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South Africa is not a safety country (hallelujah)

I did. Smile. Nonstop. Al die pad dwarsdeur end-uit.

What do you do with your toilet if there's no water?

This is a follow-up to my previous post about apocalyptic waterless Cape Town. "Toilets! What do?" I asked my friends. Ah, you apply a little rhyme that's now doing the rounds. You apply it everywhere, even in public toilets.

if it's yellow
let it mellow
if it's brown
flush it down

I'm continuing my own water-saving experiment, partly because I'm curious, partly out of sympathy with my beloved Cape Town. It's all very un-serious in my case, of course: yesterday, for example, I put a teabag in hot water and then -- as I do so frequently -- forgot about it. Usually I would've thrown it out. Yesterday I drank tepid tea. Every drop counts.

En as dit nie anders kan nie, is daar altyd Japannese whisky (al die pad saamgepiekel SA toe) en Klippies en plaaslike wyn.








Ek mis die niks

As jy van ver af aankom, sê maar van Skilpadtepel se kant af, dan sien jy eers niks, en na ’n rukkie nóg niks, en dan die kerk se kliptoring, en naderhand ook die troppie huise daar rondom. Hulle staan soos ’n klein skaretjie om ’n ongelukstoneel – almal wil bý wees maar niemand wil dit té naby waag nie. -- Oom Kootjie Emmer, André P. Brink Dis goed om my eie taal te lees. Daardie paragraaf herinner my so intens aan Kamieskroon, die Namakwalandse dorpie waar my ouma gewoon het; en die talle klein dorpies op die platteland in Suid-Afrika.






Day Zero: when Cape Town's taps are turned off

Sleet in Tokyo, 0 degrees Celsius, possibly colder in my north-facing apartment. Opened tap and warmed hands under running water until I remembered where I'm from. Cape Town. A city without water. They will run out of water ... soon, April, perhaps sooner, and there I was, indolently watching water spiraling down the drain.

South Africa: rich in natural resources, poor in water. Japan: zero natural resources, So Much Water.

I took these two photos of the Theewaterskloof Dam in January 2017, when there was still some water left. Now there's virtually nothing.




Capetonians have been asked to limit their water consumption to 50 liters a day. Here's how it breaks down:


Only a minority is currently following these guidelines. The rest: ignorant or selfish or stupid or all three.

"I can get my head around drinking water: you transport it by truck," I told my family. "I understand that you can do a hospital bath with Wet Wipes instead of a bath-bath. I accept that la…

Water crisis? But ... you've got a big lake!

I should be used to ignorance about South Africa -- or South Shithole, if you prefer -- but my students never fail to shock me into silence.

Office worker in her late 30s. Where are you from? Cape Town. Where is that? Cape Town in South Africa. South America? No, look at this map: this is South Africa and this is Cape Town. How about Cape Town? The latter is studentspeak for "I don't know anything about Cape Town; could you please tell me more; do you like it; if yes, what are you doing in Japan?"

I explain a bit. "Is it very hot?" I explain a bit more, and mention the current water crisis, which means my beloved city will run out of water in April.

The student looks at the map. "But," she says and points, genuinely puzzled, "you have a very big lake!"


A year that's already gone to the dogs

2018 is the year of the dog. I photographed these ema at Hie Jinja, which always has big variety of designs. Indigenous species such as the shiba inu and the Akita inu feature prominently.













An X-rated start to 2018 thanks to the Bearded Jizō (髭地蔵)

I really didn't mean to start the year in an X-rated fashion, but what's a woman to do when the situation arises unexpectedly?
You may recall … Well. You probably don't. This was six years ago, before the long hiatus, when I went on a few walkpeditions to find Tokyo's remaining phallic stones. It amused me – still does – that here in the heart of the city of robots and bullet trains you can still find old gods and ancient beliefs, hidden behind neon lights and artisan coffee shops.
There's a phallic stone in the heart of Ueno Park, and nobody knows about it. Or rather, very few do, and certainly no tourists.
It stands on Shōtenjima (聖天島), a small island next to Benten-dō in Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park. It's not easy to see it, though, because the island is fenced off and in a badly neglected state. 
If you look at it from behind, it looks like this …

… but it's not what you think it is. It's actually a Jizō figure. That's clear from the other side, but o…