Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A short break - Friendship and stroopwafels

I have had no time to write lately, also sometimes just not the inspirations and at most time just not the energy.  But it is Easter holiday now and I am writting from Amsterdam while stuffing my face with stroopwafels. It is my fourth visit to this city, and everytime I arrive I am happy to be here, I love this city.  People on bicycles (the air here is way cleaner then in Milan), a language where I recognise the words and well this city with its canals is just so picturesque.  But the best part of it is that I am vistiting my besty Lise who has been living here since 2008.

One often has very romantic ideas about travel, and in a lot of ways those ideas are true, but when one moves to a country for a longer period then a touristic visit one is also faced with the harsh realities of dislocation. It is not a temporal sense of dislocation that one enjoys and then returns home and put in a photoalbum to look back on. One is living alone far away from home, with people often being so different from you in culture, language and belief which hard as it forces you to confront you own ideas, beliefs, culture. While this is not a bad thing, the process in itself can be quite disruptive to the system, it is a series of breaking things down and building things up, finding an idendity in another space. One does not have the same luxury of quickly calling a friend who believes exactly the same as you to call when you are experiencing an exitstentialist crisis. It is a challenge one can not foresee or understand unless you have done the same.  And one that will not leave you unchanged.

By then one has this realisation that by the time you will return back home, that home will probably not feel that home anymore. One has this fear that when you get there you will be so different that one wouldn’t find your space there either.  One also has a fear to somehow betray yourself, and its a violent process of holding on to things and letting go of others.In this half way there space is a longing to just touch base somewhere.

 What amazing thing a good friend is. We have not seen each other in months, and in the time we have been changed.  We share a tiny mattress sleeping “kop voet” (the skill of sleeping with on head on the one side of the bed and the other on the other side) like one needs when one doesn’t have enough beds, something we learnt already in the early years of our friendship at University. One can be happy with so little. And now many years later, older, two very different people from our original wide eyed days, we can still find honesty, I can still feel like myself and I am able to piece together little pieces of myself, albeit a little rearanged. And we can still laugh at each other’s jokes; we still understand each other even though we are different. A good friend brings home, no matter where you are.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Delusions (Spring in Milan)

He was sitting with me in the park,  the heat makes one lazy, and the heat makes one foolish, and the blossoms and the blue sky makes one want to indulge in something and I couldn't resist in saying something to  what most of my friends at home would shake their head for and go “Ai Edna!!!”   I told him that  know that it is not love, that the chemistry we experience can be mostly blamed on hormones , but I don’t care, I wan’t to kiss  him and I want to indulge, he opened pandora’s box! He smiled and said he was afraid of the consequences. But he was delightful in the sunglight and looked so cool with his sunglasses and the sun was warm on my back.  Consequences are for winter.  And so foolishly I kissed him in the sun and in that moment Milan seemed perfect. I got burnt by the sun completely.  Perhaps in the future I will remember to wear sunscreen and keep my guard up for such indulgences, maybe take some water to save me from delusions, but delusions often make wonderful source material....

Venice (Final part -finally)

Here is the final and very late part of our Venice trip, I've been delayed by a million other things(some of which I will share at some point), including internet problems. But here it is,Venice Part III!!!

When you walk out of the train station at Venice you are imediately transported to some other dimension in time. Venice is truelly beautiful with its canals and old buildings and gondoliers, one’s imagination runs back to thoughts of old romantic courtships on balconies and love letters. At the same time the aesthetics becomes almost a bit artificial as these old buildings are maintained in contemporary times.

With the carnival there are also the costumes and the masks. You find a range of costumes from period costumes to just plain bizarre costumes – a man in a snail suit and a creepy man with many hands to mention only a few.  Between crystals, feathers and bizarre characters it feels more like one is in a fantasy.  Perhaps it is this strange feeling of unreality that gives way for the strange behaviours and excess that people allow themselves at carnival.  The memories of the day seems slightly unreal as I remember us squatting in the streets, wandering aimlessly, seeing to much, my friends kissing strangers and me attacking someone...

Most of the day we spent wandering the streets; gazing at the dozens of people in costumes. By sunset we found ourselfs in the big plain overwhelmed by the spectacle. By then most people has already been drinking all day and it is with these strange surroundings that events started turning in to craze.  By now it is not strange anymore that random people take pictures of random people. Everything is spectacle there is Darth Vader, a Jedi, a very tall man, a women dressed in gold, name it.

We did not think it strange shortly after sunset when guys dressed as prisoners asked to take a picture with us (even though we were not dressed in costume). As we were posing for pictures with these random men one of them seemed to find a particular liking in me. Of course one does not think anything at first, being a little intoxicated by wine and spectacle one isn’t immediately aware of the events that could follow. So when the man put his arm around me and looked at me with a big smile I did not anticipate that his lips would all of a sudden move in towards me, and if it was perhaps just a kiss I could’ve accepted it, but what was to follow was so absurd that I did not exaclty know at that point whether I should laugh of cry. As his lips came close and my head slightly bobs away his tongue shot out with determination to enter my mouth.  In disgust I pinched my lips togehther pulled away as much as possible.  The resitance did not seem to discourage him, infact he just readjusted his plan and instead of sticking his tongue in my mouth he opted for licking my face instead. My dear friend looked on and we can still not really know why she just stood there looking at us and why I myself seemed to be so passive in the process of escaping him. I did dodge him after that but my face felt kind of sticky for the rest of the night. What is funny though is that his friend seemed to have tried the exact same thing with my friend Winnie.

As the night progressed the fools became more.  One of our travel companions of the day got lost at some point during his search for a bathroom and was only able to find us two hours later.

When the night got really late we moved from the events of the big plain in search of other parties, food and bathrooms.  We wandered the tiny streets, found a slice of pizza on the way and found plenty of strangers to have strange conversations with.  It was after one when reached a club that played strange regae music.

The club filled up more and more as night (or by this time morning) progressed.  There were tons of strangers making out, and tons of men trying to pull their moves on any girl that might have accidently cast a glance at them. There were plenty of men making an effort to come bump and grind (gosh I had that, why would I want to dance like that?), and plenty of men groping at me at random points.  I don’t know if it was just a little bit too much alcohol, tiredness or the strange atmosphere but all the groping and people pushing, but it got me feeling a little aggressive.  I at some point remeber using really rude language which I could never repeat to tell a guy to please leave me alone. In my defence, this guy continously touched me and stood way to close to me, and he was creepy and had long dreadlocks which looked like they might carry 300 different lice species.

Perhaps before I describe my next moment of craziness one needs some understanding of my reality to gain perspective on the event that followed. Now, for South Africans, crime is a reality, we all know someone personally that has been affected by violent crime at some level.  Guns to me is not something you play with, it is a weapon of destruction.  At some point after  I have been groped at too many times and I was already extremely tired a man appeared out of nowhere into our little dancing circle and pointed a gun into my face. My first reaction was of such complete terror which made me jump at the guy to grab the gun from his hands.  I completely aggresively attacked the guy, only to realise that it was infact ofc ourse a plastic toy gun. But at that point I was so angry I grabbed the gun from him anyway and try to break it and hit him with it.  I got such a fright that I was completely angered by the sittuation and needed to go outside to breathe and I almost broke out in tears. 

By then all I wanted was to go home.  Eventually I manage to get a free bottle of water from the barman (I think he could see I was in a crazy state) for me to calm down. By then though we found it time to leave and find our way back to the train. It took friendly strangers (well the one was making out with my friend so he had to be friendly) to direct us, me sort of carrying,sort of dragging my other friend who found her capacity to walk slightly affected at that point, but we made it to the train , happy to finally sit down. 

# Please excuse me for typos, spelling and grammatical errors - internetlessness = posting from library which closes in 15 minutes, no time to edit#