I had made a mental note to call my local friend in Johannesburg today. Patricia is a South African black and she’s a nightmare to reach because her cellphone is always running low on battery or call airtime (in South Africa, many of us are on prepaid call plans).

So it wasn’t a surprise when I dialled her number and reached an electronic voice message. I’ve never paid attention to it before. Today I listened and it went something along the line of There is no voice mailbox for this number. But we will send your number by sms to the user to inform them of your call.

Hmm.. nice.. okay, I’ll try it.

Press 1 to send this number where you dialled from. Press 2 to enter a different number.

I pressed 1.

Press 1 if this call is urgent. Press 2 if this call is NOT urgent.

I paused, just for a moment. Then I pressed 1.

LOL! I burst out laughing immediately after that.

Never ever ask a Singaporean if it’s urgent. The answer is always YES.

And in true South African fashion, Patricia never called back. And I had to call her again later to reach her.

I forget I’m back in Johannesburg. I need to get back into South African mode now. *pours a glass of wine*



  1. Haha! I just wrote a post about “South African mode” as well. Trying to make doctor’s appointments. Every South African should be outfitted with an “urgent” button. One that makes them call back right now, not just now or now now.

    • The South African’s concept of urgent is not the same as ours! Haha..

  2. yes that’s for sure. In fact, time has a whole different meaning here than elsewhere. It’s often pleasant, but sometimes very annoying. Am now working on a post about “time is money” (but not in South Africa)…

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