Posted by: Diakonos | 22/08/2018

‘n Pa

13418894_10154193537586768_6497878269581926424_n

Ekself, pa en my broer so iewers rondom 1970

Seker maar iets aan ouer word wat mens soms aan jou pa laat dink.  Myne het in Krakeelrivier, Langkloof, Oos-Kaap grootgeword. Al 16 jaar nie meer met ons nie, maar iemand wat ek altyd met groot respek sal onthou.

Nie maklik grootgeword nie, op 15 jaar oud, in Std 9 soos dit toe genoem is, sy eerste paar skoene gekry.  Baiemaal die storie vertel hoe hulle deur die riviertjie skool toe gestap het, en hoe die ys so onder hulle kaal voete gekraak het.

Oor skool het hy altyd ‘n paar stories vertel. Soos oor hoe hy ‘n patat as skoolkos saamgevat het skool toe. Dan na skool het hy by die huis 2 patats gekry. Een vir sy middagete en een vir sy pa op die lande – wat hy dan vir hom gevat het en sommer verder saam gewerk op die plasie ook.

Dan was daar die storie oor hoe sy pa hom einde Std 7 (Graad 9) uit skool wou haal. Die grondjie wat sy pa geboer het was nie eintlik groot genoeg om ‘n bestaan op te maak nie, en dit het maar skraps gegaan. ‘n Onderwyser (Kan glad nie onthou of my pa ooit sy naam genoem het nie, maar sou dit graag wou weet) het met my oupa gaan praat. Vir oupa oortuig dat pa nog ‘n jaar mag skoolgaan. Die prys was dat die onderwyser my pa se skoolgeld vir Std 8 betaal het! Einde std 8 was dit weer die selfde storie, met die onderwyser wat weer Std 9 se skoolgeld betaal het. Maar tevergeefs!

Middel Std 9, so rondom 1949, verkoop oupa die plasie, pa is uit die skool uit en hulle trek Uitenhage toe. Hele familie moet help kop bo water hou. Pa was die oudste seun (was nog 2 susters wat ouer was) en hy begin pos aflewer. Net ‘n paar maande later hoor hy dat SAMAD (South African Motor Assemblers and Distributors – deesdae Volkswagen) mense soek vir die nuwe model wat hulle gaan bou – die Studebaker. Pa jok oor sy ouderdom, want hy is nog nie 16 nie. Gelukkig nie baie gepla oor ID dokumente daardie jare nie, en pa kry werk by die motorfabriek. Sy eerste werk is om ‘n Studebaker se “Bullet nose grill” aanmekaar te sit.

Hier begin ‘n hele ander tyd vir pa. Hy verdien 5 pond en ‘n tiekie – en sy ma vat die 5 pond en los hom met die tiekie! Later jare is hy en my ma getroud en rondom 25 jarige ouderdom daag ek op. Pa besluit hy kan nie sy hele lewe karre aanmekaar sit nie (toe al VW Beetles) en begin by die “Tek” (Tegniese kollege) aandklasse loop om sy matriek te kry. My vroegste herinneringe aan hom was dat ek hom net naweke gesien het. Hy is uit die huis in die oggend voor ek wakker geword het. Van werk af “Tek” toe. Dan by die huis gekom as ek al geslaap het.

Een of twee keer as ek wakker was as hy laataand by die huis gekom het, onthou ek hoe hy reguit na die yskoue koffiekan – my ma het koffie in ‘n ketel met ‘n sak gemaak – gestap het en sommer so uit die tuit uit die yskoue koffie gedrink het.

Om ‘n lang storie kort te maak, hierdie pa het sy matriek gekry, later sy ingeneursgraad deur die pos by die Universiteit van London verwerf.

In 1968 toe VW sy heel eerste rekenaar kry, werk pa al in die “work study” departement by VW. Die departement behartig die installering van die rekenaar. Toe die personeel rekords gerekenariseer word, korrigeer pa sy geboortedatum op die sisteem!

Respek vir my pa? Beslis!!

Advertisements
Posted by: Diakonos | 27/01/2016

South Africans in Europe – Part 3

23768438320_9e192dd41b_oArchitecture, buildings, OLD buildings… For a South African tourist, with our relatively recent history, that remains one of the impressions of Europe. The oldest building in South Africa that remains in use (not ruins somewhere) is the Castle of Good Hope. That was built between 1666 and 1667. When one then walks down a small street in the Altstadt (old city) in Esslingen, Germany, and sees a notice on a building that is was built in 1232, it comes as a sort of shock… What is more of a shock is that people are still living in it! In fact, the oldest house still inhabited in Germany is in Esslingen!

Then, in the same part of Esslingen is the Palmscher Bau Restaurant. According to the story on the menu, the house was destroyed in a fire in 1701, rebuilt in the same style the same year. Later the family ran a post office on the ground floor, and in 1862 they received a license to run a restaurant. It is still being run today as a very nice restaurant! And this is not the only example. They abound in Esslingen, and I’m sure, in other parts of Europe.

Compared to medieval Esslingen, Paris is a relative youngster! Old Paris was prone to fires, cramped and dangerous. In fact is is described as “chaotic, overcrowded, dark, crime-ridden, dangerous and unhealthy”. Emporer Napoleon III instructed public administrator, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, to rebuild the city. So duly, between 1853 and 1870, a massive urban renewal project was undertaken. Over 350,000 people were relocated, whole neighbourhoods were demolished and rebuilt. What resulted is the Paris we see today. A Paris of boulevards, circles, monuments and magnificent buildings. This work wasn’t carried out without opposition of course. In 1870 Napoleon dismissed Haussmann, who had become very unpopular, although work on his project carried on right until 1927.

Haussmann used the Seine river as the basis from where he planned his street outlay. This means that there is some logic, but it escaped us! Go for a walk at night in the 20th arrondissement (district) and see how quickly you go for a tour of places you actually didn’t plan to go to! (I never get lost, we only go on unplanned tours!) It leads to interesting sights as well, like seeing the Eglise Notre Dame de la Croix church at night, but also the “working ladies” along the Boulevard de Belleville! (Who incidentally, from a cursory glance, mostly seemed to be from Asian origin!) Thank heavens for the Paris Metro which is logical (once you learned one or two rules in using it). We didn’t walk home, we took the Metro, after a 4km “tour” my feet were sore!

For some photos of the sights and architecture of Paris and Esslingen am Neckar click on the respective city names.

[disclaimer – remember the words from the first blog in this series: “our comments is about what we experienced around there and how we saw things – not representative of the whole of France, Germany or the Netherlands.]

Posted by: Diakonos | 20/01/2016

South Africans in Europe – part 2

As promised in the previous post, let me get that favourite South African topic of security out of the way! We expected a very safe Europe, except for all the blogs warning about pickpockets! Then the 13 November attacks happened, and we were reminded that on 21 August there was an attack on a Thalys train as well – and we were going to use the Thalys and TGV to visit family in Holland and Germany as well!

So, as per some blog warnings AND a request on the Thalys website, we arrive 30min before the TGV was due to depart for Germany from Paris, expecting security checks, etc. Well, we waited and nothing happened. Then about 15 min before we were due to depart that announcement came as to on which platform our train was. We walked down, got on the train – no security checks, not even a check of our tickets! In fact, it was only a little bit before Strasbourg, just before the border with Germany, that our tickets were checked. Coming back to Paris a few days later it was the same again. Got on, got off, tickets checked onboard, nothing else.

So, about a week later it was the Thalys’ turn for a trip from Paris to family in Holland. Ok, this was what we expected – tickets and passports checked, luggage scanned, proper security. A few days later, returning from Amsterdam to Paris – zip, nada, nothing. Walked into Amsterdam station, got on the train, sat down and departed. Weird! A conductor did come around to check our tickets but that was all – until we got to Paris that is! As we got off the train customs was there to check passports and a few people’s luggage was checked, that’s it.

Maybe it’s the South African paranoid mindset, but I expected better security, especially after somebody already carried out on attack on the Thalys. Maybe the guy sitting in the corner of our coach was an undercover security policeman, but he was deep undercover, having a good snooze the whole trip!

24160407386_7d5f89b34e_zWith lack of security on the trains, Paris and Amsterdam was in a sense the opposite, especially with regard to two-wheeled transport – whether motorcycles, scooters or bicycles. Everything is locked down with big chains, mostly two. (see more photos here). Now I know motorcycles are stolen in South Africa, but with my (naive) mindset of a safe (safe-ish) Europe, this was new to me. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been strange, because Amsterdam is seen as the bicycle-theft capital of the world…. But really, with so many bicycles what do you expect? Apparently around 340,000 bicycles are left daily at Amsterdam central station as people commute! And in Paris around 19,000 of the Velib’ bikes for rent are stolen each year.

That’s two-wheeled transport, what about houses? While not the whole of South Africa is so prone to house-breaking as the big cities, most of us are used to having alarms and burglar bars. It came as a surprise to see serious security in France as well! In the richer areas around, for example, Versailles, the walls of the houses look exactly like those in Sandton, Houghton, etc. Tall walls, blade wire, electric fencing, CCTV cameras. The security at our children’s apartment in a nice area in Paris was also surprising. Rfid-tag to get in at the door on the street. Then 3 meters on another door, opened by rfid-tag again. Then up to the apartment. Front door of apartment is about one and a half times thicker than a South African exterior door. Deadbolt lock, which pushes out 5 round, solid, 15mm thick steel bolts. Three horizontal, one into the top frame, one into the floor! Serious like a safe door!

Ok, that’s Paris, and in the countryside? Eighty kilometres outside Paris, in the countryside, I saw a sight that would make a lot of South Africans green with envy. Step out the front door of the house. Lock the door. Press the button. Now here a South African would expect the familiar sound of the alarm activating. Not here – the sound of electric motors wining! Every door, window, downstairs and upstairs are covered with steel shutters that close electrically! Ok, it could be for insulation as well, but the house already has double glazing, and it was one of the rare sunny days! Maybe part of the explanation was the three Gypsy camps we saw a few kilometres away, and the attitude of most people (even though they don’t really want to talk about the Gypsies) was similar to what Cher sang: “Gypsys, tramps and thieves“.

Still, probably safer than the big cities in South Africa, even though criminality seems to be wherever people are. Was “interesting” to be warned about the “resident pickpockets” on some Metro lines though!

Until next time!

POSTSCRIPT: After the above was posted, this arrived in my inbox : http://www.thelocal.fr/20160120/france-sees-scores-of-attacks-against-jews-muslims-and-churches

Proof that no country is perfect!

[disclaimer – remember the words from the first blog in this series: “our comments is about what we experienced around there and how we saw things – not representative of the whole of France, Germany or the Netherlands.]

Posted by: Diakonos | 18/01/2016

South Africans in Europe – part 1

23932893030_53aba2bc19_o

The Eiffel Tower on one of the very rare days where you could see a bit of blue sky!

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, said Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities. For a South African at the end of 2015, visiting France, Holland and Germany, this was very apt! Due to the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, the city had mercifully fewer tourists than normal. Even Germany’s tourist figures were down. On the other hand, after the South African president fired our finance minister, the rand fell from around R12 to the Euro in April to around R17.50 to the Euro at the beginning of 2016. Not good for a vacation budget! When a pancake (crepe) cost almost R180 (10 Euro) one tends to loose your appetite…

Luckily our trip was planned around the wedding of our son to a French lady, and our visits mostly included accommodation with family.

I don’t intend to do the usual “day 1, day 2” style of blogging about our trip here, but rather to focus on themes, places or events that caught our attention. Posts will be published as I have time and energy! 😉

Between me and my wife it was respectively our first and second visits to Europe, though we’ve travelled a bit in Africa. Before this trip the furthest North I’ve been was Lake Malawi!

There were things that we expected, things that were different and the same as in South Africa, but also the unexpected. Also, we basically stayed in four different locations (Paris, Janville in Picardi, Esllingen and Hilversum), so our comments is about what we experienced around there and how we saw things – not representative of the whole of France, Germany or the Netherlands.

The normal South African reaction to what we miss after a trip to Europe is SUNSHINE! That was true of this trip as well. There were two other things we missed that was unexpected! Number one is that is was very near to impossible to open windows! You could open big glass doors, or swing open some windows. The South African style of just popping a window open a bit is not possible, and we love fresh air! Plus we experienced unseasonably warm weather in Paris, so fresh air would’ve been nice.  The second unexpected missing thing was birdsong! We know it was winter, but we are used to hearing birds in winter in South Africa as well. Except for the ubiquitous (fat) pigeons and crows, and lots of water birds in Holland, we hardly saw any other birds.

After reading some blog posts before the trip, we expected a very dirty Paris. We were pleasantly surprised that this was not so! There is the usual cigarette buts, and now and then somebody that didn’t pick up after their dog did it’s “business”, but on the whole Paris was clean for a big city. In fact, we experienced Germany dirtier than France! Especially the train stations. The one French habit that was strange, even to a South African, was the male attitude to urinating! In fact, walking down the street, you quickly learn to avoid any damp spots or flowing streams! A well-dressed person would walk down the street, and randomly stop and urinate. We even saw some bistro customers, having a smoke outside, urinating right next to the bistro door – and the bistro did have toilets!

On a more positive note. In all three countries visited we found the service to be helpful and friendly. This again was something unexpected as numerous blogs have something to say about the rude French! Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I started any conversation in a shop by explaining in Afrikaans: “Ek praat nie Frans nie” (I don’t speak French). The poor people were probably so shocked by this that they were too happy to help me in English!

Enough for today! In the next post I’ll have a look at that favourite of South Africans – security!

Posted by: Diakonos | 06/06/2015

Guest post: The uniqueness of South African food

Makes me hungry! Wonderful collection of South African foods!

A Hungry African

Saffa Tradingis an online food shop that specialises in exporting authentic South African Food like Biltong, Boerewors, Groceries, Drinks, and SA Wines. They also stock various other unique South African essentials like SA Pharmaceuticals, weight loss products and even Springbok Memorabilia. All items can be shipped via trusted delivery companies such as DHL, Post Office Airmail and EMS. If you love South African produced food but can’t get it where you stay, this is the site for you!

Saffa Trading will be posting guest posts to “A Hungry African” regularly to get your taste buds going and maybe inspire you to try some South African dishes or order some South African delicacies. The first post is on the uniqueness of South African food, which dishes on the list have you tasted?

South African food is world-renowned amongst foodies, and our top-class restaurants and eateries delight the taste buds of countless tourists…

View original post 897 more words

Older Posts »

Categories