The Joy of Places

The clock is ticking and it will be soon time to depart the Cape of Good Hope, leave Africa and the southern hemisphere, and my beloved Cape Town to the Big Apple, the cold north. I have never been a fan of the US but New York is different, it is the intellectual and cultural capital of the USA, and a melting pot of the whole world.

Still I am not sure how I will respond to it on an emotional level. My friend K arrived from Germany last week and we are often with her on her excursions and visits. Throughout that I feel like I am on holiday and appreciate the beauty and special attributes of Cape Town. If I had to describe it in one word I would say it is joyous. This led me to thinking about Berlin which I think offers tons of wisdom but little joy, whereas I can perhaps say that Buenos Aires and Rio De Janeiro could be more joyous than serious. I have no idea whether this perception is true and perhaps I will have a chance to visit these cities and measure the degree of joy myself.

What is your joyous place and what is the word that describes your city?

Eventful Past Weeks

The last two weekends were busy what with concerts, birthday parties and trips to the beach to soak in the last days of summer.

The major event though was my trip last Monday to the US consulate to apply for my US G-4 visa as requested by the United Nations. The trip was long and the outcome was somewhat disconcerting. I was put on administrative review for my visa, because of my Syrian origin, I suppose.

I can speak about it now dispassionately but at the time it was a distressing experience. I came with all relevant documents but I was not prepared for the lengthy interrogation, nor for additional forms. And I was not at all prepared for having my passports and papers returned to me long after every other applicant had already left. I was almost two hours late for picking up Robert and my nerves were in tatters, even after I stopped with Robert for a pizza and a drink on Long Street.

The woman operating the DHL counter at the consulate, watched me unravel after the consular officer sent me back with the passports. She was kind enough to bring me tissues and when I finally gathered my wits to leave she handed me a paper with the name of some tissue salts, she said they would help. I dutifully got them the very next day and my anger and disappointment slowly dissolved as I settled myself for a long wait.

My spirit was lifted with the visit of my cousin from Dubai, who came to attend a regional conference with his company. We met on Tuesday after Robert’s school, and he invited me for lunch.  We met again on his last day here on Friday, and by then I was able to tell him that I had received a phone call from the consulate that my visa was approved. I had braced myself for numerous weeks of uncertainty while unknown entities investigated me, so I was endlessly relieved that the matter was resolved in less that a week. Of course I have to make the long train trip to Tokai where the consulate is located. It keeps strange company out there next to Pollsmore Prison, one of the most infamous gaols in the country.

The next challenge after this will be packing and shipping my beloved books, but that is a whole different story.