Monday, December 15, 2008
krishna, cope, creativities
Eventful few days here in CT. We went to a township with a couple of people we met through the Hare Krishna temple here. Vraj is from Bulgaria and he and his group do a weekly veg lunch distribution in a township just adjacent to Cape Town, so we accepted his invite to tag along. It was an engaging time, the kids very playful and energetic, and the scene one of bustle and strangeness as Vraj and his colleagues drummed and chanted and the kids followed along in an odd rendition of a pied piper show. Yet all of this was quite interesting -- while the homes were shanties, built of corrugated iron and bits of wood, the streets were newly laid ashphalt with curbs and gutters, and amidst the homes were occasional handpainted signs advertising corner store goods and oddities like cell phone services. A matronly woman was Vraj's contact, and she orchestrated the kids, who seemed far more interested in playing games and grabbing a drink of the provided juice than having lunch, even though it was quite a nice-looking curry. Then we stopped at another township to move out the rest of the food, and again it was more fun and games with the kids as cars of all types and sizes drove by the narrow streets. Quite an adventure. Also a feeling of conspicuousness, our very attendance in the township, both in terms of optics and intent. How must we have appeared to the people there? An experiment to be sure. At the very least, showed the incredible latitude of experience and disproportionately distributed wealth here in this city. Emotionally quite an odd experience as well. In the middle of all of this, South Africa prepares for national elections in 2009. The splinter group Cope, formed from the disgruntled core of the ANC, is changing the landscape in all kinds of ways. They won a series of byelections just yesterday, boding well for their performance next year, and all of this creating a feeding frenzy in the media as it reflects on the young democracy, barely a decade and a half old. And amidst all of this, the impending sense of violence and gloom, interterpreted variably from families to taxi drivers to waiters. A sense of things spiralling out of control, and yet all within a deep lament and love for the land. All very hard, near impossible, for visitors to grasp as there are only glimmers of reality outside the metaphorically and literally locked doors it seems.