In January I went to India where I spent a month. January was all about Mumbai, and Pune where I lived and worked. I had an apartment to myself and commuted to work with a colleague on his motorbike. Experiencing India in all its fullness – the history, beauty and stark reality of masses of people living close to each other – is something that will always be in my heart. I will go to India again, of that I am sure. I have written before that you only get to go to India for the first time once. The next time I go, it will be different.
I spent half of February in India. I experienced a most delightful train ride through the morning fog from Delhi to Agra. After being dropped off at the Delhi station, we were “befriended” by a “policeman” (so he said, I still have my doubts!) who bought us some chai, tried to find out all sorts of personal information about us, and wrote in red pen, in Hindi, all over our train tickets. I was suspicious of his intentions. For all we knew he could’ve written some message that could’ve gotten us arrested or worse, kidnapped before getting on the train. I’ve obviously seen too many Hollywood movies and read too many horror stories about tourists getting scammed in foreign places, but it doesn’t hurt for 2 girls traveling on their own to be cautious. We got on the train and Agra safely, where I experienced the absolute beauty and awe-inspiring splendour of the wonder that is the Taj Mahal.
In March I bought my first bike, a 125cc pitbike which is a lot of fun. It has a 4-stroke motor, 4 gears, is zippy and not too heavy. The one disadvantage is that it is kick-start only, and the black and blue marks on my legs are evidence that kick-starting it is not my favourite part of riding this baby.
Ziplining with Magaliesberg Canopy Tours was an experience to be repeated, in other parts of the country. The feeling of letting go, putting all faith and trust in other people, and the thin cable …represented a freedom of being, a freedom from responsibility and a freedom to connect with nature. The guides were very safety conscious. They returned us safely to the Sparkling Waters hotel and were very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area.
April was the month of Easter, family, and The Eagles concert. The day was hot but the temperature quickly dropped in the late afternoon. As we waited for The Eagles to go on stage cold rain came down. No one got upset – the concert was worth getting cold and wet for. The whole stadium waited until the end of concert for them to play Hotel California – it was the last song they played. It was worth the wait! April was also the month of the bike course, and the month where 2 long-lost lovers were reunited after more than 20 years apart. Names shall be withheld to protect the innocent. The whole initial reunion was entirely filmed by yours truly, a memory I hope they will treasure. It was a special moment to have witnessed.
May is the month of my parent’s birthdays, 2 weeks apart. This means lots of family time. The leaves start falling off the trees as autumn in the southern hemisphere sets in. Lots of partying and socialising, lots of good food and drink. Naturally my wardrobe needed to be replenished for winter…
This was also the month where I reconnected with my very first friend in South Africa. We were neighbours in Germiston, and went to the same school. Every afternoon, after homework, one of us used to go to the wall separating our gardens and yell out each other’s name – the daily call to play.
More birthdays in June, more family time, and my very own drill. I love tools and have for a while now wanted to have my very own drill instead of having to ask my husband to borrow one. At Builders Warehouse one day, I naturally gravitated to the power tools section, and found this beauty in its own carry case. On special! I admit that I would’ve been happy with a kiddies drill, but green is my favourite colour…
As the winter set in, so did my mood. I don’t like the cold. I wish I could hibernate from June to August every year – I’d be much happier.
Pretty eventless July was. In between riding my bike and trying to keep warm I experimented with my camera. I took loads of arb photos, the arb-ness mirroring my boredom. Like a cat, weekends were spent finding pools of sunlight splashed over furniture to sit on, cradling hot mugs of tea in cold hands, iPad and Kindle nearby.
I also visited my nephew’s new school for 2013 (his first year of “big” school, grade RR) and was pleased to hear that they subscribe to the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy. It’s based on the belief that in the early developmental years children’s individuality is formed. It’s principles based, on the interests of children in a self-guided curriculum.
August, more birthdays, including a 21st birthday party at which I was the photographer. My first gig, non-professional, and I must admit that the photos came out rather nicely.
It also snowed in Joburg in drips and drabs. No soft white deep carpet. Nevertheless some people still managed to build a few snowmen. Very little work got done on that day, childish excitement spilling out in to a formal work setting.
After the snow, the weather started getting warmer and the moodiness of winter started to lift. I bought my second motorbike, a big boy Suzuki GSXR750, original colours, latest model, to ride on the track. Definitely the highlight of the month. How not to feel happy and exuberant after this?
September brought with it warmer weather and an 80th birthday party. The remaining family still in South Africa came together to celebrate this amazing and important milestone. There were speeches, a cake, and as usual I took loads of photos.
October my birthday month. I treated myself to a holiday in Namibia, revisit old haunts and reconnect with old friends. I deliberately flew into Windhoek so that I could make the drive to Swakopmund one of the highlights of my trip. The colours of Namibia change, subtly at first. Windhoek is bushveld and it was very dry. Blackened veld held evidence of recent fires. After Usakos and Karibib it starts to resemble a moonscape. Rocks are carelessly strewn around, barren and seemingly lifeless, like a land God made in anger. As the coast nears, a cloud of moisture starts to become visible in the far distance. The scape starts to smoothen out to beautiful dunes, golden and fiery red, soft sand giving way to harder gravel. The temperature has by this time dropped a full 10 degrees from what it was in Windhoek. I passed perhaps 1 car every 20kms. It was a soul trip lifting my emotions with each passing kilometre.
Lots happened in November. The euphoria of the Linkin Park concert. The hilarity of the ghost bus tour of Johannesburg – midnight at the cemetery in Bezuidenhout Park, a colleague posing, Bollywood style by a crumbling tomb. Visiting Freedom Park and an archaeological site at the Cradle of Humankind. First time at Arts on Main. Family time at Mbizi in Bela Bela.
It was also the month that my Dad spent 2 weeks in hospital, one of them in ICU. It was touch and go, and thankfully he is now over that and was back running the business with my brother within a week of getting home.
December and the month of Christmas, family and annual leave. I started my 5 weeks of leave on the 22nd of December. We had 2 Christmas celebrations, one with the family in Joburg and the other with the family in Knysna. Both were noisy, voices trying to make themselves heard over the din, making more even more din. The road trip took longer than usual, with enforced detours allowing us to get better acquainted with small plateland towns, and rain making things more interesting. A 5 minute torrential downpour just before Uniondale brought zero visibility. Thankfully our encounter with the humungous tortoise crossing the road happened when it was dry and visibility was good.