I Am In A Good Mood
I almost never write about the hard bits in our lifestyle while we live as expatriates in foreign countries.
It’s because firstly, this blog is where I have decided to keep predominantly a place for my positive thoughts. Secondly, I also don’t like to whine about all the stuff that make us feel frustrated and stressed out because we’ve had our share of good blessings and I feel it’s more appropriate to focus on the good stuff.
But recently a close friend said something to me that made me realise that perhaps it’s because I don’t talk about the rough bits of living overseas, especially in South Africa.. that everyone must think that we live as fancy expatriates in a bubble that’s a perfect class of its own as compared to the rest of the people in the country. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Oh, we ARE in the South African system of life. Trust me. There is no way you can get away from it. Rich or poor. Expat or local. And life here is filled with hiccups. There is always something going wrong. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
You name it.. transport system, or the lack of it.. or the inefficiency of it.. water cut offs.. electricity cut offs.. traffic lights breaking down.. accidents.. food shortages.. toxicity in water.. crime and security incidents.. stolen items through the postal service.. missing luggage at the airport.. retarded internet connection after being promised and paying for supersonic speed.. or just simply ignorance or inefficiency across every point of customer service contact in this country.
It drove me crazy when we first moved here. I reacted as a typical Singaporean would – This is unacceptable!!
The weird part was discovering that when things go wrong in this country, people don’t scream.. jump.. shout.. threaten to sue.. threaten to complain.. threaten to have the staff fired.. or threaten to go to the press. Well, most people don’t. Most of them, if not all.. would do the African thing – which is shrug it off, maybe curse a little and then say “TIA”. Which is short for “This is Africa”. If you’ve watched the movie, Blood Diamonds (starring Leonardo Dicaprio), you would recognise this phrase.
It’s a behaviour I couldn’t understand as a Singaporean. We come from a place that does not accept anything short of excellent quality and standard. I couldn’t understand why people let inefficiency slide. Why they allow things to happen slowly. Why they allow water and power cuts to happen and simply stock their homes with giant 5-litre bottles of water and their own small power generators instead. I wondered why they didn’t choose to put their foot down and demand the progress and standard in life that would raise their country to a higher level in economic progress.
But now I’ve been here for a year. I know why. It’s because their way of life is the reason why South Africans are happy people. Why they always have a smile for everyone. Why they have the mood to say Hello, how are you? to everyone they see on the street. Why they are always in a good mood.
And this message I saw on the plastic bag of a shop says it all for the South Africans.
If there is one country that deserves the right to be angry, it’s South Africa. The shit they’ve gone through as a country and is still going through is crazy. The promises that have been made to the people that were not fulfilled. The hope they were led to have but were eventually left disappointed. But yet, the people are all about forgiveness and graciousness. Incidentally, while my own country was going mob-crazy over a technical glitch in the transportation system last Friday, South Africa was celebrating Reconciliation Day. A day to be grateful, to be gracious and to forgive.
I have utmost respect for this country. It may be technologically behind and not as economically strong as many other countries, but it has built a gracious nation.
If there is one thing I hope to learn from my time spent here, it would be to be as grateful and gracious, and to be always in a good mood.