Gaijin Tomodachi Tachiyorimasu (Laura & Troy’s SA Reprieve)

P1040818Recently, a good friend of mine returned to South Africa for a brief 13 day reprieve. Laura, along with her fiancé Troy, have spent the last two years abroad in Japan teaching English to the natives. Although they have both been enjoying the unique experience, they, like Dorothy, could not wait to tap their heels because, no matter how short the stay, “there is no place like home”.

If you are wondering about the title of this post, it is supposed to translate into something like: “Internationalised Foreign Friends”. For all I know it could mean “Tasty Octopus Nipples”, what with the dubious reliability of some of the Internet’s ‘translation engines’.

My poor Japanese skills aside, it was great to be able to spend time with both Laura and Troy. Thankfully we got to see them a few times before returning to Japan.

The most memorable evening took place on Saturday night, 8th August 2009. Upon my recommendation, myself, Mik, Nicholas, Laura and Troy, made our way to the Nelson Mandela square in Sandton City. Those of you who know me personally, can attest to the fact that I always like to try new and exciting places or events. As a result, I managed to persuade almost everyone to try Lekgotla), an African styled restaurant, with the hopes of getting to eat a gastronomically unique dish. We were not disappointed.

P1040800Lekgotla is Tswana for ‘the meeting place’, and what a meeting place it is. The place is beautiful. There are no two ways about it. Think traditional African symbolism meets modern European contemporary art. The perfect place to bring foreigners for a taste of African culture.

Thankfully we arrived before the dinner time rush and were thus able to procure and be seated at one of the restaurant’s exclusive ‘gotla’ – one of only two hut-like structures that are able to seat eight people comfortably.

To be frank, the food was simply spectacular! All the way from the Crocodile Carpaccio, Peanut Butter Calamari and Vetkoek starters, to the Ethiopian Coffee Steak, Glazed Pear infused Ostrich fillet and vegetarian platter main courses, and finally all the way to the stomach distending three Crème brûlées degustation dessert; not a single dish was a disappointment. Honestly, a part from being absolutely divine, the food also served as a form of entertainment value for the evening. Discussing the strange delicacies and varied tastes made way for interesting conversational elements and, in some cases, the food prompted ‘hands on’ action as well as the often unexpected, and rather loud, oral expulsion of digestive gases. It was definitely an evening to remember!

Furthermore, throughout the course of the evening, we were constantly impressed by the level of service, but even more so by the welcomed yet unexpected amenities. To begin, we were all offered a cleansing vanilla infused hand wash, with vanilla scented towels to boot. Our hands smelled delicious, unfortunately they did not taste that way. After that a cart was brought over with an opportunity to try out a traditional ‘cocktail’. After come impressive bottle work, we were handed the crushed ice, vodka, honey and lemon juice cocktails. Although the drink sounds like something which could clear ones sinuses, it was actually rather good. A short time later, after the starters, we were given the chance to bare tribal markings upon our beautiful visages. Unfortunately, no one was keen to have their face painted, no matter how ‘unique’ the experience on offer was. Next time though! To top it all off, we were eventually asked if we would have liked our shoes shined. Once again, no one obliged. Although this time it was not for lack of trying, but merely because no one was wearing shoes which could have been shined. To conclude, the service at Lekgotla was excellent. From the moment we arrived we were greeted warmly and made to feel as if we were the only people there. Granted we were at the time, but the level of service did not decline even though the place eventually filled up faster than a rush hour taxi.

As a result, Lekgotla is the perfect place to take foreigners and it is the ideal location for individuals who are willing to embrace their ‘African’ roots. We would give Lekgotla a rating of 9/10.

In essence it was really very good to spend time with everyone, especially Laura and Troy. They have both grown tremendously as a couple and we are all looking forward to their big day – possibly in 2010. We miss them both quite a lot, but we are immensely thankful for the time we were able to have together. The venue just made the experience that much better. After all, nothing is better than creating highly memorable moments, with unforgettably awesome people.

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!

Bookmark and Share

Slumdog Millionaire – The South African Premiere

Last week I was spammed notified, by Sterkinekor Entertainment, of the first SA Screening of the Oscar® nominated film: Slumdog Millionaire. In line with my new philosophy on life, to enjoy new experiences through living life to the fullest, I decided to get a few friends together and attend the premiere of this highly acclaimed and accolade endowed film.

The premiere took place at the Cinema Nouveau at Cedar Square in Fourways on Tuesday 17th February 2009 from 19:00. We were all rather impressed with the event since they had a red carpet, with paparazzi and all, as well as free cocktails and buffet-like snacks. Furthermore, it was an opportunity to mingle with South African celebrities (if you even know who they are?!)  as well as obtain free popcorn for the film! Even the author of the book ‘Q&A’, which the movie is based on, was available at the premiere for autographs. I would have liked to have purchased a book and have had it autographed but my disdain for none hard covered/backed books prevented me from splurging for the vastly inferior soft cover version. That is just me! LOL!

I did think about writing my own review of the film, but I found this review from Rolling Stones Online which closely resembles my thoughts and feelings towards the film (Oh all right… I was just too lazy to write one myself *snicker*):

What I feel for this movie isn’t just admiration, it’s mad love. And I couldn’t be more surprised. The plot reeks of uplift: An illiterate slum kid from Mumbai goes on the local TV version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and comes off like a brainiac. Who wants to see that? Final answer: You do. Slumdog Millionaire has the goods to bust out as a scrappy contender in the Oscar race. It’s modern India standing in for a world in full economic spin. It’s an explosion of colour and light with the darkness ever ready to invade. It’s a family film of shocking brutality, a romance haunted by sexual abuse, a fantasy of wealth fuelled by crushing poverty.

You won’t find many fairy tales that open with a graphic torture scene. The cops think 18-year-old Jamal Malik (a sensational Dev Patel) is a fraud. Goaded by the show’s host (the superb Anil Kapoor), the police inspector (Irrfan Khan) is determined to beat the truth out of Jamal before he goes back on the show and hits the jackpot of 20 million rupees. Presumably this is not the way Regis Philbin ran things when the show hit America in 1999.

Brimming with humour and heartbreak, Slumdog Millionaire meets at the border of art and commerce and lets one flow into the other as if that were the natural order of things. Sweet. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) brings focus to Q & A, the episodic Vikas Swarup novel on which the film is based. Still, the MVP here is Danny Boyle, who directs the film brilliantly. Boyle is the Irish-Catholic working-class Brit who put his surreal mark on zombies (28 Days Later) and smack addicts (Trainspotting), and made us see ourselves in their blood wars. Those movies were so potent, as was his 1994 debut, Shallow Grave, that we looked the other way when Boyle went Hollywood with The Beach and screwed up with A Life Less Ordinary. Somehow we knew that Boyle had the stuff to work miracles.

Here’s the proof. We learn the history of Jamal and the other principal characters in flashbacks, as Jamal answers questions on the TV show not from book knowledge — he has none — but his own life experiences. Jamal is searching for two people from his childhood: his wild older brother Salim (an outstanding Madhur Mittal), now a thief and killer, and his adored Latika (the achingly lovely Freida Pinto), now stepping up from child prostitute to plaything of a gangster. Every incident, including the brothers’ watching their mother die in an anti-Muslim riot, feeds into Jamal’s answers on the show. OK, the concept bends coincidence to the breaking point. But Jamal’s traumatic youth is his lifeline. Boyle makes magic realism part of the film’s fabric, the essential part that lets in hope without compromising integrity.

Anthony Dod Mantle uses compact digital cameras to move with speed and stealth through the slums and palaces of Mumbai. The film is a visual wonder, propelled by A.R. Rahman’s hip-hopping score and Chris Dickens’ kinetic editing. The whoosh of action and romance pulls you in, but it’s the bruised characters who hold you there. Every step Jamal takes toward his final answer could get him killed. Even in the Bollywood musical number that ends the film, joy and pain are still joined in the dance. The no-bull honesty of Slumdog Millionaire hits you hard. It’s the real deal. No cheating.


(Posted: Nov 13, 2008)

All in all a brilliant time was had by all who attended! Make sure to view the photographs to see exactly how it went down and to view who the ‘real’ celebrities of the evening were 🙂