Flat Elise Snuck into South Africa’s Parliament!

Flat Elise is a sneaky one

“Quick, buy stamps!” That’s what Flat Elise told me as we were in line for a tour of South Africa’s Parliament building. As we turned left to grab stamps at the cute little post office in Parliament, the tour went right and disappeared down the hallway.

By the time we had our stamps, the tour was nowhere in sight. It was just Flat Elise and I, let loose in the legislative capital of the Republic. So we went exploring.

I’ve been to the US Capital Building before – it’s a surprisingly easy place to visit if you skip the annoying tour. In fact, you can walk right it – no need for a reason, as these are your elected representatives, right? You should be able to visit them at your leisure. Still, you have to go through a security check, as you do in South Africa.

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Car Parking Craziness in Cape Town

Beware the Parking Warden!

South Africa is an amazingly car-centric country, partly due to geography, with large distances between lightly populated areas, and partly as a legacy of apartheid, with physical distance as a means of enforcing segregation.

Car ownership is also highly concentrated, its mainly rich whites that drive, with Africans in share taxis or walking. Which is why the car parking craziness of South Africa took me by such surprise.

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Firearm Check-in at JNB Johannesburg Airport

Firearms Check-in Signage

Of all the signs I’ve seen in the many airports worldwide, the bright yellow “Firearms Check-In” was the most unexpected. And yet, there it was, shining bright at Johannesburg International Airport.

Now I understand why gun-toting citizenry should check their weapons. We don’t need arguments over seat assignments escalating into inter-cabin shootouts, but it surprises me that there’s a need for firearm check-in to begin with.

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How I Saved a Marriage on a Frankfurt FRA Jetway

A thin gold band of love

So there I was, a Business Class flyer fighting the Economy Pax scrum to get on my FRA – IAD flight (where is the business/first separate entrance, LH?) and I’ve succeeded in getting through the boarding gate when I notice my shoelace came undone in the scuffle.

Kneeling down to tie it, I see this golden ring on the jetway floor. Being married myself, I instantly recognized it as a wedding ring and realized that soon there would be a heart attack on a flight with a loud: OH MY GOD! WHERE IS MY RING!!

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Endless Vodafone India Mobile Phone Spam

That’s text messaging spam

On my second day in Delhi, India, I bought a local SIM card from Vodafone India. Before the line activated to make an outgoing call, I got an inbound call. Picking it up, the caller surprised me – it was an automatic telemarketer call. Phone spam less than an hour after activation.

And the phone spam never stopped.

My entire time in India, I would get spam text messages and spam calls – 3-4 per day – in Hindi and in English promoting third party services and products. So it wasn’t even Vodafone spamming me through my mobile phone, but India’s version of late-night telemarketers.

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