Encounters

There have been a number of encounters along this in-depth journey that have been interesting, surprising, disappointing and some enlightening.

Today I had three different encounters that served as a further peak into the Chinese diaspora in Johannesburg.  Well maybe not so much a peak but rather an actual front row seat.

The first was in the morning at the first meeting of the day. Shandu and I headed out to Randburg to meet the centre manager at China Discount Market. Upon pulling in to the parking lot, the grey and red walls seemed to be the only thing we could see. The parking lot was almost empty.

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Side piece

After a few stops and starts we sat down to talk to 26 year old Angelique Gu. She was very helpful and answered all our questions, even though our conversations were intetrupted quite often. The fifth and final interruption came from a man wearing an all black suit. He nodded in our direction and then went on to have  a whole chat with Angelique.  Then he sat down and his jacket exposed a silver gun tucked away in a holster on his hip. Two or three nervous glances later Shandu and I started packing up.

Slumber makes you fat

The next trip saw me heading out to old Chinatown with my group members Emelia and Prelene. While milling about before our interview,  Prelene and I walked into a cafe quickly. I yawned when we were paying and the lady helping us said: “You like sleep to much”. To which I replied well I do actually.  Then she went on to tell me that’s why I’m so big (she made a gesture with her arms to demonstrate my roundness). I laughed as one does when they are reminded of how they look. She then went on to tell me: “You too fat for your age. Sleep less, exercise more. Stop eating meat and only eat veg.” At which point she showed me a sample by taking a big mouthful of what looked like strips of  cucumber in a soup.  She licked her chopsticks to demonstrate how delicious her healthy lunch was. Chinese wisdom is blunt innit?

A historical affair

We had an interview with four generations of the Pon family – one of the oldest Chinese families in Johannesburg.  We met with the family at a noodle bar.

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Two black pigtails and the sweetest, cutest face were the highlight of my day. Four year old ballerina, Gabriella Pon had me from the moment she showed us her first ballet move. She was very excited to show everyone her new red tutu and very keen to pose for photos.

Not only is she a ballerina but she also speaks three languages fluently (Cantonese, Mandarin and English). And has the cutest wave. She made my day.

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Keep calm and carry on

This hangs in my room and gave me the kick I needed when I woke up.
This hangs in my room and gave me the kick I needed when I woke up.

Yes, yes we all know and have come to hate that infamous meme. But whatever your feelings are that statement remains practical and true.

I had a bit of a freak out yesterday when I realised that things weren’t looking so great for my in-depth work.

Today was a lot different. I told myself that I would do better, try harder and just not give up on myself. When I got to the department I lined up all the people I had to talk to, made a list of things to do, read more and just carried on.

A classmate of mine who was off sick last week said it best when she said “there’s really no point in freaking out, I’ll just do my best with the time I have left.”

Even though the two trips I made today weren’t super helpful they weren’t a complete waste. I saw photo opportunity ideas run across my mind, found a few more words to add to my feature and I suppose just made the best of it. I even found new contacts who are willing to help me out so that’s always a plus.

Today was great because I willed it to be. Tomorrow will be better because I’ve planned for it to be.