The New Normal

Before departing for this year in South Africa, several people advised us to spend as much time and energy as possible in the first month noting the things that look, feel, smell, taste and sound different than life in America. We’ve tried to do that here, documenting the language, the food, the little things and even Indie’s perspective. Now that we’re deep into our second month, a lot of things that are truly different are starting to feel somewhat normal. Such as…

Turn on the outlet to make a cup of rooibos

  • Turning light switches off by flipping them up
  • Turning outlets on by flipping them down
  • Turning on the outlet and setting the clock on the range to 12:01 before the oven will work
  • Bathrooms with no outlets
  • Entire rooms with no outlets
  • Driving on the left side of the road
  • Roundabouts
  • Paying a “car guard” R3.00 to watch your car in a parking lot — any parking lot — and then “help” you back out of your space
  • Parking within inches (centimeters) of trees or underneath public bus shelters on the side of Lynnwood Road (and then paying the car guard, of course)
  • Saying “Mmm.” repeatedly to indicate you are following the conversation
  • Laughing when Jenny orders a latte and the waiter says, “Black tea?”
  • Rooibos tea
  • Rusks (dunked in the rooibos tea)
  • Russell Hobbs (the ubiquitous appliance brand we refer to as Walter Hobbs, better known as Buddy the Elf’s human father in the movie Elf — “They gave me one phone call. They gave me one phone call. I said, I know who I’m gonna callWalter Hobbs. Sure enough, you showed up.”)
  • Constantly cleaning red dirt off of our shoes
  • Constantly obsessing about data bundle balances
  • Blogging

The question we’ve been asking ourselves lately is which of these “new normal” things will make the things we are used to in Chicago seem not normal? For example, I suppose the amount of Thai food I eat at home is not normal, but I’m sure I can get back into a nice routine.

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2 thoughts on “The New Normal

  1. I have a few of your Southern African “normals” in my really old house in Chicago. I have no outlets in my bathroom and only one in my dinning room… that I didn’t use for over a year because I thought it was broken but turns out it is connect to a switch. And my bedroom switch is backwards as well. I should get paid to watch the cars out my office window, over the weekend some painter left 5 ladders attached to the roof of his van all night. A good scrap guy would have collected them all… Wicker Park is not what it used to be… I am glad you two are getting comfortable in your new norms. I’d send Thai food but it might be faster if you two just take a trip to Thailand from you current continent.

  2. Pingback: The Gogos Want a Picture of their Chickens « AfricAnnum

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