Learning a foreign language is often an exercise in self-depreciation. In my French school days, one of my classmates once asked our amiable professeur, Bernard, a Frenchman driving a swanky French sportscar, married to an American, in love with South Africa, how one asked for a doggy bag in France. ‘Mon Dieu! Ce n’est pas tres chic!’ said Bernard. So, the French, according to Bernard, don’t regard doggy bags as the height of sophistication. Lin Sampson writing in the Sunday Times Lifestlye a couple of weeks ago, remarked at how her waiter at one of Cape Town’s more historically grand hotels, shrieked in shock when she asked if she could have a doggy bag. He’d never been asked for one previously and had to consult his manager first- They didn’t do doggy bags- hygiene reasons. I’ve tried to be chic, dismembering myself from my family when my sister asks for a doggy bag- in Fordsburg nogal. I stopped trying to be chic when my uncle shared with me his own doggy bag story- He once gave a doggy bag to a beggar. The beggar, overcome with gratitude, explained he hadn’t eaten anything in a week.
South Africa recently overtook Brazil as the most unequal society in the world. I live in of Johannesburg’s forty-odd access controlled areas. Years ago, when permission for the closure was denied by the local council, The Star newspaper ran the story, intimating that the closure was an attempt to shore off the area from ‘working class Mayfair’. It was mightily offensive then, but the reality is that a little walk outside the boom gates, takes you to a thriving Somali refugee population, the Tanzanian fruitseller, whose kids I’ve watch grow up during our daily stops at the traffic light and the inebriated, scantily clothed, clutching on to that carton of Joburg Beer . But all I do is drive through it, content for the boom to come down behind me, in my sanitised little world. It’s time to do more.