When life gives you Zuma...

2015-03-02 14:52

Let’s be honest. SONA 2015 was a disaster, and the current electricity situation sucks. But is the grass really always greener on the other side?

Recently, I have had the privilege to move to Germany. We didn’t leave because we hate South Africa. We were presented with an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. That being said, are we planning to move back to SA? Absolutely.

Limitation Breeds Innovation

In South Africa, we had to make banking more accessible to more people. This is why we can send money to our loved ones via cellphone banking and mobile apps like Mxit, even at the local grocery store. Delivery is almost instantaneous.

I rarely carried cash anywhere and most shops happily accepted my free swipes. It’s become something that I miss.  In Berlin, after you apply for a bank card the first time, you get about 6 separate letters:

- A letter with your card

- A letter with your pin

- A letter that explains online banking

- A letter for your online banking pin

- A letter with your telephone banking details

- A letter with your TAN (Transaction authentication number) (They are basically printed version of the One Time Pins that you carry around.)

Oh how I miss the simplicity of FNB. I now have almost a ream of paper and have no idea what to do with it. Furthermore, need an ATM in Berlin? Get the app – it’s simpler and cheaper. If you draw money at an ATM that’s not affiliated with your bank, you pay a transfer fee of 5 Euro (R66)! That would be R10 max in South Africa

Chivalry Isn’t Dead

South Africans are well mannered. Who knew? I have never appreciated ‘Ladies First’ until now. Time waits for no-one and some people will push past you without a second thought. Give the old lady with the stroller a chance to get off the bus. Pushing past me to get through the door first at the stop where I am getting off too. It’s not an isolated case, it happens every single time. I used both the MyCiti and the train in Cape Town, and this is definitely on another level.

You can sign up for services easily enough, but if you wish to cancel the service you so recklessly requested, you need to send a letter via good old snail mail. Needless to say, we were a bit surprised. I can give you my card details over phone, but cancel via email? Not a chance.

Be thankful for grocery baskets too. Big trolleys make you want to buy more, even when you just popped in for bread and milk. For some reason, the extra shopping cart space makes you remember things you need for all kinds of future occasions. And before you know it, the two hands full you planned are two too few.

Yet some things never change.

Telecoms service. They will keep on referring you to another agent, until you put the put the phone down in frustration.

Sure, the Germans do have some things that count in their favour, such as great transport, amazing chocolate and a boring government. I definitely don’t regret this yellow brick road I find myself on. Granted, my experience might be vastly different to someone else. My point is simply that South Africa isn’t as bad as everyone pretends it to be. Every country has their ups and downs, and we tend to overlook this.

So here’s to a beautiful country, friendly people and lekker biltong.

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