Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saying Goodbye to South Africa

goodbye goodbye totsiens goodbye goodbye totsiens goodbye goodbye hambe gahle goodbye  goodbye
Article published in The Witness on the 27th May

The loooooong goodbye 
27 May 2008                                                                                                     Eve Hemming

It’s a known fact that among the top stressors 
in life are the death of a loved one and divorce, 
followed by change, which can include 
establishing a new relationship, changing 
homes,  jobs, cities or countries.
Human beings simply don’t like change. 
We’re sticklers for constancy.
Moving to another country is in essence a conglomerate change that encompasses 
multiple losses — loved ones, home, job and country, as well as one’s roots and 
one’s identityIt’s like a total reconstruction of the self.
I’m told that New Zealand doesn’t favour 
         “tall poppies”                                                                                                         
and that one must quietly blend
and merge with the landscape and avoid 
being conspicuous. I’m not sure about “colourful poppies”. It could be challenging for someone
 like me with my burgundy hair, clanging bangles, 
scarves and gypsy paraphernalia. 
So I’ll attempt to arrive gently, hover under the radar 
and be an omnipotent observer. I’m told one should 
avoid saying “just now”. It’s interpreted as 
immediately, not as 'net nou' from the direct 
Afrikaans translation. It is a South Africanism that we understand only
 too well back here. 
It is these subtle nuances that one 
has to learn by osmosis. 
I’m also told that at cross roads when one’s turning right from an arterial road, that the traffic in the primary road has to pause and give way to turning traffic.  Hellooooo. That’ll surely cause me a near death by cross-roads daily catastrophe. 
I look at the world map and try to conceptualise being on a little dot on the North Islanditself a mere dot on the sea-scape. It seems so remote. 
Somehow, the way the flat world map has been created 
makes Africa seem like the centre of the planetary universe.

 One internalises that concept into one’s personal mind map. 
Now I’m going down there — to a little dot — sort of an after-thought midget landmass 
near Aussie. It requires a complete reorientation. It’s closer to the east and probably the same distance to the west that Africa is, if that makes any sense at all.
The most bizarre concept is the time difference. When my fellow South Africans are awake I’ll be asleep and vice versa. That creates a complication for nana-communication. 
But it’s strangely comforting staying in the southern hemisphere. 
The water will still rotate in the same direction down the bath plug. 
And I’ll still be able to see the Southern Cross and it’ll still be winter 
in July and summer at Christmas time. 

And thankfully, despite the crazy road rules, they still drive on the left side of the road. 
But of course “robots” are called traffic lights and apparently tearooms are called dairies.
 And at my work place I’ll be given an official welcome, called a “powhiri”.
Last weekend we visited a game park. I had a brilliant opportunity 
to imbibe the plethora of wildlife. I even got to stroke an Ellie,
as two tame ones were there for a movie shoot. (I never realised how prickly their trunks are.) 
Photo: An Asian elephant eating
That was an exceptionally poignant and symbolic farewell, as I adore elephants.
 In New Zealand, wildlife’s far more limited. But then I have an anathema
 to snakes, so the upside is that they’re virtually non-existent there.
The most difficult part of going anywhere is the getting there. That’s when one realises 
what a mammoth journey it is. For the intrepid souls who are taking a plunge into the un-known, there are just no short cuts. But one can learn the procedures from sufferers like
 me, who’ve banged our heads in exasperation waiting and sitting in queues. 
There are medicals to be done, police clearance, passports, work visas, internationaldriver’s licences, certified copies of everything, the packing 
up and finally the distribution of the contents of one’s life.
 I call it the “deconstruction phase”.
It’s like peeling an onion — one peels off  layers
disposing of one’s objects 
and collectibles, and at the core are the 
wet-eyed emotional goodbyes. 
Rehoming doggies is 
one of the things 
that wrenches. 

And at the epicentre, saying goodbye to family has yet to comeat the airport, where I’ll have my Rescue Remedy. 
But being a born optimist means that after the deconstruction phase the reconstruction phase emerges. And if one’s flexible with a sprinkling of chutzpah, one can, I'm sure, acclimatise to change.

Posted by Vren on 27 May 2008
The big change
Good luck, Eve. I remember you well from the days of Kate and our daughter, Jennifer, 

at Epworth nursery (in those days) school. I'm sure that with your cheerful optimism 
and style, you'll be made most welcome in NZ.
Posted by Eve Hemming on 27 May 2008
Thanks Vren!
Vren:- Yes I remember you, too! Thanks. Gosh that was eons ago; our little girls at 

pre-school, now in their mid-thirties!This is the most difficult thing I have ever done
 in my entire life and certainly not a 'soft option' as some people may think!I cannot 
start to conceptualise what life will be like away from all that is in my bones and blood.
 But we're doing it to be with some of our beloved grandkids. Bless you Vren and family 
- with deep gratitude, E.
  Posted by Eleanor Poulter on 28 May 2008
 New Zealand      The mention of NZ road rules reminds me of one of my moments 
 of  major astonishment (apart from the amazing beauty of the scenery) in that  vehicles    
 obediently stop at marked pedestrian crossings when someone is about to or is crossing 
 the  road. We were approaching a pedestrian crossing (we weren't even waiting on the 
 side of  the road) when a car stopped on the far side of the 4-lane road and waited for us 
 to cross!  Here in SA one's life is at risk even with a little green man telling us it's "safe" to 
cross!  Generally life is very quiet and tranquil there (nice for a holiday), but unless one's 
got  various things to keep one busy, I suspect it could get quite boring!
Posted by Heather Bennett on 29 May 2008

New Zealand
We made the move to New Zealand last year. It was all you are expecting

 it to be and more! In the beginning we'd wake every day and check The Witness 
online to see if everything was still ok in our old home town. Then, once the 
excitement of finding a home and settling into it had died down, we found 
ourselves latching on to all things South African as if we were afraid of forgetting 
where we came from in the excitement of reinventing ourselves as Kiwis. Last 
week when a Zim  immigrant was acquitted of the murder of his adopted 10-year 
old daughter (she died as a result of HIV-AIDS which is almost unknown here) 
and his family and friends sang and ululated in celebration on the steps of the 
court house, that beautiful sound brought a boulder to my throat and Howick 
Falls to my eyes! Do we love it? Yes, although we're nervous of the approaching 
Winter and the extreme cold everyone talks about. We miss the life we had 
and the family we left behind with a constant gnawing ache but slowly, slowly 
we're settling in and creating new memories here to accompany those we have
 of life BNZ - Before New Zealand. We've learnt to 'give way to the right' in the 
traffic, even at broken traffic lights! We've also learnt that in New Zealand a
 couple is just two,  not a few, as it means to many South Africans. Nowadays
 if I ask the kids for a couple of anythings, I get asked 'is that a New Zealand 
couple or a South African one?!' Good luck, relish the peace of mind you'll
 find here oh and welcome back to the simpler, quieter lifestyle of the 70's!

Posted by Eve Hemming on 29 May 2008
thank you Heather!
Thanks for your sincere response and your ability to show the true picture - 

the reality of what one misses and aches for with a rasping gnawing pain -
juxtaposed against the 'lightness of being', in what is, from all accounts,
 a more harmonious existence.Best wishes to you and your family and as
 a symbol of respect to you for your incredible courage in reinventing 
your lives, I shall give the Howick Falls your love before I leave !EH

Check out Wikepedia on the explanation
of Tall Poppy Syndrome in Aussie,
NZ and Canada.
Pic taken from Kiwiarama, 'the alternative to Kiwipedia.'
Love thy neighbour?

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