Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I'm so tired

The holidays seem like a distant memory. As soon as I landed back in Germany work started and this week the university began. With it comes and endless stream of  To-Do-lists and everyday processes that tire me about before they have even really begun.

So I reminisce about time spent with my family, about road trips and vacationing in Istanbul. Our day of arrival in Istanbul is a hazy recollection: my friend met my at the baggage claim as she had landed hours earlier and then we stumbled into the bright sunrise of the city. A very friendly cab driver sped us across the Bosphorus to Beyoglu where our hostel was. In broken English he explained how he had traveled to 62 cities and as we feared for our lives he swerved across empty lanes while simultaneously scrolling though old photographs on his smartphone of him in Vegas.

When we got to the Neverland Hostel we weren't allowed to check-in because it was only 6AM. So we slept on dingy couches in the foyer for a few hours until the other patrons came down for breakfast. After a shower we wandered the city and found our own breakfast. After finally checking in we found Taksim Square, ate some grapes in a park and wandered down the Istiklal avenue, Istanbul's shopping street. My aunt had given me an enormous goodie bag filled with padkos, so for dinner we snacked on biltong sticks, nuts and dried mango and then passed out.

Taksim Square


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Light home

Negester en stedelig

Terwyl die Negesterre en die stedeligte witter
in die donker suidelike nagte óm ons skitter,
slaap jy nog weg in nag en swye
langs mos en varings van eertye:
’n see-anemoon waar geel spirale
lig deur water in jou van ’n Oerson daal,
daal in jou slaap; jy roer,
’n vis teen riet en maan se perlemoer;
jy sluimer in ’n tonnel van die kuil –
’n otter in nat holtes nog verskuil;
dan stort jy skielik uit as mens, besitter
van die Negester en stedelig se skitter.
Saans as die rye ligte langs die strate brand
sal jy met wye oë en met kleine hand
vir my bedui en stotterend sê
hoe groot houttolle kabels in diep slote lê;
partymaal sal jy by my tafel neul
om na die sirkus of die mallemeul
te gaan; en vaster om jou groei bioskope,
fabrieke, speurverhale en mynhope;
saans sal die stad se ligte witter
in jou donker siel bly skitter.
Watter kaart of watter ster sal ek jou wys
om veilig deur die grysland heen te reis?
Sal ek van ’n God praat wat verdoem,
van Christus, en die Tien Gebooie noem?
Voorlopig dan, maar onthou altyd
aan jou dade grens ’n ewigheid;
gee sin aan voorgeslagte deur die eeue heen,
besef jy is ’n vegter weer van die begin, alleen;
en mag die Suiderkruis en Negesterre witter
as die stedeligte in jou siel bly skitter.
~ DJ Opperman

Hierdie hemel is nie myne nie, agter wolke sonder einde skuil geen sterre wat vir my iets beteken nie. Hier ken ek nie my pad nie, hier is geen Suiderkruis wat wys waar my plek in die wêreld is nie.

Gedurend die tuisvakansie het ons twee plaas toe gery. Daai eerste aand het ons met tee en komberse buite gaan sit en ons plek tussen die sterre gekry. Ligjare se ligte het oor ons geskyn terwyl die melkweg vir ons ons rigting gewys het. Salig en gelukkig om in daai oomblik met jou te wees het ek geweet dat solank jy by my is, solank hierdie hemel 'n stukkie myne bly, sal ek nie die pad duister raak nie.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Older chests

Not too bad second attempt. 

My grandmother knows how to make things last. I have heard them retell countless times how once a year everyone came to the farm to aid in slaughtering a cow and then using all of its parts, even cooking the fat with something to make soap. Somehow the Afrikaner legacy of preserving food gets passed on through the generations and when I see an abundance of fruit for a cheap price, knowing full and well that I can't eat it, I'll purchase it.

This Watermelon-Strawberry Jam is a result of one such impulse. During the summer strawberries were abundant at the farmers' market and I still has some frozen watermelon in the freezer from my birthday party. Not one to throw anything away needlessly, I figured why not make strawberry watermelon jam?! The problem was that both do not contain enough pectin (I think) on their own to ensure that the jam thickens.

So I dialed my grandmother, some 14 000 km away, and asked what I should do. Sadly, she misunderstood what I wanted to do and proceeded to explain how to make Waatlemoen konfyt (Watermelon jam made from the white rind). Then I tried Google, but to no avail.

In the end this is more error than trial, but it worked out quite well:

6 cups  watermelon juice
5 cups strawberries (650g), washed and hulled
1kg Gelierzucker (jam sugar with added citric acid and pectin available in Germany)
500g Stevia Gelierzucker
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

- Place a plate in the freezer to later test if the jam is ready.
- I first cooked the frozen watermelon slowly just to thaw it and then sieved it to just get the juice.
- Then wash and cut the strawberries, and add them to the watermelon juice. It is best to use the biggest pot you have to prevent the whole thing from boiling over.
- Add all the sugars and the lemon juice, the slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Turn down the heat and let it boil on a medium heat (about 15min in my case). To test whether the jam is ready put a tiny bit on the plate that was in the freezer. If it jellifies after a few minutes it is ready.

Hah, now for all the fails in this recipe:
- the jam jellified, but then did not when all of it was in jars and ready to be given as presents.
- the strawberry chunks also looked weird.
- I went back to the store and bought a 500g packet of Stevia Gelierzucker because it has less calories and I thought well, there is already a boatload of sugar in it.
- For next time I'll just immediately use 2 kg of normal Gelierzucker (no Stevia, no normal sugar) and that should do the trick.

Botched first attempt.

Monday, 6 October 2014


By my own fault I had imagined Constantinople and not Istanbul. I had pictured a layer of gold gleaming across the city, opulent mosques and churches bordering on lavish little streets and fantastic markets. Instead, a vast modern city spread endlessly before us with its accompanying stench and filth.

The highlight, undoubtedly, was the food. By God, the food!
Everyday started out with a large Turkish breakfast at out hostel (9€ for the night including this very breakfast): thick yogurt, muesli, slices of watermelon, grapes, feta cheese, tomato/carrot/cucumber salad, fresh bread and various spreads with coffee and an endless supply of Turkish tea. This tea is brewed strongly in a tiny teapot,  then diluted with hot water to suit the individual drinker's preference in tea-strength and served in small glasses with sugar klontjies.

For lunch and dinner my friend and I tried everything:

The only breakfast we paid for: a cheese omelette with bread, feta and salad.

Hazelnut and pistachio baklava. 
Snacktime on the Bosporus boat ride. 
Wonderful goat's milk ice cream at Mado.
A churro-thing with pistachio. 
The best grilled lamb in Istanbul. 

Kokoreç, or what I now now to be "lamb or goat intestines, often wrapping seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs or kidneys". Thank you Wikipedia. It was really tasty though. 
Mince Pide. 
Börek filled with cheese. The only vegetarian thing we ate during the entire trip. 
Manti, or Turkish ravioli, with a yogurt sauce. Delicious. 
Waffle with Nutella and strawberries. Don't mind if I do. 
Weekly market

Fresh orange or pomegranate juice. 
Lamb (I think it might have been liver), köfte and chickpeas. 
Caramel dondurma, or an elastic ice cream that involves an entire game with the ice cream vendor. I was not amused but my friend thought it was very funny. Here is an example. 
Our last meal: döner. 
Even though I only just realised what some of the things I ate were, it was all extremely well spiced, tasted marvelous and was very affordable. Next time we head to Turkey I would suggest skipping the city and only going where your stomach takes you.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


The holiday is over, daily life is almost back in full swing.
I sat in the plane crying because this time there is no certain date for me to go back home. This time it seemed more final, the lightness of my country and my people giving way to dark clouds and a hovering sense of never fully being myself here. I pretend at belonging, at finding a rhythm, but perhaps first must come the acceptance that home always remains home and at the same time no longer is.

During this tumultuous diaspora of the individual a friend posted this on FB, a guiding light when I was about to get lost again:

“We must be willing to get rid of
the life we’ve planned, so as to have
the life that is waiting for us.

The old skin has to be shed
before the new one can come.

If we fix on the old, we get stuck.
When we hang onto any form,
we are in danger of putrefaction.

Hell is life drying up.

Excerpt from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living