I’m not in South Africa. In fact I’ve never visited (yet). My setting is distinctive and confirms I’m still in London; the traffic from Shaftesbury Avenue, the punters gathered at the pubs, the bright lights of a mainstream theatre on Cambridge circus. I’m in London’s West-end to watch “Mother to Mother”. A play set in Gugulethu “Our pride”, showing within the intimate space of The Tristan Bates Theatre in Convent Garden.
Size has never fooled me. Whatever intimacy is lost within the grande theatres of the West-end, fringe-theatre gains. There is no hiding behind the façade of multiple gimmicks and distance between actor and audience. The audience is up close to witness, and even critique every emotion the actor portrays.
The performance of “Mother to Mother” offers a genuine theatrical experience. The one-woman show is written and performed by South African actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones. There is an authentic ambiance to her character with her mother tongue ‘clicks’ and heart warming African folklore songs sung beautifully.
I was transported to the South African township, Gugulethu, to empathise with a hardworking mother. I sat with her on that packed bus the day of the tragic event…
“Mother to Mother” ends 25th October click here to buy tickets
Part of The Paul Robeson ‘Art is a weapon’ Festival 2013.
“Call Mr. Robeson” is also showing at The Tristan Bates Theatre. Witness the a moving performance about Paul Robeson’s life with songs.
Ends 26th October.
The Tristan Bates Theatre
1a Tower Street, Convent Garden, London WC2H 9NP
020 7240 6283
Have you got your tickets yet?
I grew up believing in fairytales… Well, didn’t you? That one day the handsome Prince will come along and sweep me off my feet. Then we’d live happily ever after… Pretty much the standard layout right? Except the reality of a modern fairytale is far from what Disney taught us to believe, even if there very few examples in todays day and age to go by.
The most intriguing example of our modern-day fairytales is one many of us have lived to witness. The life of Princess Diana. Arguably the greatest fairytale of modern history. She was a Princess in her own right- “The people’s Princess”.
Paris is the setting of many love stories. It’s heart warming to have spent a birthday in a city radiating love, even if it did highlight that I was alone. Either way, there is something magical about Paris which makes it the ideal setting for anyone creating their very own fairytale… Even if mine is yet to be made.
I ended my birthday night in Paris with one last stop on my ‘to do list’, the Liberty Flame to pay my respects the a woman who’s life inspired millions, including mine. With the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the background, the monument of the flame stands on top of Pont de L’Alma, the passage in which Diana lost her life in the tragic car crash 16 years ago. I hadn’t expected to get emotional. I stopped believing in fairytales years ago, 16 years ago to be exact.
However what the flame didn’t do for me, the tributes written on the short wall above the overpass stirred up. A surprising sense of satisfaction warmed me. Diana didn’t die in vain. Her memory lives on in the hearts of so many and the evidence is written on the wall. No Walt Disney film can ever compare to her life… Our modern-day Princess might be gone, but her memory lives on happily ever after the sorrow.
Accompanied with my Parisian friend Samia, we added a padlock to the chain surrounding the flame monument. Then we crossed over Avenue de New York to the river to each throw the keys into the river. I felt a sense of comfort as I thrust my arm back and released the key forward into the river glistening from the surrounding lights. I pledged to let go of all the negative in my past… I pledged to start believing in fairytales again.
What I’d lost in learning of Diana’s death that morning in late August, I hope to regain in the belief that there is such thing as happily ever after… Even if it’s not happily right now.
– Eurostar from London to Paris prices start at £69
– Flame of Liberty memorial Pont de l’Alma | 8th Arrondissement, Paris, France
“Hold your horses! We’re not even in Paris yet!”
That’s the thought that crosses my mind the the moment I discover what that annoying squeak is.
Surprisingly, it’s not a sound from my mental book of “ultimate bad manners” (a collection of bad manners that disgust me on public transport); someone sucking food out of their teeth for everyone to hear! I look around the cabin of the Eurostar train in search of the culprit excepting others to be straining their necks with the same intention. Am I the only one disturbed by that sound?
That sound, it turns out, is actually coming from the couple in the seat in front of me locking lips (more like sucking lips) every perfect 5 minutes as though on a timer.
It dawns on me this trip isn’t going to be made easy for a singleton… I’ve barely left London and the sound of ‘love’ is already irritating me. How will I cope when the train arrives in Paris in a few hours time?… Will I arrive on the platform and find myself on a film set where everyone is kissing?… Even pigeons locking beaks making that annoying groaning noise?….
“Wake up Kai!” It’s just a bad day-dream (but not far from reality).
I’m going to the world’s most romantic city for my birthday! And if I want to make the most of this 24hr date with Paris, I’ll have to stop thinking like a singleton and start thinking like a woman ready for love… And that my friend, is exactly what I did… Because I’d rather be in Paris…
I woke up with a distinctive feeling of excitement. Not only was it my birthday, but I was out of London! A sense of relief washed over me as though finally over an ex. Excited to move on. Paying particular attention to my appearance; it’s a first date after all and first impressions count. The makeup- light and simple, the hair short and sleek, though still concerned about my short locks leaving me ‘exposed’, not offering the same protective lure as my long extensions. But overall satisfied that I can confidently go out as myself- as natural as I’m willing to be.
I didn’t come to Paris looking for somebody to fall in love with. So once I was able to ignore those grim faces on the metro, and see past the conflicting ‘shabby-chic’ of parts of the city, I was set to make the most of my date with romance… Alone in Paris!
The first compliment I received as I strolled by included the word “chic” (I’m embarrassed to write that after 5 years studying French in school, that was the only word I picked out of that sentence). The old man who gave those words wasn’t a good representation of “chic” himself, but nether-the-less, it put a bounce in my step and I smiled back in gratitude. That was the only comment I received that day, and that was the only one I needed, as though Paris had confirmed the theme for my day: chic.
Now, 24hrs is not enough to do all the “chic” things Paris has to offer. Not even half. So I found myself on a fast pace no different to my walk in London. A far cry from the easy-breezy-strolling-along-without-a-care-in-the-world pace I day-dreamed of having. Neither did I find myself in a cute Parisian café off the beaten track to people watch from. No time for that. Just getting to the Eiffel Tower was a mission (only because I was too proud ask directions in broken French). But once I found it was worth it.
And everything else seemed to find its ways across my path. It’s easy to see beauty in Paris. Beauty is romance.
And so it was that night that Paris romanced me. An evening at Maison Blanche for my birthday dinner included a meal with flavours dancing off my tongue. I hadn’t expected this from French cuisine. The evening was amicable yet lanced with romance. The view of the Eiffel Tower offered added splendour.
Paris wooed me that night the way any woman would love to be wooed… Paris made me understand why I’m still single… I’m just not prepared to settle for less. My night wasn’t overly exciting, however the simplicity was intense allowing me to savour every moment… It was, dare I say, romantic!
And yet the city didn’t cross the thresh-hold into seduction. I wasn’t seduced by the charm of Paris to ‘be in Love’. It remained classy and tasteful.… Lets face it, if it was seduction I was looking for, I could have just stayed in London! I willing chose to offer myself for a night in Paris. And I don’t regret the wonderful night I had even if it does remain as just that – a night in Paris… Though my aunt can rest reassured that her morals are deeply instilled in me and that I won’t make it a habit of sleeping with my first dates (I’m a Lady)!
So I’m leaving Paris with a sense of fulfilment. A sense of gratitude. A sense of respect for a city so famed for romance, however it wasn’t distasteful caricatured or overly animated as you might expect. It didn’t take advantage of a gullible heart of a singleton. I wasn’t falsely lead to believing in love-at-first-sight. I wasn’t made to feel left out. Neither was I made to feel that I stood out as I strolled along the streets alone. My date with the city will be one I will remember always. But would I do it again? Probably not again alone. With a significant other would be my preferred choice for another significant occasion.
And what made it different from the others?
Romance. I feel in love with charm… Once upon a time I had this with London…
I’m back on the Eurostar without hesitation to get back home. Paris was great, but if I’m to take anything away from our date, it’s to be grateful for what I have already… And I’ve always had London. I just need to rekindle the charm my city offers.
Which city have you fallen in love with? Share your thoughts below x
Eurostar from London to Paris prices start from £69 return.
For accommodation Airbnb offers a wide range of locations and prices. Plus the benefit of staying with a local.
“Today is a gift…”
It’s my birthday today and really, what better present than to be in what has been described as ‘the world’s most romantic city‘. The perfect destination to spend with a significant other… Except in my case, there is no significant other… Just another significant mile-stone to celebrate!
I’m here to find out if a singleton can fall in love with a city so drenched in romance, on a date with Paris!…
And I’ve been taught never to sleep with a first date but on this occasion I might have to make an exception…
Will a night in Paris be enough to fall in love?
Find out more in the next post!
As if you haven’t already noticed, autumn has well and truly crept in! The streets are paved not with gold, but the yellowish brown leaves falling from the trees laying a crisp golden carpet to walk on. The sun is playing ‘pika boo’ behind the silver-lined clouds. I breath in deeply… The air is mild and fresh with an undertone of mixed scents; sweet apple blossom tangled with the pollution from the traffic makes a contradicting concoction. This is autumn in London!
And I’m back into the swing of things as though I never left… As though summer never visited… As though she never left me without saying goodbye…
So I’m thinking back to my summer trips starting in June with a first time visit to Mallorca for Gerry’s 50 shades of blue ‘burning man’ theme birthday; and ending in September for some autumn sun in Sicily with my sister! … Not forgetting everything else in between; Piemonte village Rodallo trip for Festa del Pesce, Dominican Republic and Haiti volunteering trip and Puerto Rico con el corrillo (ayeee)!
My summer officially started when I opened the invite to attend my Aunty Lou’s wedding in May… What’s summer without a wedding after all?! Mama Lou’s Big Glorious wedding was joyful event from beginning- the sun showing its full face, to end- I caught the bouquet!
My first time in Mallorca and my first 50th birthday bash for Gerry’s ‘50 Shades of Blue‘! The Burning-man theme made me an equal amongst Gerry’s elite crowd of friends. Plus a road trip around the island was the cherry on top of this trip… Even if Pacha wasn’t!… My summer was just beginning!
I had the pleasure of visiting my favourite Piemonte village, Rodallo, for its annual ‘festa del pesce‘. I also accompanied Alu and Gena to their summer camp where I got a geography lesson on the map of Italy by the kids… Quite useful!
When I booked a British Airways flight to the Dominican Republic, little did I know what I’d discover on the island of Hispaniola.. My journey stared by landing in Punta Cana- Resorts only! Staying at the Bavaro Beach Resort would satisfy most people’s definition of a holiday, however after the second night the novelty of an ‘all-inclusive’ was lost on me and I was ready to leave and meet real locals!… But not before I meeting the lovely Boricua Vivi on the dance floor of the disco… That would be the start of a great friendship… And another adventure in Puerto Rico later on!
Santo Domingo offers a radiant charm I find extremely attractive in older cities; Zona Colonial! This historical part of the city has so much to offer; from affordable accommodation options to sunday strolls exploring something new on each narrow bend of the street. Leave the guild book in the safety of the hotel and have a local show you around like I did with Nicaury! Or find yourself a new read by checking out something you won’t find in the guidebook; Biblioteca libre! And whatever you do, don’t forget to bachata, merengue or salsa to the live music played every sunday evening (weather permitting) in the ruins of San Francisco… Surreal!
I volunteered with Good Neighbors Dominican Republic directed by Ms Hyang Cho. It was a great way to do something helpful and get to experience the Dominican culture first hand… And discover Korean culture thanks to fellow international volunteer Soo. I also got a chance to practise my video-making and editing skills using my iphone! Thanks for the experience GN Dom team!!
Haiti has always fascinated me. From the country’s history as the first Black Republic to the preservation of the the Voudun religion. I can never hide my fascination when I meet someone from Haiti! Three years ago when the country was struck by a devastating huricaine, I knew I wanted to help in some way. Three and a half years later I got the opportunity in the least expected way; by volunteering at the Sathya Sai centre in Port-au-Prince. The centre which is co-ordinated by Shanti Poudel and Carlos Suarez, provides freshly cooked nutritious meals to needy children living in camps across Port-au-Prince. Haiti was full of unexpected surprises, comforting fulfillments and small accomplishments… Leaving Haiti was leaving the best of my summer behind… I found myself in more ways than one.
The funding for the food program is drawing to an end. If you’re able to help in some way for the children to continue to receive a meal each day, please contact the co-ordinator Shanti Poudel firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you
From meeting Vivi on the dance floor of a holiday resort in DR to a week full of activities hanging con el corillo, Puerto Rico was everything I was expecting… And then some!
Once again, I return to Italy for the second time this summer… But this isn’t just Italy, it’s Italy with a distinctive island feel! I chose the perfect location and time to travel with my sister for a couchsurfing adventure in Sicily. And we really couldn’t have asked for a nicer, understanding host (I don’t know many who would put up with sisters constantly bickering!)- grazie Giuseppe!
Socking up the warm autumn sun while sunbathing on Sampieri, discovering the meaning of ‘indulgence’ in Modica by sampling the world-renowned chocolate in Antica Dolceria Bonajuto… And biting into a scrumtuous cannoli as though I had died and gone to… Well, Italy! A truly blissful way to end my summer…
I’m back to school until the next trip… because students travel too you know- on a student budget! 😉
What are some of your memories of a wonderful summer?