29 January 2009

A milestone

The movers have finished and taken all my possessions with them. There is something liberating about holding my wordly goods in a few bags and a Pelican case. Almost feels like starting over.

There were a few panics, mislaid passport and one cupboard packed by mistake while others were overlooked, and a mad rush at the end with a gaggle of young, energetic and incredibly strong lads who emptied the place into their van in one fell swoop.

Now, dinner at the sushi train and wine with Combie and Sarah who are putting me up until I leave.

28 January 2009

Musing on Moving


Why is it that the one time my place is in tip top shape is the day before the movers come? Yesterday this house was streamlined. I knew where everything was, what possessions I own and that all of them are things I actually value. It was beautiful. Of course, today everything is packed into pristine white boxes, inaccessible for the next 6 months.

Vodaphone rant

With every house move there has to be a rant, because the least fun job when leaving a country is the cancellation of bills and accounts. Water rates, rent, car insurance, tax, landline phone, internet, mobiles... I could go on. Cancelling involves navigating through imprenetable websites, waiting for hours on the phone to atrocious hold music, sending letters and visiting dingy offices.

The prize for most ridiculous excuse for refusing to cancel a contract so far goes to Vodafone New Zealand. Vodafone has a track record for flakiness, cancelling international roaming just as I leave for Australia or changing contract details without notification, inevitably resulting in endless calls to the outsourced call centre. From the beginning, despite signing a contract in person in the shop, my bills said "Mr.". Knowing the haphazard results from calls, I never bothered changing it. When I called to cancel my account today I was informed that I could not do this because I was not male as per the account details. The fact that I know the date of birth, password and any other details was to no avail. Even the supervisor was adamant that they would see my passport in person to verify my gender. The back and forth went on for so long that I was starting to doubt my identity at the end.

Oh well. I guess I will be trying to find a male who can make the call for me. It's almost like being back in the Middle East...

27 January 2009

About time

With a ruler who is a warrior (he used to be minister of defence) and also a poet, this was only a matter of time. Behold, the Dubai Poetry Festival.

My favourite comment:

"shopping malls in Dubai will witness unprecedented ancient poetical activity that used to take place in the old times among Arab," he said, adding, "people used to gather and exchange, talk and challenge each others, using the language of poetry, and such phenomenon will be resurrected in Dubai, during the poetry festival."

26 January 2009

What do you think is in this package?

Answers In the comments. Best one wins a prize.

24 January 2009

Just as I am leaving...

It is by now a well-established fact that Wagamama is following me
around the World opening branches in whatever city I happen to settle.
Unfortunately in Wellington they waited until I am just about gone
before they opened their new restaurant. Still, it can't be long
before one opens in Johannesburg.

...in which the cat is an Internet star

One of the more horrible aspects of our house move is the question of what to do with the cat. She won't like travelling on the very long trip to Germany (hell, I hate it and I get a seat and peanuts and lots of movies as opposed to a box in an unheated cargo hold). We won't be there at the other end to pick her up (although Mark and Martina kindly volunteered to look after her for the time we are in South Africa) and with our frequent absences we wouldn't be able to provide a good home to her in Germany anyway.


So the hard decision was to find her a new home in Wellington. I had been putting it off again and again, until finally I really needed to get on and find a place. But where do you publicise the fact that your cat needs a new home? Facebook? Lots of kind messages but no offers. The local SPCA? This garnered a few terse references to websites and the underlying message: "Just don't bring her back to us, we have 90 kittens to dispose of first." Ask friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends? Everyone who likes cats already has one. Someone mentioned TradeMe (for you non-Kiwis, that's the local version of eBay). But that's where you sell stuff, right? Apparently not, as the listings were full of cuddly dogs, glamorous cats and a few budgies. My expectations of success were low as there were so many other pets listed, but I gathered all the cutest photos of the cat together and Merryl wrote the most amazing copy and, to coin a phrase: A star was born!


Within half an hour we had a phone call and text message (it was 10 at night) with people interested in seeing the cat, and the next three days until we took the ad down we had 10 requests. the story changed from being desperate to finding someone to take her to sifting applicants. So I asked everyone interested to visit here and meet the cat and then I planned to go to their house and see if it was suitable. I had a mental questionnaire from: "Do you have a cat flap?" and "How much time do you spend sitting on the sofa?" (the cat loves to perch on laps) to "Are you planning to move house anytime soon?" Not really, but people did volunteer the most amazing amount of personal information. I had a long email from a guy in Petone who specified his income and career prospects in great detail to let me know he was capable of looking after a pet long-term. The whole thing turned into an adoption process.


The happy ending to this is that Ariadne now lives with a nice Texan couple in Kelburn whose 6 year old daughter has been collecting cat points to earn the right to a pet on her birthday. She is already planning to build a cat fort and has a large selection of cat toys and plastic bags (the cat likes the crumpling sounds of carrier bags - I know, not normal), so I think Ariadne is not going to be bored. Her name might change to a more 6 year old friendly version - that's ok, we mostly called her fluffybums and kitty, anyway.

The TradeMe page is already gone, but for those of you interested in seeing Merryl's fabulous copy, read on:

"Feline Greetings (purrr, head bump) My name, my formal name is Ariadne, but my friends (YOU) can call me 'kitty', 'cat', 'puss' or 'fluffypants'. I like them all. My parents are moving to South Africa at the end of January and I hear the lions and cheetahs are very jealous of my beautifully rare patterns and overall cuteness. Since I am so polite and well-mannered, I would prefer to avoid THAT particular cat-fight and just relax in NZ. I am the type of cat that loves to join you in the gorgeous sun or the garden; running away from spiders and pawing at the slaters. When I'm indoors, I like to hunt down the noisiest plastic bag in the household, roll around in it and nap in it too. I enjoy the relaxed household, not too much chaos, but not so I'm alone all the time - I like it when you guys are home :) then I can talk to you and have some bonding time. I think the little sproggs will be ok for me, but they have to promise to be nice to me and not chase me lots, running is tiring you know? And I don't think I'm that keen on doggies, they are so loud and obnoxious. And like I said earlier, most cats are jealous of my beauty, so how about I just be the only kitty cat in the household? :) more pats for me that way. Please call me when you are going to watch tv or a film, I'll come running, sit right on you and watch it with you - just dont wriggle to much please, WHY do humans wriggle so much? O, and do let me know where the sunny spots in the house are please, I cant get enough of the sunny spots! They make me so happy. I must admit, I am a youthful and lively 4yr old, but EVERYONE says I look ATLEAST half my age. oh so nice, well...I do dont I? My parents say I tend to put on a 'winter coat' during the chillier season - so I enjoy my dining and napping! What's so wrong with that? Come and visit me any time you like, we can talk about our common interests and hobbies. I would love to meet you! kitty kisses xx "

23 January 2009

Stuart Turner, photographer

Stuart has finally made it in his other career as photographer and has been published by Schmap with his unique capture of the Hotel Bristol bathroom. Well done, Stuart!

07 January 2009

Ill-advised Ads

It's normal nowadays that websites make their money with advertising
(although I would have thought that a government site might be ok
without it) but to see the New Zealand weather report advertise
holidays in Australia seems kind of ironic, if not wrong.