God is Greatest

I have been very fortunate to experience a number of spiritual paths in this lifetime.

“All paths are one” sits very well with me although I have been more drawn to Buddha. Click here if you think he is that smiling overweight chap that you see on people’s mantelpieces.

I see the Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA Mosque at 45th Cutting Sherwood Durban every time I leave home and return.

Adhan (the Islamic call to prayer – listen here) solemnly drifts across our valley; enhancing the peaceful feeling in this area.

The Soofie Saheb website reveals the following about the arrival of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA in Durban, South Africa:

“It was a normal morning in the winter of 1895 when a ship S.S Hoosen, docked at the Durban Harbour. On board was a person, simple in dress in a yellow garb and a cloth hat.

As he stood on the deck of the ship looking at the people on the wharf to welcome their respective relatives and friends, little did the people realise that he was to make such a great impact in their life-style, to make them God-fearing and to bring about spiritual, mental and social upliftment, and an enhancement in the quality of their lives.

His was a name that, with the Grace of Almighty Allah, will till Eternity, remain on the lips of the people, a name that will remind future generations of his selfless sacrifice for the Deen of Islam and for the general upliftment of the masses in South Africa.

Custom formalities being over, the passengers now disembarked and on the wharfside, relatives embraced, hugged and met each other. Some were helping the passengers with their heavy luggage, tin trunks and suitcases along the gangway from the ship, others were stacking the luggage on the horse wagon on the wharf, while some were being driven away by their relatives and friends.

Looking at the scene as he came down the gangway, this humble son of Islam, with a walking stick in one hand and a small cloth-covered bundle in the other (in it were his spare koortha, loongie, singlet, miswak, towel, a Quraan, a tasbih and a book with various wazifas) carefully stepped on to soil of Southern Africa with confidence knowing that the blessings of Allah and his Pir are with him.

As he walked he greeted the people, some returned his greetings while others just stared at him curiously. No one offered to give him a lift into town or even ask him whether he had a place to stay. Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA made his way to the Jumah Musjid which was then a very simple building in Grey Street.”

It is interesting to read the tale of how the first Mosque came about at Riverside.

Given all of this, it was set in stone that I had to take a few photos of the 45th Cutting Mosque to share with some of my Muslim friends:  Allāhu Akbar (God is Greatest).

20121214_mosque 45th (5) (Medium)

20121214_mosque 45th (4) (Medium)

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The Buddhist Retreat Centre & Pathways in Life

In or around 2005 I first encountered the teachings of Buddha and attended regular teachings for the next two years.

I left that particular path or tradition and it was during May 2007, over a certain weekend, that I “somehow” found myself  “involved” at another tradition: Buddhist Retreat Centre (BRC) in Ixopo, South Africa.

On the Saturday evening of that weekend, sitting alone next to a glowing fireplace, I read a short biography of Mother Theresa and it really touched my heart.

The photos below were taken that weekend using a Canon Ixus.

A few years later I sat in silence a few metres from Mother Teresa’s tomb in Kolkata, India and visited her home for the sick and dying.

There are no “some-hows” – only pathways; cause and effect (Karma) in action.

None of the happenings above were “random”. They all came about through paths I had taken and numerous causes that had arisen.

Buddha gave advice on the The Noble Eight-fold Path listed below:

1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

There seem to be lots of paths in and around the BRC now that I study the photos nearly six years later

Below there are approximately Eight Paths and some other views of interest.

BRC Ixopo 047 (Large) BRC Ixopo 001 (Large) BRC Ixopo 002 (Large) BRC Ixopo 019 (Large) BRC Ixopo 021 (Large) BRC Ixopo 009 (Large) BRC Ixopo 006 (Large) BRC Ixopo 013 (Large) BRC Ixopo 015 (Large) (Medium) BRC Ixopo 022 (Large) BRC Ixopo 023 (Large) BRC Ixopo 024 (Large) BRC Ixopo 025 (Large) BRC Ixopo 033 (Large) BRC Ixopo 034 (Large) BRC Ixopo 037 (Large) BRC Ixopo 038 (Large) BRC Ixopo 040 (Large) BRC Ixopo 041 (Large) BRC Ixopo 044 (Large) BRC Ixopo 048 (Large) BRC Ixopo 049 (Large) BRC Ixopo 056 (Large) (Medium) BRC Ixopo 051 (Large)

The edge of Durban Harbour, South Africa – part 3

The edge of Durban Harbour, South Africa part 1 and part 2, were followed by introduction to part 3.

It was in the latter post that I briefly introduced a gentleman who I met at the edge of the harbour. Let us call the gentleman “Bheki”.

To better acquaint myself with Bheki’s apparent plight, I read the Telegraph.

Aislinn Laing of Johannesburg reported as follows: “Eighteen years after the end of apartheid, South Africa is now judged to be one of the most unequal societies in the world and its 19 million children bear the brunt of the disconnect.

The Unicef report found that 1.4 million children live in homes that rely on often dirty streams for drinking water, 1.5 million have no flushing lavatories and 1.7 million live in shacks, with no proper bedding, cooking or washing facilities.

Four in 10 live in homes where no one is employed and, in cases of dire poverty, the figure rises to seven in 10.

A total of 330,000 children – and five million adults – are currently infected with HIV, and 40 per cent die from the pandemic annually.

Child support grants, introduced in 1997, now reach 10.3 million children but another one million who are eligible do not yet receive them”.

The Daily News reported as follows: “Government failing the unemployed: ANCYL (ANC Youth Leauge) – The ANC Youth League has responded to the latest unemployment figures with a double-barreled blast at the government for its apparent failure to demonstrate the “commitment” and “clear will” required to deal decisively with the jobless plight of young South Africans.

Stats SA’s latest Labour Force Survey, released on Tuesday, indicated that formal unemployment rose to more than 25 percent in the first quarter of 2012, up from 23,9 percent in December. And National Treasury figures put youth unemployment – 18 to 30 year-olds – at about 42 percent, compared to 17 percent for those older than 30”.

Bheki walked past me and I asked him if he was interested in participating in my amateur paid photo shoot. He hesitantly agreed; I suspect being not sure of my actual intentions.

From thereon things relaxed a helluva lot and it was not long before he asked me for a lift a few kilometres down the road with his collection of scrap metal (in the barrel / white sack seen in the photos below).

Sensing an opportunity (both of us in fact), Bheki asked if I would allow him to load additional scrap metal in my vehicle on the way to where I offered to drop him off.

I then offered to drop him off at a scrap metal dealer as it was a diversion of an additional few hundred metres and I would get to see an area of Durban I had not seen in a while – it was a win-win situation. Read more about the scrap metal industry here.

Bheki thoroughly enjoyed the ride and was quick to point out, when I dropped him off, that I should leave immediately as the area was not safe.

I really enjoyed meeting Bheki on the edge of Durban Harbour.

Bheki does not have a home and seeks refuge in abandoned buildings and under bridges at night
Bheki does not have a home and seeks refuge in abandoned buildings or under bridges at night.
Bheki has not bathed in a long while and possibly earns around 2 to 3 USD per day. When the camera was not pointing at him; he was smiling from ear to ear.
Bheki has not bathed in a long while and possibly earns around 2 to 3 USD per day. When the camera was not pointing at him; he was smiling from ear to ear. He took this photo shoot very seriously.
The sack cannot hold much metal so Bheki hides his collections of metal in and around the areas he searches
The sack cannot hold much metal so Bheki hides his collections of metal in and around the areas he searches all day long.
The railway lines surround the harbour and Bheki looks in every possible place for any scrap metal
The railway lines surround the harbour and Bheki looks in every possible place for any scrap metal. He does not beg and earns an honest but meagre wage. He has not given up! 

The edge of Durban Harbour, South Africa – an introduction to part 3

The edge of Durban Harbour, South Africa part 1 and part 2 have come and gone.

Part 3 will soon be upon us, but before its arrival, I give you here-under a sneak preview of a very like-able chap that I met.

You will see more of him and hear of his exploits in the next post.

A gatherer who quietly moves in and around the harbour; bothering no-one and making an honest living
A gatherer who quietly moves in and around the harbour; bothering no-one and making an honest living

Port St Johns & Other Legends

Wikipedia describes Port St Johns as follows: “Port St. Johns (or Port Saint Johns) is a town of about 5000 people on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, 220 kilometres (140 mi) northeast of East London and 70 kilometres (40 mi) east of Mthatha.”

South Africa Info is way more descriptive: “Port St Johns is a swashbuckling village of legend on the Pondo side of the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. It is also one of the highlights on any international backpacker’s world itinerary because of its natural setting, frontier atmosphere and appeal to more adventurous younger travellers.

The backpacker facilities in this African village are excellent. They cater for couples, solo travellers and small groups of young people. The backpacker lodges will help their guests set up activity itineraries every day, which include everything from jungle swings to unusual walking destinations.

Four backpacking establishments that come highly recommended in Port St Johns are:

The Island Backpackers Lodge
First Beach, Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/Fax: (047) 564 1958
Cell: 082 813 1611
E-mail:theisland@wildcoast.co.za
Web:www.theislandbackpackers.co.za

Amapondo Backpacker – HIGHLY RECOMENDED!!!
Second Beach Road, PO Box 190,
Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/: 081 257 4504
Cell: 083 315 3103
E-mail:info@amapondo.co.za
Web:www.amapondo.co.za

Ikaya ‘Le Intlabati (House On The Beach)
Second Beach, PO Box 32, Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/Fax: (047) 564 1266
Cell: 083 715 1421
E-mail:ikaya@telkomsa.net

Jungle Monkey
340 Berea Road, PO Box 130, Port St Johns, 5120
Tel/Fax: (047) 564 1517
E-mail:junglemonkey@iafrica.com

I stumbled upon PSJ (Port St Johns) for the second time in 2004. It has a special place in my heart.

Whilst I am no expert of the goings-on in PSJ, I do know a few things that work well for me when there:

  1. Jungle Monkey and Amapondo backpackers are great for a party; Spotted Grunter best if you want to sleep. Cremorne is on the North bank and neat
  2. The fishing is relaxing / laid-back if you want it to be; sometimes successful and sometimes not
  3. The food at Delicious Monster is “eat your fingers off your hand” stuff
  4. Cow pooh lines the airfield runway and the view from up there is refreshing / magnificent
  5. You can stay on the “cultured” side of the river  (North bank) or cultured side (South bank) – horses for courses
  6. Don’t swim in the sea as there are a lot of Sharks and attacks
  7. The drive to Poenskop is full of sights and it’s nice to fish there and have a picnic
  8. Crime is everywhere so be careful
  9. There is a gap in the mountain, which I have seen from a distance for good reason
  10. The sea is rough at times and the area has a history of shipwrecks
  11. There is an abandoned hotel (Cape Hermes) overlooking the sea
  12. The Sardines swim past in July / August
  13. Buy your food and drinks in the town – there area ample stores
  14. Visit PSJ at least once in your life if you are able to leave fussiness at home, drop any airs and graces, and “get down on the ground” with some of the locals – you will then have a laid-back rejuvenating holiday
  15. Read some more “facts” below

Early morning view from airfield

“Don’t land now as we are busy grazing”

The Gap

The birds are far & few but laid back 😉

Pic taken from Spotted Grunter side of river; Cremorne is in the rear

Buy your nuts, bananas and avocado pears on the roadside

The view from a table at DM (Delicious Monster) Restaurant at 2nd Beach

DM entrance

DM undercover & open eating / chill areas

DM specials

My no 1 dish Crayfish Thermidor

Timol’s choice of a meal

The other / alternative “facts”:

  1. During 2004 I met a chap by the name of Daryl. He stayed in PSJ on the side of a small river
  2. Whilst he may not have been an Angel and I’m sure wronged some people (like we all have), he was a gentleman
  3. He taught me few a few important things about life
  4. I did not take Daryl seriously when I first met him: he was dressed shabbily and did not have a few cents to rub together. However, looks can be very deceiving
  5. He made many claims about his “former” life. I thought him to be a storyteller of lies until he showed me some photographs that stunned me (shut my trap)
  6. He indirectly gave me relationship advice which turned out to be so true. I wish I had listened to him more carefully
  7. One day when chatting about load shedding (electrical supply cuts) for a few hours every week and how this “seriously” affected our lives, Daryl said “hey bru, that’s nothing. I never had electricity for 3 years”. This stumped us yet again.
  8. I caught a Salmon at Poenskop and gave it to Daryl. He was very appreciative.
  9. The next visit to PSJ I was gobsmacked to hear how Daryl stretched and shared that one fish with lots of people / neighbours
  10. Daryl was free diving one day when an octopus “attacked him”. His recount of this story every visit / every evening would have all and sunder in stitches / laughing our heads off
  11. One afternoon, when I first met Daryl, I needed salad dressing. I never thought to ask Daryl of all people. He offered to make me some and I hesitantly accepted; not knowing what on earth he would bring back. Daryl turned out to be a super talented cook – he came back with a fresh herb / creamy salad dressing that was so tasty. Again, Daryl proved that we should not judge a book by its cover
  12. In early April 2012 we again met up with Daryl and went on a fishing expedition to Poenskop
  13. Daryl was clearly suffering from a grave illness but made no fuss of it
  14. He slowly walked to and climbed onto the vehicle, and accompanied us – he made the effort albeit huge beyond what most would manage
  15. Daryl so unwell that he was not able to cast his line into the water – we had to help him
  16. Daryl still hasn’t told me why some call him “Double Barrel Daryl”
  17. He was an authority on many subjects

I have never telephoned Daryl although he gave me his mobile number years ago.

We called Daryl’s number last night; I’m not sure what made us do this. It might have been because we were sipping on a few beers, having fun, laughing and enjoying the company of family – the moment was good despite other heart-wrenching things going on in our lives at that time.

Alas, a feeling of sadness came over me when I heard that Daryl had passed away in April 2012 – no doubt shortly after that last fishing trip.

Below are some pics of the Legend.

Daryl in 2004 telling us the “octopus story”

The last fishing trip in early April 2012

Goodbye mate, until we meet again in person or spirit.

Cold Turkey (Everybody’s Free – To Wear Sunscreen)

It was all engines go and roaring for the UK and then Turkey in my last post. It was set in stone – tickets & accommodation were all booked. I explained in great detail to friends and colleagues how Timol and I would walk the markets and alleyways of Istanbul, and then sit down to rest with a Turkish coffee and hookah. Really now, what could go wrong?

We landed in the UK and had two days at New Barns farm outside Birmingham and exploring London CBD before I received the first SMS / text.

I am sure all of you know some of the Baz Luhrmann lyrics to “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. The full lyrics appear at the end of this post, but for here & now I specifically highlight “Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good”. This was said for good reason.

The SMS suggested I return home immediately as my Mother was critically ill.

Within 5 hours of getting that message (only 48 hours after landing in the UK), Timol and I were boarding an Emirates flight to head back home. Turkey was out the door.

I didn’t know if Mother would make through the next 22 hours whilst we hurried back home. I sent messages asking that she just hold on a little while longer: that last smile, warm hand, touch, goodbye, word, bit of advice, smell seemed all so very important at that point but definitely not when I hurriedly left Mother about 3 days before, to look after things while I was away.

Long story short. I have been home 9 days, never saw Turkey but did see Mother tonight at the hospital. We watched a little television, shared some memories and how our days went today, got some fresh air outside, sampled the view over Durban CBD, held hands and made arrangements to see each other tomorrow.

Things are not at all well with Mother and the chances of improvement are ultra-slim to nil, but we have shared 9 glorious days that perhaps should not have been ours – I have told Mother that this is indeed our “bonus” time; like in pinball: we are scoring big and I for one love it!

Yes, our days together are surely numbered but I think that they have always been; from the moment I entered this world from her womb. It only now that we appreciate this a little or lot more.

A little advice from my Mother today “savour, enjoy and appreciate that simple cup of tea or plain apple, because you don’t know what it’s like (how terrible and torturing) when you can’t have them any longer”. Mother is no longer able to eat in the conventional manner and in all likelihood will not do so again in this lifetime.

I cannot even begin to describe Mother and the enormity of her heart, the unconditional love, care for all, warmth, courage of a Lion (she is a Leo) and many other talents.

Perhaps the pictures below of Mother and her son (me) taken about 40 years ago will provoke some thoughts.

It’s nearly bedtime for me so let me leave you with the promised lyrics:

“Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind sides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen”