Old Connections

I had breakfast this morning with two women I haven’t seen since we left school… remarkably there is a connection that seems to have stood the test of several decades… there is definitely a sense of who we were hundreds of years ago but we are older – definitely, wiser – perhaps, and for all of us this genuine delight at reconnection… Whatever has drawn me back to Cape Town, the joy of reconnecting and hearing peoples’ stories and having a brief glimpse into their lives has been enormously grounding and satisfying for me… one described me as being in bubblewrap… I am not sure if that means I am unbreakable or still need to be unpacked 🙂

Labyrinths

I called this year my Eat, Pray, Love year… and this week feels like there’s been an abundance of prayer – not just with my yoga practice but with a meeting of Jewish and Muslim cultures at my cooking course and today I went to the beautiful St Georges Cathedral in the heart of the city… It was a symbol during the last days of apartheid as a light of unity and hope and with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the helm it provided an offering of peace and possibility during some of South Africa’s darkest times… I went to the cathedral as they have created a labyrinth in the courtyard as a symbol of that continued unity and hope… I was the only person there so the experience of contemplative walking was deeply profound… And I heard that Starlight Foundation raised $595 000 last night at the 5 Chefs Dinner and it allows them to keep all the Starlight programs going in both Childrens’ Hospitals in Sydney… perhaps this is what my prayers were for…

Cooking, Rugby and Departures

Who would have thought that my wonderful birthday prize of a Cape Malay cooking course with the enchanting Cass Abrahams would be a lot more than a Babotie (which is a delicious quintessentially Cape dish of mince and spices covered in a savoury custard)…. in fact it was like I walked into someone’s life as a witness to their story… her daughter got married on Sunday and is soon to be spirited away with her new partner and her three-old grandson to Bristol, and Cass’ son returned to England while I was there and watching the heartache of a mother farewelling her son was a little overwhelming – the story of South African migration has touched all colours and creeds… her delightful husband is part of the Western Province Rugby administration and we spoke about my dad who he remembered as a front-rower from Villagers – I felt quite teary hearing the names of men I remember from some distant past of my dad’s rugby-life… and of course in case there weren’t enough threads, Cass had worked with my friend’s late dad on creating an aloe chutney … so in amongst these stories… I also cooked in this grand dame’s kitchen – Babotie, Butter Chicken bathed in cumin and coriander, a fish marinated in freshly ground spices and then soaked in lemon, and a noodle and sago dessert that had the hallmarks of comfort food swaddled in kassia and cardamon… a cherished day today 🙂

Colour Everywhere

I spent the weekend at a beautiful workshop using colour as therapy… if I end up facilitating groups in corporates as part of my work I will definitely incorporate something known as Colour Dialog… in essence several of you work together on the creation of a picture without using words or commentary (at least during the process)… magically an amazing piece of art emerges at the end and the dynamic of the group is instantly visible and active and then you create your own piece of colour 🙂 …loved it… I am a delighted user of charlatans (and I use this term in the most loving way) but have never done any aura-soma and have been vigilant here not to get enthralled with South African charlatans… but am now splashing myself in a bottle of purple and blue which deals with my grief and here’s the kicker … it is also about allowing the unexpected to enter your life… and with that I am off to see the doyen of aura-soma work in Cape Town next week… amazing how I unconsciously search for charlatans even when not looking…

Newsworthy?

Yesterday was Voting Day here for municipal elections… The lead up to the day became quite savage in the media – I guess that’s just politics…The two main parties being the ANC (which pretty much governs everywhere except the Western Cape) and the DA (which runs the Western Cape) are battling it out – not being a political commentator 🙂 I will just wait to see what transpires… at least the IMF’s chief is off the front page and potentially justice may prevail… we can only live in hope (or is that wonder)… and then there’s Cannes with director, Lars von Trier saying he sympathises a little with Hitler – you do have to wonder… at least now I never have to pretend again to like his dreary bleak movies…

An Academic Visit

I went off to my old alma mater today, UCT… nothing really seems to have changed… maybe the demographics… when I was there in the middle of Apartheid it was a mostly white bunch of students… thankfully that has changed but they still sit around on Jammie Steps eyeing the talent and making some effort to attend some classes… unfortunately my fave canteens from 100 years ago… red level (where average joe from the humanities came) and yellow level (where all who’s who of left wing thinking hung out) no longer exist – so we wandered down university avenue marvelling at how young everyone looks… I wanted to sit in on my friend’s lecture… he said I would be bored… I think he meant I was too stupid to understand 2nd year Chemistry… I think he was right… My friend’s a professor in the Chemistry department at UCT and given I have never done any sciences, it was an eye-opener to see people in lab coats and protective glasses, enormous magnetic machines and centrifugal equipment and everywhere a really peculiar lingering antiseptic smell… he showed me around the chemistry department and our final stop, the scariest, had an enormous explosion last year in the middle of the night when some chemical blew up and destroyed the entire area which is currently being refurbished… I’m not sure the lab coat would protect you…

Our Shadow

This is something close to my heart… I wonder why the same pathways are walked blindly by most of us and as we point fingers at all manner of things outside ourselves, often the heart of it lies within… hidden with momentary glimpses on this dark and unwanted part of ourselves… the truth is much more hearty and robust… when we open the door and let the sunlight in and begin to own all that we don’t want to, all that makes us feel uncomfortable and often all that makes us feel overwhelmingly sad.. then we have the opportunity to become healthier and more content with our lives… this morning I felt gripped by my shadow side and sweating during my yoga class I began to feel more welcoming of this darker part of me… for all of us, this week heralds a full moon in Scorpio which is directly opposite to the sun’s position in Taurus… an opportunity to reflect on our shadow and maybe allow a chink of light to cast its disinfectant – we need to embrace the polarities of both our light and shadow…

Patterns…

I farewelled my friend back to Oz… and I had this astonishing realisation… that here I am a one-time South African revisiting my birth-town… the truth is I am no longer just from here… I am a mix of Sydney and Cape Town with a touch of Auckland and a smattering of London… I am here with new eyes and here’s the eureka moment for me… with my oz visitor I explored Cape Town with a lens that I would ordinarily not wear… it was refreshing and uplifting… and I thought how it mirrors back that I am a visitor with a history not just from here but from my travels and sojourns in other places… and so it is always when I farewell people, a forlorn sense grips me for a while.. and I of course wonder what the next part of my African adventure will reveal… I feel there is a learning here not just for me navel gazing but perhaps for more of us… we are all such a special hybrid of the places and people and experiences that shape us… and when we get caught up with just one vantage point we may miss the beauty and complexity of a totally different experience…

High Tea

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are exhausted, it will calm you. – William Gladstone … and so we took high tea at the pink lady, the Mount Nelson… I was in heaven… this world-famous hotel is a celebration of the most understated taste and glamour… the who’s who of fame and money bunker down here whilst in Africa (and us of course 🙂 every detail is beautiful, the service is visible but not intrusive and the aching high-tea table filled with delectable yummies… from crustless perfectly manicured cucumber sandwiches to scones and flapjacks and double cream… an array of cakes and cookies and sweet morsels… and every imaginable tea… so I swilled gallons of oolong flavoured with a hint of jasmine and scoffed several rounds… we were stuffed to overflowing but managed as the sunset to waddle into the equally delectable bar to swill a much-deserved glass of bubbles 🙂

Weather

Does this mean I am officially once again a Capetonian… my entire world is based on the weather and what it is doing to the mountain today and whether the wind will drop or the clouds will lift or the balmy day will stay as angelic… A gale force wind battered us on the weekend in Rooi Els… but there is still nothing more fabulous than sitting in the sunroom gazing across False Bay at the outline of the Peninsula etched in pink and purple with the setting sun… and today after waking to a magnificent-Table-Mountain-cablecar-see-the-whole-city day… it bizarrely changed just as we drove to the cable car station… this astonishing fog rolled off the Atlantic… not down the mountain as it usually does but sort of across the whole city… and so instead we spent a magical day in Kirstenbosch protected from the fog… and it was quieter, gentler and more evocative of many moons ago… I sat at Lady Anne Barnard’s bath and remembered how excited I was as a child to stumble on this green, cool spot in the gardens… Strange to be a visitor with a long history but nonetheless a blessed and infinitely grateful visitor…