Too many regulations, too little thought: Cape Town, a Tale of Two Cities. South Africa, a Place of ‘Haves’ and ‘Not haves’

A lovely conversation I had yesterday with a fellow blogger Stroke Survivor led to me articulating my feelings about Lockdown in South Africa (Thank you Stroke Survivor!). We’re on 39 days now, so by and large, the South African society are past the stage of feeling panicked or anxious (fearful mode), curious and intrigued (selfie-taking mode), and even angry or sad (grieving mode).

We’re getting used to our new normal, and many of us just want to go on with our lives – whatever form that takes on now! At the same time however we find ourselves questioning the validity of the regulations being imposed on us. We accept that we have a new reality but we’re tired now. Tired of being scared to breath, tired of being scared to live, tired of feeling like hostages in this passive aggressive pyscho-thriller reality series that is our lives!download

So below is an extracted part of the comment section of yesterday’s blog post “South African Gløgg” however reflecting on it today, I felt that it deserves its own space on my blog – although I’m not going to edit my original words. My response was authentic and not at all premeditated – and that’s why I want to share it.

 

Stroke Survivor asked me about the logic behind our country’s current prohibition of alcohol. My response follows:

“Gosh Stroke Survivor, I don’t understand our regulations myself! I have South African friends abroad in Belgium that are just as shocked.

Initially, as South Africans we were all behind our government’s strict regulations to flatten the curve, but it’s literally in very practical terms becoming unbearable for many. We are a society characterized by a large proportion of ‘haves’ and then an equally large proportion of ‘have nots’.

Without getting into politics, simply put, our very strict regulations, while well-meaning are f’up up and discriminatory towards the poor, the people who drink alcohol, the people who smoke, and the people who don’t exercise…. there may be others.

For example, no alcohol is sold in this time because the consumption of alcohol encourages gatherings and social activity – so No Alcohol whatsoever. No cigarettes, because according to our government- cigarettes are ‘supposedly’ synonymous with alcohol consumption. I’m not a smoker (anymore) but I can only imagine how difficult this must be for smokers.

I think inadvertently, our government is potentially facilitating ordinarily law abiding citizens to resort to non-law abiding behaviour simply because of their rigidness. They are turning ordinarily law abiding citizens into criminals, not because the citizens have changed – but rather because our regulations have changed. Grossly unfair.

Ultimately all the government is succeeding in doing is creating black market, because they are destroying the free market in South Africa. By imposing a billion illogical regulations, our government is successfully destroying all our citizens respect for the law. This makes me sad. But this is the way that it is.

Another example is those of a ridiculous law is all those who want to exercise may only go for a walk, run or cycle between 6am and 9am in the morning – I won’t go into detail about all the problems which crop out because of that – however the biggest one is arguably everyone, I mean EVERYONE with their dogs, cats and nannies are out in common communal areas that time because we’ve been confined to our houses for the past five weeks #PerfectRecipeForCOVID19Spread. ….Makes no effing sense.

No one is allowed to work (by implication earn money) without a ‘permit’ which confirms that you are performing an essential service, so people are really suffering economically. And these are people who were suffering before lockdown – the current regulations simply makes it worse! I think in South Africa we are no longer even scared of COVID19. After all the strict constraints on our personal freedom we want to take our chances with COVID19…. and that is primarily due to government enforcing crazy regulations.

But I shall stop bitching. The one thing that we all have in common is we want SA to get through this crisis as unscathed as possible. How I don’t know. I’m actually glad that my biggest problem is figuring out how much sugar to put in my mulled wine….

I have real empathy for the leaders of my country. At the moment I don’t believe that they doing a good job- but I hope they figure it out soon!”

South African Gløgg

And so the bottle of wine I opened on Friday night tasted terrible! It wasn’t off as in it wasn’t oxidized. It was still red and not even close to transparent or metallic, and it certainly didn’t taste like vinegar. It just tasted bad, like a really cheap blend. Maybe it was a cheap blend to begin with – it was a gift I got at a Secret Santa twenty years ago.

So naturally I was disappointed that it didn’t taste good and I discarded that first glass I poured. However, times are tough. And in level 4 lockdown in South Africa we aren’t allowed to buy any alcoholic beverages so even a bad tasting wine is better than no wine!

But then in a moment of clarity this morning, I decided to google ideas on how to improve the taste of bad wine, and the solution that appealed the most to me was mulling the wine.

So when I got home after doing my morning grocery shopping (first trip out the house in three weeks) a heated a concoction of that bad red wine, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, star aniseed and sugar….. and voilá …. magnificent 💥beautiful 👌🏾. Tastes a lot like glühwein, but soooo much better.

These days I’ve realized that I don’t have much more use for any thoughts from my past. It just has no value to me. But sipping on this lovely sweet beverage did however remind me of a special moment in time when I sat flat on cobbled road in Nyhavn in Copenhagen, just taking in the beauty of my surroundings and drinking sweet hot cider. I believe it is called Gløgg. Hot alcoholic drinks are foreign to us in South Africa. Our climate is just not conducive to it. It never gets so cold here as what it does in Europe so arguably most South Africans will tell you that they prefer an ice cold beer or draught as a drink of preference any day in the year!

However today we cannot buy any cold beers in South Africa due to prohibition in Lockdown! So today I say cheers to my European friends for coming up with this concept of mulled wine, and in essence saved me from throwing away my last bottle of red wine! 🍷

 

The Golden Egg

On 3rd December last year I was asked to take over as the lead of a project that is at least a year (but more likely two years) overdue. It was a type of project that I’d never done before.

I was excited about it, but also thoroughly terrified at the same time because it was something that I had no training or significant experience in. My task – Develop a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management.

When I started doing homework on what it entailed, I was told this project would take me about a year – but certainly at the very least nine months to complete. When I reported that in a meeting with Faculty supervisors and other project stakeholders on the 15th January this year, the Dean of my Faculty announced to everyone present in the room “If anyone can lay a Golden Egg, then Bronwyn can lay a Golden Egg

I wanted to melt on the spot and disappear into the ground. My anxiety levels went up by 100%. The pressure. Either, he knew that I wouldn’t say No, knowing that if I believed that I could help out even a little bit, I naturally would. Or he really actually has so much confidence in me and saw potential in me, that I just was not able to see myself.

But what was I gonna do…. nothing to do except get started.

And so today, only five months after I was given the task, I just laid that Golden Egg

Corona Diaries

Day 18 of Lockdown 🔐

Made homemade pizza with a three ingredient pizza dough recipe

Only 150g flour, 150g plain yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

 

And then another hit today is Eckhart Tolle’s book called The Power of Now. Was feeling down before I started reading that today, and then later felt inspired enough to even put on my training shoes and I ran a few laps around my house (about 2km worth of laps) to get exercise!

Eckhart teaching is so profound and do-able. In a nutshell he says – “Just don’t think about it. Just be” 😁

Just be…

A wise man indeed

Brave souls

I have so much to say, but it also feels like I have nothing to say, because I’ll just be saying what everyone across the globe is feeling. So I won’t say the words – I’ll just send everyone my love. There will be an end to all of this. And a new beginning for us all.

It’s funny that I had a conversation with one of my best friends about something unrelated to COVID19 situation and I was telling her how unfair life feels. And although we weren’t talking about COVID19, her words were so comforting and so highly relevant to our lives in the time of Corona. This too shall pass”…. she said. And so it is, and so it will. And then she added “and then we go out and get smashed on tequila for old times sake, and cry a little over all the frogs”. Now that sounds like a marvellous plan! Good friends are really the medicine for a person’s soul.

And yes although this time has been marked by some setbacks, for example, I missed running my 10th Two Oceans Half Marathon yesterday – had the race taken place I’d have gotten my blue number – essentially I have the choice about how to feel and how to deal with it. For everything that really is out of our control, we can take our power back by accepting and moving on.

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon 2011 – my first Oceans #PersonalBest

And then focus on the good stuff in the present moment.

And I got some good news this morning. An ex-colleague and friend was diagnosed with COVID19 and sent me a message to let me know that he has recovered, and been confirmed and cleared by the South African Department of Health. Interestingly, he had no symptoms and was only tested because he had been in contact with someone else who tested positive. Be that as it may, today was a day for feeling hopeful. And significantly today is Easter after all, a day the traditionally symbolizes resurrection. The human spirit has the capacity to recover from setbacks.

More good news is that I’m slaying a current project I’ve been tasked with, which is to develop a brand new Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. Something I’ve never done before, and I was told it would take at least nine months, but actually, unbelievably, I might be able to deliver the complete set of paperwork by this Wednesday – which means it’s taken me less than five months 😄

And though our lockdown has been extended in South Africa for a further two weeks, which means we have an additional two weeks on top of the initial planned three weeks as it would have ended next Friday, the good news is the kids and I are fine. We’re legally compelled to strictly remain in our homes until end of April, unless we buying groceries or going to doctor or pharmacist but I’ve managed to restock all our supplies and we’ll be able to go on. I know that everyone in my country is not as fortunate. I’ll blog about this another day.

Finally, another good news, happy story was Andrea Bocelli’s online concert that he was kind enough to share on YouTube tonight. It was truly moving. So amazing, so beautiful, so inspirational and motivational. Music for hope indeed.

Corona Diaries

Day 8 of Lockdown 🔐

So we’re just over one week into lockdown and in general I would say that it’s going ok in my household. We’re all in relatively good spirits. We still have enough supplies – we have no real reason to complain. Some days I look at Table Mountain from my window and I wish I could go outdoors for a hike or a run, but mostly I’m just satisfied. And I’m grateful that we are safe.

It’s been eerily quiet on the news front – there don’t appear to be so many new cases Of COVID19, compared to the spike we saw last week. Everyone says it’s the calm before the storm. I hope this isn’t true, but I think it might be.

I finished my first beading project tonight. Rather pleased about that. A rosary! Want to make a blue one next, and then a green one too. In another past lifetime I used to be a staunch practicing catholic, but I can’t call myself that any longer. In fact I’d rather not be labeled as anything to do with religion because I’m just not very religious any longer. I have a relationship with my maker, and that’s good enough for me.

Despite this however, I find it comforting to make rosaries. Interestingly, I also find it extremely comforting and reassuring when I hear people praying the rosary – in my mind there’s and association with praying the rosary and a safe space. I don’t believe I’ll ever pray the rosary again myself, but I have memories of people who are important to me like my mother and grandmother praying the rosary in my formative years and I think that may be why.

Anyway, now I just think that rosaries are so very beautiful and I particularly love making rosaries with seed beads. So here is the red one I made. My plan is to make a the other two, hopefully before lockdown ends. And then I just need to find some catholic people to give them to!

I’ve also been productive this week in terms of work. Spent most of my time on curriculum development, but also a lot of time strategising and gathering data. I’ve concluded that despite my ability to continue teaching online, it will be grossly unfair and unethical if I do – thus, I’ve abandoned thoughts of doing that. My students do not all have access to either data, a device to study with or even a safe and comfortable place to study. Even in this modern day and age, that is the reality.

I don’t yet know how or what next, but this is a signal to me of a gap that I have to start working towards closing. But that’s a topic for another day.

All signs of the times… the world as we know it and understand it is going to change. I don’t think any of us can anticipate how for sure, but what we can be sure of is that it will.

I’ll end on a lighter note…. also sign of the times, I have been invited to my first online birthday party tomorrow! Isn’t that weird but exciting? Although I wish it was a contact party, I know that’s not possible right now and so I’m so very glad that my friend decided to do something. So curious to find out what he has planned.

We are adapting, finding new ways of doing things. And since no one knows what the new ‘normal’ is, the cool thing is that we can make it up as we go along….. I think I’m gonna get dressed up for the party, with perfume and everything – why not uh!

Corona Diaries

Day 4. Lockdown 🔐

I’m not complaining, but I’m pretending to be complaining ok. Pretending that this struggle is real.

I have my minions with me every day. 24hrs a day. No drinking copious amounts of alcohol and I have to cook at least one wholesome meal a day, …. something with frikking vegetables (Note to self – cheese toast with french fries is not a healthy meal for kids), like everyday. 🤦🏾‍♀️😄

Things are just going on. More than just going on, there’s something that seems to be developing on the horizon in terms of my career – something about e-Learning, but it’s too early to tell if it important or not. Basically I’ve been communicating with my students and asking them what THEY think we should do. This is something almost unheard of in HE circles. But I’ve never been a conformist, so that doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me (pretend frustration) is having to cook every day, and then of course (feigning even more frustration) doing household chores with the kids. The struggle is real …. not.

I am grateful. So very very very grateful. So tomorrow, like today, we’ll work a bit (school work and work work) and feed the cats and water plants in the garden, wash the dishes, clean the bathrooms and do either laundry or ironing, maybe a little Netflix and then talk. Just talk. Simple life. Best life. ❤️