May 31, 2011

Baubles, but no trouble

Notes from a sojourn in South Africa, drawn at random. Maybe more to come.

For a town with a huge hole in its middle, Kimberley does a fine job of keeping it hidden. Wherever we drove, we'd run into signs that said "Big Hole 2km" with an arrow. And we'd follow that arrow to the next sign that said the same thing, though one time the "2" had morphed into "3". Finally we rolled down the passenger-side window and asked a slender man on the pavement.

"Two kilometres that way", he said, pointing to our right.

All right, I made that up. He said to go to the next "robot" -- the common way to refer to a set of lights in this country -- and turn right, and there it would be.

There it indeed was. But first we were waved into a parking lot by a woman in a blue uniform whose only work appeared to be such waving. Then we were waved into a parking spot by a man in a blue uniform whose only work appeared to be such waving. Then we were asked to pay what seemed an unseemly sum to merely peer into a hole. Then we walked up a ramp, and there it was.

The world's largest man-made hole. Evidence of humankind's inexplicable appetite for eminently useless shiny baubles. You know, those things called diamonds.

Me, I prefer the baubles I nearly snagged in New Orleans once, recounted here, not least for the lead up to nearly snagging them.


Driving out of Cape Town in our Daihatsu (yes, the make is relevant to this story), we stopped by the side of the highway to take a picture I wanted. It was an overcast, windy day, thus pretty cold outside. I didn't feel like exiting the car, so I rolled the window down and aimed the camera.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a car zipping past us, a little too close, and then coming to a stop about 50m ahead of us. A cop? But it had no lights on top. I ignored it and went back to my camera.

Then a man in blue shirtsleeves emerged from it and, visibly shivering, started running back towards us. As he did so, I noticed that the car was also a Daihatsu, and in fact had "Imperial Daihatsu" painted on the back. He arrived at my window and asked, "Is everything all right? Are you in trouble?"

Yes, I said, in surprise. Why do you ask?

"Oh, you know we never see Daihatsus stopped on the roadside, so I saw you and just thought I'd stop to ask if you were OK. I'm with the company."

An amazingly thoughtful gesture, and also excellent PR for Daihatsu. I thanked him, we shook hands and he ran back, still shivering, to his car. So if I ever have to buy a car, and if Daihatsus are then available in India, this one incident alone will make me seriously consider their models.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A likely story! Sounds like an ambulance chaser looking to replace your water pump or heater, at the cost of tow, parts and labour. He was shivering in anticipation on the jog in and in disappointment on the jog out. Why are tourists so gullible?