Monday, March 10, 2014

but I am the hardest working person in the village...

The other day I was mooching around Facebook when found one of those funny vintage-styled cards that I normally find hilarious. Hang on, let me see if I can find it… Ah yes, there it is. Exhibit A.

It got me thinking about one of the lesser-known battles, one similar to the Battle of the Sexes but with a frilly twist. Ta daaa, I present to you … The Battle of the Dresses.

Basically, it’s a Cold War between SAHM’s and WOHM’s. You might not know what those are yet, but in a nutshell, it’s an ongoing competition about which is HARDER: being a StayAtHomeMom or being a WorkOutOfHomeMom. And yes, they are actual recognised acronyms - not made up by me this time. There’s another acronym,WAHM, which stands for WorkAtHomeMom but this is a separate category altogether, which irks the SAHM’s and WOHM’s because it mucks with their arguments.

This war has escalated to such a degree that there are forums and websites dedicated to SAHM’s and WOHM’s bitching and moaning about each other. 
I’m not really sure when this infighting started but I’m placing my bets on sometime after WW2 when women found that, after being in the workplace for the first time, they weren’t that eager to relinquish their paying jobs and go back to being housewives and mothers. They liked being self-sufficient, independent women. Note: this could be a clue.

Perhaps, back in the post WW2 era, the women who carried on working and the women who went back to being SAHM’s had some kind of mutual respect. Fast-forward to 2014 and this respect seems to have disappeared. If anything, the issue seems to be hotting up.

This “my-work-is-harder-than-yours” mentality has spawned a new phenomenon called Mommyjacking. This happens when WOHNOM (WorkOutOfHomeNon-Mom) declares – normally on some or other social media forum (erm, whole bunch of questions right there -- WTF!??!?!)  - how ‘hard’ their day has been, or they might boast of any recently endured “hardness”. Her/his statement is then mommy-jacked when a SAHM retorts with a counter hardness argument.  Here’s a little sample that was gleaned from…

WOHNOM: I love working and not getting paid.

Mommyjacker: Welcome to motherhood. lmao

Mmm. See what I mean? It’s really hard to tell who is worse. To be fair, it’s not only SAHM’s that Mommyjack. WOHM’s like to do it too (please refer to exhibit A postcard.)

Just as pendulums will swing, there is a counter-phenomenon to Mommyjacking that might in fact be even worse. I don’t think it has a name yet but perhaps we could call it Mommywanking.

Mommywanking occurs when mothers gush on social media about how much they luuuuurve being a mommy and how little [insert kids name here] is just the sweetest, most darling, gentlest, intelligentest, prettiest, talentedest, atom-splitter in the world. For some reason, this even more uncomfortable than Mommyjacking because everyone knows that everyone else isn’t going to agree, because everyone else has their own little darling that they think is nicer than the other little darling, right? Note again: Mommywaking isn’t exclusive to SAHM’s because WOHM’s do it too. No wonder WOHNOM’s hate moms, but more about that later.

You’d think that with at least Mommyjacking and Mommywanking in common the SAHM’s and WOHM’s would get along. But they don’t and the one-upmanship continues. I’m thinking of getting T-shirts made in support of either group. You know, like political parties do.

Whilst trying to get all of this hard, harder, hardest work into perspective, I was reminded of Chris Rock’s take on people who call their work “hard’. He was lambasted for saying at the 2012 Oscars that he hates it when actors say how ‘haaaard” it is doing voice-overs for animated films. He pointed out something along the lines of “you know what’s hard? Digging trenches. Now that’s hard work” (~ please imagine this in Chris Rock’s voice, it’ll just be funnier. If you don’t know what that sounds like, it’s the Zebra’s voice in Madagascar.)

What that basically means is that all the while that SAHM’s and WOHM’s are arguing about whose work is the harderestestest, trench diggers are scoffing behind their pick-axes because they know that THEIR work (along with perhaps miners and sex workers) is in fact the hardest.

Alongside this Battle of Hardness between SAHM’s and WOHM’s, an invisible enemy lurks. WOHNOM’s. WOHNOM detest WOHM’s. It’s true!  Just when the WOHM’s were happily smug in their belief that their life is the hardest, it turns out that WOHNOM’s hugely resent mothers who work, claiming that they get preference over non-moms. WOHNOM’s say that WOHM’s don’t pull their weight, meaning that the WOHNOM’s have to pick up all the slack.

This means WOHNOM’s believe that they the harderestestest working people in the world. But they obviously haven’t chatted to the trench diggers, miners and sex workers.

I tell you, all this just makes me long for the good old days when the enemy was just plain old men. Things were so much simpler then.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

26, 27, 28...


As an act of defiance against the start of term, the boys and I decided to treat school days (well, the afternoons at least) as if they were still holidays.  This meant going to the beach.

Because of my recent obsession with Instagram, I take my camera everywhere with me. And so it was, that whilst the boys were frolicking in the waves, I was bumbling along the shoreline looking for good photo ops.  After all, I’d bumped into Ninja just a few weeks before so who knows who’d pop up next.

As I mooched around the shallows, I spotted a guy a little way off. He had a camera phone pointed my way and said something to me that got drowned out by the noise of the waves. Thinking that he was asking me a question, I walked closer and said “pardon, I didn’t hear you”.

“I was just taking a photo of you”, he said.

I was immediately suspicious. Let’s just say that I’m not really the sort of beach person that other beach people take photos of. Although there was something slightly unsettling about his demeanor, I decided to let it slide, putting my suspicions down to my apartheid upbringing. I rationalized that despite his rather piercing eyes and penetrating gaze, his face was pleasant enough and when he smiled he revealed a cheery “Cape Flats smile”*.

Besides, I’d remembered reading somewhere that if you’re feeling unnerved by someone, the best tactic to disarm them is by being friendly. I gave it a whirl.

“A perfect day to be at the beach, eh?”  I say.

“Yaaas”, he answers in a broad Cape-coloured accent, “I just came here with my gurly. You know, instead of sitting at home yuss sitting aroun bored”.

I look around. No gurly.

“Great”, I say, “where is she then? Your gurly?”

“She’s visiting with some friends”, he replied “I dropped her off”.

“Ah, so you guys live around here”, I say.

“Nou”, he replies “I live in “Monrthehadfashdf”.

OK, so I didn’t hear exactly what he said but as I had never heard of it, I assumed it was farther afield than what my uptight whitey legs had ever taken me.

We exchanged small talk and then went our separate ways. Or so I thought.

Not long after our encounter, the fellow reappears in his swimming trunks. He enters the water. But not a little way off where his belongings are, rather right in front of me. Free country, I thought to myself, though at the same finding it a little odd considering the long stretch of available beach. I again rationalized that crime-wary South Africans are far too suspicious.

After a short swim, he gets out of the sea and starts walking towards me. It’s then that I catch sight of his tattoos.

Prison tattoos. Holey crab cakes, I think to myself.

Thinking quickly I say “Hey!” (as if we’re long lost friends). I was hoping the excitement in my voice would hide my mild panic.

“Great tattoos”, I say, whilst all the while thinking fecking hell, they’re not great tattoos. They’re not great tattoos at all because they’re gangster tattoos and they all mean something fiercely wicked and I know this thanks to “The Number” and “Ninja”.

Still, a meeting this up-close and personal with an ex-con was just too interesting to pass up.

He elaborates.

“I youzyouly doh like taking my shert aff becoz the people, they think bedly of me man”.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but on the whole, I was raised – as many South African’s are – to be polite to strangers and, wherever possible, make them feel welcome and at ease. Perhaps, with ex-cons, this isn’t a very good idea.

“No way!” I hear myself swoon, “I think they’re AWESOME”.

He looks slightly bashful but takes all this encouragement as a sign to sit down alongside me. No wait, not alongside, but RIGHT NEXT to me. We could practically pick each other’s noses.

“I love tattoos”, I gush (I mean I do but WTF?!?!?) “What do yours mean?”

“I wuss in a geng”, he says shyly.

“Ah”, I say, trying to sound philosophical, “which one?”, all the while hoping he says the 26’s because rather a swindler than the other two.

“Da 27’s” he says.

“Ah, so your tattoos probably mean something”, I say and mumble something about having read Johnny Steinberg’s book.

He looks sheepish and replies “I got them a long time ago. Sometimes a tattoos, they can mean someting. Like if I’m in prisson and I get my gurly’s name tattoo’d on my chess, it means someting. But sometimes, they can mean nutting.”

As he looks away both he and I know that his tattoos don’t mean nothing.

I’m suddenly so curious. I can’t help myself asking.

“You were in prison?” I say, feigning surprise. “Where? In Pollsmoor?”

“Yaaas”, he answers “I was in prison but not at Pollsmoor”.

‘Ah”, I say, trying to sound light and conversational, as though he were recounting his yearly travels. I stop short of saying well nice to meet you. you’re the first ex-prisoner I’ve ever met, because I feel it’s important for him to think that I mix with ex-cons all the time and that’s why I’m so wys*.

“Where were you then?”

“I moved from place to place” he says.

Cryptic silence.

“Um, why do they move prisoners?” I hear myself say, all the while presuming it’s because of some kind of shanking or equally wicked activity.

“Well”, he says, “I wuss in prisin for eight yeears and I got tieyid of the fighting and violence and killing and I aksed them to move me away from the gengs”.

My mind is reeling at the words “eight years”** but I interject with an old, lame tactic I hope everyone uses and that isn’t unique to my lame-ass.

I relate to this dear, wretched man. You know, to make him feel like I understand him entirely.

“I hear you”, I say, “eventually all the violence, killing and fighting just gets too much.”

WTF?!?!?!? For crying in a bucket, relating to your girlfriend when she’s had an argy-bargy with her bloke is one thing, but for hamcheesesakes, did I really think this guy was going to believe I had ANY idea what true violence was? I think of showing him my tattoos just to prove to him that deep down we’re all the same but then imagine him inwardly scoffing at my timid little snowflake ink.

I realised something else alarming. When you’re polite to someone, its really tricky to suddenly be rude. Like say if you were getting a bit nervy and wanted to walk away.

What I sincerely wanted to say to Mr PrisonTattoos is “well this has been a smashing conversation, but I’d like you to leave now and go home so that when my kids come ashore you’re long gone.”

But I don’t say that. We carry on talking and, to my horror, my kids come towards us.

Adding to my horror, I hear myself (who, for the love of God has taken over my mouth?!?!) say to my sons, a la Tannie-en-Oom-styl*** “say hello to the nice gentleman” when what I really wanted to say was “Run! Run for your lives!”

This surely takes the proverbial cake. As much as my fantasies of a Pygmalion-type scenario playing out are entrenched, surely one HAS to draw the line at protecting one’s kids?

In desperation, I fabricate another fantasy.

“Guys, we have to leave right now. Dad will be home shortly and we’re going out”. I think of adding “To Rio. Forever”, but think better of it because then MrPrisonTattoos might think we’re loaded and try to shank us for some money.

Equally fantastically, for once the boys don’t ask a million questions about where we’re going? And why we had to leave the beach so soon? And why dad would be home so early? I suspect they could smell my fear.

Between the look of MrPrisonTattoos and my fear, TFTF and MrPP asked a million questions on the drive between the beach and home (did I mention we took a 26km detour via Scarborough? You know, incase this wicked man was following us …on foot.)

For the next 48 hours I fielded a million questions from the boys regarding prisons, prisoners and gangs, causing me to Google things like ‘prison tattoos - meaning’, ‘number gangs’ and ‘what to say when you meet an ex-gangster.

But apparently you don’t say anything to an ex-gangster. Because there’s no such thing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

the tao of pooch (thank you Benjamin Hoff)

Ah, the 2013 roundup. Highlights include passing my exams (halleloooyaah!), mastering a back flip on the trampoline (that’s a lie – I did master the fantasy of it though), learning how to eat humble pie with chopsticks and (namedrop-namedrop) bumping into Die Antwoord on the beach (they’re a lot nicer in real life than what they seem... but that’s a story for another day). 

Mmm, what else… ah yes, joining Instagram. Consequently it comes as no shocker that ‘selfie’ was the Word of 2013. When I first signed up I was truly alarmed at the amount of selfies there are out there. Seriously, it’s an epidemic of sorts. And slightly weird, especially if you’re scantily clad. What I also can’t believe is how many photos there are of dogs on Instagram. And what can I say, scoffing be damned, I’ve actually become one of them.

A couple of months ago we bought – much to the mirth of our friends – not one, but two Jack Russell puppies. From the get-go I have been rather smitten with them (seriously, who doesn’t love a puppy?) My romance with them was fueled only more by their constant presence at my side whilst I studied for my exams. It was somehow calming to look at them sleeping peacefully and think to myself “Mmm, one day when I’m a dog and I won’t have to write exams EVER AGAIN”. 

Recently, whilst watching them play in the golden light of early evening (think ‘Hallmark card image with soft edge editing’), I decided (with the aid of insight that only strong whiskey can provide) that there must surely exist such a thing as ‘Dog Philosophy’. So far, here is what I’ve learnt from our little ankle biters…

1. Always start the day with a nap, followed by a quick pee, a short burst of energy and then another nap.

2. Growl, fight and bare your fangs, but when you’re done, shake it off, walk away and act as if nothing ever happened.

3. Take a nap.

4. Feel free to run about wildly but allow yourself plenty of short breaks to smell the … well, just to smell anything, really.

5. Be sure to take a nap when you return from your wild running.

6. Explore the world to your heart’s content, but always have a bowl of clean water and nice home with a soft bed that you can come home to.

7. Because you’ll want to take a nap.

8. Use your ‘cute face’ to its full advantage.  Folk are bound to help you when you make an effort.

9. Happiness lies in taking plenty of naps.

10. When at first you come across a stranger, act brave and show your swagger. Then, when you get to know them better, show them your soft side and be really nice.

11. And then take a nap.

12. Beware of old dogs. They’re often sore which makes them cranky and being cranky makes them sore. Best to sniff them politely and then move on swiftly.

13. Suggest they take a long nap.

14. Beware of very young dogs.  They can be nippy and yappy and if you spend too much time with them you will end up chasing your tail.

15. Insist on a nap.

16. Be grateful for the food you have but never give up hope that something more exciting may appear. (See point 8 re: “cute face”).

17. Nap.

18. If someone fences you in, push the boundaries or dig around it.

19. But if you can do neither, take a nap.

20. Never stop being curious. It may lead you to a snake in the grass but it may also lead to who knows what kind of exciting things.

21. Nap again.

22. Greet the people you love as if you haven’t seen them in years, even if you only saw them 5 minutes ago. It just makes them feel nice. 

23. Nap with them.

24. If you are made to wear a leash, pull against it with all your might so at least you have the lead. 

25. Nap a while.

26. When someone opens a door for you, take the gap. You never know if it will open up again.

27. On your return, take a nap.

28. Take all the pee breaks you can get. You never know when it will no longer be your choice to keep it in or let it out (see point 12 re: ‘old dogs’).

29. Nap in between pee breaks.

30. Finally – and I wish I knew who original author of these wise words was  – ‘treat every problem as your dog would: if you can’t eat it or hump it, piss on it and walk away”.

31. And then, most certainly, take a nap.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


(Unedited sourced from

On the rare occasion that my parents would host a dinner party (my mum doesn’t like entertaining because “things get messy”) my mum would caution my dad to  “stay away from sex, politics and religion!” If she were inclined to host any dinner parties in 2013, she’d be wise add to that list “and food, for the love of God stay away from talking about food!” 

Who knew that food and nutrition could be the topic of such heated debate? If you’d have told me when I was a teenager that I’d be sitting around at dinner parties sagely discussing the ins and outs of what passes through our digestive systems, I would have scoffed in disbelief. Yet, here we are.

In fact, it would seem that food and diet is THAT much of a hot topic (hot, that is unless you’re a raw-foodarian or a fruitarian) that folk simply cannot agree to disagree.

I was reminded of this a few weeks when I went to a friend’s house for a braai. One of the moms was warming up her baby’s food. This was enough of a cue for another one of the moms (let’s call her “Perfecticia”) to launch into an ‘enlightening’. “Oh, I’m so glad you didn’t nuke it” Perfecticia quipped. I immediately wondered what she would have said if the other mom HAD chosen to nuke it? As I silently tallied up the thousands of things I’ve nuked in my life, I considered pointing out – in my defence so to speak – that our home-economics teacher DID, after all, tell us that nuking was both the most nutritional AND economical way of cooking. (True, she didn’t use the word NUKE, she said microwave, because it was the 80’s and people were more concerned with the size of their shoulder-pads than nutrition.)

Instead of adding my two cents, I immediately came down with a fierce attack of FOGI (Fear of Getting Involved) because I know from experience that these conversations have a way of luring you in, only to leave you with bad indigestion. Oh the irony!

Lets see, there was the time that BK and I got into a discussion about margarine vs. butter.  He’d been told that his cholesterol was a little high and that he should switch to “magic margarine” (it’s not really called that but I’m not allowed to say what it IS called or I’ll get sued.) I won’t tell who was batting for marg and who was batting for butter because that will only spark more fights in cyberspace, but what I will say is that things got THAT heated that Mr. PP has banned us from having the Margarine VS Butter discussion EVER AGAIN. To quote: “I don’t want you and Dad to talk about margarine and butter EVER AGAIN.”

Then there was the time that BK and I mentioned at a family dinner that we’d just read Tim Noakes’ book, ‘Challenging Beliefs’ (ehem, the clue is in the name). We expressed that we found it interesting - food for thought if you like. Well, things got uncomfortably animated – so much so that that we all imposed a silent, autonomous ban on ever discussing food ever again at family dinners. Does food wield enough power that even mentioning a high-fat-no-carbs diet can cause a family rift?

But back to the braai. After the nuking comment, I glanced at my tumbler of whiskey, furiously hoping that it looked like freshly squeezed apple juice. Little did I know that things weren’t going to rest at nuking. Perfecticia was on a roll and her next point of attack was …. honey. Apparently (I didn’t know this ~ the honey-Philistine person I am) unless honey is pure and raw and made through the efforts of tiny eunuch bees who journey to flowery pastures that are untouched by human hands to harvest virginal pollen from wild blossoms, honey is a no-go. ‘Fuckit’, I thought, ‘is this woman going to ruin EVERY food group for me?’ The next day I went to price some of this “holy-honey” and all I can say is it would be cheaper to buy a honey farm, redecorate it and host an enormous pool party, than buy 500ml of raw honey.

The alarming thing is, I actually used to consider myself healthy but nowadays, I just can’t compete. I can’t compete with lettuce grown in soil that is aerated by a million tiny Buddhist earthworms that chant as they go about their business. I can’t compete with raw vegetables washed in the tears of a thousand doves (peace doves, of course.) And whereas I’m happy to buy Himalayan crystal salt (more for the fun colour of it), I’m not entirely convinced that those cheeky little Himalayanese don’t cook up crappy store bought salt, add a touch of cochineal and laugh like drains as they rake the cash in at our expense. I mean who is to know it even comes from the Himalayas? And if it DOES come from the Himalayas, surely that makes it even worse? Won’t the Himalayas just cave in one day because all the salt has been removed from their inner cavities?

Although people like Perfecticia make it sound as though they’re colluding with you, blow me down if it doesn’t come across as more of a lecture. Food-snobbery in disguise. Don’t be fooled.  Not only is it a lecture, but it’s actually a kind of a boast. Which calls to mind dear old Gwynny Paltrow’s cookbook that suggests ingredients I’ve never even heard of, let alone can actually buy. And the ingredients I can get my hands on, cost as much as private schooling for all the children of a small country. Naturally (see what I did there---) this puts food into a WHOLE DIFFERENT LEAGUE.

And all I can say is my mom has no bloody idea how lucky she is to have been a meal-maker in an era when serving frozen veg to your kids was considered healthy, because truly, there is only so much insanity around food you can endure before you become completely insane yourself. Though for me, in truth, it may already be too late.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

chef off...


Travel wanker alert… BK and I recently(ish) returned from a short stint in Bali. I was a little anxious about going because I knew (being a conference and all) that I would have to make small talk for a certain amount of the time and I can only make small talk for so long before feeling claustrophobic and need to be on my own for a bit. Small talk aside, I was very excited about the trip because a) it was a 5 star and all expenses paid b) it was Bali, and I was born for island holidays and most importantly, c)  I would not have to cook for 6 days.

One of the cool things about the trip is that the conference organisers made sure that all details were a secret – all very cloak and dagger. All we knew was that there were a few soirees and two mornings of planned conference type activities with the spouses doing a special “spouse activity” on one of these mornings.  Of course, this led to speculation about what the organisers had up their sleeves. I was hoping that it didn’t involve things like obstacle courses on the beach or – horror of horrors – a Sexy Spouse Competition.  I jokingly commented to one of the other spouses that in actual fact, the only thing worse than a Sexy Spouse Competition would be if we were to take part in some kind of cooking event.

You can imagine my alarm then, when they announced that we were to spend the morning with none other than Adam Liaw, winner of MasterChef Australia 2010. (Truth is, up till then I’d never heard of him but I’m getting slightly name droppy here.) I got all sweaty under the armpits when I imagined that he might ask each one of us to volunteer the dish we most like to cook, given that my culinary skills extend mostly to fish fingers. For that reason, I headed to the furthest point from his demo table.

Now don’t get me wrong, as appalled as I was at having to spend a morning in paradise cooking, I was very interested in what Adam had to say. After all, I like to think that he’s more than earned his cooking stripes and I was banking on him imparting a lot of “short cuts to brilliant cooking”. Not only was he a mine of information but he genuinely came across as a really lovely man. (Though quite honestly, any man that can cook is lovely, innit?)

No sooner had we sat down when two of the women opposite me started WHISPERING. No, not in subtle, muted tones. In LOUD WHISPER tones which, as you know, is practically the same as shouting.  At first I was forgiving.  Perhaps they were very excited about Adam Liaw and were sharing their excitement. Perhaps they were SO excited that they needed to pee and were clarifying the direction of the WC.

As the LOUD WHISPERING progressed, I tried to zone it out. You know, be the bigger Bali cook, so to speak. But when the LOUD WHISPERING got sharper and more animated I could no longer stand it. To make matters worse, it was now highly punctuated with a nasally whine.

By now the entire table was privy to the fact that both of these LOUD WHISPERERS had had argie-bargies with their spouses. (Surely it’s illegal to fight in a paradise? Surely you can put it off any kind of arguments until real life resumes?) We came to the conclusion that the LOUD WHISPERERS had mislaid their sense of decorum in transit, somewhere between the countries of Self-Absorbedoon and F#%&ing-Rudonia.

I attempted some deep, meditative breathing. It didn’t work and as I could truly no longer zone out their chatter, I thought I’d give a discreet EHEM. Nope, no response.  Not even a blip on their radar. By now, all the other women at the table were wriggling in their chairs, pained expressions on their faces, willing the other two with all their might to SHUUUUT THE FUUUUCK UUUUP.

Finally, one of the other (non-whispering) women at our table declared, “I think the bar’s open, perhaps we should have some wine”. I wanted to kiss her. Unaccustomed as I am to drinking before noon, I saw no other way forward and promptly downed one Bintang and three gin and tonics. Sadly, I don’t remember how to make Malaysian Chicken Satay’s but I do remember that Adam Liaw is lovely and that you should never talk during a cooking demo.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the voice...


As I was leaving yoga class the other day, I got chatting to one of the other class members. After a while, I realised that I was using a “voice” on her, specifically, a “gushy-uber-friendly” voice. This got me thinking about all the different types of voices we use in different circumstances.

As the youngest of four children, many of my mannerisms and speech habits have been infused with those of my older siblings – so much so that when all four of us are together I suffer a bit of an identity crisis.

When I’m with my oldest sister I use my slightly theatrical voice, because that is how she is. When I’m with my other older sister, I switch and use my philosophical voice, because that’s how she is. When I’m with both of them at the same time I have to keep switching between a theatrical and philosophical voice. Sometimes, but not always, one of them will make it easier and switch to the other one’s voice so that we’re all using the same voice. Finally, when I’m with my brother I use my “dude-all-about-the-bro” voice, because he’s a dude and a bro.  He’s also a headmaster though so sometimes our voices get a bit headmasterish. Unlike his, however, my “headmaster” voice isn’t very convincing.

I good voice to start with is the “telephone voice”. I know for a fact that EVERYBODY has a “telephone” voice. Take my Dad’s telephone voice, for instance. It’s very loud.  Though I’ve tried to explain that the very point of the device is so that one doesn’t, in fact, have to shout, he insists on using his LOUD voice. As you can imagine, this gets worse when he’s talking on a cell phone because as you know cell phones are less connected than landlines so you have to be LOUDER. In fact, the LOUD telephone voice is common to lots of men. Sometimes it is accompanied by what I have affectionately named “the-tea-pot-arm”.  I’m not sure what purpose the elbow in the air serves but I suspect it might be some kind of make-shift antennae. You know, so you don't have to shout quite so loud.

Naturally, the type of’” telephone” voice used depends on whom you’re calling and why.  If it’s a professional call, I like to sound as if I single handedly run the JSE. It’s a very “all-about-business” voice. However, if I’m phoning someone I need help from (like Telkom or M-Web), I’ll use a cross between my “business” voice and my “Being-so-nice-to-you-you-have-to-help-me” voice. This is not to be confused with a “begging” voice, which is mostly used on traffic cops. My middle older sister is very good at the “Being-so-nice-to-you-you-have-to-help-me” voice and no matter how annoyed she gets with the person on the other end, she manages to hold her “angry voice” back until after the call has ended and then all kinds of hellish potty mouth language breaks out.

Another common voice is the “nice-to-meet-you” voice.  As it’s name implies, it is used most prolifically on first meetings. It’s a complicated voice to perfect - you have to project equal amounts of confidence and humility. You also have to sound genuine, which is difficult because you really don’t know if it IS nice to meet someone until you get to know them a little better.

Sometimes, people get confused and use an inappropriate voice for the occasion. This brings us to the “know-it-all” voice.  This often sneaks in when people meant to use their “nice-to-meet-you” voice but their confidence has overridden their humility. However, it has to be said that this voice is definitely adopted by most people at some point and by some people all of the time.  It’s generally accompanied by body language such as: wagging fingers, leaning forward, leaning back or hands on hips, or all of the aforementioned. The paradox with this voice is that it’s normally used at exactly the moment when the speaker doesn’t, in fact, “know-it-all”. As proof of this, I can’ honestly state that I have often used it can confirm that I know almost nothing about anything.

Then there’s the “I’m-not-a-complainer” voice.  This is normally saved up for health professionals but can be used anywhere, not just in the doctor’s rooms.  It’s a mix between a “slightly-sick” voice (you know, the one you use to phone into the office when you’re on “sick” leave) and a “sigh-that’s-just-the-way-life-is” voice. Sometimes, people are so good at this voice that you don’t realise until after they’ve gone that they’ve actually been having ONE BIG, FAT WHINGE.

The “hipster” voice is mostly used by hipsters on hipsters, on young people by young people, or on young people by old hipsters. The latter is the most funny because the old person thinks that if they use their hipster voice on young people, the young people will mistake them for being young. For optimal results, this voice goes hand in hand with appropriate young-person slang (words like “sick”, "random" and “awkies”). I try out this voice a lot and I have to say that it hardly ever works.

Last but not least, there’s voice that’s my pet hate. It’s the “fun-girl” voice and I think we all know someone who uses it. It’s generally used by a certain kind of girl who is not fun at all. She will mostly use it around blokes and the subtext is: “I’m so fun, I’m like one of the boys but so sexy that I’m irresistible”. This voice is heavily encoded with innuendos and will make use of suggestive phrases such as, “Oh dear, I forgot to put on underwear today” or “Do you think this dress is too see-through?”. Strictly speaking, all women should have outgrown this voice in their early twenties but blow me down if I don’t see full on “mature” women trying to use it. No matter how “fun” they may make it seem, don’t use this voice. Ever.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

up with yoga...

(image from

Sjoe*. It’s been a while.  I took an unpaid leave of absence from my blog ( -- laughs hysterically at the word “unpaid” --) given that nothing really newsworthy has happened of late.  To be fair, there was the recent event when BK** did a grocery shop and came home with four, yes FOUR, blocks of cheese. He’s either privy to some important developments in the cheese industry or he’s planning on abandoning the family, taking mostly cheese with him. (He has also gone quite mad with Blitz firelighters. Is there to be an embargo on them?)

Other noteworthy events involve injury and operations. My Mom and Dad have both had back operations, my father in law has had a knee replacement, BK has to have a shoulder operation (thanks to ‘self-coaching’ himself at snowboarding), my sister has torn her calf muscles and I have foot issues.  I’d just like to make it clear that all of these things have absolutely nothing at all to do with getting older.

Because my foot has forced my hand, so to speak, I’ve had to quit teaching my “Jane Fonda” classes and seek out new forms of exercise that don’t include any “jumping type” moves. It’s probably high time that I tried something new anyway - heaven knows the other shit hasn’t been working. Thus, I embarked on what will be known as my YOY, otherwise known as my Year of Yoga.

My only previous brush with yoga was when I was around 9 years old.  I went to a class with my friend “Rebel” because our moms used to attend yoga classes twice a week and they once invited us to come along. At the time we thought it was because they desperately wanted us to join in but retrospect I realise it was just because it was school holidays and they had no one to babysit us.

Honestly, they could have warned us about the chanting. We started off the class with an Aaaaaaauuuuuuummmm and Rebel and I just couldn’t stifle the giggles.  Apparently giggling and yoga don’t go because it’s tricky to balance when you’re shaking.

But back to my YOY. I looked up times of yoga classes and found words like “Hatha”, “Bikram” , “Ashtanga” and Vinyasa. To me, these sound like spices you might add to a curry…. “Just add a teaspoon of bikram and a pinch of ashtanga to bring out the hatha in your curry”.

Then I saw one class called “Kundalini”. Now “kundalini” is one of those words like “epiphany” or “existentialism” – I sort of know what they mean but even so, I keep on having to look them up.

I realized my first mistake as soon as I walked in. My shiny lycra leggings were hopelessly out of place, glaring even, amongst the sea of yogi’s who were all dressed in flowing, white garments. Then I noticed that everyone was seated in a circle. As we all know, circles can only mean trouble because circles are expectant things as there’s always that pressure of “you’re next” and not knowing what “next” would entail, I was a little on edge.

To make matters worse, the instructor and some of the other yogi’s were wearing white turban type things allowing no hair to show. Were these needed for cushioning when we stood on our heads? Did this mean that my unruly hair was offensive? (Though to be sure, for someone with my kind of wild hair, a turban is actually a great solution.)

I did my best to look very at home - as if I do this sort of thing all the time but at another yoga studio - but I couldn’t keep the panic at bay when the chanting started. Unconvincingly, I pretended to know the words but
that feeling of being at church and not knowing the psalm lyrics came flooding back to me and I hoped like hell that the circle didn’t mean that we were chanting “in a round” where the person next to you sings a little bit and then you have to know the bit that comes next.

Luckily for me it didn’t come to that, but what it did come to was a series of breathing exercises that in kundalini circles are referred to as “fire breathing”.  It involves a lot of short sharp breaths and the tricky part is that you have to suck your tummy in on the out breath and push it out on the in breath. This is all good and well when done at a leisurely pace but done at speed, it made me feel like I was trying to rub my tummy and pat my head at the same time.  What followed was a series breaths that sounded as if I was sobbing as I tried to co-ordinate my tummy going in and out. By the time we were done with the “release the ego” set I was a hyperventilating mess of bulging eyes. The only thing that I was pretty sure I’d released was my muffin top.

Then there was more poses and more chanting but these are all a blur as I was feeling a little lightheaded by now and though the “frog squats” weren’t entirely unfamiliar (think peeing in the bush), the other stuff just seemed reeeaaaalllly uncomfortable.

Finally, instructor got us in a pose that I will refer to as “the exorcist”. We had to kneel (as if in prayer – it should have been a sign), push our pelvis forward and drop our arms down to our sides and backwards so that they could grasp our upturned heels. I’ll say that again…grasp our upturned heels. It was all very well getting in to that position but after two minutes of posing like that, there was no bloody ways I could get my body out of it again.  It was as if the wind had changed and my body would stay bent backwards like that forever. I remember smiling at the person next to me, silently begging them to push me over on to my side so that I could release myself. As I saw it, it was the only way. No one helped me and I’m pretty sure I heard some sniggering. 

I realise now that aiming for a whole YEAR of yoga is a bit ambitious. However, I will continue to search for my inner yogi. After all, you never know when you’ll have to do a back-bend to reach for something in the grocery store.

*This is a SAFA word for “wow” or other similar exclamaition. It’s pronounced as if a Frenchman says “Shoe” (the ‘oe’ part said a little clipped)

**BK a.k.a BestKisser, for those that are new to the blog