Saturday, November 23, 2013

I am not a tourist

When did excessive picture taking, excessive map navigating and 
en masses tour groups become the norm for global travellers? 
I mean no wonder the locals don't fancy tourists so much. 
When did we stop being explorers? In this case, it is neither just traveller nor just locals that are responsible; it's both. 

Let's begin with our travellers. Yes, I know you think that tipping over the Leaning Tower of Pisa or kissing the Sphinx would be funny, but just. don't. do. it. please. Then, I really get the exorbitant holiday photography, but would you want to think back in 5 years time and remember your entire trip through the lens of your Nikon? No, I know I most certainly do not want that, which is why I make a concise effort when going on holiday to pack away the camera for lengths of time, though in reach just in case. If we become too caught up in the documenting of our travel, we lose the essence of the place and times that we are experiencing. When I'm on holiday somewhere, whether it be a national or international destination, I am always in a state of awe and inquisitiveness to rub eyeballs with the local culture, activities and being. However, all this talk of authentic experiences doesn't mean that I'm not going to gawk in front of the Taj Mahal or the Kremlin, but it also doesn't mean that I don't want to lap up the beauty of Barcelona in its ornate existence or go for a ten day hike through the Papua New Guinean jungles. I want the full deal, local and just a bit less local. 

Oh, native dwellers of all global countries, would you please stop treating explorers like tourists. I'm sorry I don't speak your language, my French is a bit rusty, or rather non-existent, but could you give me the courtesy as a fellow human being and converse with me bit, share with me the loveliness of your home land and enhance my experience just that bit more. Personally, when I travel I am very interested in meeting new weird and wonderful people and I am not going to share the name of your Nonna's restaurant with my entire country. I did not bring them with me, as unfortunately they just wouldn't fit into my suitcase. Also, I am a citizen of the world. I may not have your dark complexion, your red hair, your bean-stalk height, but I am a part of this earth, be it in Holland, Yemen or Chile. But, I must acknowledge those who are kind, friendly and warm (the majority I will say). I thank you graciously. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ten thousand differences

One small continuous act can make a difference in thousands of peoples' lives, whether it be smiling and being kind to every person you may meet along your journeys, or dedicating your life to your craft that would mean uplifting the lives of others as well as your own. 

A while ago something rather unjustifiable occurred to me. I as a human being respect and acknowledge every person for whatever Calling they may follow, but what I cannot understand is this;

How is that we know hundreds of obscure, insignificant celebrities' names, yet we do not know the names of those saving our environment from pollution, those protecting the wildlife, those aiding people and communities in elevating the literacy rate, the poverty, and those supporting others in becoming leaders and better human beings? 

I have decided to take up the duty of sharing the names and deeds of these people, so I may one day say that I am overjoyed that the world, myself included, can name hundred of names of people who have a duty to germinating and developing greatness and love on our planet. 

Meet Hanna Konadu, 25,  who is a community health officer in Ghana. Hanna and thousands of other community health workers like her have helped Ghana raise its immunization coverage to more than 90 percent, protecting millions of children against measles, pneumonia, polio, and other diseases. She has personally saved thousands of young lives who could in turn one day generate the same love in their work in Ghana.

Amazing isn't it?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Human Being of Greater Substance

It's times like these when I realize how small minded and internally focused I sometimes become. I'm in the midst of my grade 11 exams, and I'll say, they're rather scary pieces of dried-out tree pulp. However, as I can never find it within my power to simply close off the rest of the world when it comes to exam time, as so many do, I watch movies in doses and also check my CNN app during my breaks. I guess I should start with what I watched today that has thrown me into this blog post today. Milk.

As the final scene of the movie rolled on, the real faces of all Harvey's fellow activists and associates and what their lives culminated to were shown. Harvey Milk was shown last, in a video taken of him, laughing in his utter joyous way that he did, and I began to cry, and I also began to laugh. I cried for the loss of such an incredible human being, and I cried for what actually killed him; insecurity and the desperation for power. 
I laughed for the unimaginable good and rightness Harvey brought about by saying No! to something that was wrong. For those of you who haven't seen Milk, I'll give you a short blurb. 

Milk follows the real life story of Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay Supervisor of San Francisco and a gay-rights activist that brought about such change in the fixed, hard doctrines of the conservative masses in the 70s in the US. He stood for what he believed to be right, and Milk is the most brilliant showcasing of Harvey's fight for his cause and his legacy that he left on with him. Sean Penn plays Harvey, and I am certainly not the first to say that Penn was completely Harvey from head to toe. He is an amazing actor, and I salute him for pushing past societal doctrines and taboos of acting a gay character, and for showcasing what Harvey Milk did for the world so poignantly. 

I cannot begin to express my love for human beings like Harvey. 
My heart glows with the love they showed in their everyday being, and seeing what he did for humanity makes me think. 

It makes me think about all these "GINORMOUS" worries and stresses and offenses and petty fights that we all seem to be so caught up in within our lives. What are we doing for humanity? 
While we sit in our homes, fussing about what we're afraid might happen and what they might say, and what was dad thinking bringing home that for dinner, there are people in this world devoting their every action to the uplifting and universal good of this planet. I feel like a total twit for worrying about the menial, little, insignificant "HUGE STRESSES" of my life, when there are people in the Philippines who now have no home because of Typhoons Haiyan, and who don't know where their next meal will come from. 
I feel like a twit when I think about the millions of Syrians displaced from their homes, their cities, their country by their own country. I think of what it would be like living in one of those camps. What if I lived in that little compound?

What if that were me, knee deep in flood water, waiting for my small helping of food?

What if my rights were being stripped away like the wrapping off a 10 year old's Christmas present? I would think far more about my priorities, my goals, my authentic being. Yes, I feel like a twit, but then I remind myself that I am a human being. I remind myself that I am not a twit, and that I do have deep gratitude for my life, and that I do hold the people stricken world-wide in a cocoon of love within my heart. 
But, I also see that I forget. 

I forget what I was put down here for, and I forget to take a step back and see how relative everything in this reality is. 
At this moment, millions of students around the world are writing and preparing for exams, nervous breakdowns galore, but then on the other side, millions of students that would be doing the same thing have had their homes destroyed by chemicals, or the wrath of a typhoon. And after all this thinking that has been going on within me, I have Harvey Milk to thank. Thank you for reminding me to be a human being of greater substance. 


P.S At this very moment, an electric storm has taken over my city in South Africa, and I hold the deepest gratitude that I am in a home that not only keeps the rain out, but will not collapse at any point. I wish for the people who do not have this during this storm, and I wish for them to be okay.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Performing Me

Being a drama student is one of the greatest joys I have in my school life. I almost chose not to try it out, but I have been so much richer for taking the leap. I honestly would not be the person I am today if I had not taken drama. I know of and study plays about every facet of life and conflict, from every era of time; I attend theatre performances -musicals, comedies, protest theatre, drama, war, etc, and the movies I have watched because of drama are awe-inspiring. I also meet all sorts of actors, directors, playwrights, sound crew and fantastic theatre goers.

My teacher is absolutely brilliant, and also slightly mad, but he wouldn't be a drama teacher if he wasn't. His commitment to our development is not always seen in lesson attendance, but when it comes to practical performance, I have the deepest respect for him. I think back to a particular evening where my best friend, Paula, him and myself were in our school hall at 11:30 p.m the night before our drama practicals; Paula was on stage while our teacher patiently directed her, and me, her ride, was sitting with my head on my arms over a desk, one third sleeping, another third paying attention and the last third my giving of suggestions for her piece. We had been at school from 7 pm and we only left at 12 that night. It was absolutely crazy, and if my best friend ever doubted I would be there for her through the gauntlet and back, that night soo proved it. I will also never question our teacher's commitment ever again.

Last term, I decided that I was going to perform a slam poem that I wrote. My character; myself. The poem was partly about myself, partly a comment on my society and injustices I see every day where people do nothing, and partly a statement of coming-out-into-the-world as my authentic Self. It was really the most wonderful experience, because when I came out onto the stage I was my incredible, brave Self. I felt this amazing vibe of ease seep through me as the words rolled off my tongue. I wasn't going to apologise for being me anymore. Take me or leave me; nevertheless, I'm here.

You think you know who I am

You think you know who I am
Anthea Vander
short stuff – Anthea Vander
violin girl – Anthea Vander
prissy know-it-all
blindfolded optimist
super positivity, health freak
adorably –blunt, quiet philanthropist
innocent cherub! go-getter, vdb
a little you may know
but 14 years, though a period of unfailing and wonderful sporadicity,
is but a ripple on the surface
because most of what you think you think you know
are half-truths, half lies and the lack of conversation longer than a monosyllable
scream! I am not who you think I am
and no longer will I live as the concocted clone o-thers’ minds fashioned
I reject that warped, Xerox photocopy
okay, my bodily vessel came out a slight compact this time round
but do you think that because I am petite that I am less ablaze with essence than an alpine individual?
Optimist, when did that become a dirty word?
I see the shining light of light
because if I didn’t, I’d be sucked dry by energy vampires
I used to be a Bella Swan, unaware of these sparkling creatures,
hence I went through a phase last year of sobbing uncontrollably
like someone had punched a hole through my chest
barbarically ripping my heart out like an extra gruesome episode of Vampire Diaries
But now I have a new heart
regrown from the stem cells of the knowledge  that I am an amazing soul
and that nothing and nobody can dim my greatness
More and more, I feel my Self emerging out of the mist of fear of rejection and humiliation 
that used to riddle my body
tying a Boy Scout Knot in my stomach
and setting in my pre-twenty worry lines
I am so afraid of not being that person you think you all know
hiding my true feelings, thoughts, Self
though I will express  joy to new friendships, bonds and 
happiness that have spawned in these past few months with my 
realisation that I don’t have to be afraid
Fear not! is my mantra of yet
and that is why I stand here
pouring the crystal liquid of my heart out to you
translucent water from the racing river that is my cognitive coagulation
all the things I've wanted to say but haven't
all the things I've wanted to convey but haven’t
penned into a cage built on my shoulders
forming a menagerie of things I've wanted to say but haven’t,
and things I've wanted to convey but haven’t
well conformity, prisoner 24601 is getting the hell out of the matrix

what’s to come will appear to be taboo and bold
but I talk to those who listen because I dare to say it

My musical tipples o not only comprise Bach and Pavarotti
I jam air guitar to Bon Jovi and Nightwish
breeze through indie vibes with Corinne Bailey Rae
groove my inner 80s to Video killed the radio star
sure, feel the warmth, the maestoso, the vivace of Vivaldi’s Summer
the earthy, ethnic sparring of gypsy violin and guitar,
and the haunting melody of the Moonlight Sonata.
Just because I don’t listen to brain cell killing, ear drum torturing clamber
doesn't make me a music snob
would it be too simple to say it’s not my kind of music?

It wouldn't bother me if I never saw you again,
but why is your brand of laughter so painful?

She’s so beautiful and tanned
and those legs go on for miles!
oh, those sexy legs!
what about my sexy legs?
Ok, I can’t take a claim to fame for a two metre stride
and my lack of sufficient Mediterranean bronzing 
doesn't fit the bill of the average grizzly bear,
but I’m sexy too.

Everything’s all hunkey dorey,
Everyone’s all New South Africa (ubuntu fist)                                                            
and then the tuck shop service is slow,
or a taxi driver cuts you off at the robot,
and suddenly it’s the “mavroula” this and the “bloody mavros” that.
That is not okay!
Nobody deserves to be referred to in such a beastly manner
A cashier wasn't the speediest that day,
a taxi driver has lousy road manners .
Not a black.
And leave the Mary Poppins guppy mouth,
And the pretending that it’s just a harmless phrase,
because it’s not,
it’s not okay.

I pretend to be indifferent to the whole love, amour scene
but I’m not                                                                                                    
I yearn for love, real love
and don’t brush this off and think this is some Price Charming Disney thing,
because I’m not na├»ve
and I know  that the world, you and me and that furores energy isn’t perfect,
but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth having,
and that I don’t  want it

These people aren’t really your friends
they’re not yours
and you’re certainly not theirs
laughing photo booths
bruncheons, luncheons, and dinner-oens,
rolled eyes, bitter glares
but have you ever thought that it didn’t have to be that way?
People have become so inauthentic
we’ve arrived at the point where we’re now inauthentic about our inauthenticity.
Choose for it not to be that way,
but also, authentic doesn’t mean being completely blunt and harsh
as that in itself is inauthentic to your own loving nature

Yes! I like salad.
Being healthy for me is deliciously fresh
You can eat what you eat,
and I’m going to eat what I eat,
But then don’t gawk at my occasional pizza
I am completely allowed to eat something less than the picture of health every once in a while

just leaving the bottle there, dumping the wrapping or the half-eaten sandwich on the floor,
It seems trivial for me to be slamming on littering,
but what’s actually trivial is looking the other way,
submitting to that unconscious, uncaring, egotistical blind spot
to the fact that the Earth is crying for the human race to wake up!
to see that we are wasting away our incredible planet
to see that we have to stop
we have to care.

I have a soft spot for you
chivalrous charm
eyes flecked with pretentious playfulness
I think you’re damn hot
but if I admit it
I’m afraid it will put me in the groupie zone
with all your other adoring puppies.

 I’m not a rigid person,
dance, grace, dance, grace, dance, grace.

I’m a Red Hat
my emotions bleed into everything I do
I feel with passionate passion, exhilarating exhilaration, zealous zeal!
Oh De Bono, White Hat -not me!

Over the course of life we are told to mash our existence into smaller and smaller pockets of time
you can be REAL on weekends, nowhere before 3 am, mid-sneeze
otherwise you have to be perfectly agreeable, pleasant, presentable
don’t twitch in the wrong direction or else Babylon is coming down
don’t give anyone the impression that you are not a single, cohesive personality
I’m not that.
my darker side, it’s a part of me
I’m not perfect
nor do I expect anyone else to be
we are flawed creatures
and it’s time to lighten up on each other
It’s called being human beings

People need help
and I’m going to help them
I’m a creative motivation humanitarian
Poverty’s been dreading my arrival for years
Guerrilla warfare, but in a new way
teach people,
your own awesome mind is the greatest aid there is

I know things
Incredible things
about the world, universe
things I’ve tried to share,
but I was persecuted and attacked.
I want to radiate what I know out to the world.
I’m going to,
let me.

I am not Anthea Vander
for I am the macrocosm of an essentia far greater than a name
I flow with the tide,
change with the season,
rock to my own beat
I am wild, feisty,
and I believe that life entails a certain amount of fun to be had
I’ve been described as an endless pit of positivity
but that’s because I really value feeling good
and that doesn’t mean that I don’t sleep on the pillow of sadness at times
doesn’t mean I don’t have a good cry the night before a maths test or rather about anything
but what I really value is having more ticks that crosses on the calendar,
about feeling alive
living deliberately
and being real
Carpe Diem!
Seize the day!
I am Anthea Vander

Me and my group in a piece I performed last year
"Hoist the Colours"


P.S Sadly for the external reader of my poem, there are a fair
amount of references to inside knowledge, though as seasoned 
individuals nothing stops you from analysing and guessing!