Monday, May 31, 2010

Here & Now

So, I spent ages typing this blog and uploading photos - alas the photos didn't upload (or so she thought....) Until I hit the preview button and there they were, just a big ol link of mad letters and numbers on this the editing page.... but they shine on the preview...?!?!? SO.... here's to hoping you see them shine!

After an incredible lunch with the Andizi family (and waaaaay to much food - I will deny this as one of my faults - it was, simply, too damned delicious) I drove home from the cooler valley of Ceres through the windy pass with a bag of naartjies as my companion, I thought again how lucky I am to be here. Don't get me wrong - I'm not only harping on about the cape - I think the same of most of the places I have lived... but it's a great thing when your eyes pick up the small things to be grateful for... don't ya think?

Happy Birthday Andizi, and Happy Living all....
"But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped or tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and silent of night." (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yoga - For the Conscious Living

Wow, what a way to start a Saturday morning in Dar es Salaam.

I found myself (at a decent time!) this morning amongst a sea of deep purple, bright blue and happy gray yoga mats, facing the Indian Ocean and focussing on my breathing with so much content.

I started practicing yoga early January this year at the Colosseum Gym in Haille Selassie Road for the only reason - I was curious what the fuss was about.

Vinyasa Flow, Hatha, Ashtanga, power yoga - it was all just a mix of words!

I couldn't have asked for a more inspiring teacher - Taraneh - she completely got me into yoga for the rest of my life.
She was incredible and I'll always say thank you to her. She has sadly left us mid-May to go back to Canada and I had to find another person/teacher to fill her spot.
Luckily another great teacher - Helen - decided to teach Tuesday mornings. at the gym and I was happy again..... (08:30 - 09:45/10:00)

Heard via the grape vine that I had to try Satya's classes at the Thai Village ( Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 08:45 - 10:15)
First day there had me yearning for more - it was intense and I felt wonderful afterwards.

I also decided to attend his classes on Saturday Mornings ( starts at 10:00) at the Fitness Centre (you turn right off Kimweri Rd after the fallen down Baobab on a dirt road - Centre is at the end of the road) and I just thought that I had to let all the Dar es Salaamites know about this.

Come and stretch, position your body in poses unknown to yourself, test your balance and breath in fresh air......

~desert rose~

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Africa Time

(Image from: Abby Fitch)

I have been in South-Africa for nearly two months now. What should have been a simple four week exercise, has turned into an endless operation with an uncertain outcome. Or maybe I was being foolishly optimistic - we are after all dealing with Tanzanian immigration officers here!

Being in South-Africa now, one cannot help but get swept away in the FIFA World Cup mania! I had to smile when I read in the newspaper a government official urging fans to arrive at the world cup matches on time. I quote: "We are not going to be operating on Africa time". For all the differences between South-Africa and Tanzania, this one thing they DO have in common - Africa time! And as frustrating as it is at times - like right now - it is very much a part of life on this wild continent. You can either choose to life with it, or leave...and I am certainly not going anywhere! Sunshine, sea and space vs slow pace...I guess you just can't have it all!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Autumn leaves under frozen souls

I am in awe of Autumn. The smell of decaying leaves, the crunch under foot and the glorious colours in all shapes and sizes around you. After 3 years in Tanzania where seasons blend into each other and confuses the passage of time I am truly enjoying autumn. Granted it is cold but the flaming oak trees and blindingly yellow shapes make it all worthwhile. Enjoy autumn it is truly a magical season.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Life's too short to stuff a cherry tomato

Lesson learned:
Life's too short to stuff a cherry tomato.
And in order to say shit like that you need to have stuffed a cherry tomato. (Tick)

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." ~ JRR Tolkien

~ hibiscus

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Lamb neck-pepper-pasta potjie ala Dad (interpreted by Desert Rose)

Image from :

po·tjie póyke] (plural po·tjies)



South Africa cooking pot: a rounded three-legged cast-iron pot in which food is cooked over an open


[Late 20th century.<>]


Alright, so pour yourself the inevitable glass of red wine and get the following ingredients together:

(this will probably be enough for ± 8 – 10 of your friends)

1kg Lamb Neck chops (The new Farmhouse Butchery has them – saw it there last weekend)

Flour for dusting

2 large red onions

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 red and green pepper each, chopped roughly

The bottle of Brandy (KWV makes a good one) that’s stuck in the back of your cupboard cause you’ve stopped drinking brandy and Coke as a rule.

Black Pepper soup & Mushroom soup each prepared to specs on packet (Now I’ve never managed to find this in any Dar supermarket, but let’s pretend you had a packet…… guess any resemblance to a peppery packet soupy thing will work)

Packet of Tagliatelle – cooked for 5 mins and drained

Bottle of Chutney (Mrs. Balls only. If you don’t have it, don’t make this recipe! Shoprite – if you’ve got 4 hours every morning to deal with traffic or sometimes it is on display for 30 mins in Village Supermarket until all the South Africans get to it)

Grated Cheddar Cheese (3/4 cup if you have to be specific)

Punnet of fresh mushrooms (ha ha again – but don’t worry, you can actually find it every now and again at Shoppers Plaza or Village Supermarket)


If you are brave, get the guys to build a fire and do this over the open fire – best way! Remember to monitor the coals all the time – must not be too hot.

Otherwise doing this on a normal stove will be fine.

-       Drink your wine at regular intervals.

-       Sauté onions, garlic, red and green peppers

-       Remove and keep separately

-       Dust the chops with flour and add to potjie, braai for a few minutes until brown all over

-       Add a dash of that KWV Brandy and flambé the meat – please take caution when doing this!!

-       Add onions and pepper mix in

-       Season with salt

-       Add the pepper and mushroom soup until potjie is about half way covered.

-       Add pasta on top

-       Add a helluva lot of chutney (leave kidogo (little bit) in the bottle)

-       Add grated cheese and mushrooms on top and add that tiny bit of leftover chutney over all of this

-       Simmer this at a long, slow heat and be carefull that the chutney doesn’t burn – probably 1 hour?!!

-       I would serve this with some salad and if you want rice!

-       Enjoy!!!!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Small Town in a Big City

I have always regarded myself as a Big City Girl, the shopping, the restaurants and of course the anonymity of thousands of people independently going about their daily lives.

Today marks two weeks back in the Big City  and I find myself missing the Small Town. Things that have previously irritated me like being hooted at by every car while on your morning run or meeting everyone you know from the coffee shop to the supermarket on a Saturday morning, I now recognize as a sign of a community that cares (or maybe one that doesn't have a lot to do...)

Although I enjoy the washed and packed lettuce and being able to have a wonderful cappuccino any time I wish, I still miss the friendly chat with the local vegetable guy or the wave of a friend as you pass them on the road and of course the balmy evenings spent at a neighbours house with glasses of red wine with ice and insightful discussions with worldly wise women.

I think for now I will give the Big City a chance but maybe in the future will find myself searching for the perfect Small Town where my green grocer will sell me the freshes produce and the coffee shop owner will know my name.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Like Water for Chocolate

I have just finished the book "Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel. It is a wonderfully romantic tale filled with magic and mythical recipes. The following is the recipe given for "excellent quality hot chocolate" - the favourite of middle sister Getrudis who ran off to become a general in the revolutionary army:
"The amount of water used should be a little more than enough to fill three cups. When the water comes to the boil for the first time, remove it from the heat, and dissolve the chocolate completely; beat with a chocolate mill until it is smoothly blended with the water. Return the pan to the stove. When it comes to the boil again and start to boil over, remove it from the heat. Put it back on the heat and bring tot the boil a third time. Remove from the heat and beat the chocolate. Pour half into a little pitcher and beat the rest of it some more. Then serve it all, leaving the top covered with foam."
Or there is the instant stuff - you decide...

But I really enjoyed the book and if you are a foodie, you would have read it by now or you should go out immediately and purchase. I loved how the traditional Mexican recipes are interwoven with love and lust.

Also for foodies - this weekend in the CTICC is the Good Food and Wine show. We will be there! We being Mamamac's. The show is the reason I have been in the bakery frantically helping prepare crunchies to choc-chips to custard biscuits.
There is a scene in "Like Water for Chocolate" where all the guests at a wedding start weeping uncontrollably after eating the wedding cake prepared by the love sick youngest sister Tita. Her tears fell into the batter and cast a somber spell on the wedding.
I wonder if my customers will experience a sense of what I was feeling while baking away in the cold winter of Ceres, missing days on the beach in Dar...happy yet homesick, satisfied yet searching...


Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes the sweetest fruit lies beneath a layer of thorns...

I have been reminded recently that we should not always take people on face value and that often kind, wise and loving friends are right in front of us... if we could just see! 


Friday, May 7, 2010

The McSteamy

image from

Okay, so the feet are playing up again. Which is a bugger, because I basically need them to do anything and everything - one of the main things being making my dosh - something I very much look forward to doing again! Anyway, whilst contemplating going to see another podiatrist, I remembered my first visit in London a few years back...

So I manage to find a squack close to my area of work, so that I could take a lunch break (heavens!) and fix the problem that are my feet. Rushing through Waterloo station to find the correct train (and I have to be sure, this is a 15 minute direct one...) I pondered the cost of this exercise. I was not entirely sure of how much it would all cost, but then I had no clue about this sort of thing - the word "consultation" to me simply means there will be hundreds of costs after a chat/consultation. But then, when it comes to health, well one doesn't really have a choice, does one?

As I entered the doctors room I was glad, very glad, I owned a credit card. I was not however happy with my choice of socks that morning. Here's the picture:
- incredibly smart and oh so techno room, computers and boxes of intelligent life everywhere
- one chair, for me
- one chair, in front of the computer, for the doctor
- me, looking flustered and out of place in two different coloured socks and trashy red toe nails...
- the doctor. the doctor. just... quite.... beautiful.....

I had to take in a lung full of what I hoped was class A oxygen to steady myself, this doctor was rather good-looking. No, sorry, incredibly good looking. Just mighty damn fine actually. Okay, more than one deep breath. He spoke well, his deep concern for my pain was intoxicating. I simply melted on the spot.

The rest I forget. All I can find in my memory bank is an image of this doctor. Sure - he gave me inner soles, mentioned something about my feet 'not being quite right' (no shit, sherdoc), and a couple of mumbles. The rest I forget.

Oh - forgive me - I remember the cost. Only GBP400 later and I have absolutely no idea what is wrong with my feet, why they ache constantly and what to do about them. And - importantly - why these inner soles will not fit in half the shoes I wear everyday.

So I find myself in a bit of a pickle when it comes to booking my next podiatrist appointment, I don't have another 400 quid and I certainly haven't had any memory enhancements which would make it all seem like a sensical move.

I think I may just have to put my feet up for a bit, with a cuppa.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Colourful khangas and Soulful Saris...

I love bright colours, this is apparent in the outrages colours I can't resist at the beauty salon. Every time I go I promise myself to make a responsible choice, naturally nude or obviously aubergine. But who can resist Royal Flush Blush or Miami Beet so I find myself walking out with a fabulous Tipsy Tartpedicure and manicure that will probably not match 80% of my wardrobe.
Thus my fascination with the beautiful khangas and kitenges of Tanzania makes sense. The bright colours and beautiful designs attract me like the Miami Beet at the salon I just can't resist.
Each country or culture has its own traditional fabrics and designs but its only recently in South Africa that the sweswe pattern has been made fashionable again. This is not the case in Tanzania. The lack of any clothing manufacturing industry and the ridiculous import duties on clothes coupled with a burgeoning cotton trade have kept the khanga and kitenge fabric alive and well. Anywhere you go in Tanzania you can see woman wrapped in colourful khangas or dressed in beautifully taylored kitenge dresses.

Buying these fabrics in town is an experience, town is an experience! Uhuru street is a bustling hub of wholesalers and individuals all vying for your attention 'Dada, dada angalia!'(Sister, sister come see). Here you can smell Africa in the cooking fires and the rotting garbage, feel it in the dust between your toes and the sweat dripping down you back and see it in the beautiful patterns on these fabrics. I always go with a promise to myself not to buy more than I can carry but at tsh 5000(R27) a khanga and tsh 6000(R32) n kitenge who can resist.
Tanzania is a melting pot of different cultures; Chagga, Massai, Indian, Arab, Europeans and Chinese. It is no surprise to find a vintage sari shop hidden away in a dilapidated building where shelves and shelves of carefully hand stitched and beaded vintage saris in silks, organza and cotton are stored. A short friendly greying Indian man urges you to touch the 100% organza with hand beaded patterns and feel the vintage pure silks on your skin.

So Saturday I walked away with arms full of treasures to be turned into tablecloths, napkins, curtains and cushions to remind me of this beautifully diverse country I called home for three years.

A telephone conversation in Tanzania.

The telephone conversation went like this:
(Note: this is a real-life emergency that happened yesterday)

ME: Hello, please could you put me through to the Clinic, I have an emergency and would like to see the gynecologist as soon as possible. 

OPERATOR 1: Ok please hold.....



ME: Hello Ma'am (my mother taught me well) please can we come and see the RUSSIAN gynecologist right now - I have a friend that's got an emergency.



OPERATOR 2: OH, ghallo, yes, you can come.

ME: Is the RUSSIAN gynecologist there?

OPERATOR 2: Yes, you can come, what is the patient's name?

ME: Mary. Please confirm if the RUSSIAN gyne is there - I can't remember her surname, I think it starts with a S.

OPERATOR 2: Yes, you can come.

ME: Thank you, we'll come now to see the RUSSIAN gyne. Goodbye.

OPERATOR 2: OH, she's not here, she's on leave.....

ME: ...........

Don't you just love it. If it wasn't my first day back after two weeks in a semi-1st-world-country, I would reacted very, very badly indeed.

I am pleased to report though that my friend, Mary, is ok and nothing is wrong with her or her baby. Just mama's low blood pressure. 

Guess who told us this: the Philippino gynecologist........

~desert rose~

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Book of Love

My little sis got engaged! Such wonderful, glorious tiding! Reasons as to why this is such an eventful event to follow:

1. The festive celebrations of a marriage has eluded our family for a while now. Being the eldest, I will have to take most of the blame for that. In an extended family where most of my cousins got married between 21 - 25 the standard was not easy to follow. Add to that my ability to fall in love with guys that are great, but not great marriage material and you start understanding the grandparents' anxiety. Luckily, I never got any pressure from my parents, for the most part I think because my dad was hoping to be spared the expense of at least one modern day wedding.
I remember the first time he spoke to my uncle about the cost of my cousin's wedding - he choked on his Amstel and nearly fell straight into the braai...not the careful constructed introduction us daughters would have preferred! At least he has had a couple of years after the near fatal conversation to mentally prepare himself and the bank.
So, even if my dad finally has to steel himself and face the financial terror of his first wedding, I am very happy to get rid of (for a little while at least) the anxious glances to my wedding finger at every single family occasion, or the annoying questions that usually goes something like "you are such a lovely girl, why can you not find a husband?"...?!

2. Weddings are the MOST fun! I really do love weddings...Gin love (aka Hibiscus)! To me, weddings are a joyous occasion! Everyone is in a celebratory mood! Even the times that I have gone to a wedding as a date and did not know the happy couple that well, I mostly shed a few tears at the pure happiness that surrounds all!
For this special wedding I am part of the planning committee and although I suspect there will be some contentious points down the line, for now, my mom and my sis and me are enjoying every minute of the wedding talk! My sister is a wonderful creative soul and I know that this wedding will be something remembered and enjoyed by all present!

3. Last but not least of all...the engagement is enchanting, because I am so, so, SO happy for my little sister. She has truly found the love of her life. Syrupy I know, but I can say that because it has not always been moonshine and roses. They went through some tough times but this guy patiently stuck it out and in the his girl! I don't believe in the perfect man or the perfect woman, but I do believe that R&N are perfect for each other! My sister is a beautiful, creative soul that has found her future life partner in a gentle and very funny farmers son that knows exactly how to handle her, even when she has only just woken up. And that is an art that I, having spent a lifetime with her, have still not mastered!
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they make each other very happy and love each other for the rest of their lives! Considering that their introduction was carefully planned (by R's best friend that married N's cousin) and that they where introduced to other people as each other's fiance before they even met, this really comes as no big surprise!
R&N...congratulations and celebrations! I love you both!