About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

23 March 2006

The Multilingual Salesman

On Tuesday evening, I went to the "A.R.T. Gallery" in Kalk Bay for the opening of a small photographic exhibition by Sean on his mad cycle trip from Kenya to Mozambique. While it was a small exhibition (featuring only a small subset of his photos), the quality was remarkable none the less, which was not really surprising, considering Sean is quite an accomplished photographer.

On the way back from Kalk Bay, I met a salesman at the station. The train was late and the few passengers got talking to pass the time. Turns out, that the salesman can speak at least six of the eleven South African languages fluently and also knows atleast 3 other foreign languages. The fact that he had a fluent conversation with four different people with four different languages (English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sesotho) did lend some credibility to his claims. Turns out, that while selling sweets and biscuits on the train is his job, he spends a lot of time teaching, without pay, languages esp Xhosa and Afrikaans at different primary schools. He is trying to get a proper teaching qualification so that he can actually make a proper job out of it and his ambition is to master every official language in South Africa.

It is a bold ambition, but it was amazing to meet someone who, despite his own difficulties (after all selling sweets cannot be that much of a decent living) has so much to give to others. In hindisght, I realise that I should have tried to at least get his name ...

Movie: Syriana

It's a complex movie, a bit like Traffic (no wonder ... same people) and Crash, with a number of different threads that all link up together. Unlike Crash however, the story is a lot more controversial, promoting the view that the US government through he backing of major oil companies are more interested in money and oil for the US rather than peace and stability in the world. It's not a new allegation, but the story is very powerful and features some superb acting esp. from Clooney. It is also a very "heavy" movie, and not exactly a fun, exciting movie - but then movies of this subject type are rarely fun and exciting.

19 March 2006

Fallen Heroes and the American Cricket Fan

It did not even take a week before the South African cricket team came back to earth with a bang - loosing the first test match within 3 days. In my opinion, it all started with fear and wrong decisions -- after all, after a good night's rain (in fact it even rained early in the morning), heavy cloud cover -- all indications of a good bowlers wicket, why on earth would any one choose to bat? Understandably, Graeme Smith was wary of Shane Warne bowling on the last day -- but still -- if you are not going to take him on, why bother to play in the first place?

But to be fair, batting was slow going for both sides, and for once the bowlers had a good match. But regardless, it was pretty bad viewing for Saturday when Tim, Justin (Aaron's brother and a UCT Radio DJ) and I went in for the third day - hoping (actually more like praying) for a South African fightback. Alas, it was not to be - although bad umpiring decisions did not help the South African cause.

Justin's valiant effort in the rousing the crowd (with the help of an inflatable sheep and my big SA flag), was well, valiant. It did not help that the security guys seemed to be on a power trip - constantly taking down posters (ok they were a tad offensive including ... but the players laughed) and generally pissing everyone else off. As for the pictures, we started off sitting in the Oaks embankment (pic 1), but moved to railway embankment (on the opposite side) during the lunch interval (to get more shade). There was a large contingent of people wearing SAB gear ... presumably got a company day outing or something, and were one of the more vocal supporters.

We also met the unknown - American cricket fans (well the guy loved cricket, the two girls thought it was better than baseball but not as great as basketball or American football). Not the migratory Indians and Pakistanis who have made America their home - but born and bred American who also tend to like American Football and Basketball. One of the girls works for the US embassy in Turkmenistan and had quite a few interesting stories to tell about the country and its madcap dictator. I think Tim put her into a tight corner asking her about her opinions on US foreign policy, which she declined to answer.

[I had more pics, but uploading pics has been a nightmare ... so none of the "action" shots ;)]