There is a Monster in the House

By day it lurks behind a door in the garage. At night it comes to life with the turn of a key. It huffs and puffs. Its big red body shaking as it gobbles liters of petrol.  It growls and snorts, spewing out noxious fumes and noise. I hate it and I love it, for during 8 days of power outage it provided me with some light and comfort at night.

Yes, the monster is a generator.

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I  just moved into a new home, when disaster struck. A power substation in our area burnt down completely leaving large areas of the city in total darkness in the middle of winter.

Sabotage, some people say, cable theft shouts others, poor maintenance, says another, incompetent workmanship from another.

None of the above shouting and bickering changed the fact that we were without power and would be so for an extended period of time. On top of this it was in the middle of a cold front.

Then the monsters invaded the estate where I now live. Suddenly each house had its own monster . Some sat outside on the driveway, others in garages with slightly open doors to let out the noise  and fumes

The air around me filled  with  constant vibrating noise and the smell of exhaust gasses.  Peace and quiet were gone but light and comfort returned.

Even though the monster which was lent to me by a family member provided light and the ability to keep some appliances running, it was unable to warm water in the geyser.

Keeping clean became a daily chore. By the time I had enough warm water to fill the basin it was cool again, so wash in luke warm water I did.

At night no electric blanket  warmed the bed, To keep warm  I  dressed in more layers before going to bed. Even then I found it difficult warm up completely

After a few days people around me became grumpy and cross, No one wanted to put up with  the discomfort, the extra work and  the noise. We wanted power and the advantages of modern life back.

Then it dawned on me. This is how a large portion of the population in our country lives. Day by day in summer heat or winter cold they have to live without the comforts of modern living. In informal settlements, in poorly put together shacks with no services they make do with what they have.

No wonder they strike and toyi toyi ( a form of protest dance)  trying to get the government to pay attention and to provide them with better services.

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Although I will never understand why existing infrastructure  is burnt down and destroyed during protest action, I now do understand why people resort to such action.

I have power back and with it all the comfort I want, but others still have to do without while winter reigns with an icy hand.

Lesson learnt:

Never take comfort for granted and always remember others less fortunate than me.

The least I can do is to donate blankets and warm clothes whenever the opportunity arises.  To pray for our government for wisdom and insight in managing  the country.

What about you?

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Weekly Photo Challenge : Place in the World, Purple Haze

Place in the World

Pretoria South Africa also known as the Jacaranda city is my place in the world.

No matter how far and wide I travel ,when I come back to this city, I get that feeling of belonging. This is even more so in October when the city is covered in a purple haze  due to the flowering jacarandas.jak

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Accidental Working Ladies

Arrival, Birmingham UK 12h30 on Saturday.

After a long flight of 16 hours we arrive in a freezing Birmingham, expecting to be met by a name holding person who would transfer us to our hotel for the next  six days.

We emerge into the arrivals lounge with our luggage, to be met by many name holders, but none with our names on. Confused the little group of ten South Africans on the way to exhibit at the Birmingham Spring Fair stand around surrounded by luggage.

Then the project leader arrives.

She seems to be even more confused than we are. We wait she said.

We wait… and wait… and wait.

She phones … phones again… . and again.

We drink coffee … and more coffee…. and another.

No information, just confusion.

It is the service provider in South Africa’s fault, who didn’t organize the transfer to the hotel properly, we hear .

I hear: ” It is not my responsibility,  I am only the project leader”

Arrival, Ibis Budget Hotel Birmingham city centre: 19h00.

After five and a half  long hours we at last arrive at the hotel which is situated in the centre of the city, 45 minutes by car away from the exhibition hall at the NEC where we still have to set up our exhibition before 22h00 hours tonight.  We are exhausted having left South Africa 24 hours before.

The hotel foyer buzzes with action. Scantily clad young girls lounge around with seemingly no purpose except showing off their bodies. It takes me a little time to realize that we are in the centre of the red light district of Birmingham and these are working ladies on duty on a Saturday night.

But no time for thinking about this, the exhibition has to  be attended to. We receive our room keys. Ignoring the smell in the corridor and the stark hospital like look of the room we quickly change into warmer clothes, grab our bags and go.

Arrival,  lift:20h00

The lift opens to reveal a group of girls with even less clothes on than those in the foyer    I try to hide my shock and not stare at their outrageous outfits. We greet them and get into the lift.

What a sight it must have been,  Two ladies over sixty, bundled into jackets and scarves, grey with fatigue and hunger. No make up left after long hours of travel, hair clinging to scalps due to rain, among young bodies with lots of make up and little clothes.

“Where are you going”,  one of the young ladies ask.

“We are going to work”, we answer.

Shocked silence in the lift, Faces stare at us with knowing expressions.

Oh no.  Realization dawns, they think we are going to work the streets. We have just become  accidental working ladies!

Us? Two conservative Afrikaans ladies over sixty years of age? Working the streets?

We quickly correct them and explain that we are going to the NEC to set up our exhibition stall.

Once out of the lift and out of sight, we burst into laughter.

“Well I say. “Maybe we should take it as a compliment that they think we can still pull off such a feat”

 

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Maybe they thought we looked like this underneath our warm outer clothes ?