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).

09 April 2011

The Big Swing

"Step back, half a step"
I shuffle backwards, a bit anxious, but I can still feel the floor

"Bend your knees slightly"
What's this, bend your knees, stand up, routine?

"Look straight at me ... are you looking forward to this?"
"Off course", I reply - I haven't done something with as much of an adrenalin rush since going hang gliding over Rio - and that was rather tame, in comparison.

That's it - he just lets go, and I go falling into the gorge. It is a rush, as I hit full speed, until the cable pulls tight, and then I am swinging in the gorge. It is similar to a bungee jump; in the free fall, but unlike a bungee jump, you swing across the gorge in a rather sedate speed after the free fall (the bungee has a number of smaller free falls).

The Big Swing is located across the gorge just outside Graskop, starting next to the Graskop waterfalls. There are two activities - the slide and the swing (and if you take the swing, you get the slide for free). The slide is actually pretty disappointing in terms of an adrenalin rush - the gradient is pretty small, and thus it is really quite a gentle ride. While it is not an adrenalin rush, it is a great view of the canyon.

In a stark contrast, the swing has a high adrenalin rush, and to add further fun, getting back from the bottom of the falls is via a fairly rickety and slippery staircase.

It is actually a pretty cheap thrill ride, when compared to a bungee jump, and it is a nice way to enjoy the views of the gorge.

07 April 2011

Cricket, and India's obsession from a foreign view

Wright Thompson has a long, but brilliant article on his introduction to cricket at the recently concluded World Cup. It focuses a lot on the celebrity focus of Indian cricket, particularly on Sachin Tendulkar, and the links between the cricket celebrity obsession and India's economical growth.

I have watched cricket in India (see here), and the celebrity focus is easy to spot, especially with Sachin Tendulkar. But at the same time, the crowds around me were genuinely knowledgable on cricket, and cheered South Africa's heroics as much as celebrated India's. But then, it was a test match and not a one day match. One day matches and 20Twenty matches in particular are the simpler, dumber formats, that feature more entertainment than artistry or skill. In many respects, Wright Thompson, a novice at the game, manages to capture much of this "decline", and it is a truly fascinating article on his experiences.

I think some of the implied conclusions are correct for India, cricket is not a religion, certain players however are god.

04 April 2011


Bizet's Carmen is reputedly the world's most popular opera, and it is easy to see why - catchy tunes, great orchestral score, great characters and the combination of sex, crime, violence, sacrifice, betrayal combine to form a great story. Opera Africa, in conjuction with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra have been performing Carmen for the past month, first at the State Theatre in Pretoria, and until the 10th of April, in the Joburg Theatre.

The first comment to make on the show, is that the casting is brilliant. All the main characters fit the singers - with each singer perfectly portraying in acting and physically what is expected from the characters - from a shy village girl (Micaela) to the sexy gypsy (Carmen) or the showman bull fighter (Escamillo). The production is further enhanced by some simple, but very stylish sets, great costumes and the acting/stage direction.

Carmen is brilliantly played by American Cristina Nassif, and truly embodies the role - she is sexy, somewhat mysterious, a tease and generally strong willed. Another American, Noah Stewart plays Don Jose, and the chemistry between the two was amazing - from courtship, to dissolution, is amazingly portrayed. Ntsikelelo Mali's portrayal as Escamillo is equally well portrayed, as is the chemistry between Carmen and Escamillo. Kelebogile Boikanyo's solo in Act 4 drew the greatest applause from the near full house, just compliments how well the cast was put together.

Last year, I saw the Met's production of Carmen at Ster-Kinekor, and while that production certainly had more lavish sets, the South African production was just as good in my opinion - but then I am no connoisseur. I do think however, opera live is a lot better than opera on the screen.

03 April 2011

Hiding in the tress (2)

The Tree Top Hide in Mapungubwe is fairly unique in its construction, and given the considerably lower visitor numbers, very peaceful. It is a twitcher's paradise (not that I am one) - but on the second day, I just took my iPad and read some ebooks in the peaceful hide, overlooking the elephants grazing on the lush banks of the swollen Limpopo river and the many colourful birds.