If I could I would


South Africa in Span Sweet Sixteen – Photo Blog

Those innocent days as a little girl, heard father relate people’s sufferings in Africa to which felt helplessly sad unable to alleviate misery. If only I could, I would… childishly thought

Time grew, struggles threw, ban lifted, a chance encounter around 1983 with Ms Tewari a South African lady of Indian origin on a pilgrimage to India planted the seeds of hope for a counter visit to the country... realised in 2008 July… 19th July to 3rdAug consisting of exactly sixteen days.

18th July was the 90th birthday of Mr Nelson Mandela the ordained day we flew to South Africa Johannesburg reaching the next morning. Murmuring Happy Birthday to the all time soft-spoken leader from my airplane seat wished my message reached him. (Call me eccentric)

First step as an Indian to visit the country was, apply for visa. Incidentally, The Embassy of South Africa and The Indian Embassy in Berlin till date are neighbours. (Am I foreseeing a shift in the future? Please no divisive rage that people unite in amity around the globe.)

(Valid reason, the soft shaded Indians find sandwiched between strong white and black shades, each complain about Indians taking sides with the other...)

A woman of Boer origin commented with tint of envy on Indians making hay while an indigenous became suspicious of the Indian taking sides of the advantaged.

Looking down on the other is another disease that needs guard in this transitory phase of erasing discrimination… by world. Other than Poverty, HIV/AIDS South Africa offers are more than eyes can meet... Hope my personal impressions find some takes!

Set on a pilgrimage to the deified land on the soils of which Mahatma Gandhi determined his non-violent reconciliation with his solicitous carved out plans creating a fascinating history in human relationship.  

A legacy carried on by Noble Prize winner Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela affectionately known as Madiba

the charismatic Xhosa by birth.

Their points of view reaching the depths of equilibrium irrelevant skin shades.

Rightly, spoke Albert Einstein about Mahatma … Caption under his feet reads …

It makes great sense for the Indians to visit the legendary country    South Africa and vice-versa. Do not know why our careful self-planned journey astonished people. Paying attention to advice from friends and acquaintances, we booked our hotel in the suburb Bryaston, a few km away from Johannesburg nicknamed Jo’burg.

It was convenient e-tickets, a lengthy Lufthansa, Egypt Air journey with couple of hours break to avoid monotony. That our total days in the country were few we had booked rational cost internal flights by South African Airlines to save time. To save money, our tickets bought more than half years before actual flight consisting of special seasonal offers.

At airport, the driver from our hotel 45 Peter’s Place received us with his placard. Arriving at a spic n span spacious cottage type accommodation we were greeted warmly by the very owner Mr Peter Elliot a British National and his small team employees.

The hotel area was completely fenced with high walls and electrocuted barbed wires for safekeeping because the gold city of Johannesburg was ill reputed as the most dangerous from yonder… We were fortunate to emerge with no mishaps.

By the time, we reached the breakfast table in another cottage block it was about 11 am same time as our home in Germany but a different season, winter - Temperature swings from 0° C nights to 21° C days.

Foolishly, not anticipating cold nights ignored operating the gas heater and literally froze under double blankets, unwilling to make mistake of leaving any a leak or burst under sleepy condition.

First thing next morning, learnt the switch on gas, from Peter, who apologised for not showing earlier.

Picture shows inanimate objects deserving our thanks –  gas room warmer very  retangular dark, the entertainer box  square and implicit, reflecting part of African taste… could follow mostly because the programmes carried English sub titles.

The charming indigenous woman prepared black ‘Five Roses’ brand local tea that matched good quality aromatic, flavoured tea of India.

We ate and drank to our satisfaction simple but delicious bread jam butter in the pretty atmosphere benign sunshine bright strewn with Afro European art.

The reception counter strangely with a birdcage, the tame parrot perched outside (had pigeon visitors feeding on the parrots food droppings) was modest workplace complete with a computer accessible to guests. Birds must be a hobby with the advantaged class because saw another caged in while on a return stay at another hotel around airport area.

Peter had organised our transport.  My spouse was apprehensive of his nagging knee pain thus we decided to taxi our sightseeing though possible to avail other shared mini bus options.

The suburban local transport depends heavily on mini buses, most people use private vehicles.

The country has a fine set of roadways and an increasing demand for a much greater public transport, my observational feedback.

Transportation offers good business prospects…

Tourism flourishes can speed up opportunities for the socially backward classes. The driver those who mostly came from nearby poor town Alexander, confirmed of an almost non-existent middle class scenario though hoped for a quick rise.

When the car took us to a town shopping mall and left us there to pick up later at a total cost of S. African money Rand 100, I was furious at my husband, but cooled for practical purposes.

We needed a local telephone card for internal calls, food for dinner, as per plan, fix ourselves to avoid at risk stomachs. …

In addition, the market place provided clues to folks, habits, clothes, fashions, art, business, products, ways, and a first hand all in one base.

World Bank statistics say the gap between the rich and poor is vast in compare others, my trusts see an emerging decent intelligentsia not blaming to despondency crime, but striving for a better tomorrow in spite HIV/…, and other problems.

Picture inside a shopping mall, it is an uncanny common culture of convenience we pursue worldwide.

Shall we name it Calculator Culture no time for mental maths… for cosmopolitan people…?

Unlike parts of India, mushrooming of Malls, creating traffic nightmares – naturally referring to Kolkata Tollygunge area -

We can learn a lot from South Africa to lay a basic infrastructure instead of jumping into acts of Jones’s.

Their housing plans for poor needs encouragements along upkeep of left layout inheritance.

The architecture of the city shows thoroughly European. A lot of these people of European origin migrated to the rich suburbs for many reasons, more to enjoy tranquillity of far from the madding crowd. South Africa has a population of about 46 million. The telephone code is 27.

Though the country enjoys a grand infrastructure as per area of 1,233,404km, there is a large gap between the 20% rich and the rest 80% backward… natural legacy of apartheids.

The democratic form of government (ruling party African National Congress) has undertaken challenges to provide Roti, Kapda, aur mainly Makan the task is Herculean.

Though the main language is English, many European (Boer) origin speak Afrikaans, other indigenous languages are Xhosa, Zulu, Venda, Tswana, Swati, Tsonga, Ndebele, Sepedi, Setswana, Sotho, Tshivenda.

Day two we decided to go to the Lions Park Safari, which was not an attractive suggest to me assuming it a zoo like giant enclosure.

It was but enormous and for the day being feeding day for lions was worth the visit and shooting hungry lions at their catches, grand privilege.

A boy is busy with his camera. The man wearing a cap is the driver cum guide.

He told us that Wednesday was a snacks day for the animals and Sunday the proper feeding day.

The rest of the days, the lion brigades had to hunt on their own.

He explained much minute details about animal behaviours cracking jokes now and then.

The proud zebra in gallop, wondered if they served food for the lions.

At a distance, wild goats and more zebras graze.

Truly, never imagined the breathtaking scene under the pleasantly scorching winter sun dries a yellow savannah grass.

My camera rove to find a black mane king lion feasting on flesh. The meat stink was oppressive to us and we covered our nose with paper kerchief.

These lions had devoured a disarrayed man who jumped into their den around April of this year.

Tight security ensue the incident, and it strictly forbids walking in this park. All are to remain inside the vehicles when on visit.

However, this is not applicable to financial shareholding for that amounts to class apartheid. The indigenous struggle to erase malice was obvious all around.

Picturing lions greedy share, secured with growl. Hope you enjoy my shots.

This Lions Park is a Private Property belonging to the same owner for forty years who took another partner recently, as a kind of joint venture.

To maintain such extravaganza needs patron and applaud.

All this is Jo’burg, I recollect the smell of winter jungle grass as I write the same.

It was like real wild a paradox of wild in midst of tame but not actually tame.

These three cubs are sleeping to glory oblivious of the visitors who touched them, cuddled them, and patted them.

I had no heart to disturb guess though they felt comfortable with human touch of affection.

The authority allowed touching of the tender lion babies.

Made my spouse pat them, and the photo taken is in the other non-digital camera.

One more fact South Africa is not pure jungle topography but modern cities with wild life garages, say perhaps outhouses. I know the spies as I write my experiences…

The most heartening part of tame jungle visit was finding the International volunteers on wild park duties.

Discover a volunteer student from the USA, towards the end of the Lion Park Safari.

She allowed me to take her picture with verbal permission to include the same in my write.

She smiles in the photo sitting under the shade at her post; her rucksack containing paraphernalia lay at her feet.


After the safari, people lunch at the park restaurant. Having watched the greedy lions, it is but natural to become a ravenous hunger.

However, there was no vegetarian menu except some fried potatoes, which sufficed my appetite.

The day being a Sunday a lot of local people came along with their families’ friends and children.

The vibrant atmosphere picture a part of daily South African life inclusive tourist delights. Added information the place served local ethnic food a little away in the open under thatched roof consisting of sausage, kebabs, and corn flour pulp like mashed potatoes.

Our day ended by 16: 00 hrs and we returned to Peter Place, checking emails and talking weather with Mr Peter Elliot. Naturally, our topic floated to high walls of apartheid and the after effects. An amusing or rather not amusing factor was some people related a story this moment to somersault into a confession next that it was not the real thing, and actually, it was so and so… tales indeed. Sex lies and drugs undercurrent no wonder many were averse to Hollywood style, films. Something admirable was the will of the have-nots to survive with an application of witty common sense though having missed the opportunity to educate. A pity S Africa red tape label education and study for many as unauthorised… check some visitor’s visa for authentication of the quip.

Greeting Monday Morning through my hotel window let out a Surya Pranam – “Om Jabakusuma Shankyashan Kashyapiyang Mahadwithing … Divakaran” to the African Sun.

Our target was Johannesburg, and historic Soweto. Peter informed us that we would share this trip for two hours with another couple from Luxemburg. However, they would not continue to Soweto. He was arranging new drivers with new transport every day we stayed.

Timely ready we set for the day but to a disappointing start. The unusual Luxemburg couple with a girl child in tow could raise suspicion, because strangely enough the little blond girl hidden behind a pair of large sunglasses, which she never took off, did not resemble any of the adults.

The man was tall thin and icy type with back brush light brownish hair and the woman had a figure and face of dried fish. They spoke Luxemburg French with a rough accent, occupied prime seats in the van. My spouse sat next to the driver because of his bad knees. I went behind caged like a bird, found difficulty in taking pictures.

As the driver began with his elucidation on rich poor population, asking not to hesitate questioning, my inquisitiveness to understand disturbed the woman co-tourist. Violently she asked me to shut up or get out of the van. Dumbfound it was thunderbolt stricken shock for me, utter disbelief. Can anyone imagine coming from Luxembourg to apply apartheid in somebody else’s land on another tourist? What was her intention and what was she up to, flashed my mind immediately.

Composing quickly gave her back saying dare she spoke to me this way. She had no authority at all. Were these people hell’s angel hell bent to create brawl that it may escalate into rioting? I thought in mind. The child was surely not hers or else how could she think of creating a dirty environment on such a beautiful morning. The driver was embarrassed and requested us to cool.

Angry at the woman’s misbehaviour my husband raised voice and the woman withdrew aggression. I decided to sit next to the driver and exchanged seats with my man. The couple felt defeated seeing my promotion next to the driver. Their behaviour was not at all normal but full-blown under cover agents filmy type… never ever did I have such an experience as this before. Wish I could use the bridge of love and human bondage like the towering Nelson Mandela Bridge on left seen on our sightseeing tour of Johannesburg.

Strangely, the couple reluctant to see Gandhi Square or landmarks associated with abolishing discrimination, was keen to go to a medicine man. From their glances, it appeared they wanted to fix me there but I never moved from the van, my husband and I waited in the vehicle. For two hours had to abandon the idea of taking snaps getting off the van. Did it because had no intention to escalate ill will. We had the van to ourselves after 2hrs stint in their company. Later the driver revealed the woman had enquired whether it was safe to take their girl along for sightseeing. Perhaps she was dreading cannibals – who knows silly thoughts indeed –

Now to get back to our main subject – the driver A. Vincent took us to see Mandela House.

His narration was crisp and informative.

The roads were clean and houses pictorial.

I clicked innumerable pictures, all not possible to display.

Only is possible to share a chosen few. Hope the readers find interest.

We passed through the road where the first school for European boys came up. It is very expensive to study in this school even today, though there is no discrimination.

Pretty landscape surrounds the suburbs. The driver informed that the Europeans in the heart of Savannah Jo’burg planted the trees brought from other colonial nations in the past.

His constant reference to Black, black or White was getting on my husbands nerves. I too wonder – why the term indigenous is not in much use.

Asia is a continent with a huge number of white people other than of European origin and this skinny story a meaningless business. It is time these terms abolish… to triumph over ethnic conflicts.

Picture of St John’s College the very first education centre. It is a sprawling structure of European Medieval Art and Architecture.

South Africans are great fans of sports and schools are also responsible for this sporty spirits.

Football, rugby, cricket, are the most popular spectator sports and today development curriculum are fostering merits beyond colour divides.

The driver explained about the earlier colour bar on sports with an inescapable sad tone that a young man he was. Incidentally had met a junior S. A. cricket team in New Delhi this January hailing from the sleepy city of East London and surprised to see all belonging to the advantageous group of South Africans. Only two children had a mixed indigenous origin they were exceptionally quiet.

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Ruth Lovejoy's picture

very interesting piece..so what's new not heard from you in a while. Yesterday 8/11/08 had state final on my phlebotomy exam. Waiting on results right now..