Daily Archives: September 28, 2010

This is Africa. A public moan.


There are days when it is not all smooth rolling; in fact it is rather more bumpy and potholed. On those days I have to just sit back, bit my tongue and think to myself T.I.A.

This Is Africa. We say that a lot here, especially anytime there is an aberration of the service industry and a reminder, once again, that there is no service industry here. Not one little bit. Take as an example my Sunday. I woke up with the happy intention of going out for a family lunch. We selected a restaurant, one that handsome Husband specifically Did Not Vote for, I might add, and hopped into the car.

Upon arriving we realized that although it was a Sunday, a day customarily reserved for that wonderful North America invention called brunch, breakfast would not be served after 10 am. However, eggs could still be arranged and I settled on an omelette. And how silly was I to choose something so confusing that no one could ever wrap their head around the concept?  I wanted a cheese omelette with tomatoes and onions. Yes, call me picky, I wanted some added zing in my cheese omelette that day, especially since I had prior knowledge of the rubbery and tasteless cheese served in these parts.

I was visited by another waiter, who, like the first, looked bemused. He wanted to verify that I did indeed want a cheese omelette and not a Spanish omelette. Yes, I replied, fearing the worst, cheese, but also with tomatoes and onions.

I got cheese and cheese only. Apparently the extra zing was just too confusing, a mystery that could not be conquered that morning in that kitchen.

In addition there was no salt and pepper, Handsome Husband did not get what he ordered, and the whole lunch, what was intended to be a happy family Sunday lunch, came off feeling like a disaster.

Then: feeling  a trifle sulky I thought a Bloody Mary would be a fine accompaniment to our weekly Sunday Scrabble game. “NOT spicy.” I requested, having experienced the sensation of losing the roof top of my mouth two weeks previously.

Despite asking, I did not manage to get what I wanted for the second time in one day and the roof top of my mouth was once again scalded by spices of a variety not encountered elsewhere.

And what about the time I made the HUGE error of ordering a four cheese pizza at a fashionable pizza establishment? Yes it did have four cheeses. Only it was four times the same cheese, melted and applied to pizza dough only when it resembled the heel of my shoe.

This morning, reading the New Yorker (kindly brought back from the US by a friend) with my coffee, I felt terribly homesick for the Great Shiny West. Imagine this: a Sunday brunch in a restaurant featuring white table cloths, a large airy wall, mammoth windows, lots of green plants. A Bellini would be pleasant and perhaps a Frittata containing Feta from Greece and fresh pesto made with pine nuts. After wards I would go for a walk in a park, listen to some jazz performed on a band stand and finally walk into a gallery to see what is showing. A movie would finish the day nicely, in a large cinema with comfy velvet arm chairs and warm pop corn with just the right amount of salt. The movie would be something that recently visited a festival and would not have the descriptor of Blockbuster attached.

I miss the US, with its energy, its anything can happen and yes we can attitude. I miss the bright optimism and the eagerness to help the customer, an eagerness that I have previously found irritating. But how lovely it would be to hear today, with his chirpy drawl and college stance,

”  Hello! My name is Brad and I will be your waiter today!” “May I help you?” “Is everything to your liking?” “Is there anything else I can offer you?”

But no, this is not to be. I will be fine; I will sit back and breathe. T.I.A.

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Filed under Being brave, Great Big Shiny West