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Eating words and Indigestion The world speaks to me and swallowing its words gives me indigestion, so i tell all its secrets

Kasi Restaurant

SOUTH AFRICA | Wednesday, 23 February 2011 | Views [446]

Trapped between the steam of the huge pot and the smoking firewood from her makeshift stove, the woman stirring the stew beside the road is an indistinct blur which but for her praise song of ‘The strengthening affordable stew’ , my roving eye would not have caught. Around her curtain, impatient school girls with powdered faces and gleaming lips stand, surreptitiously eyeing the train of people along the street. Every so often they would duck beneath the overhanging iron roof housing the woman, when other youths in school uniform pass by. Moments later, they would emerge squinting, blinking and theatrically coughing; seemingly overcome by the thick smoke. Reputation is a big thing for these youths. To be seen at this particular ‘eatery’ it seems will irreparably damage it and they will suffer to protect it.

Drifting off the brisk and random train of animated chatter and glee exuded by the pedestrians, a bunch of dust coated men and women join them. They are excitedly discussing some issue, with one woman in particular prattling on in Soprano. She waves her hands and sends dust into the rest of the group, much to their annoyance. The young girls predictably avoid the line of the dust vapor.  The men’s faces like those of the multiple others in this South African township are dry, parched and neglected.They speak volumes about their occupation. I have been told that most of them are in construction and a lucky few with some negligible education do some clerical work or another in town. The educated mass have moved to town, leaving their birth place a waste land full of people who most often than not, turn to comprador business to feed themselves and educate their young. It is a vicious circle of existence.  

Finally the woman behind the smoke curtain comes out, bowl full of stew and plates in tow and I wheeze in shock. A nearby man in a rainbow Louis Vuitton Belt that seems out of place with the rest of his sullied outfit looks at me questionably and I hide my shock beneath a smile that fails to reach my eyes.  The eyes are the windows to the soul and I swiftly look back at the ‘eatery’. The stew seller has a voluptuous figure and is wearing a sooty apron which by the looks of it, used to be sky blue. Her face has been artfully coloured white, her eyes the only thing discernible. Her neck and wrists are choked by multi coloured beads; Yellow, blue red, green, purple, that threaten to get a taste of the stew. Dishing out to those that extend coins to her, she in sweet melody and bliss praises them in poetry and song. In peacock style, she shifts her neck beads to and fro and they glimmer as they catch the waning sun. She seems to know this and basks in that knowledge as she shows off. The woman with the soprano voice ululates, much to the chagrin of the school girls.

More and more people pour in, buy their stew, listen to song and go back to the train of the diverse people on the street. Now and then, a taxi would dangerously screech past the eatery, scattering papers lying on the thin roadside. Like the papers, the customers would scatter, shouting obscenities and promises to ‘Mur’ put senses into the driver. Of course by then the taxi is long gone.

Tags: on the road, south africa, township, travel


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