Masking, my Problem.

April 2, 2006

Three masksTwo days ago, on my way back from Soussvlei and Swakopmund, we stopped at a crafts market and I was unable to resist the urge to buy yet another mask. Having shipped all of my previous purchases home, I figure it wouldn’t be too much trouble to carry just one more mask with me (my eighth of the trip).

However, today, my last full day in subsaharan Africa, I could not resist the urge to buy two more masks. Now I’m trying to pack up to fly from Windhoek to Johannesburg to Paris to Marrakesh tomorrow and of course I have no room for the three masks, but I’m sure I’ll be glad to have them when I get home.

The Vocabulary of Pleasure.

South African smileThere is no place easier to get pleasure from a beautiful woman than in South Africa. All you need to do is thank her.

Almost with out exception, all South Africans respond to “Thank you” with “Pleasure.” Occasionally you’ll hear, “It’s a pleasure,” but usually they just give you “Pleasure.”

Adding to the thrill is that they say it in a way that makes it sound deliciously dirty to my American ears. First you have to put the accent on the first syllable and say that syllable as slowly as possible, then you need to clip the second syllable. The pronunciation is like the alternate pronunciation of leisure. The best I can offer is something like: Pleeeeh sha.

The only word that can offer anything that approaches the same amount of linguistic pleasure is the widespread use of robots. Robots are more common in South African than in Japan, the country that created a frenzy around a robot dog. There is a robot on practically every corner directing traffic, here in South Africa.

Robot is the local word of choice for traffic lights. Ask a local for directions and you’ll hear something like: “Go straight till the second robot and take a left.” Say thanks and you’ll find a bit a pleasure.