So I know it has been quite a while since I have last posted– I know I know, I really have no excuse since it’s not like I have that many responsibilities, lol, however, I am back, alive and well!
When I left India *gasp* yes I left, on the 1st of November and arrived on the 2nd to Durban International Airport to the loving and welcoming arms of my most gracious host Charlotte Fuller, I was not so well. In fact, I had contracted some kind of stomach bug that had me quite sick + fever for over a week. Let me just say, if it weren’t for that Cipro that Paulette (my doctor) prescribed me, I might not have made my flight! However, considering I only got sick once in my entire time living in India eating with my hands off of Banana leaves, and off the street at other times, I am surprised I didn’t get sick sooner and more often! Thank goodness! Illness aside, I can definitely say I was quite sad to leave my beloved Indian Raj Hair family, and the life I was leading there.
I have now been in Durban for almost a month, and I can say, I LOVE it here. Like, I could seriously move here and live in Durban for the rest of my natural life! The people are wonderful, the weather is fabulous, the meat is plentiful, and top it off, there are no mosquitoes! Haha! When I first got to Charlotte’s house I legitimately thought I was at a hotel! I could drink the water from the tap, and when she showed me to my bathroom (that came equipped with a legitimate bathtub) when I turned on the water, it was hot within seconds! Having access to a constant electrical power source without the fear of rolling black outs made me feel as though I had come back to the United States, and was living in a suburb of Los Angeles!
Now don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed India, and I have no complaints about my time there, and the services and facilities I had access to, but I tell you, I had forgotten what modern amenities felt like! What can I say, I love having access to a washing machine and dryer that leaves my clothing feeling downy soft and fresh every time! Ain’t no shame in my game!
I have posted some photos of my house here in Durban, and the GORGEOUS view over the ocean that I wake up to every morning! On the first night that I took my hot bath, and then slid underneath the crisp fresh lenin on the bed, I slept like a baby! I even surprised myself when I woke up at dawn and watched the sun rise over the ocean. All I could think when I saw this was “welcome to the good life!” HAHA! Ever since that morning I have become a morning person and sip my coffee as sun rises while I sit out on the backyard overlooking the ocean! Sometimes I can’t believe this is my own life!
Now I know as a Bristol Fellow I should be living within my means, (which some interpret as ruffing it) but my means (and budgeting) have definitely afforded me 3 months of paradise! There is no need to “ruff it” when I don’t have to! lol! Now I’m not saying that rent is extremely expensive–in fact it’s a steal since the money I pay each months goes to Charlotte’s scholarship fund, so I guess God has continued to bless me by not only connecting me with wonderful people, but also, fabulous places to live!
I can definitely say that on this day of thanks, as I celebrated ex-pat style (enjoying a 1/4 chicken at Nandos solo this afternoon) I am so thankful for all of those that have helped me along the way. All that I have and am is because of God, and the people that have supported and believed in me! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Also, since I have jumped head first into my hair research here, I can also say I am so thankful that I have a full head of hair that isn’t falling out, breaking, or balding because of the misuse of chemical relaxers!
Now maybe it is just me, but I thought that in Africa, (more specifically South Africa) these sista’s would know how to do some hair; it turns out that the knowledge about hair, and Black hair most specifically is WOEFULLY lacking! The abuse of relaxers, weaves (bonding as it is called here) ponytail hair attachments and individual braids (singles as they’re known) is crazy to see. I’ve seen women have their weave taken down in the salon and then have their hair relaxed as soon as the tracks are taken out! Also, the overuse of heat via the hood dryer and hand blowdryer cannot even be described. Watching this kind of “hair care” makes me squeam in my chair because I am sure the woman who is getting her hair done is probably writhing in pain as all of this is done to her all in the name of “beauty.” When preparing to come here, I never really considered how difficult this phase of research would be since I didn’t think that there would be such a lack of correct information about Black hair here in a predominantly Black country! Now a lack of good and healthy health care regimens! I wonder if the hair situation is like this in other African countries? If it is, why? Why is it that we are so disconnected from our own hair in our mother country? Also, why is it that we are all taught from a young age to style and deal with straight hair, yet, when it comes to managing and maintaining our natural hair, we are left in the dark. How is it okay for us as a people to neglect our own hair?
Now maybe I am going on a rant, but I am deeply saddened and confused as to the fact that here in Durban, Black women don’t even know what natural hair is, feels like, or how to care for it if it is not in dredlocks; and even how dredlocks are maintained is up for debate. Since I have taken down my twists ( I have just been putting my hair in small individual twists since it is a protective style that is super easy for me to manage since all I do in the morning is tae of my scarf, shake, moisturize with water and coconut oil, and go) so many women say they like my dredlocks, yet when I tell them that they’re not locks, but simply twists, and proceeded to untwist and pull to demonstrate, they’ll then ask when relaxer I have used to make my hair so soft, and elastic. When I say this is my natural hair free from a texturizer (curly perm) or relaxer, they can’t believe it. They’ll even say that I have “good hair!” Never in my life have I ever had what society has considered or depicted as “good hair.” How and why is it that we have become so disconnected from our hair? Yet, when asked if women believe that those women who relaxer their hair or wear bonding are less “Black” less “African” most will say no, your hair is just another medium to reflect your individual style. And if you want to be fashionable you have to relax your hair in order to be able to style it in the latest fashions.
Has being fashionable become my generations euphemism for racial disassociation?
Since this post is now sounding a bit harsh and negative, I definitely must reflect on the good of the salon industry here. I can say that the salon atmosphere here is identical to that of the salons in Pasadena that I love. The gossip, the street vendors selling everything from electronics of suspicious origins, to clothing and jewelry. I can definitely tell that Black salon culture seems to be universal, and truly supports and is supported by the Black community. Thousands of jobs are created by this industry, which allows hundreds of thousands of families are able to provide for themselves and live. This universal Black culture must be why as soon as I had my first visit to each of my regular salons I was immediately accepted and invited to continue coming back to research. I can definitely feel the familial atmosphere of each salon, and have now started to feel like one of the family. The ladies have begun to trust me to preform small assistant jobs like going to the beauty supply store to buy more shampoo, or getting a client ready to be shampooed. They have even started teaching me Zulu! So kancane kancane ngifunda isizulu (slowly slowly I’m learning Zulu) and the “C” in Kancane is pronounced as a click!
I promise to post more updates, and get pt.II and Pt. III of the 10 day Tamil Nadu adventure up! I am a little backlogged since my illness and my poor internet situation over here in Durban (that’s another blog post in itself!) However, minor issues aside, I am most certainly thankful for the life I have now!