Tag Archives: technology

DESERTED SHOPPING MALLS


 

 

 

 

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Have you ever visited your local mall, and found it almost deserted, and very dimly lit? This was my experience today and it was distinctly eerie.
Shop doors locked, and in many cases, steel shuttered. Subdued lighting. Very little sound. I’m sure we can all agree that shopping malls are always bright and loud– very noisy, a combo of voices, music, public announcements, clacking heels, shopping trolleys rattling wheels, wailing kids, people yelling into their cell phones because of the noisy surroundings.
But not today. I approached the Help Desk at the entrance and asked the young lady: What’s going on? Where is everybody?

To her credit she managed a small smile, and told me Eskom was load-shedding in their area today. I pointed up at the ceiling lights and said: And these?

Our Generators, she crisply replied. She waved a typed list at me and announced that the businesses on the list would be operational today, despite lack of power. To my relief, I saw the name of my Bank on the list. My primary reason for visiting the mall was to withdraw money. So much for the secondary idea of a leisurely coffee and maybe a sinful slice of cake.

 

But relief died rapidly when I approached the escalator to reach my First Floor bank. Blocked off. Stationary. No service today due to load shedding. There is no staircase linking ground floor and the banking hall. Okay – so that meant I had to join the crowd of people patiently waiting for the one and only lift. Ummmmm. What if the generator ran out of diesel and marooned us between floors? What if/what if/what if ????

 

Get a grip, woman! barks my mental sergeant-major. I shuffle into the lift and sardine myself into the last tiny space. Good thing I’m small, hey?

 
The banking hall was in low light gloom, and almost empty, barring for the two security guards having a happy chat at the other end, oblivious to all else. So absorbed were they, I don’t think a herd of elephants trooping past would have registered.

 
The bank doors were firmly shut – chained actually, never mind shut! But two ATMs beamed out beacons of light. I nervously inserted my card and went through the cash removal routine, praying that the machine wouldn’t eat my card – I’m due to leave on a three week trip in two days’ time, so this is no time to go ten rounds with the Bank to extract my vanished card. But for once, disaster decided to leave me alone and swooped down on some other hapless person.

 
I scuttled out of the cavernous, dystopian gloom at speed. I noted, grimly, that despite there being no interior power, the external power was still operating the flippen’ parking ticket machines, exit booms and so on – free parking on a power-down day? Nah. In our dreams.

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR

REMEMBERING ANTHONY BOURDAIN


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The following post appeared on this blog in September 2012, and today it seems fitting to re-post it. I suspect my readership has done a 360° turnaround since I posted it. It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve read it before or not. I’m posting it in memory of Anthony Bourdain who has entertained me for years, and I’m truly sad to learn of his suicide in France, on Friday 8 June, 2018. He was a one-off, an original. I’m a fan, and always will be . I enjoyed his zest for life and food. I shall miss him.

 

 

MEDIUM RAW by Anthony Bourdain is sub-titled “a Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook” .I’m pretty sure if the Publishers felt they might get away with it the sub-title would have read “A F—-ing Valentine etc” because the F-word is Bourdain’s favourite word, he uses it in almost every paragraph, he uses it adverbially, he uses it adjectivally, he uses it as a verb. He has even invented a collective noun ‘clusterf…’ to describe gatherings of hungry journos and industry peeps. This is not a book to tuck into your maiden aunt’s Christmas stocking. But if you love food, cooking and eating then open the book and prepare to be entertained, astonished and illuminated.
Anthony Bourdain was the Bad Boy of New York chefdom, some years ago, and hit the headlines with his first culinary exposé “Kitchen Confidential”, which was a riveting account of cheffing, boozing, drugging, oh – and cooking. Some twelve years later he’s calmed down quite a bit (he recently married and now has a baby daughter with whom he is besotted); he wrote more books, got onto TV as a hit show host (No Reservations – Around the world on an empty Stomach) and he writes foodie columns for top-end magazines & newspapers in the US.
Now he’s laying into the food industry with his customary verve – he must have as many – if not more – enemies than friends. There’s a chapter in Medium Raw titled ‘Heroes & Villains’ in which he names names and plunges in with gusto. He’s opinionated, outrageous, opinionated, funny, opinionated, philosophical, opinionated and passionate and loves nothing more than a good rant. You should read his indictment of the beef industry in the US and what goes into a hamburger. You will never eat another hamburger that you have not personally prepared, this I promise you.
For all his fearless bravado, it has to be said that when it comes to food, the man writes like a dream. There’s a chapter appropriately titled ‘Lust’ where he describes dishes he’s eaten all over the world – Borneo, Singapore, Italy – never mind the location; when I’d finished reading that chapter the pagers were covered in drool …. he describes this type of writing as ‘food porn’. He’s not wrong – I nearly had an orgasm.
I’m a great Bourdain fan, but I’m glad he’s not mine. He may be long, lean and devilishly good-looking, but Mrs B is welcome to him. I reckon she’s got her hands full!

 

 

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Filed under BOOK REVIEWS, FOOD, SOCIAL COMMENT

HEAVENLY GARDENS


Occasionally a much anticipated outing exceeds expectation. For years I’ve wanted to see the annual Elgin Open Gardens event and this past weekend, Nina helped make my dream come true. On Sunday we drove out to Elgin to visit the gardens on show. The weather was perfect. Sunny and hot, with just enough breeze to offset the heat.
After reading the brochure giving a brief description of the 18 show gardens, we decided to limit ourselves to three gardens. As this was our first visit we weren’t sure of the distances involved, and this proved to be a wise move. Not that we traveled a huge distance overall, but driving on gravel farm roads when you don’t really know where you are going is time consuming. Plus half of Cape Town was also in Elgin to see the gardens, so traffic was often congested on the narrow gravel roads.
Elgin is famous for its apple orchards. Other deciduous fruits are grown in the area too, and the views of farms and estates were stunning. Here is a general view of the Elgin area, en route to Highlands Road.

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Another general view, this time from the hilltop area of the Auld Earn garden, with a protea bush (our national flower) in the foreground.

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And a close-up of the protea.

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Jenny Simpson’s plantswoman’s garden at Auld Earn was worth the slog up and down steep hills, along challenging narrow farm roads in our modest saloon car – how we wished for a rugged 4×4, but we got there in the end. And it was worth it for the views, and the riot of mixed plantings on the property.

 

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For me the highlight of our visit to Ridgelands, Elgin Vintners on Appletiser Road, was the charming and unusual Fairy Garden. It was set in a shady corner, planted with brilliant green ground cover and tiny delicate flowers, which formed the backdrop for the miniature figurines of fairies and woodland animals peeking out from the foliage.

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Nina had a ball photographing the many roses at Ridgelands, and to enjoy more of  her pics  see the link below. Here’s a sample

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I’ve left the best until last. Fresh Woods – owners Peter & Barbara Knox-Shaw . Walking through the garden I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven! Here’s the description from the brochure:

Rambling, romantic plantsman’s garden with major collection of heritage & species roses; many rare trees & shrubs, some wild-collected, incl. rhododendrons (esp. Maddenias), serrata & wild hydrangeas, deutzias & over 70 Japanese maples; also collections of cyclamen, epimediums & lilies; woodland garden under pine. Bamboo walk. WFRS Award of Garden Excellence 2003. Featured in Remarkable Gardens of SA (2012); Gardens to Inspire (2013), Veld, Vlei & Rose Gardens (2011) and Old Roses: Survival & Revival in SA (2015).

The woodland setting provides enchanting, dappled shade, with twisty little footpaths leading to yet another surprise or treasure. I love azaleas and there were plenty, ranging from the small to the giant:

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Next to the bamboo grove was a tiny pond, guarded by giant leaves – an accurate description, when you see me standing next to the plants, to illustrate the size of the plants. Perhaps one of my readers will know the name of the giant plants ? I’m baffled.

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Who hasn’t dreamed of a leafy fragrant pergola? This one has blue/purple Petrea at the base, another of my favourites, with pink roses higher up, and wisteria as a roof. Gorgeous!

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But my favourite was the Japanese maple tree area. I loved the delicate leaves, that etch themselves so clearly against the background , while the different coloured foliage ranging from vibrant red to pastel spring green is breathtaking.

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I could rave on for hours but will stop here. We’ve already diarised the date in our 2018 diaries and can’t wait to go back next year. If you live in Cape Town, the event will be open for one more weekend only, 4 and 5 November 2017. Do not miss the opportunity!
All photos in this post are by Nina Ganci, and you can see more of her wonderful pics on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nina.ganci. Be sure to visit her page, as I’ve shown only a fraction of her pics .

 

 

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Filed under EXPLORING CAPE TOWN, TRAVEL

RANTING & RAVING : ELECTRONIC MISFITS


I’m feeling particularly grumpy at the moment on the subject of the electronic misfits who are causing me grief and pain, due to their inability to communicate electronically. In fact, they’re DRIVING ME NUTS.  And because I have my own blog, I have the luxury of ranting and raving about them to my heart’s content, possibly irritating my loyal readers in the process.  On the other hand maybe your lives are also being needlessly complicated by these social pests, and you may be applauding vigorously and shouting “Give that blogger a medal for telling it like it is!”

Here’s the Big Question: Why, oh why, do people give out their cell-phone numbers and their e-mail addresses if they have neither the intention nor the ability to use these tools? They will airily tell you, as if it were a laudable trait and they are much too busy and important to be bothered with such trivia:  Oh I never check my e-mail.  Or: I can’t be bothered with all those texts – it’s just a kids’ thing.  What they mean is: I don’t really understand technology and I’m too intimidated by it, or  too lazy, to learn to use it.

People –  here is a public broadcast: go to the nearest child, your grandchild, or anybody between the ages of 10 and 14 – and ask them to show you how. Trust me, they have texting down to a fine art. Watch them nimbly holding their phone in their palm, while texting rapidly with only two fingers of the same hand.

If you can’t understand the mechanics of e-mail, or can’t type, go on a course. Learn how! It’s not that difficult. You don’t have to be a wizard touch typist bashing away at 75 words per minute. Two fingers will do the trick.  In fact, I have a friend who is a professional writer, and he’s a two-finger typist. He churns out articles, book reviews and novels quite nicely thank you, despite his two-finger technique.  He also refuses to own a cell-phone, due to his hearing defect.  Now I have no problem with this approach: you can phone the man up on his landline and either he, or his answering machine will take the call.  Send him an e-mail, and you get an almost instant response. This is called communicating.

I send you a message, and you respond. As a system it works beautifully. Where the system breaks down is when people give you their cell-phone number, and then never respond to your text messages. Or they dish out their e-mail address and never check their mail, and your enquiries languish unseen and unanswered.

You may be wondering why I don’t phone up these electronic sluggards?  The reason is simple economics.  The cost of voice calls on my cell-phone and landline are very expensive, and I’m a pensioner, on a limited budget.  Text messages and e-mails are remarkably cheap, plus they are easy and above all, quick.

So, in conclusion: if you are a closet technophobe, unable to use electronic media effectively, then please, please, I’m begging you: don’t hand out your contact details.  You are causing endless delays and complications. And you’re sending my blood pressure into the stratosphere.

There. I’ve said it.  The chances of the culprits reading my rant are minimal. Because of their technophobia they will no more log on to this blog than fly in the sky unaided.

As for the rest of you – thank you for listening so patiently.

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Filed under SOCIAL COMMENT