Archive for March 2008
When I got a Swiss sim card for my cellphone, I sent Pim an SMS: “Ich habe ein handy.”
His reply: “Das ist gut, oder handy.”
Yes, 28 out of 32 of you knew the answer: a handy is a cellphone. Thanks for voting in the poll, or rather, answering the quiz question – I’ll try to come up with a new one soonish.
Sometimes people think I am shallow. You’ll agree or disagree depending on where, when and how you know me. A couple of random quotes to illustrate the “shallow” hypothesis:
Kim: “When did you become so shallow?” (2004)
Early Bird: “When Theresa first started working in magazines she was an intellectual hippie from Grahamstown, but look how shallow she´s become!” (2006)
In 2005 Mim gave me a hair-straightener for my birthday. I was delighted with the present, and had painstakingly straightened locks for a month or so; then I shaved all my hair off. I also demanded (and received) the complete In Search of Lost Time for Christmas – to pacify my pseudo-intellectual side. My hair has since grown back. And I´m only halfway through The Guermantes Way. But reading this poem, first brought to my attention by Early Bird, makes me feel better.
Anyway, while I was in London, my dear friend Caramello gave me a very generous voucher for my birthday. And it’s not all about hair and lipstick, so I was glad it was for Waterstone’s rather than The Bodyshop. A list of my purchases follows.
GX and I have a running argument as to whether Iain Banks or Iain M Banks is the better writer. Considering I have read only the former, and GX only the later, it’s never gonna be settled until one of us becomes less precious about our selection of reading material.
2. Odd Girl Out
The first lesbian pulp fiction novel. Despite the wimpy main character and surprising lack of sex scenes, it’s still a classic.
3. The Road to Oxiana
The original Bruce. Byron is the hero of my hero, which makes him a superhero.
4. The Princess Bride
An epic tale of “true love and high adventure”. I never tire of it.
I revelled in discovering Houellebecq. But honestly, there´s only so much of ageing Frenchmen fucking hot young things that one can take before it begins to pall.
6. Confessions of Zeno
Actually the book I bought was called Zeno’s Conscience, but I prefer the translation above. I first came across this novel through William Kentridge’s opera, and have spent years searching for my own copy after UCT library rudely demanded I return the one that belonged to them, as well as issuing me with a hefty library fine. The book sits by my bed for the day or night when I am inspired to give up smoking. Until such a time, I am a devotee of the last-cigarette ritual.
‘To reduce its outlandish appearance, I even tried to give a philosophical content to the last-cigarete disease. Striking a beautiful attitude, one says: “Never again.” But what becomes of that attitude if the promise is then kept? It´s possible to strike the attitude only when you are obliged to renew the vow.’
pp 13 to 14
Right, it’s 1:.29am on 27.03.08, hardly an auspicious date to give up smoking. So I’m off for a “last cigarette” before bed.
Rumours may have reached you that I am a finalist in the SA Blog Awards (category: Best Overseas South African Blog). These rumours are indeed true, and you can vote for me by clicking on the widget (have to keep up with all the blogger jargon, you know) on the right of your screen. Voting closes on 19 March 2008.
A few thoughts on my nomination (since I don´t think I´ll be in a position to make a speech at the awards dinner, you´ll have to bear with me now):
1. Thanks must go to RK and The Raghunath. Without the former´s unerring focus, and the latter´s sartorial vicissitudes, I would never have become a blogger. The good news is, Mahendra´s Ties is also a finalist (category: Best Group Blog).
2. Thanks also to all of you who nominated me! Without my readers, I suspect I would´ve discontinued this blog long ago. Although I also suspect I would update it more frequently if larger numbers of you deigned to submit comments.
3. I´m really looking forward to checking out all the other blogs that made it to the finals, although will naturally be voting for myself, Mahendra, and Overtone in their respective categories – I´m a loyal, if biased, supporter of my friends.
4. No one in Liechtenstein knows what “overseas” means; they all say “abroad”.
5. For me, writing this blog has been about updating my friends, rather than becoming part of the “blogging community”. In fact, I don´t know how many of my friends read other blogs. I certainly don´t – except for those written by said friends (see loyalty, above). To this end, I created a group on Facebook that people can join if they want to find out when I update my blog. I suspect there might be a more simple way of achieving this (by installing something called RSS?) but I have no idea what this is exactly, although I intend to find out. What I find interesting, is that enough people from one platform (Facebook), voted for me to propel me into the finals of a contest on another platform (blogging). Perhaps it´s something to do with Web 2.0? (Note to self: must find out more about this as well).
6. I´d say the major flaw of my blog, although you´re welcome to differ in the comments section, is that I am still way behind real time – currently writing about October 2007. So until I catch up to the present, which will only happen in the future, I´m missing out on one of the best features of blogging: up-to-the-minute news and views. Laziness is probably the reason. But in my defence, I also didn´t want to force myself to churn out banal posts just for the sake of it: “Today was cold and boring in Liechtenstein, so I went shopping in Austria in the afternoon, and clubbing in Switzerland in the evening,” etc. Although that´s hardly banal, is it?
7. Part of the idea of me coming here was to foster some sort of “cultural exchange” between Liech and SA. I´m co-teaching a course on SA history and culture at the Gymnasium. And I hope, by reading this blog, Saffers will gain more exposure to the principality, even if it´s only through my idiosynchratic eyes.
As you already know from Daniel in Vaduz, I am not the only resident of the Hotel Schlössle who´s been writing a blog. Another student, Axel from Belgium, who was here for the winter semester, also has his perspective on living in Liechtenstein. You can read about it here.
I didn´t get to know Axel well while he was Vaduz, other than a brief conversation in Afrikaans / Flemish at one of the first parties. But it was fascinating to read his blog – you´ll particularly enjoy it if you have an interest in architecture; he also has some great photos of Liechtenstein.
For my time in London, I stayed with my saucy HP cousins, and their kitty cat, Muffin Pants. They are definitely top contenders for the Consummate Host 2007 Awards. Here´s what they did right:
1. Gave me a room and their spare key.
2. Did not comment on my comings and goings in the early hours of the morning.
3. Went away on holiday for a large part of my stay.
4. Lived their own lives, and let me live mine.
It´s simple really. All too often, when you´re staying with friends or family, both parties end up bending over backwards to accommodate each other, and end up with a compromise that leaves everyone feeling disgruntled. HP just continued about their daily lives, and assumed I´d look after myself.
Perfect, and no feelings of catholic guilt to haunt me. Sure the evenings when we all managed to be home at the same time were few and far between, but this made them even more special. It´s a rare gift indeed to give you guests the space they need… Perhaps it´s because HP are cat people?
I rounded up my friends in London for another celebration. The very lovely Leti suggested Candid Cafe as a venue – reminiscent of ATOM sans copious alcohol consumption, sexy waiters, surly barman, and infamous bathroom shenanigans.
But hey, I´m not complaining – it was definitely the closest I´ve found to Obscurvitory in London. It was fabulous (dahling!) to catch up with friends from Cape Town and Grahamstown days in a setting that felt a just a little bit like home.