Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Was 2008 a success?

2008 has been a duzi. This year saw the growth of my business, occupation of my first offices, the completion of another honours degree and the crush on someone at work.

One of my clients is a large investment bank. I've been running a large project there for over a year now. The project has proved tough - investment bankers are not the easiest clients in the world. But things have gone well and has sold into the fifth phase which is a testament to client satisfaction. There are things that could have gone better. But given that much of my team is made up of client team members and the rest by sub-contractors, the dynamic has been tough to manage. Next year is a big one to take this client to the next level. More about that later.

Another client is a Canadian mining company. This year saw two trips to present to their board and run workshops in Toronto. It's been some time since I used to have a hectic international travel schedule, and traveling across time zones to Toronto and back within a week is a killer. But things went well and I continue to do cutting edge financial strategy work related to their global expansion. They must be satisfied because they've asked to sign a retainer agreement.

I've neglected my global media client this year and this must mark a failure. The division MD who was my main client has left and I have not been close enough to ensure continuity in the relationship. I need to fix this but have found that I can only really stretch across two clients. I need a partner take over this relationship.

Which gets me onto hiring. Clear out-and-out failure. I started by approaching two people I used to work with. One was without doubt the most promising consultant I'd ever worked with. I wanted to hire him as a manager (mid level in my company). He's now really successful at one of the banks and it will cost a fortune to hire him back. Anyway, I offered to match his current package and he decided he needed more time in his role before moving back to consulting. The good news is we met in the last few weeks and he may well move in the next few months. This would help me a lot, so it is really exciting.

The other ex-colleague I approached is now a director of a listed company. She backed down mid year due to concerns as to whether she could be a consultant again. But we also met in the last few weeks and she may be available by June. She fits the media client in terms of skills, so I'm really holding thumbs.

Both ex-colleagues know me and I trust them. I picked them as the people to build a business with when I approached them.

Of the more than 100 CVs I've considered for analyst positions, one resulted in an offer. Sadly she turned me down as she was scared of being the first employee alone in the office during mornings when I am on client site. The analyst position is office based until sufficient experience has been gained. I can imagine joining a small new company straight out of varsity as top student, etc would be intimidating. I need to find a way to sell this.

So finding employees has been a failure thus far.

I also took occupation of new offices. This has been my biggest commitment to my business thus far. Rental is one thing, but furnishing and fitting an office is another. It's been a huge expense. And hard work - as I've done lots of the fitting and furniture purchasing myself. But the office looks amazing and I have capacity to take on 18 staff. The commitment is 3 years of monthly rentals. Wow. It certainly is motivation to hire some billing employees to spread the contribution towards rental. But it is a big milestone and is an undoubted success.

I finished another honours degree this year. I studied further in my third major as it turned out to be most relevant to what I do and where my greatest interest lay. So my reasons were due to interest and for learning rather than because I wanted another qualification. But still, my ambition was a first class / cum laude pass. I was on track but with the crazy year and the last trip overseas in particular, my grades slipped and I missed the first. This is the failure I regret the most.

On the reading front, this year has been an undoubted success. I've got through tonnes this year by catching 10 minutes here and there. It seems to work for me. In particular I've read all the Investment Banking books going. This has been enjoyable and clearly contributed to my competence with one of my clients. My list for the year includes (amongst the tonnes of academic reading):

Fiasco - Frank Partnoy
Infectious Greed - Frank Partnoy
The Predators' Ball - Connie Bruck
The Accidental Investment Banker - Jonathan Knee
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco - Bryan Burrough
Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives - Satyajit Das
Goldman Sachs : The Culture of Success - Lisa Endlich
The New New Thing - Michael Lewis
The Bonfire of The Vanities - Tom Wolfe
Monty - Mark Keohane

For those interested in investment banking, I've been through these over the past few years:

Wriston: Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy - Phillip L. Zweig
Den of Thieves - James B. Stewart
Liar's Poker: Two Cities, True Greed - Michael Lewis

And those I bought but have yet to read (some of the many, but for the next few months):

Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies - McKinsey
Paul Wilmott on Quantitative Finance 3 Volume Set - Paul Wilmott
Outliers: The Story of Success - Malcolm Gladwell
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell
Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: A Long Short Story - David Einhorn

I now need to think about my masters. I have discovered that Wits Business School offers a dissertation based masters. This compares much more favourably than the coursework based masters at Wits commerce faculty. The coursework based masters has lectures at 17h00 which is just incompatible with a business schedule. I will either enroll for the dissertation based masters in 2009 or complete some maths courses and do some preparatory research.

I must reinvigorate the media client relationship this year and possibly bring in a global FMCG client. This will require signing a partner.

My intention is to complete 3 to 4 hires this year - a partner, a manager, an analyst or possibly 2. This would reflect huge growth in my business and a big success in delegating and trusting others.

I also need to find a successful relationship this year - be it with a guy or girl. I really want someone who I am attracted to to be attracted to me. For the company, understanding and love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What is your Christmas wish?

If you could have a wish granted for Christmas, what would it be?

I'm sure what we wish for for Christmas is affected by our personal circumstances. If a relative is sick you might wish for their recovery. If you are sick you might wish for your recovery.

Who asks you and where you are asked might also influence your answer. If you were competing in a beauty competition, you might wish for world peace.

I'm so lucky. I have so much. Health, wealth and often happiness. Of course we make our luck and I have worked really hard to achieve what I have. And I hope I am grateful for the simple things like my health. A friend was recently in an accident and at worst may never recover, at best could take a year. Things like that make me think. I hope I appreciate my health in more ordinary times.

Of course unless you're mother Theresa, we probably wish for something that affects us personally. I could wish for some more luck in finding the right people to hire next year. I could wish for continued growth in my client business. I could wish for success for the next step in my studies. I could wish for success with a relationship. Sure I wish for all of those things.

But it will all mean nothing if South Africa does not turn the corner in its fight against crime. There are so many positives for our country at present. The World Cup and the infrastructure build. The new competition in our politics. The relatively healthy state of our economy. Our fantastic rugby and cricketing success.

But if we continue to live under threat and lose people to crime, it will all ebb away. Earlier this year I was presenting to one of my client's boards in Toronto. News came in that one of their South African employee's families had been held up in their house. The shock and anger of the Canadians was palpable. It is one of the reasons they are investing in new opportunities outside of South Africa. Crime costs us investment, skills and lives. I wish that we turn the corner in 2009.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Am I doomed to unrequited love?

Damn near seems that way. I fell for the girl of my dreams and lost her. I fell for my best friend who is straight. I love my next best friend and could easily spend my life with him. And I'm completely gaga about this guy I work with.

Since the days of the anonymous email, I have found a way to meet and get to know him. We played golf together on Sunday. I loved it. He is a truly beautiful guy. Really nice, very sporty and easy to get along with. And straight. And getting married next year.

He does not know it is me that sent the email. Maybe he suspects it somewhere. But happily we get along great.

I so want to be close to him. Dammit. Dammit Dammit.

In parallel, I'm fully aware that I seem to be falling for unavailable (straight) guys. And I've been chasing someone on an online dating site. To say that finding a normal guy or girl on a dating site is difficult is the mother of all understatements. But the only normal guy (it would seem) on Datingbuzz appears to be avoiding me.

So if you know anyone who fits the following profile, let me know:


Athletic - I had no idea this guy I'm gaga over was a sports achiever - turns out he was an age group SA wrestler and provincial tennis player. Must be something about his build and manner than gave that away.

Slim and strong - The guy I'm gaga over has these beautiful broad shoulders. My best friend has the best build I know.

Not a hunk - I don't fall for big hairy body builders. I seem to fall for the quietly strong, boyish types. Chad Micheal Murray types...

Imperfect achievers - guys who are not the obvious winner, but made it anyway.


Naturally pretty - can't stand overly made up women. I love natural ready to go girls.

Sporty - not necessarily girls who are sports stars, but certainly girls who like sports and are game.

Laid back and dressed up - girls who wear jeans but put on heels and a cocktail dress and blow a room away. Girls like Natalie Portman and Kiera Knightly.

Tall and slim - I'm 6'3". Girl's between 5'8" and 6' match me better.


Intelligent - I love chatting about everything from art to sport to economics to politics. I get bored of superficiality.

Sensitive - I like people who care about the world and others. Who listen more than they speak. Who stand up for those weaker than them.


Seems impossible to find.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Where could you live other than home?

So I've been in Toronto for a week. I like it a lot.

My favourite city outside of South Africa is New York. I've spent a lot of time there and love the buzz. I like the high paced business life and the 24 hour lifestyle. I love the sidewalk culture and that you can stumble downstairs from your Manhattan flat to a pub/shop/restaurant. New York is a difficult place to live though. You need tonnes of money. Rentals are ridiculous unless you hit the jackpot and find a rent controlled apartment. The weather is extreme to the point of being ridiculous. I've been in -26C in winter and 40C with 80% humidity in summer. Your face freezes in the former and you sweat bullets in a suit in the latter. Then there is space - lack of space literally drives New Yorkers mad. And there are plenty of mad New Yorkers. I reckon more per capita than anywhere else. Also, big city people are pretty shallow. It seems they keep things superficial as a defence mechanism. The good thing about this is you can walk into a club and everyone is one the same terms. If it is a pick up joint, you will be successful. In fact girls hit on guys there. But you could meet a million people in New York and not really get to know any of them. If you have money you can live in a nice apartment, walk from your air conditioning to a waiting cab, spend your weekends in the Hamptons, and marry someone from California.

Toronto reminds me of New York a bit. It's a little more genuine, a little less high rise. It has some of the village aspects of Greenwich Village in the downtown area. And people trek to their "cottages" on the lakes for summer weekends. It doesn't seem to get quite as hot in summer, but has horrific winters - to the extent that the city has an entire underground system to avoid the streets. You plug your car in to avoid the engine freezing. On average, the people are a lot thinner than Americans and are definitely more friendly than New Yorkers. The worst thing so far? The bugs! Canada has just got ridiculous amounts of water. The great lakes and the smaller ones are everywhere. With that much fresh water, mozzies are a problem for a start. In the middle of the downtown area you get bitten to pieces at a sidewalk restaurant. And then there are the black flies. Like horse flies they have a painful bite that leaves a massive itchy bite. There is the so called black fly season here.

The CN Tower in Toronto

"Cottages" on Lake Joseph

I love Europe and identify more with British people than any other nationality outside South Africa. But I could never live in Europe. Whether it is the weather or the pace of life, something just does not click. New York and Toronto remain my favourites.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WTF? Karma gone mad?

This month has been absolutely hellish.

It started with some consulting competitors (overseas consultants paid bazillions) writing an absolutely rubbish report about an area that includes part of my project. Things had been going really well, and then I had to respond to a load of rubbish and discredit each piece of lame feedback. It really was one of the worst pieces of consulting I have ever seen. Junior consultants left to their own devices, who interviewed a selection of people and then reported back a whole lot of opinions without verifying their truth or checking with the people directly involved.

Of course I'd be the first to admit that perception is reality - if people held those views, then I needed to deal with them. Unfortunately, many seemed to be the consultants own uneducated views.

Conference call to one of the fuckers after he had returned to the UK leaving me to mop up his shit:

Me: So Rajeev, you have made a point on page 5, 6, 8, 10, 14 and 15 that the exception process is high level and needs to be taken down a level. In fact, my boss says the remark was made that the process needs to go three levels of detail deeper. Help me understand what you think it should look like.

Rajeev: I'm not sure where this three levels deeper came from...

Me: My boss who was in the presentation.

Rajeev: Anyway, you need to detail each of the exceptions that can occur and how they are fixed.

Me: That sounds like a good idea. Except: there are thousands of potential exceptions. They could include trades being booked incorrectly to a data error, to a technical problem.

Rajeev: So say how they must be fixed...

Me: Uh, typically once you know the exception, the solution is pretty self-evident. You want us to detail, say, 2000 self evident fixes?

Rajeev: Perhaps pick the major ones that occur the most often.

Me: Right. And this would solve the issue you've highlighted in your review?

Rajeev: Yes. And show how they would be corrected in which system.

Me: Silence.

Rajeev: Would you be able to do that?

Me: So you want us to show how an incorrectly booked trade is corrected in each of the 17 trading systems?

Rajeev: IITQ, let me give you some advice...

Me: *going purple at a condescending snotty nosed consultant offering a partner patronising advice*

Rajeev: ...people just need to understand how the process will work in real life. You need to make it real to them.

Me: Thank you Rajeev, we'll include some examples. Thanks for your time. Good bye.


So after I then went home and hit a pillow, things got worse. I had to tour the exco and explain the misinterpretations. Agree new next steps.

And then.

Two dysfunctional idiots on my client project team decided they were unhappy. One was almost booted from the organisation. I saved his arse and ended him up on my project team as a result. The other wouldn't know his arse from his elbow.

After much corridor chatter, one approaches me to let me know how unhappy he is. Except he says, "IITQ, the team is really frustrated with you right now."

Now one of the first rules of feedback is "Speak from the I." Don't talk on behalf of others.Keep it to your own issues. Anyway, I let him carry on.

After another one-on-one - where he interviewed me: "So IITQ, what do you see your role is?" After some response from me, he said, "I noticed you did not say 'Build the team' - that should be your primary role."

FARK. Anyway, I sucked it up and then interviewed the whole team to find out if they had any issues. Almost all the others did not. I then presented a plan of action and got feedback. Pretty much two weeks wasted.

In the meantime, I'd been preparing for a workshop with a client in Canada. Except I discovered 5 weeks prior that my passport had expired. Fuck a duck. My travel agent put me in touch with a shady character to "expedite" the process and get it done in two. I'll spare you the gory details on this one - I'm sure you can see where it is going.

Friday comes and I'm supposed to be flying out via London. No passport. Move all flights to Monday upon more promises. Still nothing. I had to phone my client and let them know I could not get my passport and visa sorted out. They had been in the loop, but hit the roof anyway. They had 20 people flying in from all over to the workshop. 20 business class fares. Months of organisation. Just the airfares = R1m. It was the worst call I've ever had in my life.

Client then calls one of their SA directors who is very well connected. He speaks to a top government official and arranges for me to get my passport the next day - today. They redo the whole minimum 6 week process overnight.

I phone the Canadian Embassy - can I go straight through their process and get a visa in an hour? Who am I working for? X - ok.

It ends there? Oh no. So I have not slept in days due to work for clients. I traipse out this morning with everything triple checked. My bags packed for my evening flight in case I am held up in our nations capital. 08h00 and I walk to my car. Ignition. No. Flat battery - from nowhere. For no rhyme or reason. Frantic call to visa specialist who is meeting me in Pretoria. Can he pick me up? Anyway, he jump starts my car and I follow him to Pretoria. Whole process sorted out in 2 hours - both Home Affairs and Canadian visa.

I'm in the airport lounge now. I'm too scared to tie my own shoelaces in case something goes wrong. This episode has reduced me to a quivering wreck. Yesterday, the tiredness and stress virtually made me lose my voice.

Karma? Funnily enough, there is a psychological equivilent. Our psyches are like see saws. If we overplay our strengths we become overconfident, we ignore our weaknesses and they become under-practised. The whole thing tips and we are then flung out of our comfort zone. So life has a way of putting us through these cycles.

But it just seems like too much out of my control has gone wrong. Of course, me being me I'm beating myself up about it.

Now I have to face my client. A client absolutely fuming. I missed the first day of their management breakaway and they had to reorient the whole thing to have the fun event on the first day when I couldn't be there. I spoke to the MD last night in Canada. There was a lot of fuming silence on the other side of the phone.

This means I'm going to have to grovel and offer some free work to make up for it. Which will cost me a fortune.

But not as much as if I hadn't made it and been sued. That could have cost me my house. Worst case I could still lose this client. That would be a disaster in itself.

But karma owes me some upside. Dammit.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Why can't we just order a mate?

For some reason the guy who I anonymously hit on continues to haunt me. I see him at my client and I tingle. He's just so attractive to me.

It bugs me all the more because there are so few people I find attractive. There was the girl I never got over. There have only been a few others. In celebrity terms, Kiera Knightly, Natalie Portman, Chad Michael Murray and Hayden Christensen do it for me. Their names spring instantly to mind. But I feel absolutely nothing for most other celebrities. This client guy is like that. Just unbelievably attractive to me.

Given this, why can't we just order the person we want? Life would be so much easier ordering from a catalogue.

Online dating hasn't really fulfilled its promise in this regard. Firstly, there aren't too many of those guys or girls I find attractive and when there are, there probably aren't...

If only I had a mail-order catalogue like this one:

I'll take one of each please.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Who will bare witness to your life?

At a friend's recent wedding he told how he had read the above somewhere and how he had found that person in his new wife. That life was richer for having someone to bare testimony.

While I'm fairly self sufficient, it is something I identify with. As I grew up I was taught that telling someone of your achievements was boasting and equivalent to sin.

It has meant that my successes in the latter part of my life have been largely my own. I have not even told my parents. No one.

So I'll tell this anonymous blog.

  • After being sick in my first year, I repeated through UNISA. I aced everything. Stung by being excluded from UCT, I had a point to prove. It was the first year of my life that I'd actually risked failure and really worked. Until then, I think fear of failure meant that I held back, using lack of effort as an excuse. My aggregate was stratospheric. UCT accepted me back the following year.

  • After chronically underachieving at school and in my undergraduate career, I graduated with a first class honours from UCT. I was 3rd in the class, but it was a big improvement.

  • After a year at an accounting company, I moved to an international strategy consulting company. One of the top 3 in the world. After a solid start and first promotion, I was promoted through the second rung in record time. My promotion was presided over by the head of our London office and the it was globally the fastest anyone had been promoted through senior to managing consultant ever. The record was never broken to my knowledge.

  • While a junior consultant I sold work in the first two projects I was ever involved in.

  • As a senior consultant I was asked to lead a project and manage client interaction. This was unheard of below managing consultant. The client was a director with years of experience managing consulting contracts at SAB. He told my bosses I was one of the best consultants he'd ever worked with.

  • While still a senior consultant I was asked to join the strategic management forum of the business. Some more senior colleagues objected and were told that if they didn't like it, they could leave.

  • I won awards every year they were offered. From innovation awards about three times, to best consultant.

  • As a managing consultant I worked with a Director in London. He wrote one of the world's best selling handbooks on strategy and was a partner in two of the world's leading consulting businesses. He brought me in to advise a company he owned a substantial stake in. He told my bosses that I was one of the most promising consultants he'd ever worked with.

  • While a managing consultant I built a team of 8 consultants under me that I recruited from industry. I sold and delivered work with them around the globe.

  • At 26 I sold strategic advice to South Africa's leading financial services provider. I remained advisor to the MD for two years.

  • I was promoted to Principal at 27. The youngest in the history of the South African office.

  • I was debt free at 30 with a paid off house and car. This seems minor but in the context of my upbringing it freed me of the fears of my parents who worked their whole lives to pay off their house, car and provide the best they could for their children.

  • At 31, I was asked to take the managing director position of the South African branch of a global company, execute a merger and manage a staff of over 70 people. I turned this down to start my own consulting company.

  • I took 9 months off after being emotionally exhausted and burnt out. I studied economics III through UNISA for a third major, 11 years after studying economics II. I aced it and came top of the class.

  • I started studying another honours part time, this time in economics, through WITS last year. It is a two year course. At the half way mark at the end of last year I was a fraction off a distinction and top of the class. With my work load this year I'm way off this standard and miserable about it.

  • I have now been running my company for about a year and a half. If she agrees, I'm taking in a director of a listed company as a partner. I'm employing consultants. And I've signed a 5 year lease on new offices.

  • One of my current clients is a leading investment bank. Two weeks ago, one of the CFOs told the exco that I am the best consultant ever to work with the organisation.

Why am I telling an anonymous blog? Because it illustrates the point. After underachieving I've done quite a lot over a number of years. But no one knows and there is no one to bare testimony. If I got hit by a car tomorrow, not even my parents would know that I actually did some special things. I want someone to share the secret. Someone who finds me special without knowing any of the above. And then one day hears me share and is surprised but loves me no more and no less.

Friday, May 09, 2008

How do you find someone special?

So I'm handling my "rejection" from my anonymous approach poorly.

Of course the guy was straight, engaged, etc, etc.

But it followed my tough time after I'd seen the guy I love and can't have.

I don't fall for many guys or girls. It's weird though. I'll meet a guy or girl and I'll be "Wow. This person's special."

They're not stereotypically hot either. Sure, they're usually something special - but different. And there's something else about them. I once wrote, " me but better." And they're usually really nice / good people.

They're not a brainless babe, a bulging hunk, an alpha male, etc.

So I obsess and put them on pedestals. Even a guy I've not said more than two words to. He becomes unattainable bliss.

Maybe the fantasy of something working out with the guy/girl of my dreams helps keep me going through loneliness, overwork, etc. Maybe they need to be unattainable so I never have to deal with their flaws. Maybe...

In the meantime, I'm dying. I'm under so much work and study pressure right now. Despite the fact that I hardly know the guy I emailed, he's obliging and cute and he's like me in that he has succeeded at work at a young age. I think the thought of meeting someone similar made this guy even more attractive. Damn. I want to meet someone to share things with. Someone who gets excited by the same things, someone who'll understand.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

UPDATE: How do you hit on someone at work?

Oh crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap crap crap!

After waiting for a week for my response, I sent another email today.

06/05/2008 19:08
Subject FW: Hey


Did you get my email?

Perhaps you were a bit freaked out? I know I would have been if I'd got an
email like that! Sorry if that's the case.

If it helps, I have no idea whether you would meet a guy for a drink.
Frankly, you appear straight. I approached you merely because I thought you
were attractive and a nice guy. I'm a young guy in (hopefully!) the same
situation. I am certainly not openly into other guys - the anonymous email
should tell you that.

Anyway, before I tie myself into any more knots with this awkward approach,
let me know or tell me if the approach is too concerning to you / you're
not interested. (And feel free to continue this conversation from a non-YYY


The original email:

Subject: Hey
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 14:14:45 +0200


This is a bit of a strange email.

I work with at you at YYY but don't really know you. You seem like a nice
and attractive guy.

Thing is I'm another guy. Hopefully also nice and attractive. Pretty
normal bloke really.

Would you meet another guy for a drink?

I wanted to keep this anonymous until I'd got the potentially
embarrassing introduction out the way.


To which I got the response:


Yes, I was a bit freaked out, you never know if there are idiots out there
who would think sending something like this would be funny, you seem
sincere though.

Unfortunately I am straight and recently got engaged so wont be taking you
up on your offer.

Best of luck on finding someone special.

Kind regards,

So this anonymous email approach is quicker and safer than spending ages getting acquainted with someone hot and then finding out they're definitely unavailable.

But how I wish he was. I really am beginning to be concerned at my attraction to unavailable straight guys.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

How do you hit on someone at work?

This is complicated enough when you're a guy hitting on a girl. It's very complicated when you're a closet bi guy hitting on a guy.

It's even more complicated when the "work" is a client organisation.

Anyway. Very attractive guy is a contractor at my client.

So after a while I came up with a brainwave: how about a polite anonymous email?

Of course this could still all go horribly wrong. He could see the anonymity as cowardly. He could play along and then expose me. Or he could be scared and think this is someone playing a practical joke on him.

Or he could just be straight.

Sadly, he and I were both on leave this week. So I got the "XXX is out of the office..."

Let's freaking hope he did not set his work mail to auto-forward to a colleague...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Will I ever love anyone else as much?

I played golf with my best friend the other day. I've written how I've been in love with him for what is now approaching 16 years. And I wrote how it is difficult being friends with him while I continue to feel the way I do about him despite his being straight and unavailable.

It's great being with him and both of us can just "be." No bullshit. We know one another inside out. We're similar in many ways. We studied together, we both love sports and fairly intellectual.

Which makes it difficult. Because there is the attraction part as well.

Added to this is the fact that he is a world class athlete (literally - he took up triathlon, part-time, outside his regular job, and qualified for the world champs in Hawaii) and has possibly the best body I've ever seen. I've had that head over heels love for him for years - the kind that loves his hands, feet, etc.

And despite being intensely private and knowing my feelings for him, he has now changed and showered with me after golf on two separate occasions. Which I've taken as a huge compliment emphasizing his trust in me.

But my god, seeing him naked. I've gone into a depression once again.

The worst part is knowing that even if I went out with a guy as physically beautiful as him, I'd struggle to find someone who I can be as happy with just sitting at a table having coffee with.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Can you dance?

Hells bells.

I just watched Step Up 2 The Streets. If there is a alter ego inside of me it is a performer - dancer or singer.

You know I think Daniel "Cloud" Campos is amazing. Well the kids in Step Up 2 are truly brilliant too.

Man I'd love to dance like that. For years, I've been going to various clubs that would be called black due to the predominance of the club being black. In fact, some times I've been the only white guy in the club. Mostly they're East African patronized. The French African music is intoxicating. I also go to South African patronized black clubs - they're far more hip hop oriented. Funny. Perhaps because of my lack of inhibition in a black club and something about me being able to dance to the music, I can dance with the best girl dancer on the floor. Which is why I've almost been killed twice. Boyfriends don't like me.

It's weird. I'm a very average ballroom dancer, but with hip-hop I've got rhythm. In fact, on my last visit to Moloko, I was fairly quietly dancing off the dancefloor and this bloke comes up to me. "Hey dude, you've got black rhythm." Jeez, I was happy for the rest of the night.

But man, I wish I could really dance. The dancing in Step Up is like a mix of Urban and gymnastics.

Watch Save the Last Dance to learn about Hip Hop dancing. Good movie too.

Oh, by the way, the Step Up 2 soundtrack is sizzling. My neighbours have been suffering for the last two weeks!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is South African violence the thin end of the wedge for the rest of the world?

It's not difficult tying the violence we see in South Africa to the horrific upbringings many poor kids have in South African townships.

But to think that our problems with violence are unique is to ignore the growing trend of mob mad kids in the UK, US, etc. Whether it's the uprisings against Lebanese in Sydney, the anarchy on the streets of Paris, or the kid who makes a UK teacher's work impossible, The kids aren't alright as The Offspring song goes.

Read the horrific article in today's Sunday Times about the chav kid mobs in the UK who are running amok and beating adults to a pulp.

Are we headed for a Lord of the Flies culture? The problem is global. And the solution is not locking up a lost generation as is happening in the US and UK. Certainly many kids are monsters and possibly beyond redemption. They belong in jail.

But ultimately, we have to intervene to ensure no parents are allowed to create psychopathic monsters. How do you do that? Prophylactic injections to stop people convicted of domestic violence from having kids? Reworking social welfare to incentivize fewer and not more kids? Better institutions for orphans?

With an estimated 2 million aids orphans in the care of relative or village elders in South Africa, it is not difficult to see why we are not different, merely worse off.

The Kids Aren't Alright - The Offspring

When we were young the future was so bright (whoa)
The old neighborhood was so alive (whoa)
And every kid on the whole damn street (whoa)
was gonna make it big in every beat.

Now the neighborhood's cracked and torn (whoa)
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn(whoa)
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives?

Chances thrown
Nothing's free
Longing for
What used to be
Still it's hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives
Shattered dreams


Jamie had a chance, well she really did (whoa)
Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids (whoa)
Mark still lives at home cause he's got no job (whoa)
Just plays guitar, smokes a lot of pot

Jay commited suicide (whoa)
Brandon OD'd and died (whoa)
What the hell is going on?
Cruelest dream reality

Chances blown, nothing's free
Longing for what used to be
Still, it's hard, hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams


Chances blown, nothing's free
Longing for what used to be
Still, it's hard, hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is Zuma our OJ Simpson?

Not for the first time, I was reminded today of the parallels between Zuma in South Africa with OJ Simpson in the States.

I read the rather excellent Guardian piece reprinted in the Mail and Guardian.

The psychology behind popular black support for heroes on trial by what is seen as white establishment is obvious. It is the same warped sense of indentity that causes otherwise reasonable whites to support a white Skierlik murderer or a depraved set of white boys making fun of black workers old enough to be their parents in their Reitz hostel video.

The Guardian article says of the original OJ Simpson Los Angeles trial: "The trial became less about the killings and more about a city's terrible relations with its black population. Occurring not long after the Rodney King riots of 1992, Simpson became a symbol for black power in the face of white authority."

It is not difficult to understand the support for Zuma of those with nothing to lose in South Africa on similar grounds. To them, he represents the black masses marginalised by first the whites and then the connected black elite who appear to have got rich with little regard for those who put them in power. Zuma's guilt of rape or corruption is secondary to the symbolism of taking back power by those in the majority.

This is of course alarming to those who somehow avoid the politics of race and condemn equally the crimes of those who commit them. The reality of a justice blind to race and popularity seems endangered - if it ever existed. The inequality of its application under apartheid would suggest not, and that it is rather an aspiration people hoped for in 1994.

The tale of OJ Simpson offers hope to those. The Gaurdian states: "There has been a fundamental shift in racial attitudes to Simpson. Once, 71% of black Americans believed he was innocent. That's fallen to 40%. It is likely to have collapsed further in the wake of his book. 'A lot of black people have changed their minds. Afterwards he did not try to reach out to them. He just moved to Florida and played golf,' says Manny Otiko, a black cartoonist and comedian."

Already it seems Zuma's support has questioned his willow-bend-in-the-wind poltical posturing.

Perhaps we too are moving towards a day where voters will choose between a woman and a black man based on issues rather than a left / right split.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do you get artificial toe nails?

I ask as I'm about to lose one. On my middle toe on my left foot.

I went to a batchelor's party in the bush last night and somehow tripped and ripped off a toenail. Despite the fact that I was wearing shoes.

I have no memory of the incident - it was a sleepover batchelors at a game lodge. And I got nailed in a game of coinage. Bastards.

So I drove back today and went to hospital where the full damage under the blood and gore became clear.

Since even the root got torn out, the doctor reckons there is no chance of the nail regrowing.

I'm very fussy about feet. I find horrid toes and feet a turnoff. So I'm particularly dismayed at my impending mutilation.


The only lucky thing is that the doctor reckoned I should be in screaming agony. Yet the pain is bearable. Small mercies.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Is it possible to be friends with your exes?

It's probably a question we each grapple with.

Often relationships end in argument and I guess when things are on bad terms, it's easier to figure out the answer.

None of my relationships have ended on bad terms - from my side. One ex is a very good friend and it is easy to spend time with her.

Another ex was my perfect girl. We went through periods of tension and not talking. Then she made an effort and visited me on trips to Joburg, etc. Then suddenly no responses to my messages or any contact. Now I hear she is getting married in April. I'm irritated. Does this mean that even though she told me she was not keen, she maintained contact because she was still making up her mind and keeping her options open?

Another ex is my first and only ex boyfriend. Although I've tried to maintain contact, it's proved difficult and so I've moved on.

Perhaps the most difficult has been the realtionship with my best friend. I've known him for 12 years and been in love with him since pretty much the beginning. I told him that about 5 years ago knowing he was straight and there was no hope of anything happening between us. But I knew that the unspoken sexual tension was forcing a wedge between us and I had to be honest if I was to truly be a friend. We hardly spoke for the next three years. But to his credit our friendship is again strong and since he moved back to South Africa we see quite a bit of one another. That does not mean that the feelings I have for him have gone away. And that is tough.

I think that most relationships with exes where there are remnants of attraction would be difficult for this reason. I still believe this is the respective parties' own issue to deal with and part of life. In the case of my best friend, I know for example that the friendship is so valuable that I need to deal with the feelings I have for him.

That is hard and it is reminding me that I do not meet people I am attracted to in all respects very often at all. And that in the cases that I have, they have never had the same feelings for me. It has inspired a mini-depression and loneliness. Damn.