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Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Trivial pursuit’s

Random fact. I love Trivia. Correction – I love winning at Trivia nights. Why? Because boo-yah, that’s why. Granted there are often prizes to be won – its a jackpot system. Not only do you have to knowledgeable enough to win, you also need luck to walk away with the R500 jackpot. To date the jackpot has proved elusive. Instead I have often found myself on the receiving end of many a free meal voucher and bottles of cheap obscure wine. I am convinced I pissed off Lady Luck in a past life. Hell hath no fury… But I digress.

I am a nosy somebody. That might also partially explain my love for Trivia. From an early age I have always been compelled by curiosity. I must have been 8-9 years old when my Dad brought home the first of many sets of Encyclopedia Britannica’s. I was soon flipping through the thick pages of its many volumes. Little did I know at the time but the Trivia seed had been sown. I had slowly began cultivating my passion for picking up random and often useless facts. Around the same time another “nerd tendency” was also in its infancy. As fate would have it my love for comics would go on to have a symbiotic relationship with the Encyclopedia Britannica’s. Unlike the Encyclopedia Britannica’s the comics were viewed with the same contempt as contraband in our household.  So whenever I wanted to go on my adventures with Asterix and Obelix, it was under the guise of having my nose stuck in a Encyclopedia Britannica.

However as testosterone became the major driving force in my pubescent years my focus shifted. Girls became the motivation. So began my love/hate relationship with the nerd. A conflict that initially played itself out in the comfort of our lounge. Ever so briefly in black and white before fully blowing up in technicolor. On one hand I was Team Urkel (Family Matters). The Urk man. The epitome of a nerd. I was always rooting for him to win over Laura Winslow.Team Urkels wins though were low. “Did I just do that?” … ‘Yeezy taught me”. Moving on. On another 90’s sitcom I totally despised Carlton Banks. I wanted to be Will. The Fresh Prince. He always got the girls. With my focus now shifted, my inner nerd took a back seat. I would go on to spend the remainder of my teenage years and a huge chunk of my early twenties in the pursuit of awesomeness. Desperately trying to get jiggy with it. For the girls.

Back to the future. *Hopes into DeLorean*. The year 2012. Over the last year Trivia nights have enjoyed a resurgence in my social life.Its become quite an obsession. The revenge of the nerd. I have come to terms with the harsh reality that I am probably never going to be sent to live with my Aunt and Uncle in Bel-Air.

Alfonso … Still not a Carlton fan. Still very much Team Urkel. In fact a mate recently brought to my attention an episode when we were introduced to Steve Urkel’s alter ego Stefan. The Urk man for the Trivia nights.  Stefan, for the girls. That settles it – embracing the nerd. Bi-winning.

TRIVIA

True or false? Charlie Chaplin once lost a Charlie Chaplin look -a-like contest.

answer

True

Not only did he lose. He  failed to even make the finals. He later told a reporter at the time that he was ” tempted to give lessons in the Chaplin walk, out of pity as well as a desire to see the thing done properly.”

Charlie Chaplin was the King of the silent movie era. By the end of World War 1 he was the most famous actor in the world. His most famous role was that of ‘The Tramp”.

Now that my seem like a trivial story ( pun intended), but there is a lesson in there somewhere. An explanation for the loss is that in look-a-like contests people look for the exaggerated and over the top mimicking of the character.The caricature. Often times in dealing with people in our lives we will lose our own look-a-like  contests. People’s perceptions of us might just be based on caricatures of us they have formed. So when you lose your own look-alike contest, ask yourself… ‘What would Charlie do?’

In this thick fog of my nostalgic rants I am just really looking for myself. So if I ever lose the look-alike contest, I will be ready to give lessons in the “Chaplin walk”. Also I am always looking to testing out material for my writing – like I’m on stage. Why? Because tout, au monde, existe pour aboutir à un livre,.( Because the whole world exists to end up in a book).That’s why.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Nostalgia Junkie

 

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The 1st Scroll: Turkish Delight

Hi, my name is Taf and I am a nostalgia junkie. Sometimes when I get high off nostalgia I see hieroglyphs in my minds eye. On even rarer occasions lost in the midst of these hieroglyphs my fingertips start to write. In this dalliance with Thoth the ancient Egyptian God of writing. I am able to navigate around my way around my memory’s museum. On a good nostalgia high the fire of inspiration burns brightly and I can eloquently decipher these hieroglyphics onto the page and in turn share the many different artefacts my memory has curated.

Allow me to be your tour guide. If you don’t enjoy the tour. Oh well drumroll please. Ladies and gentleman. (Plays Afromen. ‘Because I was high’) Sue me.

I remember my very first job ever , which I got at the end of my first semester of my first year of uni. It was a job in a Turkish restaurant. Cafe Istanbul. It was a pretty hands on job. It covered everything from doing the dishes to waiting on tables to grilling the kebab meat. It was a job born out of necessity rather than any innate work ethic. If anything it was fueled by a desire to fund my burgeoning social life. It wasn’t my first choice either.

As it was I had my eye on a gig with the local music store which was part of a grand plan to build my CD collection. Mind you this was before the proliferation of iPods and iTunes and lets just say I considered myself a bit of a lime-wire snob. Fate had other plans though and it conspired to lead me into a friendship with a Turkish student, who in turn put me onto the job at Cafe Istanbul. Again this was before the days of LinkedIn. Sigh.The ‘good old days’. Damn you nostalgia. P.S. Has anyone ever got a real paying job through LinkedIn anyway? I digress.

As the first semester had drawn to a close I had also increasingly started to get more and more nauseated at the mere thought of two-minute noodles. Something that an upgrade from the standard supermarket issue to Nasi Goreng had not alleviated.The glamour of student life. So this job was a welcome reprieve. It was goodbye noodle diet. Hello gourmet Turkish food. Balling. Need I mention the extra cash it freed up to allow to fund my quest to become the ultimate brother to the night.

Little did I know that my my new employer would over the course of time often act as my surrogate Mum. She was a charming, unassuming and nurturing Turkish lady. Kader was her name, which actually means garden in heaven in Turkish.Seeing as my own mother was on another continent over 12000km away her role as my surrogate Mum during this transition into adulthood proved invaluable. Even though I was just an employee she fussed and hovered over me with a maternal sincerity I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. She made me feel part of the family.

Also being a full time student and only being able to work part time meant that I worked mostly nights often finishing late after the buses had stopped running without fail and even though it was out of her way she would always drive me home late at night after work. Then there was the coffee. Not just any coffee but the traditional turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi). She would always sit me down and make us a cup after we had shut shop right before she drove me home.

If you have ever drunk Turkish coffee you will know that its served usually in very tiny cups with no handles so have to handle it with your fingertips. It is very thick and syrupy, very different from your regular cappuccino. Turkish coffee is normally prepared using a narrow-topped small boiling pot called an cevze (basically a tiny ewer), a teaspoon and a heating apparatus. The ingredients are very finely ground coffee, sometimes cardamom, cold water and sugar .

It wasn’t so much the taste but the sentiment this after work coffee ritual facilitated. For during this time she would drop the whole boss act and put on her surrogate Mum hat. Then go on to inquire about how I was doing with uni.How was I coping with the homesickness. Always tempering the incquistions with light hearted jibes about the girls she always claimed came in to just flirt with me to which I would feign ignorance. Which would often result in her actively trying to embarrass me and if she was feeling quite chirpy pimp me out. Fun times.

But my favourite part of the whole thing was the fortune telling part. Every time you drink Turkish coffee, when you are done , because of its syrupy nature there is always some residue which is a thick layer of sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup. Kader would proceed to make me turn over my cup (with the left over coffee ground) over into the saucer to cool.It is this residue she would proceed to diligently analyse the unique pattern of the coffee grounds that resulted and with it read my fortune.

I know what you are thinking. “Fortune telling. Really Taf?”. I know. “But you are a man of science.” I know. When you done rolling your eyes allow me to explain. Her particular brand of fortune telling never really was about making predictions per se , more like subtle suggestion, gentle nudges of guidance and often practical advice or affirmation of things I was going through all disguised as fortune telling. As a consequence I indulged her. There was a quite comfort in the whole process. For which I am still grateful. In a way now equipped with the power of hindsight I realise that the whole experience was very much a nostalgia hit for her as well. We were both foreigners in a strange land as and she would often reminisce about her younger days back in Turkey.

I later discovered much later on that as well as being an ‘every day’ beverage, Turkish coffee is also a part of the Turkish wedding custom. As a prologue to marriage, the groom’s family must visit the bride’s family to ask permission for and blessings upon the upcoming marriage. During this meeting, the bride must prepare and serve Turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi) to the guests. For the groom’s coffee, the bride uses salt instead of sugar to gauge his character. If the groom drinks his coffee without any sign of displeasure, the bride to be assumes that the groom is good tempered and patient. This just might explain her attempts at ‘pimping me’. Maybe.

Anyway it was with this need for a nostalgia hit that earlier in the week i set set about hunting down a Turkish restaurant in the Mother City. The Culture vulture was on the prowl.

As soon as I walked into Anatoli just about every one of my senses were assaulted. I was enveloped in ts warm and seductive ambiance. The familiar smell of donor kebab meat blended with the aroma of the freshly baked flat breads.The laid out meze trays of assorted hummus, cous cous . eggplant, tabule.The coffee would seal the deal.

No sooner had I settled into my Türk kahvesi, the most angelic voice interrupted me. A voice that perfectly mirrored her striking face. “Is this seat taken?” Mesmerised my voice betrayed me and embarrisngly gestured for her to take the vacant seat. Her eyes gleamed softly with life. She smiled. A beautiful enigmatic smile as wide as fields of jasmine and glover. As she sat, the heavens opened up outside and the rain poured outside. The next thing I know. She said one thing, I said another. My voice allied with me this time. It was the perfect storm. Our conversation meandered and flowed through our different narratives on how we had met Türk kahvesi. Bliss. It felt like we were dancing in the rain. Effortlessly. I didn’t want the rain to stop I wanted to stay soaked in that torrential downpour.

Lost in that rain dance we had lost all sense of time. Minutes had turned into hours and the restaurant was closing up. So rather reluctantly we got ready to make our leave. It was now or never. “Will I see you again?” Before she could answer I stopped her “No don’t answer that.”I said then channeling my inner Love Jones. I continued “Because rather than deal with the fallacy of this dry ass reality I would rather romance and dance with you in a wet dream.”

Well that’s what I wanted to say and should have said. Instead I just helped her with her coat. Then I chuckled to myself. What would Kader make of this little encounter. I could use her fortune telling skills right now.

I grabbed my dogie bag with my Turkish delight and proceeded to walk her out. We get along really well for a couple of virtual strangers I thought.

To be continued

Written by Tafadzwa Tichawangana

 
 

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The Ex-Factor

Pre – drinks
It was one of those dull and painfully slow mornings where I had resorted to stalking the clock. Despite the daggers eyes I was throwing its way, it remained oblivious to my unwelcome attention. So I begrudgingly go back to doing some real work, but first a quick check in with the Distracter in Chief. Good old Facebook. No sooner had I refreshed the page …Ka Pow! It jumps at me like a Ninja from my news feed. Lauryn Hill to headline Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Oh the excitement. Just the pick me up I needed. Even though she is a last minute addition, tickets to the festival had already sold out. My half hearted attempt to keep the culture vulture in me from revolting had just paid off in a big way.

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same.Lauryn Hill for me was one of those people. I knew the Fugees big hits from my cassette days and had hopelessly fallen in love with her voice, whilst aggressive when she rapped through Ready or Not, still managed to be tender.The sweet caress of her beautiful voice on that huge, breakout Roberta Flack cover. Killing me softly. Heavenly. By the time she released her classic album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I was truly, madly, deeply in love.It was classic soul, with a spine stiffened by hip-hop. She sang. She rapped.The perfect album.I was never the same after.

The Gig
So this was it. The climax of my Lauryn Hill appreciation week , part of a huge build up I had undertaken in anticipation for the one and only ‘L Boogie’ set at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.Twenty minutes prior the Kippie”s stage had been jam packed, as we had waited patiently for her to grace the stage. When she finally did, she was met with huge rapturous applause. At that point I had been lost in the throngs of the madding crowd. Now only a few songs into her set and brief stage walk off later. I was within touching distance. and for a millisecond, I could swear our eyes locked for a second. But I digress.

“It could all be so simple(the pain the pain the pain)…but you’d rather make it hard. Loving you is like a battle and we both end up with scars tell me, who i have to be to get some reciprocity see, no one loves you more than me and no one ever will” That’s just part of the first verse of her song Ex Factor supposedly detailing the raw emotion of the break up of her relationship with the Fugees.

Now as I stood there, those lyrics being carried by a raspy voice struggling not to get drowned by the overwhelming feedback from the sound system. The song could not have been more poignant or ironic. This wasn’t how I had imagined this.This particular cocktail of nostalgia had effects like non other I had drunk before. Its ingredients were bittersweet and however delectable the memory it served, the very taste of it was tainted by the vaguely unpleasant taste of regret and the indefinable sadness of reality settling in.

All those whispers I had blatantly ignored of cancelled performances and unsettling on stage behaviour echoed loudly in the now half empty Kippie’s stage.The pain in her eyes and the humiliation in her voice as she appealed to the crowd “Can y’all hear me? Can y’all hear my voice! I want y’all to hear me.” then turning to her band “I don’t think they can hear us”. As the mass exodus of fans continued I couldn’t help but muse at how the tables had turned. How she walked out on her fans. Now they walked out on her. I stayed though drunk of nostalgia and wearing my ‘Nostalgia goggles’

The Hangover
The day after as I nursed my nostalgia hangover I struggled to reconcile my logical reaction with my emotional response. It seemed an ignominious turn for a relationship that began with so much promise and reached its premature climax with the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She had disappeared with no real explanation. Only attempting to address this in a lucid moment during her MTV unplugged sessions.”How did this thing that I love so much so easily and so quickly turn into something I loathe and hate?” she had asked rhetorically. Unfortunately she never seemed to solve that riddle and is yet to graduate from the creative purgatory that’s plagued her since.

In trying to understand my own journey and Lauryn Hill experience I immediately realised why hearing the Ex Factor on that night had been particularly poignant. I finally got it. In the hundreds of times I had let my ears be caressed by that particular song I had never imagined it could ever at some stage be the song that would help me understand my relationship with her. It is also quite the paradox really that technological advances such as the Internet enable us to wallow in the past as exemplified by my Lauryn Hill appreciation week.The bar in which this Nostalgia cocktail was mixed. Often overtly romanticising our pasts through our ‘Nostalgia Goggles’

This concept of ‘Nostalgia Goggles’ can also be applied to our real life relationships especially with ex-lovers.The proliferation of social networks and instant messaging platforms makes it so much easier to stay in touch or to reconnect with people from our past. The triggers for these nostalgia driven trips down memory lane usually stem from various reasons ranging from curiosity for the whereabouts of these people who rejected us or were rejected by us. It could also be a sense of unfinished business that generates intense emotions or the assumption that this time it might be different as either the parties involved or the external circumstances have changed.

The problem with ‘Nostalgia Goggles’ though is that they tend to zoom in and focus on the good memories using them as justification and fueling our belief in the probability of success. History with the person often adds greater legitimacy to this, but like my Lauryn Hill experience you are never really prepared for any potential disappointment as a result.

Be wary of Nostalgia. It’s a hell of a cocktail.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Nostalgia Junkie

 

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