Hello Cathy ………
After being on granny duty for the past 4 days, I find myself really appreciating and jealously protecting my time of once again being a free agent. (Our maker – who ever/whatever he/she/it may be, knew what they were doing by ensuring that women over a certain age could no longer bear children.) Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my grandchildren, but to be able to partake in a meal over a glass of wine, without having to jointly colour in, make numerous trips to the bathroom or only choose establishments with child friendly play areas is pure bliss.
And this is exactly where I find my self on an early evening after a last bit of Christmas shopping at the local shopping mall. Acting civilised, quietly sipping a chilled glass of Chardonnay whilst partaking in my favourite pastime as a solo traveller of this planet of ours – people watching.
The bench seat next to me plumps up almost dramatically as a weary shopper sits himself down, saying with a loud, slightly effeminate voice with an Afrikaans accent – “Ahh it feels so good to sit down – I’ve done more than 10 000 steps shopping today – this feels soooo good”. Any fellow South African will be able to hear the exact tone. Joining him are 3 delightful African ladies prattling away in Afrikaans. This is not meant to be condescending in any way, and is just a reflection of the amazing rainbow nation that South Africa is. They then resort to English and banter with the waitress about their likes and dislikes on the menu. She smiles patiently and nods with acquiescence. The obligatory selfie is taken and my attention moves to others.
A tall gentleman walks in looking for a table, with quiet dignity. He is guided to a table and asks for 2 menus. Ahh he is meeting someone – I try and imagine who – note the wedding ring on his finger – and think the dutiful husband waiting while his wife is shopping. He orders himself a coffee and muffin and bingo – I hit the jackpot. His wife arrives, slightly harassed, shopping bags in tow. She greets him abruptly, promptly places her order, takes her cell phone out her handbag and from then onwards sits engrossed in the small screen in her hand, while he sits and watches her. No conversation, no communication. It makes me sad.
At the next table can only be described as posers, with their branded gear. Two young men, one wearing full on black and white Adidas branded gear from his shoes to the “man” bag hanging over the back of his chair and the other sporting Lacoste. Neither of them are sitting upright in their chairs, but look almost boneless with legs outstretched and lounging trying to look as cool as possible. Full marks to them though for not having any devices and are engaged in what seems like a lively debate.
My attention moves upwards to the passing trade. People of all shapes and sizes, ethnicity and apparel, all with seemingly one goal in mind – shopping for that perfect gift. A young mother walks past with a little one in a pram and granny accompanying holding tightly onto the hand of an over tired demanding youngster and I quietly sip my wine thinking “been there, done that and still earning the t-shirt”.