"The true gentleman is friendly, but not familiar." - CONFUCIUS

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A FOREIGNER IN WINDHOEK



The Southern Times in Namibia asked me to write a story about my experience living there. Enjoy. If that's the word for it. 


Recently, you may have noticed a bearded young foreigner wandering Windhoek, stopping occasionally to drink a Windhoek Lager, and mispronouncing 'Windhoek'. I blame the Windhoeks.

He's me, and I was writing this, a list of observations made during my stay. Approach them as if they're the considered words of a homeless outsider who travelled 12 000 miles to a country he'd never seen to visit a man he'd never met, then complain to the editor. Your country beckons to me, and I'd proudly take the altar beside a Namibian bride in one of those traditional cow hats that somehow so turn me on.

- Afrikaans sounds like English backwards.

- The ladies here bring tears to my eyes. So do the internet speeds.

- If we Americans, like Namibians, had to pay for power and cellphone airtime upfront and had no access to credit cards, we'd be living in trees.

- Why do so many Namibians comment on the way Angolans dress? They look pretty stylish to me. Green's the colour of life.

- Windhoek has the friendliest stray dogs I've ever encountered. They even starve cheerfully.

- I suspect half the electrified fences surrounding Windhoek homes aren't on. If only we knew which ones.

- Southern Africans call traffic lights "robots". Six weeks and it's still funny. It'll probably always be funny.

- Men: staring silently at a woman in a club like you're about to decapitate her isn't considered flirting.

- Women: panicking because you're not pregnant by 20 is only going to get you impregnated and possibly decapitated by one of the above men.

- Most people overseas might assume otherwise, but I’m here to report that Namibia is a safe and modern country. Safe, unless you are a Namibian woman (see: passion killings, rape, being sold for cattle). Modern, meaning white people own everything, which they’re selling to foreigners fast while locals pay them rent and guard their buildings.

- This shouldn’t last, because Namibia’s full of geniuses. My friends here sit around hatching national high-speed rail plans with one eye on today’s mackerel prices while using the word ‘trifecta’ in a sentence.

- Calling light-skinned Namibians ‘colored’ is not offensive here. Neither is calling them ‘Mexicans’. Neither is suggesting that they “act like Mexicans” even though the person speaking has probably never met a Mexican.

- It's true: Namibian beef and beer are world-class. Remember: if you squeeze in some vegetables, you'll live longer, giving you more time to eat even more Namibian beef and beer.

- Relax, foreigners. Men here are not staring at you when you walk down the street. They’re staring at your girlfriend.

- Africa: everything good is better, and everything bad is worse. (see: beef, taxi prices, tap water, AIDS)
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