around I hardly get a glance. Except from Carol, whose charming and slightly flirtatious attention draws me from this letter.
What the heck, I'll finish it over supper. I know I will end up at some all night coffee bar till the early hours so I'd better keep some laptop battery for later.
Bag over shoulder, I head off down an arbitrary side road to explore and delight my memories. I am in Indian town and the scent of agarabathi time travels me back to my youth as a point road devotee. Narrow Indian stores that disappear off the street and crowded alleys with smiling hands vying for my attention. Deep inside one such labyrynth, a warm pat on the back and 'Haven't seen you for a while, where have you been'.
I Ieave 20 minutes later with a well bargained traditional cloth in my bag and the smile that comes from a free cup of tea.
It must have been longer than 20 minutes because it's sun-disappearing time and my fingers are itching for the laptop again.
A short ride through chaotic but unaggressive traffic and I am in eclectic heaven. From my suburban pavement table I am within easy reach of a selection of 24 hour amenities. A Checkers (Must get milk and tea), a 24 hr electronics and car spares shop, a tyre shop, a coffee and cake emporium and a book and magic shop.
Across the road, one of those swish new ultra elevated malls beckons me but I am not in the mood for movies, diet icecream or Michael Jackson DVDs, so I grab a book from the unattended book store table and read over a steak and garlic fries.
As the night air hits, the boys arrive in their trendy gear and fast cars. Subaru is the taste of the moment. Fortunately dashboard fur is out out out. The car lot transforms into Saturday Night Fever with the boys lolling and looking and the girls have an unconvincing go at not being looked at.
No fights....not like the old days of the Cuban Hat.
How to remember my memories. How to keep this moment alive. I opt for recording it, so once again, it's coffee and laptop.
It's seems like Carol followed me here. Maybe just the same flirtatious innocence as she asks me what my name is and how can she help me.
No, I'm fine, just fine...if not a little confused. I thought for a moment this was Durban. How weird? I'm in Nairobi.
I finally get going at 2am. As I ride off I make a small deviation in the road. A dashing young Indian man in a Gucci suit is propositioning a lithe goddess in the middle of the road. Who am I to interrupt.
Up the road and into the the suburban darkness. I notice wryly that the corner where the flower sellers sell is devoid of humans. Just bunches and bunches of bright African flowers left unattended for tomorrow's sales.
The DIFF, by the way, is the Durban International FIlm Festival and somehow, within 24 hrs of arriving back in Durban I was roped in by one half Greek - half Irishman to be the unofficial photographer of Mike Lee's new documentary, 'State of Emergency'. Mike Lee, I suspect is Mike Moore's biggest fan and like his possible hero has one great skill: convincing people to sign release forms. After being persuaded to do the somewhat fractuous interviewer bit with the inventor and doyen of film festivals in Durban, Roz Sarkin, I left the joint without signing.
Lesson: Never sign release forms. Rather sleep with the director. You end up with more rights that way and open yourself up to less abuse.