Fourways, a Suburb of (In)Convenience

I’ve lived in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg for three and a half years now. The initial move was to get closer to work. Not because of all the faux Italian architecture. And definitely not because of the image associated with the various suburbs. But the rent is reasonable within a 1km radius from my apartment is pretty much everything I need. For example, a block away from my complex is a massive hardware store, all major fast food outlets (with drive thrus), four grocery stores, two Chinese restaurants, three pizza places, a Casino and about a third of Johannesburg’s population. There is also a really good pet store and tack shop. The rent isn’t too bad and I’m close to the major highways and driving to the stables takes me 20 minutes.

Monte Casino (photo by marccrowther on Flickr)

However, the amount of people and shopping centres causes a number of problems. Add on the fact that when they planned the roads they didn’t take the population density into account. So there is always traffic. Add on ‘infrastructure upgrades’ (to accommodate the huge office park down the road) and you’ve got constant construction going on and no traffic lights. It’s not unusual to travel for thirty minutes and only move 100m. And there are more being built – there’s even talk of massive development to link the gazillion malls in the area.

I’m very lucky that my complex is quiet. But there are a lot of people living pretty much on top of each other, so when the zombie apocalypse comes it’s going to spread really quickly. On the up side, even though there are probably at least 200 people in my complex, we all live anonymously. I greet my downstairs neighbour because I once helped him find his very ugly cat and we leave for work at the same time. But that’s pretty much it. No other interactions with the residents. And it’s wonderful.

Fourways Mall (photo by andrewmurray on Flickr)

But the majority of Fourways residents are single, young adults. They spend their evenings in the pubs, flirting and sleeping around. I’m pretty sure the Tinder hook up rate is the highest in South Africa and might even beat Vegas and Amsterdam. It’s also known as the Cocaine Belt. Probably because of all the one night stands and disposable income. The pharmacies make a killing selling STD treatments and Valium (because anxiety is the new black).

The area also has a device to person ratio of 3:1, which means the cell phone signal is weak because of the demand. I can only make and receive calls in one part of my house. And if I even lean a little in a direction it drops. I get better download speeds in rural areas. I can’t even take advantage of lower data costs. And no one does landlines anymore.

I love to hate Fourways. Because even though I whine about it on a daily basis, I still haven’t left. And I don’t think I will any time soon.

Fourways, a Suburb of (In)Convenience

The Great Hummus Adventure

So after 18 months of inactivity, I am returning to the blogosphere. I just completed a course on Social Marketing and I remembered Antithetical and just how much I used to obsess over it and now I potentially have new skills I can apply to my blog.

I’m just going to get on with it and describe a recent adventure.

Healthy, yummy Hummus (photo from tofutti break on Flickr)

I like to cook. And I like to prepare food from scratch. I spend a lot of time planning my meals for the week ahead and somehow hummus found its way onto the list. However, the recipe calls for tahini. If you don’t know what it is, don’t feel bad – I had to look it up myself. It’s pretty much sesame seed butter, but it is a critical ingredient to a number of dishes. It’s almost impossible to find (especially when you have no idea what you’re looking for). And so the great Tahini Journey began. It went on for about three weeks.

On Monday I had the pleasure of attending a cooking class at the Pick and Pay Good Food Studio. If you like cooking you must check it out. I had a great time. But my point is that my culinary experience meant I would be near the really, really nice Pick and Pay that generally stocks more exotic products. I still had to ask where I would find it. Fortunately the staff are really helpful and can navigate the vast isles with ease. I had to trek across the store and the lady asked me why I want tahini. I explained that I wanted to make hummus and she was puzzled. “Why don’t you just buy it from the deli?” she asked and pointed to the other end of the store. I didn’t want to tell her that I’m actually a bit of a show off and I like to brag about my kitchen skills. So I mumbled something about preservatives. But I found tahini. It’s expensive.

Two nights later it was time to make hummus. In my head it was going to take all of five minutes because the recipe said I just dump the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. What the recipe did not mention was that as the chickpeas blend with the tahini, they form a paste that gets stuck in the bottom of the blender and that’s all that gets blended. So I had to do some manual moving around to get the smooth consistency I was daydreaming about.

I briefly had a fantasy about having a slave to mash my future chickpeas to make the process easier. Then I remembered that slavery is illegal. So I got over myself and decided I would come up with a better strategy while I’m stuck in traffic. The hummus came out great though. You can find the recipe here.

The Great Hummus Adventure

Update

Hello dear Antithetical followers.

I know I haven’t updated this blog in some time, but I’ve had a lot of life going on.

This has resulted in a new blog which you can find by clicking here. If you want to follow my new adventures, unfortunately you need to subscribe to the new blog. I would love your support!

I haven’t abandoned Antithetical, I’m just waiting for something that will suit it to come along. So be patient and there will be something new soon.

Update

Dating through the ages

I am very happy with the man in my life. He ticks all the boxes, including a few I never thought about before. However, part of the total package is a little bit of baggage. And I haven’t packed light either.

This got me thinking … I am at an age where everyone around me is getting married. At the very least, my peers are in a relationship. And this got me thinking about something an ex said: as you get older, there is more of yourself to explain. It seems like everyone wants to couple up before they become even more fucked up, because, let’s be honest, a lot happens in around 30 years.

Image from Stephen James on Flickr

I don’t know what conditions us to seek out relationships. It manifests as early as our toddler years. Even if you claimed that boys/girls are gross and have germs, chances are that you had a secret crush. Inevitably, this resulted in serious rejection and cries of “Ewwww … You’re a girl!” or your hair being pulled, or maybe he really was a bad boy and pushed you into some mud. This is not a great start to romance.

Photo by cindy47452 on Flickr

Then, primary school and that most horrible of all occasions: Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure the flowers I got every year were sent by my mother and the boy I sent chocolates to never suspected it was me (I told him years later, but it was too late because he had moved to Australia). Sometimes children ‘date’. This involves sending letters to each other about how much you like each other. You never make eye contact, you never talk; you just send notes. But young love is fickle and an ex comes into the picture, wanting you back, or a new classmate takes your fancy. Now there is more rejection, someone probably feels jealous, there’s anger and disappointed tears.

A few years later, our hormones kick in and the desire to date becomes physical. Unfortunately, this is the same time that human beings go through an awkward stage, probably have pimples and little self-esteem. Teenagers not only have to figure out who they are, but also have a primal need to rub themselves against another teenager. Some manage to develop relationships (some even last a few months), others don’t (but crushes are almost as good). Any ‘love’ felt at this stage is hormone stew that somehow feels like heartache when the statistically probable breakup occurs.

Image from @Doug88888 on Flickr

So, the average person hasn’t even turned 18 yet and has had to go through all of the above. At least from 18 it becomes a little more fun. Booze is involved, lowering inhibitions. Granted it’s probably bad sex, but that doesn’t matter because you’re actually having sex. Some young adults go off to university or move out, so there is an added element of freedom. Others are still dating their highschool sweethearts. Most are dating anyone who says yes. Promiscuity (not necessarily sexual) and experimentation occur. Some ‘serious’ relationships develop and end and develop and end and develop and end.

By the time we turn 25, we’ve experienced a fair amount of drama. The urge to settle down kicks in. We become calmer and more mature. Couples celebrating their third and onwards anniversaries is as common as a white Toyota. People get married. The time is right. Life seems to be falling into place. Things don’t always work out, but that’s okay too.

Image by Jennuine Captures on Flickr

Then you reach that next awkward phase. Your late 20s. A dating grey area. There is a lot of pressure to commit and be in a serious relationship. At the same time, the accumulated baggage makes it increasingly difficult to find a suitable person to date. You’re the odd one out at dinner parties, and, when you’re not, you find it challenging to explain yourself and at the same time appear to be sane (especially when you have no intention of ever getting married).

I guess the best you can hope for is finding someone who gets you and lets you be what you are, someone who isn’t terrified of your explanations or past experiences. So if my peers have that in their significant others, then it’s fine and I wish them all the best.

Dating through the ages

Modern Dyslexia

Technology is now a part of life. And it’s advancing really quickly, too – to the point where people feel as though they can’t keep up.

Image from Scott McLeod on Flickr

I have a theory on this … We’re not meant to develop this quickly. Evolution is a process that takes hundreds to thousands of years. We’re just not able to process change at such a rapid rate. As a result, we’re losing a few critical skills.

Image from knezeves on Flickr

One of the many skills that are being lost is the ability to look up words in a dictionary. This goes hand in hand with being able to spell. Between auto-correct, dictionary.com and Leet, most people under the age of 30 have no idea how to open a dictionary, let alone find a word. On the up side, dictionaries are still tools, but now they are primarily used to kill spiders.

It’s a beautiful thing – by greeblie on Flickr

And while I am on the topic of words, when last did you write someone a letter? I am not talking about the 50 emails you sent today and your ability to type 80wpm. When last did you take out a pen and a piece of paper (maybe use a little cologne or perfume to scent it slightly). Waterman pens are still in business, you can still buy luxurious silk writing paper, but I haven’t received a handwritten letter since I dated a hippy.

Photo by staralee on Flickr

My handwriting is shocking. When people ask me to sign a card, I find an imaginary urgent meeting to attend. I can barely write my own name anymore and deciphering my notes from class/meetings makes me see the value of an iPad.

With the rise and rise of technology, there seems to be a rise of a sub-form of dyslexia. And even though I take words really seriously, I too am a victim of the blight. I don’t think anyone can safely say that she is not. And it’s a pity, because somewhere, in a box that cannot retrieve information for me, I still have my first love letter.

Modern Dyslexia

Drive

While I was driving to work this morning some bigwig from some traffic-related department was informing the entire audience (estimated at three, as there are about that many people in Johannesburg right now) about how the Christmas road safety campaign was coming to an end. This will be followed by the Easter campaign in which punishment for reckless or drunk driving will be escalated significantly. If you get caught, there is a chance your licence will be taken away from you and you will have to start the process from scratch – learner’s permit through to the test.

I think this is an excellent idea. There are too many men out there with small penises who drive badly to compensate. And there are just as many sexually frustrated women doing stupid things. I don’t know if there is a relationship between the two, but hey, who knows?

(Image from meamscifi on Flickr)

But it also poses a serious problem. While passing your learner’s licence is relatively easy, getting the actual licence is a bit like going into Mordor.

The first challenge is reversing out of a parking. Anyone who has been driving for longer than six months will lose the ability of finding his or her own way out of a parking bay. This is because there is always a car guard around when you leave. And there is no avoiding them and their enthusiasm in showing you how to manoeuvre out of the space.

Another issue would be negotiating potholes. Over the past three years or so, most of the roads around South Africa have started to resemble the surface of the moon (if you can imagine a tar-coloured moon). If anyone can tell me what the correct procedure is for getting around or over a pothole when you’re doing a driving test I will make you a sandwich.

And these are minor…
(Image from SweetDaddyP on Flickr)

78% of licensed drivers do not know how to use their indicators. Apparently you need a degree in physics to flick a lever up or down. So, statistically only about 0.005% of people who have to redo their licence will be able to pass.

Therefore I would like to appeal to everyone to drive carefully. Lives will be saved, and even if you’re just a total jerk who doesn’t care, the administrative nightmare of getting a new licence is just not worth it.

Drive

Man of the year

Today I was sent a very offensive email. The subject line said something about ‘Husband of the Year 2012’ and you will be able to see the pictures that were included below (with a few others I found). However, I think that the images were not interpreted correctly. I would like to clarify what was going on here.

I think this is really sweet. This couple live in a very rural area. There are no gyms and to shake the holiday weight, the locals need to improvise. This man is supporting his partner in her efforts.
This picture shows what true love is all about. The man probably has a bad back, and his partner is helping him out.
We all know that women are not good with directions. So here the man is leading the way.
This is what I think of as team work. Clearly the boat has a hole in it. The man weighs more and his weight is needed to life the bow. This ensures that the couple will reach the shore dry and happy.
Here is an example of a crazy woman. She is stalking the guy in the tent. She has in the past liberated his stuff for her crazy shrine to him. Therefore, he needs to be able to protect himself. She found him camping in the woods after all, and no one can hear you scream in the woods.
Man of the year