Guest Post: What is Netball?

In a first for Joburg Expat, today’s feature is a guest post. I was cleaning up my hard drive when I came across some files I didn’t recognize. Curious, I started reading, and it turns out that Sunshine must have been busy writing her stories, as she is prone to do. I can always tell by the colorful fonts when it was her. I thought this would make for a nice little guest post, since she has been asking to write one for a while. Plus it will give you something to read while I sort through our Botswana pictures, which might take years for all I know. I almost miss the days when film was expensive and you thought twice before pressing that shutter button. These days I sit there in agony not knowing whether to keep the picture of the elephant with the trunk up or the trunk down or perhaps rather the one with the trunk slightly in between up and down. And don’t even get me started on the three hundred leopard pictures. 
What is netball?  by Sunshine, age 9

Well, a net is something provided for a ball to go through. And a ball is what goes through the net. So my point is that the whole objective of the game is to get the ball trough the net as many times as possible. 

I  ... 

Read More ››

Just Two Flimsy Pieces of Paper, Yet All that Could Stand Between You and a Prison Cell

For all those of you moving to South Africa or simply taking a trip here, I thought I would share this cautionary tale. It’s actually a gem of a story I just happened to stumble upon last night, and ever on the hunt for writing material, I was practically already writing it while I heard it told.

We were all at a “girl’s night out” dinner, and the food by the way was fabulous. Then our hostess made us all play a game, in return for the fabulous food, and the game was “write something no one knows about you on a piece of paper and pull someone else’s paper from ... 

Read More ››

A Facebook Page for Joburg Expat

Creating a Facebook page for Joburg Expat has been my “most favorite to procrastinate” to-do for the better part of a year.

I’m not sure why. Maybe because I couldn’t really see the sense in it. But every blogger seems to have one. I mean, you really have to have a Facebook ... 

Read More ››

Just Another Outing in Joburg

It’s official: Noisette and I are utter snobs. As recently confirmed on an outing we embarked on right here in Joburg.

This is how it happened: I often feel slightly guilty about my inclination to happily stay at home on weekends, so when an opportunity presented itself to go to Soweto for an ... 

Read More ››

Digging for the Water Meter

I’m making my way to another expat tip of mine, if you’ll just bear with me.

We recently had some repairs done to our irrigation system. I know you’ll accuse me of snobbery for daring to complain about such things as pools and irrigation systems, but it just reinforces my philosophy that material things don’t necessarily make you any happier. They mainly create more work. In my next life I want to be an irrigation system specialist. Oh how sweet would it be to just go out there and turn one of those sprinkler heads to point towards the lawn and not the road. Or the house. But it is strictly impossible to comprehend the workings of these pesky things. Whenever I can actually get someone to come out and take a look, I hover over them, at the risk of being drenched, to try and discern how in the world he turns that head so it’s pointing the right way. But invariably I lose track after he twists and turns and pushes down and turns again, and I have to admit to myself that I have no idea. The only thing I’ve ever succeeded in doing is ripping the head off completely, which then gives you a fountain in your yard where you really don’t want it. So we recently had some sprinkler heads replaced and some leaks repaired, and in order to do that, the repair guy had to turn off our water mains. I had no idea where that might be, and he somehow found it on his own. Later, as he was getting ready to leave when all the lawn cycles had been gone through and demonstrated to be working, he mentioned to me that “by the way, I had to dig sort of deep to actually get to the water mains, what with all the grass growing on top of it, and there is no way anyone has come and done an actual water meter reading in the last several years.” Hmmm. Now at least I know where the water meter is. Apparently, all the water meter readings we’ve been getting since moving here are pure estimates. We’ve been faithfully paying an entirely fictitious water bill. So for the expat tip: Find out where your water meter is, and do a reading as soon as you move into your new house, just so that you have an idea what the starting point is and if your monthly charges from then on out make any sense.
Successful excavation of our water meter. See the toad on the left? And meter on the right?
As for me? Out of curiosity, I trekked down to the road where the meter is hidden under a flap in the lawn and checked it out. I couldn’t find anything but a friendly toad and a bazillion ants, but a bit of digging indeed revealed a water meter. Do you think I should check it against our charges, ficticious as they might be? Seeing as our monthly City of Joburg bill seems reasonable (around R700 if you take out all the non-variables such as garbage and sewage fee), and considering I’ve spent a good part of last month on the phone with Eskom and Telkom and am not particularly keen to add yet another government agency to my calling list, and remembering that it took the City of Joburg only about three months to deliver a new trash can, I think I might well opt to let sleeping dogs lie. Read More ››

My Calling as a Lion Sitter

When the call came last Sunday evening, we dropped everything, dinner dishes scattered and house in disarray, and made for a friend’s house. She’s a vet, and a colleague of hers was staying over with a four-day old lion cub in his care. Which we could come and pet.

That’s what I love ... 

Read More ››

Why Traffic Lights When There is a Free Market?

Disfunctional traffic lights are hardly an unusual sight in Johannesburg, but it seems lately the problem has gotten even worse. As I drove into town today I passed no less than seven robots in various states of disrepair – from blinking red to completely out to interesting combinations of in-between ... 

Read More ››

Hotel With a View

I have to return to the topic of our Singapore Mystery Trip one more time, just to talk about the hotel we stayed in. It deserves its own post because it’s like nothing I have ever seen before, as far as hotels go. Even though I probably wouldn’t go there again, as you will soon see.

Marina Bay Sands hotel, as seen from Marina Bay, with ArtScience Museum on the right
Side view of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

The ... 

Read More ››

Love Triangle: Eskom, Telkom, and Me

Oh the irony. Just as I receive an email, without having to call them, from Eskom telling me that my account has been restored to a more reasonable balance (just briefly: our meter “cycled” over 100 thousand, but their system can only handle 5 digits, so the intelligent person entering last month’s reading just chopped off the last digit, but then their system miraculously added that back to 100 thousand, somehow now able to handle the 6 digits just fine, thank you very much, resulting in a usage of 10 thousand kwh instead of 2 thousand), our phones go dead and our internet stops working. And I was so happy returning back to Africa and its blue skies, after our mystery trip I was bursting to tell you about. Well, Africa for sure gave me its warmest welcome, didn’t it. And, alas it was just MY internet and phone. All of our neighbors were perfectly happy. That is the strange thing about living in Africa. Joint suffering is so easily borne. The robot coming out from our neighborhood hasn’t worked in months. Remember my long story about how I called the City of Joburg to complain about that when it happened the first time? Well, I no longer even entertain thoughts of calling anyone. And I’m sure everyone else feels the same way. Do you realize there is a slight chance that the City of Joburggenuinely doesn’t know it’s down, because out of thousands of people stopping there every day, not a single one has thought of calling them? But not so with our phone. Ours being the only affected household, from what I could gather, spurred me into action. Not that my action did much good, as we have been offline for almost a week. What I really need is another Richard. Just the thought of him warms my heart and makes me fall in love with him all over again. Sweet Richard who always answers on the first ring and gives me the verbal equivalent of a foot massage every time we speak. I need someone like him at Telkom. For now, I’ve just had a succession of customer service reps, one stupider and less-caring than the last – if I’m lucky to get through at all – who usually hang up on me before I can state my case completely. But the question is, can I really handle Richard at Eskom and a new best friend at Telkom all at once? That would be an impossible love triangle. Or rectangle – it now occurs to me that our cable TV with Multichoice has been awfully quiet lately. Not to mention water and trash. This is what a typical call to Telkom sounds like:

VOICE MAIL: Welcome to Telkom. If you are an existing customer, please press one.

ME: [presses 1]

VOICE MAIL: Please note that calls to this number are free of charge if you are calling from your Telkom line.

ME: [Wonders who would typically be able to call from their Telkom line to report that said ... 

Read More ››