coalition

coalition
kirsten.keun@gmail.com

Wednesday, 03 October 2012

Jan Grobler's take on being down under.


Uhm ja, not quite sure where this is coming from - maybe all the travelling and thinking along the way and being surrounded by people missing home. I'm probably writing this mostly as a note to myself though I thought I'd share it with you...
Over the past year or so in Australia, I've often had conversations with ex-South Africans who are either negative about Australia as they keep comparing it to South Africa (guilty as charged) or people who are negative about South Africa in order to justify their decision to leave South Africa. 
When I first arrived in Autralia, I stayed in Broome for about two months to work on a project. During this time, I had the opportunity to exlore the Ausie Outback, amazing contrasting colours where the red soil meets the turquois ocean, where rough guys sit on the porch outside the Roebuck bar and sheilas serve you drinks in their underwear... Where I met hippies protesting against the project which we worked on, and yet they reminded me of my friends back home..  Later when I moved to Perth, I moved into Blencowe 25 sharing a house with two French girls and a crazy Italian, enough material to write a book about... Appreciating the 'luxury' of not having to lock my door, running around Lake Monger under the moon lit sky, travelled around Margaret River, tasted some of the best wines in the world. Diving at Carnac Island. Flying to Sydney, admiring the beauties on Manly beach and checking out the Sydney Opera House. Hiring a car and driving along the coast towards Melbourne, breathtaking scenery... Spending an awesome few days in Melbourne, pub crawling with South African friends, going to the Melbourne Grand Prix, great times which I'm truly grateful for... 
When I recently went back to SA, I visited the Kruger with my family, went to the Piet Grobler dam - named after my great grandfather who had a vision for nature conservation (yes I'm very proud), travelled to Cape Town, the fairest cape in the world... partied with great friends till the early morning hours 'cause you only live once', and somewhere along the way unexpectedly fell in love.. When I went to Uganda, my appreciation for deepest darkest Africa deepened yet again. With hippos and fish eagles as alarm clock, exchanging corporate boardrooms for village meetings under the 'wisdom tree'... Being reminded that there are people who travel 40km a day to collect water, most common causes of death not being high blood pressure, suicides, car accidents or senseless murders, but people dying because of malaria, old age or croc attacks... Being reminded that elders have a place in society, looking after the children while parents fish, graze lifestock or cultivate their fields. Noticing the complete absence of retirement villages, mental hospitals, or the need to have Virgin Actives. A crazy beautiful (and different) world. The world where I personally feel I can breathe, where I can wear my sandals and pee under a tree, where I can cross the street when there's no car and not have to wait for a light to tell me what to do, where I can make a fire and not have to use gas or find a designated 'barbeque area', where people still hug and smile when they walk past you... 
So where am I going with this? It's just this, you have to make the grass greener where you are, now! Whether the grass is green is very closely linked to your attitude. If you're pesimistic where you are now, you are most likely going to find sometihing to be pesimistic about on the other side... In South Africa, people feel angry and conerned about the situation of crime, the degrading education system, the looming economic recession, and quite rightly so!  But, remember that we have managed to prove the world wrong since the early 90's, where people have been buying canned food, over and over and over again, to the dismay of poor old Spottie who can't stand the taste of baked beans anymore! Malema is an arsehole, but so is Julia Gillard - They Are Politicians, they can't help it! And I also have to tell you, my housemates from France and Italy are not keen to return home as the economic recession has hit them hard and it sounds like the red wine is no longer providing the same vava voom feeling as before...
From the second last paragraph, it's probably clear where my heart lies, which made it all the more difficult at times to make the grass green here. But today when I went for a run on the beach, I was mesmerised by the sunset and felt ashamed for taking this travelling opportunity for granted at times, because I was longing too much for the other side. I've got a couple of decisions lying ahead, but until I make them, I've decided to appreciate this part of the world for what it is and live in the moment. It requires a change of mind and not merely a once off decision and I want to urge you do the same wherever you may be, cause life's too short.
Tomorrow I can die when breaking the law jaywalking... and so can you, but then at least you have lived without having waited for the promises of that one day when you're on the other side...  
Ps... if you have emigrated, the grass is where you are now so make it green or go back... if you plan to emigrate, to Uganda... make the grass green in the meantime... if you plan to travel and explore.. the grass will be green all the way, and if you're content where you are, well  then just read this as a g'day from downunder!

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