Sunday, September 9, 2007

Townships-Day 2, September 4, 2007

Townships, Day 2

(1) Waiting for Songs. People going to work. The market across the street already set up. Cabbies waiting for a fare and playing cards using a dumpster as their table. Traffic and pedestrians daring the traffic to hit them.

(2) And once again, a warning to be careful. I know we are old, but do SAJ and I look vulnerable? This is vanity speaking.

(3) Miles of settlements and poor black townships lining the highway. It’s overwhelming. It’s numbing. The highways littered with everything. Garbage and thousands of old tires. Horse drawn carts picking up scrap metal. Songs says it is a common living here. Cages of chickens and women butchering them on the side of the road.

(4) Cape Flats, the area between the Table Mountain and the ocean. It stretches out for miles. One black township with 1.4 million people. Mainly one, sometimes two-room shelters crowded right next to one another – it just seems to go on forever.

(5) It’s so….and I can’t think of another word, numbing.

(6) I tell Songs I need to see the ocean. It is breathtaking. Cape Town is a city with a sea, flat lands, hills that lead to highland vineyards and mountains in the distance. It should be the sister city of San Francisco.

(7) We visit Rodney, also a musician friend of Songs, in the “coloured” township of Bellville South. It’s like a gated community compared to informal settlements or black townships. Kitchen, bath, living room, two bedrooms, garden in front, back yard with a garage and chihuahua that jumps all over the place. It’s the family home and he lives with his parents. Hell, I wouldn’t want to leave home neither.

(8) The disparity of life because of color… tint…hue… the spectrum of the rainbow…

(9) In America, there is this thing called “white guilt.” I experience that. And in South Africa, I think there is this thing called “coloured guilt.”

(10) Coloured, coloured, coloured
Black, black, black
White, white, white

(11) Raymond makes a lovely cup of tea.

(12) Raymond’s house has a wall between the toilet and the bath/bathroom sink. I use the toilet and upon exiting, his mother points out the bathroom door, and says, “wash your hands.” Moms are universal.

(13) Raymond talks about “coloured indifference” and “coloured fear.” He admires blacks. He claims they are fearless. When do generalizations become bigotry, even when they are meant to be compliments?

(14) So many questions about the play are being answered. If not answered, then recognized. SAJ and I are already arguing about who the “good guy” is in the play.

(15) That’s a joke.

(16) Culpability…who is responsible? How far back do we go? What is retribution? What is forgiveness? Can we forgive others? Can we ever forgive ourselves?

(17) Blood, family, blood, humanity.

(18) It seems to me that this play is eternal.

(19) Songs suggests we tip Raymond. I ask should we have tipped Nkululeko? Songs says no, not really.

(20) There is a black woman washing the windows for a coloured family across the street.

(21) SAJ is my brother. I can’t wait till he meets mom back in Kansas.

(22) Lunch at Tiger’s again. Even better! Sitting at the patio when 20 – 25 pale…and I mean Nordic white tourists walk around the corner. SAJ jokes that my presence must have confused them. I get the joke but what am I, but a tourist.

(23) In the play, SAJ’s character talks about the bar he used to frequent before my character’s arrival. SAJ suggests we visit such a bar.

(24) And against my better judgment we head back to Nkululeko’s house and “his” bar next door.

(25) You can’t buy a “single” drink here. You have to buy a bottle. It’s like blue-law dry Kansas.

(26) Well if you gotta buy a bottle, you gotta buy a bottle. When in Rome…

(27) Recording everything

(28) A last drive around and I hope pictures and voice recordings come out. They ARE the record.

(29) At dinner, a 27-year old South African white female bartender claims we have seen more of Cape Town than she has, and she has lived here all her life. Why?

(30) Tired. Still bad TV. And I’m still looking forward to breakfast.

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