Da-da-da-da-da – Ameriiiiika!

I wanted to come here to America.  I wanted some new inspiration and a change of scene.  I wanted to expand my thinking in a new place.  I wanted to stretch my dimensions and to grow.  Am I growing?  I hope I am, spiritually, intellectually, creatively; it’s early days, but yes.  Cobwebs are slowly being brushed away, scales are beginning to fall off, new environments and new people bring new responses and new thoughts.  It’s good for me.

But, I miss home so much I could cry sometimes.  I miss The Lavah so much.  It’s ridiculous because I’ve been here for less than a month, and I really want to be here and I don’t want to rush for the next plane and go home.  That’s not it.  But home is home.  I miss the South African ways; while at the same time I’m enjoying the American ways.  I’m fascinated by the American ways.

I went shoe shopping with Pat at a factory outlet just outside Greenwich the other day.  There is no help.  There were two people in there, and they don’t help. Because it’s a factory outlet you must help yourself.  Well, I don’t understand shoe shopping with no help, but Pat was completely unfazed by it.

I couldn’t find the other shoe and I didn’t see why I should search through all those boxes looking for it.  They must do it.  They work here. They must know where the other shoe is. Am I right? Naturally, I’m right.  I mean, for heaven’s sake, just because we get a discount doesn’t mean we don’t need help.  In the end we did get help.  Turns out the other shoe was in the window display.  Well, it didn’t occur to us to go and despoil the window display.  Who does that?  No one does that, which is why one requires help.  You’d think in America that would be obvious.

At the Fedex shop up the road you can do printing and scanning and emailing.  I’ve had to do a lot of that.  The lady in there told me that they have lots to do and they don’t really help customers.  But I don’t understand their machinery.  Call me a dodo if you will, but I simply don’t.   I need help.   She came to help me and the manager was getting irritated.  It’s not like at Postnet.

I tamed that manager.  I smiled at him and flirted a little.  Whoa, relax my feminist sisters.   Machiavelli must have learned from a woman that the end justifies the means.  I told him I was from South Africa where we get help.   I told him my Daddy was Oliver Tambo.  He knows all about South Africa and our history and some our less auspicious recent political Rabelaisians too; but he knows Oliver Tambo.  He helped me himself when he heard who my Dad is.  He didn’t ask me about South Africa, he boasted to me everything he knew about us.  I really enjoyed hearing that.

I went to the Apple shop and I wanted them to sync my stuff, iphone, MacBook, ipad.  I’ve gone Apple in America.  I’m embracing the American way.  Well in South Africa, where I bought my MacBook Pro a year or so ago, I went to have lunch across the way, and they did everything and then I picked  it up when it was done.   Not in America.  In America, they won’ t do that.  They will show you how to do it yourself; which is empowering I guess.  In America not learning to do it yourself is not an option.

I miss the streets of my neighbourhood.  I miss my favourite coffee shop, Nice.  I miss people knowing who I am and saying hello.  I miss knowing who the people around me are, although the anonymity is quite nice too.  It’s quite liberating.

We are so nice to each other in South Africa.  Now when I say that I’m not talking about the politico types.  They’re not being nice to one another at all what with the tribunal, and the seeking after spies and the ‘et tu Brute’ antics.  No, they’re not a bit nice to each other.  I’m talking about the ordinary folk like you and me.  We greet one another, even if we don’t know one another.  I mean how do you sit opposite someone on a train where your knees have to touch and you are shoulder to shoulder; cheek by jowl with the person next to you, and you don’t even say ‘good morning’ as you sit down?  What’s up with that?  –  as the American people say.

I miss the SABC news.  I know, it’s such awful news; but it’s our awful news and I miss it.  I miss my cousins in Alex; my sisters.  I miss my little lovlies Buhle and Muzi and Mkhetwa and Khetelo.

MTN do a number on your phone bill when you have roaming.  I’ve switched it off, and I’m going to disable facebook too.  I’ll bet they’re charging me R100 at least for every sms that comes in, and with fb, they come thick and fast.

I miss being surrounded by my things.  I have such lovely things.  But, they are things.  Well, no, they are more than just things, they are my treasures and I love them.  I miss them.

However, I’m not sad.  I’m happy.  I’m with a valued and loved friend who is loving me like a sister and looking after me like I’m her daughter.  Pat was telling me which platform to get onto and which train to get and I stopped her and told her ‘I know how to get a train’.   Well, didn’t I get on the wrong train and end up having to get off at the next station and change platforms and get another train to get to my destination; and being late for my appointment.  Then I got lost on the subway going to Brooklyn.  Yikes!  So now she teases me when I say ‘I know’.  She says ‘Yeah, like you know how to get a train’.

You know, it’s good to miss home.  Does that sound perverse?  It’s just that I love home, and when you’re somewhere other than the place you love, missing it is part of loving it and knowing it loves you.  And it’s comforting to know that the place you love is there, waiting for you to return to it.

When we were teens and dating boys we imagined we loved who left us often for other girls we used to say to one another ‘If you love someone let him go.  If he comes back to you he’s yours.  If he doesn’t, he never was’.  Well I’m the ‘he’ in that trite little ditty.  South Africa has let me go and I’m coming home in a while because I belong to South Africa.

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About Tselane Tambo

I share myself in these desultory ramblings. It’s my thoughts and memories; some anecdotes and opinions. It’s an accidental autobiography. When you’ve meandered through these pages you’ll be within reach of a little piece of me. Thank you for dropping by.
This entry was posted in Nocturnal Ramblings of a Mind Unplugged. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Da-da-da-da-da – Ameriiiiika!

  1. wisey says:

    Ahhhhhhg we miss you too, before you disable your facebook do say goodbye.

  2. Mwangi says:

    Tselane, I feel you. There’s a lot to miss about SA, you forgot to add the bit about it being spring there while we slowly fall into winter here. I’m in DC by the way, arrived here about a month ago. Like you I miss the greetings and the subway rides while fascinating also feel disconcertingly alienating.
    However I must say, there’s a lot that I also like about being here. There’s a sense of freedom, like people are just whoever they are without others bothering them about it. I also like that white folk here are much more friendly (at least in DC) and don’t have that bile and baggage you encounter with South African whites. I love the multicultural feel of the place. Joburg is pretty multi-culti already but it’s on a whole other level here. I thought I’d stick out because of my accent, but everybody I meet has an accent, the Asians, the Latinos, the Eastern Europeans, Americans from the West Coast, Americans from New England, everyone’s got one.
    Like you, I came here to expand my horizons, Joburg was starting to feel small, like I’d seen it all and done it all. Everyday I’m learning something new – it helps that I’m in Grad school – and it’s very refreshing/revitalising.
    I guess what I’m saying is that like you, I’ll return to South Africa, but not just yet. There’s lots to learn and do here first.

  3. Mwangi says:

    Forgot to add that in the USA, nerdy men like me can just be. No need for the macho posturing that is expected of men in RSA.

  4. Miss O says:

    @Mwangi: I enjoyed your comments.

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