Posts Tagged ‘religious tolerance’

Signs of Christmas in Cape Town

December 24, 2011

After the overbearing religiosity of America’s (undeniably charming at times) celebration of Christmas, even a trip to Southern Suburbs’ anglo-saxon shrine, Cavendish Square Shopping Centre, is an exercise in tolerance and shared values. Well okay, calculated moneymaking. But if, as one of my most argumentative and favorite commentators on this blog claims, South Africa is almost as Christian as the US, then this is even more significant as an act of accommodation at least *.

LOVE , JOY, REINDEER... Christmas for me has always been a weird combo of images of the North Pole experienced in mid-summer heat and roaring South-Easters. Christmas, to me, smells like sea salt and chlorine.

The fact that they don't take it for granted is nice, although Christmas is very much a shared holiday, since it's a public holiday. They have the same sort of notice up around Ramadahn and Eid and Rosh Hashanah and Divali though - in many stores and malls. After all, all the festivals have the same pagan sources, and all the shops have the same post-pagan motivation: profit.

Frightening, is all I'll say. Look out, PeopleofWallmart.com: The competition has arrived, and its name is "holidaymakers in Cape Town".

Free Range Chicken - the real thing - about $3-$5 each. The best deal I can get in the USA is $14 at Trader Joe's, and I swear, even their free range chicken is deformed. The best thing is that I took this photo in the Spar, and saw the same thing in Pick 'n Pay.

Table Mountain... well a bit of it. I'll get you the rest soon.

South Africa is beautiful because it’s less developed, and the food is cheaper because most people are staggeringly poor. But I’m not. I’m middle class. I’m one of the lucky ones. And I know it. I do know it. And I’m loving the clean air, the fresh tasting tap water, the unspoiled sea and even the summer winds. I’m loving living like a king for less than I do as a student in the USA. I sort of feel bad. I am having trouble with my happy holiday. I sometimes feel awkwardly grateful and faintly white-guilty. Sometimes I feel completely revolted, like when the dude selling “Funny Money”, a photocopied zine packed with dumb racist jokes, acted all “dumb af” in an attempt to sell it to me. I’m not sure if I was angry because this act works on other white people, or because he thought I was one of them. Both, I suppose.

La Boheme in Sea Point. R90 (about $13) buys you a 3 course meal - a great, bistro-style, three course feast.

I also miss California, which has become home, the urgency of the movie making buzz there. It feels like I’ve fallen into a delicious lull here… a sun-soaked inertia. I’m happy to wait an hour in a restaurant for my food to arrive. I can stand in a supermarket queue while the guy in front of me pays in 5c pieces and not even bother to switch to a new line.

The only place South Africans appear to be in any hurry right now, is on the roads. I’ll try post something about that before one of them runs me over.

* Sharon, I’d disagree that this is the case. Our politicians aren’t required to prove they’re Christian to qualify for the race. Our (admittedly, crazy) president recently accused Christians of creating orphanages and stuff and said that African religions never allowed them to exist. This may be true, although i think it’s bullshit, but imagine an American president saying that? They’d get more than a 500 word article on page 3 of a daily paper in return.

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