Notes from Shanghai: Home is where biltong is

2010-05-22 11:56

China diary, Day 5

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve been here and I’m beginning to

miss home.

This is quite a surprise to me as I hardly ever think about home

when I’m travelling. I guess it’s an indication of my feelings for this city and

its people.

Here are the Top Ten home comforts I miss (besides family, friends

and my fish):

1. Biltong – Last night I actually had a dream that I was in a bath

made up of beef biltong slices and chunks. I was as happy as a newborn suckling

at his mother’s boob. Now I can’t stop thinking about biltong.

2. TV remote – I love having choice, and at home I can decide if I

want to check out Fringe and The Mentalist, or Scandal! And Generations. Here I

either watch repeat spools of CNN, family friendly American nonsense or Chinese

cooking shows. Not very stimulating.

3. South African wine – Give me Fat Bastard, Douglas Green or

Weltevreden… anything as long as it’s South African wine. It’s true that you

don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

4. Driving – It’s all good and well taking cabs and coaches, but

damn I miss being in the driver’s seat. I get road envy every time these drivers

honk or mutter angrily at the traffic. Ah, road rage…

5. Spare ribs – I haven’t indulged in gooey saucy ribs since my

local Spur closed down in December. Now I have fantasies about ribs. Sad.

6. Woolworths food – Come on, you can’t be any kind of middle class

– upper or lower – and not miss the freezing isles of Woolies and their butter

chicken. It’s saying you are a South African who doesn’t give a damn about

Nando’s or the braai!

7. Music videos – These keep me going, thanks to the fact that I

don’t have to concentrate unless I’m checking out the outfits. Now I understand

why Chinese people are so enamoured with their cell phones: it’s the one place

they can taste forbidden fruit such as MTV.

8. Sundowners – Yes, they have them here too, but not as good as we

make them. Mojito, caipirhinia, sour apple martinis… 7th Street, Melville, had

better watch out when I come back!

9. Anonymity – I know I sound like a broken record, but I do miss

being part of the furniture. While we all want to be individuals, there’s some

good that comes of blending in sometimes – such as not feeling like a science

experiment being cautiously admired.

10. Noise – We all agree that we black people are loud, and boy do

I miss that. Enjoying a belly-aching laugh and a holler would be great just

about now.

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