Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Posted by Simon Halliday | Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Category: |

Well, I’ve just arrived in Durban again. This time I got to drive into Durban proper, rather than simply take the N2 directly out of the Airport to Port Shepstone. Tomorrow I drive to Vryheid.

The flight here wasn’t too eventful, except for being over-populous as a result of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour. No aisle seat for me, I was squished between a madala type in a green suit, tie and hat and a Zulu woman with stick-out-backwards hair. All very cool. I was reading Bret Easton Ellis’ Rules of Attraction interspersed with an analysis by Brodskey of Robert Frost in a collection called Homage to Robert Frost. Apart from a bit of turbulence the flight was delightfully uneventful. The turbulence sent me on a stream of consciousness hypothetical story about the plane, something along the lines of:

the plane lands safely the plane hits the ground the brakes screech the rudder rattles the passengers feel the force of it but they arrive safely the wheels hit the ground and the craft begins to aquaplane the brakes engage eventually the arrive safely the wheels hit the ground the craft aquaplanes it hurtles towards the terminal the driver controls it but sacrifices some of the people on the plane by crashing into a petrol-truck standing by which results in an explosion he is cremated on the spot the pilot engages the plane’s landing gear one wheel doesn’t come out properly they don’t know and still try to land the craft aquaplanes and spins spins spins somehow gains speed smashes into the terminals causing massive destruction death calamity the plane lands safely the plane feels the water dripping from it

Anyway, arriving in Durban and upon egress from the plane I was assaulted by the typical, tropical mode of Durban: heat and humidity. You walk for fifty metres from your aircraft and you begin to sweat. Not pleasant, especially for a silly person of pom descent such as myself who suffers in this type of condition. Oh well…

I got my rental car – Toyota Corolla. Again. White. Drives decently. Importantly: AIRCON! I had to ask directions to the City Lodge (where I am typing this) of the lady of Indian descent who was at the Budget Car Rentals. She duly provided me with a map and described my route. I managed not to follow her directions but still arrive at the City Lodge. Go me.

At the Lodge I had a funny series of misadventures within the first few minutes of arrival. Luckily, the receptionists (or service managers, or whatever they’re called these days) were holding my booking form in their hands (yes, both of them were simultaneously holding it – I think they were in the process of an exchange of sorts). Signed forms, gave numbers. Blah. Get some change to get a much-needed chocolate – can’t have any during the week, last chance so to speak. At the vending machine I see the courageous Bar One that wishes to assuage my craving (anthropomorphized by the power of said craving, and actually having agency and preferences, such as fulfilling its Simon-given purpose) and I slam in my five rand coin. The Bar One does not jump down to the bottom as it should. I begin to question its commitment to my craving. I think, ok, fine, price differentiation and all that, I’ll pay ten rand for my bar one. I put in another five rand coin. The Bar One moves forward slightly but once more decides that the vending machine slot for us humans to harvest the wares is not its optimal locus. I get the service managers to help me - both of them again leaping to my aid with alacrity and joie de vivre oozing from their every pore, well not actually, but I was thinking of making this into a musical and the stage directions I’d provide for my troupe. They give me two Bar Ones after hearing of my travails.

I waltz up to my room – Room 219 in the ‘Non-Smoking Wing’. It looks as though their ‘Smoking Wing’ is larger than their ‘Non-Smoking Wing’. This concerns me. Unlucky for me I have the room at the absolute end of the passage. Quite please that, for the first time ever, I have my very own (I’ve shared one before) door-swipey-card-thingy I suavely place it into the slot. Hmm… the yellow light blinks twice. Internal Monologue: that’s not meant to happen. Solution 1: Read the instructions on the back and follow said instructions. Perform Solution 1. Blinky yellow lights. Solution 1 doesn’t elicit required result. Solution 2: Perform ‘Solution 1’ slowly. Blinky Yellow Lights. Solutions 3 – 5: Perform ‘Solution 1’, but with the nuance of repeatedly jamming the card into the hole. BLINKY Yellow Lights. Result: Solutions 3-5 fail miserably. Solution 6: Realize I am being filmed and go to ask for help. Hmm… I am not being filmed, but I still go to ask for help. The service manager (only one this time) encodes a new card and accompanies me to my room commenting appositely on how far it is from reception (Image: Simon lugging bags to Room 219, the room farthest from the reception. Again).

Once in my room I was sweating (refer to last image). I looked for the Air Conditioner of Joy. It turns out not to be the Air Conditioner of Joy, but rather the Air Conditioner of Making-a-Massive-Racket. Which leaves me with a conundrum – do I wish to fall asleep and wake up because I feel hot and sweaty? or, alternatively, do I wish to simply lie in bed, but not sleep because of the noise? Hmm… difficult one… Catch Twenty-Two comes to mind, but in a far more mundane, and only personally annoying sense.

Ok, time for me to end this arbitrary post. Life she is hectic. Wow.

Currently have 1 comments:

  1. Is it ironic at all that some of your best writing is produced when you weren't supposed to be writing at all, rather doing something else