Friday, November 23, 2012

Stranded on a desert island

 A few days ago, my Gmail account on my phone would not synch. The next day I couldn’t even connect. And then Google Talk and Goggle+ stopped working. No connection to server. Yet Facebook, Twitter and the interwebs were working fine and dandy.  Strange and stranger. So I did the only thing I could and did a factory reset. To no avail. No connectivity to Google servers whatsoever. So here I am, stranded without my apps, without my email, stranded on the desert island of no connection to the outside world.
Or am I really?
I was tremendously upset that my phone konked out on me. I’m only due for an upgrade in January. All my handy apps are now gone. No one can figure out what is wrong with my phone. I’m left with temperamental sms, calls and cumbersome browsing.
I felt that the world was ganging up against me for no reason. And then I laughed. I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
Rewind 2½ years ago. At the time all my phone could do was calls, sms and internet browsing. Before that even less. 14 years ago I was excited to get a brick when I started university. And before that I survived just fine with just a landline at home.
And then cellphones made their way into our everyday lives. Do you still remember how excited we were when the sms feature was launched? Then mms, internet connection, cameras, smartphones. All in the space of 14 years.
How quickly we get used to such convenience. How quickly we think we can’t live without our gadgets. How lost we feel without them. We have the world at our fingertips. We feel connected to the pulse of the world because a small piece of plastic and electronics gives us constant notifications of things happening around us (most of which are of no great importance or urgency). Had you asked me a few days ago what I would take with me on a desert island I would have chosen my phone (if there was connectivity on the island).
Having this technical incident has made take a step back and re-evaluate my relationship with my phone. Only being able to send sms and make calls is not a bad thing. It will be good to slow things down a bit. After all, we’ve survived 12 000 years without instant connections.
The only nuisance is that most of my numbers were are stored directly on Gmail, in case my phone broke or got stolen, then I would not lose my numbers. Well, I didn’t anticipate not having Google connectivity. I’m now stuck re-entering all the important numbers in manually. Serves me right not to have a backup.
It will be good to take this smartphone break. I therefore apologise to all those who will try to contact me via WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Google+. I’ll be checking those only once a day via my 3G card.
In January I will be upgrading to the longed for Samsung Galaxy S3. I find Samsung and Android a match made in heaven. I love the convenience BUT I will not let it take over my life. This reality check is far too important to sweep under the carpet and forget.

Friday, November 16, 2012


George Bergeon
1 April 1915 - 15 November 2012

Celebrating Papi’s 95th Birthday!
There once was a little girl, who, every night after brushing her teeth, went to bed. But she didn’t go to sleep right away. She would lie there and wait. Until she heard the quiet footsteps to her door and he would slip into her bedroom like a thief in the night. There in the dark, they would sit side by side on the bed, nibbling away on pieces of dark chocolate. This went on for quite a while until one night they were caught by the little girl’s mother. The mother wasn’t very impressed. After all, grandfather or not, the little girl had already had her after-dinner piece of chocolate AND she had brushed her teeth.
I must have been about 8 years old. I will never forget my mom’s expression. Arms crossed, tapping foot, frown on her face, marred slightly by the fact that she’s trying very hard not to laugh at the two mischievous imps facing her. Me hiding behind Papi, giggling, and him trying to look contrite and failing miserably. We still laugh about it today.
Papi instilled a love of gardening in me (not just my passion for dark chocolate). He was always pottering and grubbing around. At one stage he even had 2 veggie patches. I remember picking ripe strawberries, and eating freshly picked home grown lettuce, scraping tomato seeds onto newspaper to seed the following year, pouring over garden catalogues checking which seeds to buy next. When I told him I had started growing my own veggies he was so proud and happy.
The gardener and his veggie patch.

I have so many amazing memories of him. Us curled up in front of the TV watching Question pour un Champion, going to the beach, visiting the family farm (there is a picture of us and the rabbits), waltzing through the corridors (me on his feet to be able to reach up), or us just in his study, me reading and him doing his crossword puzzles.
On Sundays he would go to the bakery to get deserts for lunch. He always got me a Religieuse (Nun: two choux pastries filled with pastry cream and stacked on top of each other with icing) and made sure I would get the Mother Superior (the biggest and fattest one).
Him and my gran would laugh when I refused to eat bread with my cheese (after all, if you eat bread there is no space left for the cheese). As I grew older, he instilled a love of good wine, and always made sure that there were a few bottles of Muscadel sur lie ready for me.
Peas in a pod
Papi and my dad were thick as thieves. Papi always ensured that the bicycle was ready for when my dad came to visit. Dad would hop on and cycle around the beautiful countryside and come back with lovely charcoal sketches and watercolours, many of which are hanging around the house. It was on such a trip that I accompanied my dad and I had my accident. If my grandfather hadn’t insisted that his surgeon operate on me, I may not have the full use of my left hand. The surgeon had been dragged from his holiday as a result of a huge car pileup. He had just come out of a 10 hour operation when my grandfather saw him and begged that he do the operation. Such a man was Papi, that the surgeon, as exhausted as he was, agreed.
Papi was my grandmother’s second husband. They knew each other from the days when Papi and my mom’s dad were posted in Africa. They were both in the military police and both families kept in touch from then on. The year Papi Francois (my mom’s dad) died of a stroke, Papi’s wife died of bone cancer. A few years after that, Papi courted my grandmother and they settled happily together. They have been together for 37 years. I think both of them were very lucky to have each other in their old age. They loved each other and Papi spoiled my gran and treated her like a queen. Today I’m wearing a ring he bought for her at the Carlton Centre 35 years ago.
Papi with the medals he earned during WWII.
He told my mom when her and my dad went to visit in September, a few days before his stroke, that the times he spent with us were amongst the happiest times of his life. I think he knew something was going to happen and he hung on as long as he could, so he could see my folks one last time.
He collapsed in my mother’s arms while they were doing grocery shopping.
The stroke left him paralysed and unable to communicate. A husk of the great man he was.
I am utterly gutted at his death, but I am glad that he is not suffering any more. That he doesn’t have to survive my gran. Mamie has declined into gentle senility and the only person she recognises is my mom. At least she will not have the grief of losing a man she loved so much.
That was my grandfather. Kind. Generous. Loving. Funny. Courageous. With a zest for life. He touched everybody whose lives he crossed. He was larger than life and my hero. I miss him terribly.
Je t’aime Papi. I raise my glass in your honour and memory!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Catching Up

Seriously, this lack of writing is quite shocking. Could it be Novemberitis? I doubt it. Rather a mix of actually having a social life again and also going through a rough emotional time (my grandfather whom I love dearly is not long for this world but this is for another blog post).
A social life? Me? Yes! Can you believe it? Now if my gym attendance were like my social life, I’d be getting moerse vitality points. Yes, well…
I’ve been going to my weekly salsa classes with much enthusiasm. It’s so much fun and I realise how much I’ve missed dancing. I met a couple of lovely fun ladies (Chiaki, Cheryl and Sandra). We get along really well and I think we will be seeing quite a bit of each other socially. We have already decided to continue with the dancing. It helps that I found out Braza offers free beginner classes on a Monday. That way we can practice our new-found steps and by the time we attend the December salsa party we won’t be stomping all over the dance floor but shimmying convincingly (or heading that way at least). And in January we can progress to intermediate.
Trotted to some art galleries with Talita. I really enjoy having a friend with whom I can go out and about on a whim and who enjoys cultural experiences as much as I do. She’s off to London in a few weeks’ time to go house hunting (amongst other things). And I am jealous. I would love to squeeze into her luggage and visit all those amazing art galleries and spending time with Erica and Hendri again. I’ve been back over a month and I miss them terribly already. Where is a TARDIS when I need one?
Last night I dragged some friends out and we headed off to a Skeptics in the Pub meet. I haven’t laughed so much in a VERY long time. Total strangers (barring Michael whom I haven’t seen in ages and was surprised to see) with whom I instantly got along. I did however get a black mark against my name when I forgot Captain Kirk’s name. Yes, there were quite a few trekkies. Sue me if I prefer Star Wars to StarTrek (though the new StarTrek movie rocked!). There is something really awesome about being able to talk about EVERYTHING and not having to mind your P’s and Q’s all the time in case you offend someone. And laugh till your belly hurts. After a rather emotional day it was exactly what I needed. I’m looking forward to the next instalment.
Now to get back into the writing swing. I am not looking forward to writing my next post, but it’s going to be necessary. I’m going to have to disinfect my keyboard from all the snot and tears that are going to ensue. But it’s part of the healing process.
And getting back to gym. I know I can do this…