Friday, 17 January 2020

Thought Picnic: In our symbolic aquariums of our human existence


Fishes in a world
At a sauna there was an installed aquarium full of fishes of different sizes, colours and surprisingly temperaments. Some swam around excitedly even cresting where the air meets the water as if to take a breath, some idling listlessly and others apparently shy and docile hiding behind stones probably not wanting to be disturbed. The spectacle a calming effect on the observer.
I have always been fascinated about aquariums, though I wonder if the entertainment of human beings to the wonders of the deep in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are to any other purpose than the abuse of the predominance of humanity to the detriment of other life forms.
Obviously, they need to be studied and understood, the abuse and misuse of some has brought great health benefits to us, but is there is a better way?
The Pisces think tank
To an extent, I have begun to detest zoos and apart from the real effort of conservation brought on by our creating the loss of habitat for economic purposes, anthropomorphic climate change and hunting within the threat of extinction, we all can share this planet without exterminating each other.
The aquarium looked like a fish world and I began to put human thoughts in the heads of the fish. Do they think there are other aquariums like theirs just as we wonder if there are any Earth-like planets with inhabitants like us or lifeforms we can begin to understand? Goldilocks zones at distances that boggle the mind.
In each aquarium that we have built and filled with fishes, have we adopted the role of a demigod in making that nature suitable for their habitation? Keeping the water clean, ensuring it is oxygenated, feeding the fish, observing closely their health and wellbeing with the taking of action to arrest anomalies. Are we like fish to a divine being in the same sense?
By dorsal velocity
Consider a situation where the fish was able to escape its aquarium to experience life outside it and then we realise that to escape earth we need to take essential parts of our earthly environment with us, a life-supporting kit as we put a fiery rocket to our backsides to escape. It would be madness to the fish, it would have been madness to man just over a century ago.
Then just two days ago, I boarded an Airbus A380 with the capacity for a village from Johannesburg to Paris for a journey of 10 hours 55 minutes at 40,000 feet (12.192 km) altitude which in a straight line would be 5,430.95 miles (8,740.26 km). I did that return journey 5 times in the space of a year.
This our capacity for mad adventure is more or less the norm, yet, we would find it strange in fish, yet, we are gleefully entertained out at Hermanus, South Africa, between July and November when whales flip out of the water and we can watch from comfort terra firma.
Fishing for meaningfulness
None of my thoughts are fully formed on the comparison for aquariums and fish tanks to our earth of somewhat diminishing resources with explosive population growth in some parts of our world. However, I do recognise that we live in different kinds of aquariums within national boundaries that confer citizenship as well as limitations in travel where others have privileges, opportunities and means to leap between aquariums of humanity without much of a care about it.
Global travel, we have probably mastered, space travel after the moon landings has gone no further than International Space Station with considerably finite resources. Interstellar travel is still the stuff of wild imagination and science fiction, even that had helped our understanding of how to live better on earth.
The human body for all its resilience is still quite fragile, there is still much to learn about ourselves and the many organisms we share the earth with. I do wonder if the fish see us as some other lifeform and as they swim to the sides of the tank or the top of the water, they are trying to communicate with us and in all our human predominance masking our apparent idiocy we have not learnt to say a common hello to the fishes in our aquariums.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Then the 3,000th blog was written


Finally, another thousand
I earnestly wanted to reach this goal and it is not for the want of trying. By the end of 2019, I was only 4 blogs short and somewhere between the easy or herculean task of tapping in gibberish to typing in complexities, before I relented.
I was on holiday with my lover, Brian, and when I was asked what was the best time we had together, it was every moment I could look up and see him, his interesting mannerisms, the touch, the feel, the kiss and the many things we did together considering we have a long-distance relationship that for now only offers a rendezvous in South Africa.
In my needless striving
Yes, he did urge me on, he said I could do it, but I had exhausted myself to writer’s block, no straining of myself to reach an arbitrary target for which the only reward is self-satisfaction mattered more than doing other useful things. So, I aborted the scheme and we walked off to the V&A Waterfront where we met with and had a long conversation with two ladies, mother and daughter, Brian presumed, I should have put on my second pair of glasses to notice.
In terms of achievements, it is not particularly great, I had written 1,000 blogs in just under 5 years, the next thousand took a little over 4 years and then at 3,000, over 7 years have passed before making the mark. I could list out excuses as long as a 3,000-word thesis, but to what end apart from a propensity to needless verbosity. Besides, the excuses have not changed much in 16 years and sentiments has expressed before remaining the same.
To the next, with thanks
I don’t know if this is a grandfather age of blogging, but I am thankful to all my readers and supporters who have through the tough times and amazing times participated in my journey, read my stories and marvelled at some of the indecipherable musings without judging me too harshly.
Maybe, the next thousand blogs would happen in a shorter period of time, I would not know, I will just keep on writing, telling stories and sharing experiences. When we get there, there will be a blog announcing the new milestone.
Thank you, one and all.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

South Africa: If only you knew how we roll


Travelling well
My friends and some I have travelled together with know that when it comes to travel arrangements, I leave nothing to chance. The comfort of travel is just as important as the destination. As I leave my home, I expect things to be just so at the very least, I expect standards, high standards and will not flinch at demanding them.
For my return after a month in Cape Town, I ran the gauntlet of things out of kilter with the arrangements I had made. My return leg was Cape Town – Johannesburg – Paris – Manchester. For the over 12 years I lived in the Netherlands, I have retained my loyalty with KLM – AirFrance, a slight inconvenience of stopping over in Paris or Amsterdam, but it redounds to the loyalty scheme, I can bear it.
It’s easy, not really
However KLM – AirFrance do not run domestic routes in South Africa if you do not fly directly to Cape Town from Paris or Amsterdam, your stopover in Johannesburg requires you retrieve your luggage and use partners they have agreements with to complete the final leg, it is neither a codeshare nor alliance situation, just an arrangement.
I could not check-in for my return flight because the KLM – AirFrance app redirected me to Kulula, the booking reference was invalid. I had to visit the airport to have this fixed, they could only make arrangements as far as Johannesburg and that was the beginning of my ordeal. [kulula is not a separate company, but is a trading name of Comair, which also operates flights as a franchisee of British Airways.
I have much baggage
When I arrived at the airport for my trip, I found out that my queue-jumping access was not valid for check-in, only after security. At the counter, the agent then came up with all sorts of rules, Kulula only allows one checked-in baggage for the hold and one as carry-on.
I was having none of it, the printout from the Kulula sale offices the day before already indicated I could check-in two pieces of luggage. The KLM – AirFrance app said as much too, for all legs. In fact, it would be risible to have a situation where at the point of embarkation you had less checked-in luggage than when you were in transit.
A bit of back and forth with some senior official who said the rules at the airport in our conversation took precedence over the contract to carry my luggage on my ticket. I was about to relent, it would have been easier to storm off to a KLM – AirFrance counter and have this trashed out. I shouldn’t be having that conversation, it should be between the airlines.
Flights of fancy
Eventually, as the preponderance of evidence and facts weighed heavily on the situation, the official instructed the counter clerk to check-in all my baggage as long as each individual item did not weigh more than 23kg. I was scooting it at 22.8kg and 22.2kg.
I made it through security before seeing off Brian on his earlier and on schedule flight to Johannesburg. Soon, it was time to board my flight but something was wrong, there was no aircraft at the gangway of the proposed gate. I was the only one with queue-jumper status, it meant little in the end.
Our flight was going to be delayed 30 minutes before we were told the boarding gate had changed. On arrival at the new boarding gate, more tales and fantastic stories before were told there was a fault with the plane and it had been taxied off to a hanger. I guess we knew something was on.
Terminal déjà vu
Then, the plane was cancelled and we had to board a bus to arrivals terminal where we were to retrieve our baggage, go up to the sales desk for us to be shunted onto other airlines and then the check-in process, security and all that. In all my years of travel, I have never experienced this, and the way the Kulula staff informed us and handled the situation could be better. They’ll score a 6 out of 10.
Anyway, there were some really helpful staff before a good number on that Kulula flight had connecting flights from Johannesburg, we were anxious but calm. One exception was a lady shouting at the staff, it was out of their control and it did her no favours, she was obstreperous and demanding, irksome to say the least.
How we roll
I was booked on a BA flight, run by ComAir Limited in South Africa, I haven’t flown BA since March 2000 just before the DotCom crash. I was allocated a seat when I checked in my luggage, but by the time I presented my ticket to board the plane after security, I had been upgraded to business class. The obstreperous woman thought she was losing out on favours questioning why some of us were in business class. Woman, you don’t know how we roll.
She never got upgraded and she probably stewed through the flight to Johannesburg. We arrived in Johannesburg about 2 hours behind schedule, had some time with Brian before I was on my way back home.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Thought Picnic: The realm of multidimensional simultaneous realities


In the world of the mind
The stuff dreams are made of, realities of mental experiences that if remembered might be reliving things that are exposed from the recesses of memory or dictated by external influences in the state of slumber during rapid eye movement sleep.
I probably do not sleep for long, but I generally have a quite restful sleep, I would rarely have a stretch of sleeping that lasts up to 4 hours. Brian, whose sense of time is at best suspect would say I barely sleep for an hour. If he wore a watch, I might just believe him.
What I must however avoid is ingesting any food close to when I take my pills at night-time, because there is some interaction between the medication and whatever little fat is in my food that creates hallucinatory effects and vivid dreams.
In dreamy consciousness
The kinds of dreams that has me caught in dreams within dreams, my flicking a light switch and the lights not coming on, and that is how my subconscious realises I am in a dream. Why I gravitate towards a light switch in many of my dreams, I can’t explain.
In these vivid, lively, and vigorous dreams are my engagements in battles of will and power, where, from within the deep sleep I voice out challenges and commands to defeat threats and fears. I don’t think I have suffered somnambulism, but I have exhibited motor skills whilst in deep sleep wielding weapons or exercised in martial artistry.
Multidimensional simultaneous realities do exist, usually as individually conscious experiences rather than shared ones. Some, I have shared as part of my Dreamscape blogs. [Instagram]
Answers to thorny situations in sleep
The multidimensional part of these experiences merges time and space, into a naturally inconceivable present. How people long departed and strangers I have never met before along with those I very well know meet up in a contemporaneous situation dealing with simplistic or complicated situation from which I might end up wiser or stupefied.
The imagination can take you places, just as daydreaming can, the wonder of sleep is still in the process of being better understood. One thing I find it does for me is it settles my mind is in turmoil, unable to make sense of the living reality I cannot control.
Having learnt through experience that worry solves nothing, I find the refuge of sleep a good place to find the wisdom of the ages to see beyond the clouds that obfuscate the brilliance of the sun or to shorten the night to bring on the dawn of a possible new beginning.


Friday, 3 January 2020

Thought Picnic: The dissolution of resolution

Absolution from resolution
Long ago I learnt that I am not cut out for resolutions, I stopped making them well over a decade ago and committed more to complete things that were in progress and doing things I felt needed doing.
In terms of horizons, I have near and far horizons, in the near-term, my health and well-being are critical, I give a lot of consideration to that because it underpins my ability to do other things. I am not fixated on fitness or dietary goals though I do constantly have some angst about my weight, the desire to get it down to a range goes against the extra bulk my consultants preferred I be at when I had cancer a decade ago.
For relationship goals
In the medium term, I need to work on the unfocused issues of my relationship and what we intend to do with regards to our long-term place of single or multiple residences. This is my priority and it would feature prominently in the longer-term plans for life and career ahead of us.
Generally, I enjoy what I am doing now, I hope to continue doing and improving the prospects and opportunities ahead. I think I have a good year ahead; I think we both have a good year ahead of us. The pursuit of happiness remains one of attaining, retaining and enduring in it, through all circumstances.
Trivial things matter
Some things I would like to work on for my personal development, taking both piano and swimming lessons. In managing milestones and continuity, I acknowledge without living for the landmarks and for each day that comes, I feel blessed and fortunate to have another reason to tell a story.
I offer no motivational spiel, rather than be a better version of yourself, accepting yourself, accepting your faults, giving no space to nonsense from anyone or any situation, and living your best life regardless of whether you’re liked or not.
Happy New Year! Where that gives you the opportunity to start something anew, go for it, where it simply ushers in another day, never let the ordinary and mundane take away from making every moment one to cherish alone, with someone, or by doing something exciting.