On corruption

I was having lunch with a colleague the other day when we started talking about corruption in Uganda. He told me that some scholars argue that public officials in unnaturally created nations like ours do not feel all that bad about taking public funds, as long as they use those funds to take care of their people – i.e. tribes men and women, extended and nuclear family. In their minds they were taking money from some faceless people somewhere and redistributing it to their people.

This got me thinking.

What is corruption? And who is corrupt?

These questions brought some incidents to mind that I told my lunch companion about.

There is this office complex where I had a desk for a while, but it was near impossible to find any parking there because most of the slots had been allocated to the tenant organisations, and only a few left for guests like me. If I couldn’t find a parking space, however, there was always a parking attendant winking at me and telling we could “reach an understanding”. I always refused and just parked on the street because I thought that if we reached this understanding then both he and I were corrupt.

Another thing that doesn’t really count as corruption that I often experience is security men and women randomly asking you for money as you leave – so not even to do anything in return but for you just to give them money.

My companion told me that some scholars call all this low-level (quasi) corruption behaviour a kind of – distributed tax? Illegal tax? I don’t remember, but it meant that in these situations I was being taxed by those who earned less than me because I earned more than them.

And I thought, you know what? If I thought about this money as some kind of tax resulting from our unequal circumstances I would happily pay it, but the question still remains: if corruption is so widespread, then do people think of themselves as corrupt?

Which brought another story to mind.

Some other colleagues had told me about one time when they interviewed a man for the position of Lecturer in History of Research. And the applicant felt that the best evidence of his qualification was the fact that he ran a successful “research bureau” at Makerere University, and had helped many, many undergraduate and graduate students do their research. My colleagues, were, quite understandably, completely flabbergasted! This man clearly had no inkling of the ethical implications of his so-called research bureau. Needless to say he did not get the job.

Narrating this story to my lunch companion we both agreed that measures of perceived corruption were certainly far from approximating the real levels of corruption. But then that depended on what we meant by corruption! Especially if someone was not even aware that his behaviour was corrupt.

The question that remained with me, though, was this: that public official who thinks his corruption is OK because he is stealing to take care of his people – would he not steal if Uganda did not exist; if instead he was governing over just his own people?

 

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Mama Grace

I was at a conference the other day, and met a distinguished professor of Gender Studies. We chatted for a while about the difficulties of being a gender scholar in Uganda, and of being a woman scholar in general.

And so she told me a story.

Once she was on a panel of professors at a conference, and the moderator, a young man well known to her, proceeded to introduce each presenter and invited them to take their seats on the panel. For each Professor the moderator would read their full qualifications, their special awards, and what not, and then invite them to the stage.

When he came to my professor friend he said:

And now let us welcome Mama Grace!

My professor friend said she completely froze! Not knowing how to react, she decided in that split second to remain seated and not get up until she was introduced properly.

Mama Grace – please come to the stage

Everyone was craning their necks to see where this Mama Grace was, and Mama Grace herself decided to look about her as though looking for this Mama Grace. The moderator was confused. Looked at his notes again, and then read out her full name and position, upon which she got up and walked onto the stage.

My professor friend tells me that that moderator has never forgotten that moment! While some people came up to her and congratulated her on standing her ground, some others castigated her for humiliating the moderator – really?? What about how he humiliated her? He was later to tell her that he referred to her as such to show her respect as a mother, but she told him that was a load of bull!

Mama Grace indeed!

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An encounter on KQ

One of the many reasons I like to travel is that the people one encounters on the way can really have a profound impact on you. I often wish I could keep a record these encounters  somewhere but the story is sometimes so little that I don’t think it warrants a full post. The other day, with the latest little encounter still on my mind, after I found myself relating it to someone else for the 10th time, I thought – wait: of course I can blog about these encounters – I could just create a category just for these snippets!

Don’t ask me why I  thought I have to create blog posts of any specific length but anyway, here I am.

So I was sitting next to this woman on a flight from Nairobi back home to Entebbe, while she was just beginning her journey back home to the States – Kenyan by Nationality, she now lived in the U.S. and even had a U.S. passport.

Our conversation started out innocently enough – she was fretting over having left her passport and smartphone in her hand luggage, which because the plane was full had had to be sent down to the hold at the last minute, and I was consoling her about the fact that there had been such little time for anyone to tamper with her luggage that it was likely OK.

We chatted about this and the other, and then, as it usually does, talk turned to relationships. She told me that she had met her husband at the age of 25, and that at the time had not really felt ready to get married. However, her boyfriend really wanted to get married, and her family really wanted her to get married, and in that mix she fell pregnant, and so she got married.

Unfortunately, over the 23 years of her marriage she had not ever really felt happy. Her husband, she felt, never made any effort to woe her, and instead preferred to spend most of his time drinking beer with his boys and watching soccer on television. Over this time she had considered leaving many times, but her mother had dissuaded her every time, telling her to think of her 4 children if nothing else, and so she stayed.

Somewhere in 2016 they came back to Kenya so that he could perform the final ceremony of their marriage – something involving the shoulder of a goat – I din’t follow it too closely. In early 2017 he then traveled back to Kenya to pay bride price for another woman, and then came back and asked for a divorce. Over most of their their marriage, her husband had traveled to Kenya quite frequently so as to oversee his business interests, and apparently he and this woman had been carrying on for sometime already.

She told me that she was completely devastated by this news. Here she was, nearing 50, always having been dependent, and she had no clue what to do next. But the words that really stayed with me were:

He has always done what he wanted to do, and I was never allowed to do what I wanted to do.

Truer words were never spoken. He had wanted to get married when she was 25, and he did, and now he wanted to move on and he just did! Whereas she had wanted to do so many things throughout her life but had always been told that she couldn’t! And now she didn’t even know what she wanted anymore!

Sitting next to her that day she looked so sad and lost my heart really broke for her. She told me that since her divorce she has met a few men but even knowing they were all wrong for her she still dated them. She said she really felt like she needs a man to function, and was afraid that she would eventually settle for someone else who was no good for her, but she felt helpless.

He had always done what he wanted to do.

That really struck me because it is the story of so many women – being told by society what we can and can not do. Sorry as I was for her, sitting next to her I felt really vindicated for having taken more control of my own life when was in my late 20s. Society insists on calling me selfish for never having married or had children; they find my semi-nomadic lifestyle bizarre, and they warn me that I will regret it all when I am older.

Well, I always say to myself: I don’t regret any of my choices to date (although I have made some unwise ones I can’t lie!) – but that is because I am always careful to be sure I am doing what I want to do.

If I have no regrets now, I really doubt I will have any when I am 80, so I keep on going!

 

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Panama here I come – Part 3

Spoiler alert: I did not go to Panama.

As I write, the conference has started, and the pre-conference workshop has ended, and I should have been in Panama four days ago, but after all that back and fourth the visa office finally wrote to me, with about a week to my travel date, well, why don’t you read the email yourself:

Good Day Ms Connie,

Thank you for the statements, we are sending all your documents onto Panama they will the process your  Authorised VISA this will take 2 months for them to come back to us here to confirm whether to issue a VISA or not. I see that your date of arrival is the 20 October 2018 and I truly don’t think Panama will be have authorised your VISA.

For future reference If  you live in Uganda and have and Ugandan Pass Port   you need a VISA this has to be done through Embassy ofPanama/Consular in Egypt…these are instructions that  South Africa, Egypt and Morocco have received from the Panamanian Government.

Regards

VISA SECTION

Embassy of Panama

Now these are people who the very first email I wrote to them had the subject: ” I am a Ugandan and would like to travel to Panama”

Further. All this time they had not checked my date of departure???

Anyway.

In brief. After that DHL-ing there was some more back and forth telling there were some parts of my translated bank statements not translated, and indeed one line was still in English – how had I missed that? So I had to send the PDFs to my Panama hosts and ask them to review, and they corrected the line and sent the documents back; and then the visa office told me that the dates also had to be translated – WHAT? The lady helping me in Panama couldn’t figure out what they meant, and wondered if it was because she herself was originally from Uruguay and maybe they do things differently in Panama; and I say, well, maybe the month has to come first and then the day, unlike the British system where the day came before the month – WHO KNEW??

So she wrote the dates out in full, like with the month written in words (mind you, these back and forths eat up another week because everyone did not always reply me immediately, but at this point I was just resigned);  and then I sent the new translations back to the visa office (on Oct 4), and then followed up on Oct 8 to ask: everything OK? And they wrote back on Oct 9 with the above email.

Sigh.

OK. Nothing to do but cancel my trip and just pass everything on to my fellow GYA Co-Chair, who, being British, only had to check her calendar to see if she was free and book her flight if she wanted. Unfortunately she wasn’t free either so we had to delegate even further. Point being: here I had gone through weeeeeks of torture and she only had to check her calendar to see if she was free and she would have been off.

Anyway. This has been a long tale. Thank you for reading this far. Writing it has been somewhat cathartic but believe you me this is not the end of the matter!

I have more to say on the matter so watch the space!

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Panama here I come – Part 2

Wednesday.

D-Day!

First thing in the morning I check my email and no hotel booking from Panama. What now? Off to the recommended law offices to get the passport copy notarised. Upon arrival at the office complex I am refused entry to the parking. For employees only. What to do? I drive around the block and suddenly spot this 5-star hotel in the distance – oh, they have plenty of parking and although it is quite a walk back at least I won’t add my car being clamped to my troubles.

20 minutes later I arrive out of breath and sweaty at the said law offices – that morning sun is already no joke. I go through security and take the lift up to the law offices on the 12th floor. None of Notary Publics has arrived. It is already 9 am! I ask if I have to photocopy the passport myself or does the notary fee include photocopying. It does not. OK, I will go off and photocopy the passport and then return. There is a photocopy shop just outside the office complex, thankfully. I realise that I can photocopy four passport pages onto each A4 – this will reduce the number of pages to just 13. Brilliant!

I go through security again, up to the 12th floor, and they are are still not in. 9.30am. When are they expected? No one knows. But there are other notaries in the short tower within the same office complex (the law office I am in is located in the taller of two towers previously known as the Crested Towers – I don’t know what they are called now). So I enter the lift, cross over to the short tower, go through security, and go up to the other law offices, only to find they are not in either.

AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGG!!!! What time do these lawyers come to work??

Should I sit down and wait for them?

You can, but I can’t be sure when they will be in. There are some other lawyers in the tall tower if you prefer.

Oh. My. God!

It is now 10am. I must DHL everything before 2pm if it is to arrive by Friday morning! I enter the lift again and head back down. Standing in the lift I just feel this force pressing in on my brain, and I feel so stressed and perturbed that I fear my head might explode. It occurs to me that this is how people get strokes. I should calm myself down. Should I cry? I feel like crying might help ease this stress. But I decide against it. I decide instead to just close my eyes and breath in slowly, and calm myself down. Why am I allowing this to stress me so much? What will happen if I don’t catch this DHL deadline? What if I don’t go to Panama? In fact – if I wanted I could just walk straight back to my car and forget all about it. This was not life and death, after all.

Suitably calmed I get out of the lift, cross back over to the tall tower, go through tall tower security again, and head back up to the 12th floor. The fellows are still not back. AI think – I better think of a new plan now! At that moment I remember another lawyer friend that I hadn’t asked if he was a notary public. I ring him and he turns out to be certified. He will be back to his chambers at 11am and can meet me then. His office is smack in the middle of town. Will I have parking? You can pack in our underground parking, don’t worry, he says.

I walk round back to my car in the 5-star hotel parking lot and sit in the driver’s seat and consider my chances of catching the DHL delivery. Perhaps I better have a plan B for if I can’t make it. So I decide to ring the Pretoria Visa Office and ask for the officer who will go on leave on 14th Sept. Can’t this application be handled by someone else after he goes on leave? Oh, he will go on leave on 19th, actually. So Monday 17th is soon enough. Oh, thank God. So then maybe get these documents notarised and give the hotel booking one more night. Meeting my lawyer friend and getting the documents notarised is a breeze. A breeze that carries  about $130 with it but OK.

Thursday.

Still no Hotel booking. At this point there is no chance of the package arriving the following day so posting it today or tomorrow it will still be delivered on Monday. EVen then, and don’t ask me why, I feel that I should post it today. So I write an urgent email to the Panamanians asking them send the hotel booking first thing in their morning (my late afternoon) so I could still drop off the package at DHL today. With the hope of a positive and prompt response to my urgent email, I set off from home around 3pm and drive to town and wait at my sister’s office.  DHL closes at 6pm. My 4pm is their 8am. The hotel booking could potentially come in at my 5pm – this would still be plenty of time to drop off the package since I was only a 5-minute drive to the DHL head office (I was not messing with outlets coz who knew when those packages would be picked up). I sit with my laptop connected to the printer and checking my email every few minutes. 4.30pm. 5pm. 5.30pm. OK. No email. 5.45pm. Time to give up. I pack up my stuff and invite my sister out for a nice meal and some wine to abate my disappointment. Really this is suffering.

Friday.

There is the blasted hotel booking. OK. Drive out to DHL again and post the useless package. It is now exactly one month before I have to be on a flight to Panama. I hope it is not too late. They had said I needed 2 months for the visa to be processed but since we have an inside guy, and since we are directly in touch with immigration (this is an unsubstantiated claim so don’t ask why I believed it but it definitely counted in my calculations), we will probably be OK.

Monday, 17 September.

They had said to pay the visa fee directly into the bank on the day before or on the day of the appointment, so I initiate the EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) on my computer on Monday morning, only to receive error messages from the system. WTF!??!?!?!?

I drive out to my bank. In case you are wondering why I am always driving out somewhere, it is because I work out of home, which is located in one of the suburbs of Kampala. Without traffic this is about 20 minutes from the centre of town, but the drive can be anywhere between one and two hours with traffic. Once at the bank I am informed the system is down this morning but they can transfer the money for me. OK. So an EFT. No, a TT (Telegraphic Transfer). Does it go off immediately? No, it takes a day or two.

So. OK. More delays. But what can I do now? Mr. Visa Processing Officer will be leaving to go on leave on Wednesday 19 September so clearly I will not catch him. He had told me someone else would be replacing him, of course, but who knew what more delays that meant?  I Send the money. About $100 + about $15 for the transfer.

I drive back home and pack my stuff as I have to go off to Nairobi the following day. Which is also my birthday. Happy Birthday to me.

Anyway, now I wait.

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Panama here I come – Part 1

In my new role as the Co-Chair of the Global Young Academy (GYA) I find myself travelling quite a bit more than usual. Soon after I was elected in May, I found myself bound for Brazil, Panama, and Japan, among other countries. Since I also travel extensively for work I knew that this situation needed careful coordination. Looking at the different visa requirements I made the decision to start with Panama (because the embassy was in Pretoria), and then Brazil because the Embassy was in Nairobi, and then Japan because the Embassy was in Kampala and anyway that trip was the furthest away. I was meant to be in Panama around 20th October, and this was now July 25. Plenty of time.

I can’t lie. It was surprise to me that I even needed a visa to Panama. Panama? OK. So I casually looked up the visa requirements, only to find that not only did I need a visa to Panama, the requirements were totally hectic:

1. I had to submit this application in person at the consulate in Pretoria
2. I had to photocopy and notarise every page of my entire passport
3. No crossing out or scratching out were allowed on the application form (I work from home and have no printer, so this requirement alone meant that I had ended up driving out and printing a new form three different times because I made a mistake on the first two).
4. ALL my documents had to be translated into Spanish – including bank statements, the air ticket, the hotel booking and all invitation letters – by a certified translator (now where was I going to find such a person in Kampala?)
5. Allow 2 months for the visa to be processed.

and on, and on!

God!

But wait: apparently if I had a Schengen visa (I did – multi-entry and valid for another 6 months!), that had been used at least once (it had been used more than once, even!), I had no need for a visa at all! Tsk! OK. Crisis averted.

Oh, hang on. This Schengen visa had to have a validity of 1 year at the time of entry to Panama.

What?

Useless!

Unless…

In September I was scheduled to go Germany for another GYA meeting – what if I cancelled my current (Dutch-issued) visa, and applied for a two-year Schengen Visa through the German Embassy (apparently I couldn’t apply for the latter before cancelling the former), use that during my trip to Germany, and then use that to go to Panama. Problem solved!

When I shared this brilliant idea with GYA office and my fellow Co-Chair they warned caution – there was still some time to apply for the Panama visa – why cancel a perfectly good visa when I couldn’t be sure the Germans would give me this 2-year multi-entry visa? A fair point – the fact that the Dutch had given it to me didn’t mean the Germans would be as positively inclined. Also, maybe our hosts in Panama might have connections that could help us get around some of the more hectic requirements.

So it was back to the drawing board.

Well, I did still had 2.5 months to go so I got busy preparing the application. On July 30 I wrote to the Panama consulate in Pretoria to ascertain whether or not I really had to go their in person and was promptly told: YES! And my Schengen multi-entry visa with 6 months on it wouldn’t work. I got a categorical NO!

Right.

So I turned to my hosts in Panama and they could discover some way around these requirements, but in the meantime prepared the needed documents in case there was no way around. Somewhere in the middle of August (still 2 months to go, by now) we found out that if the GYA prepared something called a verbal note on my behalf then it would mean I did not have to go to Pretoria. (I thought, enh? Like an oral message vouching for me or? No – turned out to be a thing in diplomatic circles). This information finally reached us towards the end of August,

We were asked to prepare it quickly so their guy could process it before he went on leave on Friday Sept 14 (about a month before I was meant to travel) so we worked on it quickly and sent it by 25 August (or so), and then sat back and waited for what next. A week passed. Then two. Nothing. Would the visa be ready before our guy went on leave or? I wrote an email to the people in Panama to find out. Only to be told: Oh! We thought that YOU (i.e. me) were now going to prepare all the other documents and send everything to Pretoria to this guy before 14 September!!

What??

I thought that they were going to work with their guy to get me the visa and save me all the wahala! This was already the afternoon of Monday 10th September! OMG, OMG, OMG!

I had to organise the translations of everything, notarise my entire passport, get the hotel confirmation from Panama, and DHL everything in time for it to arrive by Friday 14 September – what?? How did this happen! I had started this whole process so early and now look!

So I quickly wrote to my Panamanian hosts and asked them to send me a confirmed hotel booking pronto. They wrote back to say they were on it! I rang DHL to find out when the latest was for me to drop something off for it to by arrive by Friday morning. Wednesday afternoon, they say.

OK.

So I had all of Tuesday to organise everything.

Right!

Tuesday.

Printed some new application forms (because I made a mistake on the first set), and drove to the bank to pick up the certified bank statements. Bank is crowded so I sit down to wait. I fill in the forms in the meantime. Damn. Another mistake! I’d get another set of forms later. An hour of waiting and I had the bank statements.

But now who to translate?? WHO?? Oh, wait – a Ugandan friend of mine had been living in Barcelona for a couple of years – maybe he could help me. WhatsApped him and he got on it. Still no hotel confirmation, though.  Panama is 8 hours ahead of us so I don’t expect anything in my inbox during the day – the earliest it could come in was late evening so I was sure to have it ready for the following day.

Until then I still have the matter of photocopying my entire passport and notarizing every page – I ring around among the lawyers I know but none of them is a Notary Public – they recommend some in town, and inform me that each page will cost me UGX 50,000 (approx $15), and my passport has 50 pages – my brain couldn’t really compute what that meant but that evening I withdrew UGX 1,000,000 and got as ready for the following day as I could.

Wednesday.

D-Day!

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Pretoria, South Africa

Whenever I visit South Africa I eat far too much meat. It is a Braai, here, and a Braai there, and three or four different meat dishes at breakfast and lunch and dinner, so knowing I was going to be in Pretoria for a good three weeks this time I decided I was going to be a vegetarian for the entire time.  I announced my intention to the taxi driver bringing me from the airport at 2am in the morning and his response was: “ain’t gonna happen!”

Well, almost 7 days on I can safely say it has happened!

But I say, it has not been easy! And not that the difficulty came from me – once I made up my mind staying off the meat was fine; it is just that this place is simply not made for vegetarians. Despite the difficulties of finding food, a bonus for me, in the process, has been discovering a few things about South African Cuisine, and even in some ways South African society.

Day 1.

After hearing my request for only vegetarian dinners during my stay , the cook at the guest house I am staying at gave me a concerned look and almost made as if to give me a consolation hug.

“Why don’t you eat meat?”, she wanted to know?

“Well, I always eat too much meat when I am here”, I replied, “and because it is always so delicious and I have no self control I thought the best thing to do was to take it off the menu altogether.”

“Oh. But I can give you little, if you want!” She declared.

“Hahahaha, no, don’t worry about me – I will be fine”

On that first night she gave me some rice and pumpkin and I can’t remember what else, but I remember the pumpkin because it was strangely sweet, as though someone had added sugar. The next morning the tomatoes at breakfast also tasted too sweet, so I asked my South African breakfast companion what that was about and she said they generally added sugar to their veggies to make them sweeter.. I was later to observe the same phenomenon with carrots and peas – what? I had to ask the cook at the guesthouse to please not add any sugar to my food (she ignored me, but OK). Another day all I could eat off the breakfast buffet was beans because all the other dishes contained meat or fish, but what can I say – that’s being vegetarian in Pretoria for you!

And then one of those days I went out to the mall for some shopping (this I was forced to do because KQ misplaced my luggage – it is still missing 7 days later – but that is a story for another day), and to gather some energy for the shopping I decided to nip into a bookstore and bought a novel (the unbearable lightness of being), and a notebook, and sat down for lunch and a glass of wine at an Italian restaurant. Now I must tell you: between my egg allergy and now being vegetarian, I could hardly find any items on the menu to eat! Not even pasta which it turned out they made in-house – commendable but not helpful. Fortunately they make some “pasta” from thinly sliced baby marrow, so I settled for that in a creamy sauce and some “pepperdew” When the meal arrived, I say: I couldn’t even see the fake pasta at first for all the cream it was swimming in! The pepperdew was a revelation, though – it is essentially a preserved sweet pepper that was really quite delicious. A few days later I made the mistake of ordering a similar pasta at the university cafeteria (the choices being very limited); suspecting them of lower means I thought it wouldn’t be as creamy, but this time the pasta was thick with cheese as well; I ate it, but decided that was the last I was going to order that dish.

Come the weekend and I thought I ought to venture further afield in Pretoria, and leave the Eastern Pretoria Suburbs for downtown Pretoria. Chatting with my Uber driver about he fact that all my previous shopping had been at the Brooklyn and Menlyn Malls, he proceeded to tell me that unfortunately I had likely paid too much for everything, since everyone knows that even the Woolworths marks up their prices by a good 20 or 30% over thee downtown prices. I had therefore made the right decision to move my shopping downtown, where the blacks like me and him could get the very same items at far friendlier prices. According to him, those other malls that I had been frequenting were only good for whites; blacks only went there to take selfies to post on Facebook.

OK.

Well, downtown Pretoria was a revelation, in any case (the areas around Church and Mabiba streets, to be clear).

First of all, masses of black people in every direction – in the five hours I spent there I saw maybe three whites! And I was looking out for them so I doubt I missed any!

Secondly, not a regular restaurant or cafe to be had anywhere (I had woken up too late for breakfast and needed to get a bite first)! I walked and walked and all I could find were fast food restaurants – KFC, Nandos, Wimpy’s, Steers, MacDonalds, name it! Walking through passages and up and down streets I also came across some nameless local food joints, but these too served heaps of pork and beef ribs and steaks, and vats of oxtail, with maybe some cabbage or shredded carrot here and there, and of course the ubiquitous pap (a maize meal dish). Mind you, these joints were already buzzing despite it’s being 10 O’clock in the morning – wishing for a brunch, at least, and desperate for a coffee in any case, these were not suitable options. Besides, I also wanted to read my book and savour my coffee, and these places were dimly lit, smoky with the cooking, and had at least two TVs in each corner blaring music and sports simultaneously.

Finally I settled on a Wimpy’s, which had a vegetarian brunch option of toast, mushrooms, tomatoes and hash browns, the latter of which I could not eat because they contain eggs, and which I swapped for a small bowl of potato fries. Their was coffee, at least, and the place received some natural light, although it was still a little noisy and smoky from the cooking.

Anyway.

Brunch was followed by a few hours of window shopping and trying on dozens of outfits; finally I purchased a pair of exercise pants and matching top, and knowing my lunch options were bleak at best I called an Uber and hot footed it out of there, back to my East Pretoria Malls. I settled myself down on the terrace of Greek restaurant (Mythos), and proceeded to order a mezze platter for one. Being as there were only three eggless and vegetarian mezze dishes, I ordered all of them: some delicious spinach and feta on black mushrooms, and a less impressive rice in vine leaves, and a rather inedible fried halloumi cheese. This was washed down by a melon G&T (which was too sweet and not alcoholic enough, but OK).

During my late lunch I was again struck by how many white people I saw around me – in my line of sight were a good couple of hundred sitting at nearby restaurants and walking by,  and I maybe saw 10 blacks altogether, including myself and a Rwandese family of 3 sitting at the next table. Among these whites was a good smattering of Indians, I must say, but it struck me that the South African Society was still pretty divided. I am aware, obviously, that things are not as black and white as they seem (excuse the pun), so I can only report what I saw as a casual – what this means is beyond me to say.

In any case: the point of this post was to express just how difficult it is to be a vegetarian in Pretoria – so difficult that when a friend invited me to Braai for later today, I decided on the spot that I would only be a vegetarian 6 days of the week, and abandon it every 7th day – so looking forward to it!! 😀

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