And so I find myself…

…overlooking some local vineyards while waiting for my daughter and her friends to enjoy a last-day-of-the-school-holidays lunch. I’ve done a couple of jobs and a bit of shopping, and now I’m back where I dropped them off and I’m enjoying a sandwich while I wait and don’t cramp anyone’s style.

As regular readers will know, I’m well used to waiting in car parks while my kids do stuff, and this one really isn’t much of a chore, given the weather and the view.

At times like this, I’m reminded of a recent conversation about emigration. As a topic, it’s always lurking awkwardly somewhere in the background at parties and braais, ready to pop into the chat in any quiet moment. Honestly, I’d rather talk about other things. Probably with other people. People who want to talk about emigration are usually the ones who want to talk about other stuff I don’t.
I came for the beer and the meat and the happy times. An opportunity for some time off from real life.
Not to wallow in politics and economics and crime stats. (And remember: I’m not just talking about SA here.)

But there was no escape in this case. And this was the “we’re staying” version of the emigration chat.
And the line that has remained with me from the mountain walk that morning is:

If we were in the UK right now, what would the highlight of our weekend be? Probably visiting a garden centre.

I sometimes think that in justifying (or trying to justify?) these sorts of decisions, it’s easy to be biased towards whichever side you’ve chosen, sometimes by over exaggerating the positives of your choice, sometimes by denigrating the other option.

And I do definitely think that this is a bit of the latter.

But as I’ve said before (and fully recognising how lucky I am to be able to say this), for us, the lifestyle here far outweighs the problems of the place.

And without wanting to do the UK down, I can’t help but think that if I were there, I’d more likely be waiting in a shopping centre multi-storey car park and not overlooking the Constantia Valley and False Bay. (Well, obviously. But you know what I mean.) And it’s not like I don’t have the choice of a shopping centre multi-storey car park if that were my (or my daughter’s) scene.

But on a sunny, breezy Monday lunchtime under the oaks in Constantia, the biggest concerns are baboons and tourists. And why they didn’t bring a straw with her milkshake.

And this car park is really good.


I don’t think I’m going to shock anyone when I say that sometimes, non-religious people piggyback on the porcine derriere of religious rituals and festivals. Living in a country where the main religion is Christianity, I can easily document several examples: just look at Christmas (gifts), Easter (eggs) and The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (wait… what?!?).

Anyway, one more of those example would be Lent, whereby Christians observe 40 days of sacrifice to recognise the period which the Gospels record that Jesus spent fasting at the start of his ministry. Amateurs and non-believers usually use it as an opportunity to restart their failed New Year diet before comprehensively refailing it again at Easter (eggs).

This year – ok, especially this year – this meme from the popular Star Trek series seems just very apt:

The sun is shining, and the birds are singing outside. But I can only hear them because there’s no other sound because the power is off again. And one day, it probably won’t come back on.
And so, one plans an escape, but honestly, Where Are We Going?

Bed. I think that’s the answer. I’m going to bed. Wake me up in 40 days.


Bringing back memories of Paul Hardcastle’s epic 1985 anti-war dance hit… er… 19:

Why? Well, today marks exactly 19 years since I arrived on these shores. OK, I was somewhat older than 19, but that’s beside the point.
Often referred to as “my favourite import” by my South African wife in the early days, more recently, I’ve learned to take a bit a back seat while several packets of Holland and Barrett’s Yoghurt Coated Brazil Nuts do the driving.

Find your place. Settle. It’s all good.

Anyway. It’s been a whirlwind 6940 days with very few regrets along the way. Onward and upward for the next 19, n-n-n-n-19 years.

Where are we going?

The scent of emigration is in the air.

Not for us. We have no such plans.

But if you’re driving around the Southern Suburbs while going about your business on any given day, you will – without exaggeration – likely see at least one family upping and leaving the country; their belongings being loaded into a shipping container, probably headed for… well… where exactly?

I do get it. It’s not like SA doesn’t have its problems: crime, loadshedding, corruption, economic issues, BEE, poor governance, more loadshedding, some more crime and just an overall feeling of despair on many days.

But there are two points that I’d like to make here. Firstly, that SA isn’t particularly exceptional in this emigration thing. Maybe the reasons are different in each place, but no-one seems particularly happy at the moment:

70% is a lot of your young people. And it’s worth noting that Ireland is one of the destinations of choice for emigrating Saffas, too. (Aside: maybe that’s why the Irish want out?) But there are many less developed countries with high emigration rates: India, Iran, Albania, Bangladesh, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and… er, yes… Ireland.

SA is far from alone in people wanting to be elsewhere.

But then that brings me to my second point: where do these people want to go? Because, as Cape Talk’s Refilwe Moloto remarked this week:

Considering emigration? Where? ‘Cause the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
I understand why you want to emigrate, but the world is not what it used to be… It’s angry, selfish, and inward-looking. There’s this terrible psyche in the world now that goes, ‘Us first’… xenophobia… Brexit… right wing politicians across Europe…

I think she’s being a bit dramatic with some of that (although), but the sentiment is right. The grass is not always greener on the other side*, and even if it is a little bit greener, it’s clearly often not as green as many emigrants thought or hoped it might be. How much of that lack of verdancy are you willing to put up with, given the cost, the logistics, the emotional wrenching and just the sheer upheaval of everything in moving halfway around the world?

And how long do you have to be in your new country before you’re allowed to bitch and moan about it all the time on social media? Well, not very long at all, it seems. (Obviously, I’m not going to give examples here.)

What happened? Did you not do your due diligence? Were you ridiculously expecting utopia*? If you don’t like it, you can always come home. But here’s a tip: as I found out when moving to SA, the sooner you stop trying to make the country fit in with you, and rather just choose to fit in with the country, the better and easier is is to live your daily life without the constant stress of feeling like an outsider.
And any other approach is actually a little narcissistic, don’t you think?

But enough of my advice.

Because a lot of people leaving will obviously take the view that things will have to be really bad elsewhere before it’s as crappy as they feel it is here. But looking around (and even with my rose-tinted, glass-half-full mindset fully engaged), I don’t see anywhere that’s particularly attractive right now*.

The world is a bit of a mess at the moment.

* We’re not including Norway here, obviously.