Expat-ish

Expat-ish
On the Beach

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Snatched moments in time

Yesterday was a mixed day for me. It started totally fabulously (if you can call 11am a start) with a baby shower  (my first ever) in Queen of Tarts, an amazing patisserie in Obs-  a part of Cape Town that I have not had the opportunity to explore much (this area is pretty cool and boho- 2 small kids in tow is neither cool nor boho, which perhaps explains why I first made it there solo). I hardly knew anyone at all, but as ever in Cape Town, I was made to feel as if I'd known everyone at least forever. The food was- to use a very South African adjective- divine. Although I must stress that this place with its savoury and sweet tarts is not be be recommended for anyone who wishes to retain a waist.

Being the social butterfly that I am (I shall leave a pause so that anyone that knows me well can stop laughing), we headed off as a family to Butterfly World, near Paarl. The name is misleading as it turns out that the place is replete with all sorts of vile vermin, reptiles and spiders (along with marmosets and tortoises- one of which, randomly, my husband was asked to carry) who I would normally pay to avoid, but I suppose the entrance fee was worth it for the delight of the children. We were there with great friends on a beautiful day.

At home, things went downhill. The computer has stopped working. Of itself, this doesn't sound like much a a tragedy. Technology is always sold as making our lives easier, which, I suppose to some extent it does. People are more connected, you can work flexibly (or be available to work at all times, depending on how you look at it) but the problem is, you become so very reliant on it that when it breaks down, it's like the bottom falls out of your world. So, I set about trying to find a solution to the unhelpful repetitive error message. So, me- Miss Knows Nothing About IT- finds herself on various chat rooms for IT geeks. They claim to be in English, but this is a lie. They are incomprehensible. Despite this obstacle of constant abbreviations, I managed to figure out that my laptop was not going to get better soon. I even unscrewed it and had a look at the motherboard (weird name- or is that just me?!). This all took a long time.

My lovely husband had meanwhile fed and bathed the children and was seeking to source dinner for us. I admit that I wasn't that helpful, trying to decipher IT code. Finally, when I grunted consent for a meal, it turned out that the main ingredient was out of date- by some measure. As you can tell, I am a total domestic goddess.

So, we decided on the take-away option. We called our favourite Thai but the phone was persistently engaged. Last week they were not answering the phone because they were so busy.

But let me put the above into some context: my husband gets terrible food rage. When hungry, he is unable to focus on anything and has been known to settle even for airplane food when especially starving. So, his food rage was growing and a could sense a resistance to my fussiness about the food items he was suggesting we put together. So I said I'd drive over the the Thai and see what was up. Am I kind? Not really, we'd had a new car delivered that day, so I'd have driven anywhere and I felt as if I had a hungry T-Rex patrolling the house. In case of a wait, I packed my book ("Why Africa is Poor" by Greg Mills, so far a great read).

I arrived at the Thai to find that the lovely manager had not noticed her phone was off the hook as she had eyes only for the Romeo who only had eyes for his iPad. The wait was only 10-15 minutes, so I ordered and called the ravenous beast at home to say food was on its way.

It was only then that it hit me: I had 15 minutes to myself!

I get a lot of help living here in South Africa, I have a domestic worker who comes in 3 times a week. We have a gardener fortnightly. What work I do, I do from home.

My youngest daughter attends preschool 4 mornings a week and, before she started, I thought that while she was at school I'd suddenly have these swathes of time to myself while she was at school. Turns out, I live a compressed life in those hours she's at school (2.5. once you factor in drop off and pick up), like a person living at triple speed- I do groceries, I run errands, go to the gym, I have meetings and, then, when I pick her up I slooooooow down and the rest of the day happens in real time (picking up her sister, extra-murals, feeding everyone and so on). So, actually, I don't have as much time as I may have thought.

So, back to the Thai. It was just a gentleman and I waiting for our food. A bit of Beautiful South was on the sound system. I ordered a beer, and opened my book. The only problem was, I was so dizzy and giddy with delight at these fifteen minutes that had fallen in my lap so unexpectedly, that I couldn't read. I'm sure I sat there like the village idiot, and I certain they thought twice before bringing me that beer.

As I am sure all parents of young children know, even 15 minutes sat grinning with a beer in your hand in  Thai place is better than no time at all.

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