Boredom – exotic South Africa

FRIDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2005

19:05

I have never been so bored while on a visit to my homeland. I feel slightly guilty about it … but then I remind myself that emotional needs which are satisfied by seeing one’s family are not to be confused with the need for intellectual stimulation.

I also realized that I project my own feelings on other people in the place where I find myself. I might say, “Look how boring all those people are! They sit in cars, walk in and out of shops, walk up and down the streets …” and then I realize, as I am insulting the villagers, I am basically describing myself: I am sitting in a car, I am walking in and out of stores, I am walking up and down the street.

* * *

Thought inspired by my browsing through a magazine last night: my South Africa basically consists of Johannesburg, Bronkhorstspruit, Pretoria, Stellenbosch and maybe Vryheid and Pongola. There are places in this country of my birth which I have never even heard of let alone visited: places like Grootmier [Big Ant], Kleinmier [Small Ant], Middelmier [Middle Ant]; places where people speak Afrikaans, and where the children call the adults “Uncle” and “Auntie”. It’s a world I still want to discover – the isolated places, towns with dusty main streets, hamlets where people live lives that are at the same time familiar yet also stranger to me than the life of the average Taiwanese person in Taiwan.

SATURDAY, 19 FEBRUARY 2005

00:08

This past week I have again been confronted with a few things: estrangement (never a pleasant experience, especially not if you are the one who has become the stranger to the people you love the most); boredom; residential areas where the layout and structures provide no inspiration; commercial areas, where people meet on a daily basis to do business and buy things and enjoy meals, which, like the residential areas, do not stir up an inkling of enthusiasm or inspiration; standards that dictate that you are successful at 34 if you own property, and a car, and a TV and other furniture, and if you are at least married, but hopefully have also already brought forth some descendants (“because what type of success can you be if you’re alone?”). Finally, I have been confronted with stories of murder, manslaughter, heart attacks, cancer, stroke, and several other diseases and disorders that remind you, in case you dared for a moment to forget, how vulnerable your existence is.

Well, what more can one say? It is 00:21. I am going to bed now. Tomorrow … is just a short journey away.

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