Playing with matches

There’s this party trick I do. I poke a single friend in the ribs and their eyes roll back dramatically when I say, “Oh he’s naaice, how bouts a hook-up eh? eh? ”

It was at a Heritage Day picnic with Kaye and the gang when it finally occurred to me that I was really just a fedora-wearing interpretation of Yenta.

I am now everything I used to blog snarkily about in my pre-sg33k days.

Friends, it appears that this Bamjee woke up one morning, brushed her teeth, looked up to the mirror and found Auntyjee staring back.

Lord knows how many of you have since been afflicted by my poking, tjatjarag ways.

This, therefore, is my blanket apology.

I am unequivocally stating that my meddlesome poking was not an indictment of the general health of your happiness. There were no implications of half-personhood due to one not being married or attached (doesn’t that word in this context make you think of tumours?).

My God, you are all wonderful, whole, sparky individuals. I have no doubt that should you feel yourself gravitating towards the confetti-lined path to grocery lists and socks-on-the-floor (sex too, sometimes), you will encounter one equally wonderful, whole and sparky.

And if you’re just not interested in that sort of thing, I promise to find a new party trick.

Donald Dosi hails from Sudan

My response to this charmer had been lying dead in drafts for a few months until today’s dispatch.

from donald dosi <>
date 24 June 2010 17:01
subject business partnership,

My Name is Donald Dosi hails from Sudan I am here for investment purposes .

I wish to invest in construction, hardware and other related industries that I may be asked to invest into in as much as the industry is lucrative. I also has an eye into fast -food franchising where there is an opportunity ,If there is any other areas which you have interest for us to go into the industry as partners feel free to contact me for a discussion.or you can give me your number to contact you

Presently I reside in Duban Kwazulu Natal and am Eveready to go any other province that I may be called upon to form a business partnership,
Thank you.
Yours faithfully
Donald Dosi

from Saaleha Idrees Bamjee
date 16 September 2010 13:20
subject Re: business partnership,

Hi Donald,

My name is Padma Pakori walks with the Lord. I am here to do His work.

I am sorry to hear about your eye. I lost the tip of my thumb to a polony slicing machine once, so you could say I have my hand in the processed meat industry.

I don’t have a head for business, but I do have a heart and soul for The Lord. As you have expressed an interest in investing towards construction, I would like to approach you with my idea of establishing the Padma Pakori Ministries for Living Easy.

Our church’s philosophy is built on the premise that God doesn’t want his loyal servants to slog too hard for salvation in the hereafter. We’re all about the 3 P’s; Praising, Prostrating and Partying.

I would like to build the first ministry at what used to be the base of the Athlone Towers in Cape Town. It’s not quite Ground Zero and I’m certain Capetonians will welcome the erection of the our twenty-storey fibreglass mascot, Hi-Jinx the Happy Hippo. The beautifully rendered semi-aquatic sunglass and sarong-wearing beast will prove to be a much-loved landmark and guiding angel.

I haven’t quite worked out a budget for the construction yet, as it’s just been a blur-tinged dream for so long. This is where your super-smart savviness comes into play. It is surely through the blessings of Hi-Jinx and the Lord that your generous offer for a business partnership has dropped into my inbox so unexpectedly! Praise! Prostrate! Party!

I have an idea, though, for generating revenue to cover our running costs (includes costumes, lighting and smoke machines used during the services) and this is to have each congregant pay a cover charge before entering the weekend services.

I’m certain the church’s guiding principles of universal tolerance, universal love and the universal pursuit of pleasure, will ensure we have a steady stream of worshippers with welcome wallets.

Thank you for your most generous offer of assistance Donald Dosi hails from Sudan.

I hope we are able to welcome you into our loving family soon.

Praise! Prostrate! Party!

Padma Pakori walks with the Lord.

where from?

We shuffle in to the room, our tracks muddy from the stereotype milking; of course, it has to be the charous who are late.
Ushered to the side, we take our place holding up the wall and a roll-up banner announcing that this is the M&G Literary Festival.
When given chairs, I try to maneuver as discreetly as possible, contorting myself into that jig one does when holding back flatulence.
Still, I attract the attention of the woman in front of me and we exchange the type of smiles strangers do.
She asks me where I’m from.
I say that I’m a freelancer with an interest in literary writing.
No, no she wants to know where I’m from.
From here.
Ah, from here, she repeats after me.
All of this whispered, the Here silently expanding to include; 44 Stanley Avenue, the Hillbrow clinic where I was born, the West Rand where I grew up, the South where I now live.
An ironic exchange considering we are sitting in on a panel discussion entitled Being Here: South Africans in 2010.
Perhaps my turquoise scarf was a touch exotic or my eyeliner just a little too severe for non-desert climes.
I make conversation after the panel wraps up as I happen to know more than I should about foot-in-mouth disease and I don’t want her to feel leprous.
It turns out that she’s French and thought we may have been some strain of Algerian.
She’s not been here long enough to pot us as garden variety Jo’burg ‘slums.
During our time in Egypt, Naeem and I were pegged as Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Algerian and Egyptian until we opened our mouths and out tumbled strangled Fus-ha and English.
Where from, we’d get asked.
Gunoob Ifrikiyya (we’d latched on to the Egyptian way of making g-ers out of our j-ers).
The look was always a squashed up incredulity.
We weren’t black, how could we possibly be South African?
The tourist visa purveyors down at Mugammah, that bastion of bull-minded bureaucracy in downtown Cairo, made sure they got us down to writing country of origin as India despite the fact that both sets of our grandparents were born in South Africa.
It got me thinking, “How long do you have be here before you belong?”
My only links to India are a cooking tradition, a broken language, glass bangles and miniature fake marble versions of the Taj Mahal.
There’s a niece of my grandmother who still lives in the village in Gujarat and I must admit, sadly, the glass bangles will probably outlive that linkage.
My identity is stuffed into this bag of South African Indian-ness, which is different from any other Indian-ness you will encounter.
Add Muslim to that, and you have a full-on thesis (thankfully Kaye is onto that one).
We are biltong biryani with inkomazi for Eid.
We are here.

Shubnum’s novel Onion Tears touches on these issues of South African Indian identity.