Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Random Things

There are many things that I love about this country, but there are three small things which could go almost unnoticed that I want to share with you today. These three things have nothing to do with each other and each one alone isn't worthy of a whole dedicated blog post so I decided to lump these guys together and discuss. 

First, izzit. I wrote about izzit and other South African words in a past post, but I am only recently realizing the genius of this word. The beauty of izzit is that you don't have to have to offer an opinion, a comment, a care or a deep thought about what another person has said. You can just reply izzit. By saying izzit you also don't indicate whether or not you agree or disagree with what has been said. Izzit, I have noticed, can be used interchangeably when you are fascinating by something someone has said and when you could care less.

People here seem very polite so I am not saying that others are using izzit in this way. Or maybe they are and I have just cracked a secret South African language code. To me, it seems you could use izzit in when you are thinking any of the following in response to what someone else has just said.

I don't care
Please stop talking
Please stop bragging
I disagree
You're an idiot

Or, you could say it if you are thinking
That's wonderful
How exciting
Tell me more
I had no idea
I'm intrigued
Please go on

Second, shoe less kids. Of course I am not talking about kids who can't afford shoes, that is sad and certainly not something to love. I am referring to young kids, usually age ten and under, who have shoes but choose not to wear them when they are out with their parents at the mall, in the grocery store, walking through a parking lot, etc. Why do I love this so much?  Well, although I am not a podiatrist, I am not sure that all of this shoe wearing is good for our feet. I base this opinion on no evidence and no knowledge, like I do many of my opinions. It's just a feeling I have. Also, I didn't wear shoes a lot when I was growing up. I could walk on our gravel driveway without pain which seemed like a badge of toughness of which I was very proud. The main reason I love shoe less kids though is I think some parents over exaggerate potential dangers and that many kids are not going to be prepared for the zillions of curve balls that life is going to hurl at them at maximum speed. Since I'm not a parent I can promise you that no parent is interested in my thoughts on child rearing and since I don't know what it's like to be responsible for keeping a small person alive day in and day out, it's probably best that no one follow my advice anyway. But, I just know that shoe less kids in the mall is a sign of something good. It means that at some point, a parent and child agreed that the risk of walking through the mall without shoes really isn't all that great and that if you step on broken glass, or get a bad fungal infection, the situation will be handled and you likely won't die. It's throwing the caution to the wind, it's a small and quiet rebellion against shoes and I love it.

And finally I love that when you order coffee or tea in a restaurant this great land it comes with a cookie on the saucer, or, as the cookie is called here, a biscuit. First of all, I love a saucer. It's so much nicer to drink out of a cup and saucer than it is a mug. I love the little clinking noise you hear when you are setting your cup down. How civilized! And to have a rich little butter cookie carefully balanced on that saucer, as a free bonus, you just can't beat it. Of course you don't have to eat the cookie and you might not want to especially if you ordered the tea or coffee to go with your meal. But that little crumbly fella just looks up at you and he looks so cute and yummy that you just can't help but pop him into your mouth in one bite. I just love that. 

No I don't have any pictures of shoe less kids at the mall. As relaxed as parents might be about certain things, I am pretty sure no one wants me following their small children around while snapping pics of their feet with my phone. 
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  1. What great observation! I, too, absolutely love izzit. I also love the fact that you don't have to be grammatically correct, as in "did you really?" You just throw it in and you are right, it could mean anything. Re shoe less kids (and others) - I've written about that phenomenon in several places on my blog. In fact, I think I might have listed it as one of the top 10 reasons to move to Johannesburg despite the crime rate. It's like you say, it's an act of rebellion, it so reflects Africa to me - let kids be kids and do their thing and have fun, and it probably won't be too harmful in the grand scheme of things. Re biscuit - I never felt compelled to reflect on that but it IS a nice thing. Together with the pretty design in the foam of your cappuccino.

  2. I suppose I'm just being an old fashioned American but I have always found the barefoot thing awfully unhygienic. Of course I grew up in the days of "no shirt, no shoes, no service." Perhaps that is it. I suppose if Africans are okay with it then fine, but if the habit took root in America I'd have a fit.


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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.