Friday, May 9, 2008

Survivors Sandton

Is it possible that I am part of a very very cruel social experiment?

I traversed the equator three weeks ago. I finally touched down on Africa. I developed a taste for biltong and fed on crocodile carpaccio. And that’s when everything stopped looking so good.
Welcome to my world.

I have been in Sandton, South Africa for almost three weeks. And all I’ve seen of the place are the mall (its claim to fame being the biggest of its kind in the southern hemisphere—whatever that means), the office, and the apartment, all within a one-mile block. I would’ve liked to venture out, walk around, explore. Except I was explicitly told not to. By security experts (I’m certainly curious as to how someone ends up being a security expert. Have they been mugged and carjacked so many times that they have become pros? Or are they professional criminals, as it takes one to know one?) I would have driven myself around town, except there are only three cars among 10 of us. And not that we have time, given we are working 20-hour days. All of us, in one room. All of us, at one table. Everyone can hear, see, and smell everything that everyone is doing. In those remaining 4 hours, we carpool, eat together, and share apartments.

If I were not in the situation, if my fellow colleagues were minors, I would have reported this as exploitation or child abuse. Except we’re all consenting adults, despite the miniscule hourly wage considering this has turned into a 24-7 job. And I’m sure we all signed some piece of paper a while back giving up our rights to, say, privacy. I believe it’s situations like this that drive people to enter an office with an AK-47 and start shooting.

So, as it turns out, the greatest danger of being in Jo’burg is not carjacks and armed burglaries, but the loss of our sanity.

I will survive. That's what I've been singing in the shower every morning.


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Lian Blue said...

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