Backpacker’s Hazards

When I say backpacking, you think adventure. You think youthful fun. Free spirits, globe-trotters, exploring remote lands and exotic cultures. All the corners of our planet are really nothing but a plane flight away. Let’s backpack, let’s adventure, let’s have fun, while we are young! If we could, we’d be travelling the whole year round. It takes a few local busses and before you know it you are riding elephants in Sri-Lanka, camels in Egypt, and kangaroos in Australia. You can knit alpaca sweaters with the Peruvians, bleach Arabian rugs with Moroccans, and sacrifice flowers at Buddhist temples with Malaysians. When you pack a bag and go, there is really nothing standing in your way. Well let me smack that idealistic portrait out of you straight away. It ain’t all fun and games.

Think about it: most people backpack to make travelling affordable. It is often the only option for people desperate to see the Thaj Mahal or Great Wall of China. That’s where the first problem lies, the extremes through which travellers are willing to go to save some dollars. It is always the backpackers you see sitting on the side of a road in Bangkok eating a single bowl of rice, pretending a pizza ‘isn’t really their thing’. It is them you see folded up in a local African bus with goats and bags of corn packed on their lap, claiming it is not about the comfort but the ‘cultural experience’. Only they will choose to hike up the Machu Picchu instead of taking a tour for the ‘adventure of it’, while their knee-caps are slowly giving in under the weight of their 50kg backpacks.

Backpackers are willing to comprise beyond humane standards. Filthy furniture, bug-infested kitchens, showering with buckets of cold water, getting drunk on cans of warm beer, and sharing a bedroom with five to ten complete strangers. They often spend most of nightly hours lying awake, horrified by not knowing who else is horizontally spread in the same room as them, only a bunkbed away. The smell of backpacks that haven’t been unzipped for days, the risk of tripping over soggy sandals in the dark, and the grinding sounds produced by co-travellers lucky enough to get some sleep at 35 degrees Celsius. There is an urban myth that a tsunami alarm was once triggered in Indonesia, which turned out to be an elderly backpacker with sinus problems, literally snoring the mirrors off the wall. But yet again, for only 3 dollar a night, one is not to complain.

Another problem is that not all people backpack to save money. Some could actually afford civilised living circumstances, yet choose this path in order to meet people. Co-travellers from other countries to whom they can endlessly talk about their abroad adventures. It is inevitable that lonesome tourists try to take advantage of the fact that so many people are stacked in such a small space. You are seldom, if ever, alone, which people mistake for having the right to talk to you. Without being able to do much about it, people will invite themselves to the hike you planned, to the market where you were going to do some shopping, or to the dining table you reserved for you and your book. It is part of the backpacking hazard: we end up talking to Germans, Russians, foreigners who hardly speak any English, and on the rare occasion even to French people. But for a one-dollar breakfast, we willingly pretend to find their travel stories highly fascinating.

People generally get way too comfortable being around other people at backpackers. They force bangles they made down your throat, play guitar at the camp fire, or practise their yoga in the yard: things we were never willing to wear, hear or see. And that’s a problem, we can’t just unhear the songs people sing or unsee the things they make us look at. People publically change into their comfy cloth after a long day of sightseeing because of the lack of space, or lack of hygienic bathrooms for that matter. Backpackers are completely defenceless to the sight of other people’s bare body parts. Painfully pale legs, disproportionally blubbery bellies, excessively hairy torsos, freakishly long toenails, and genitals that escape from their owner’s underwear while tossing around in the bunkbed. Places where the sun don’t shine, assets either too big or too small, body parts that simply should never have been openly exposed. Rumour has it that a traveller once sued a backpacker’s hostel after the traumatic sight of fully-naked, exceptionally unattractive tourists jumping in the pool. Unfortunately, no ground rules could be established to change things for the better because the traveller was too short of money to afford a lawyer.

And not only people’s body parts are exposed, so are their belongings. Because backpackers like to save dollars where they can, they are not shabby about helping themselves to the little luxuries of life provided by co-travellers. Sunblock lotion, charging cables, a trendy scarf; it can get quite pricey if you have to buy all that shit yourself. So don’t be surprised when your toothpaste is gone soon after your bunkbed neighbour left for his next destination. Labelling food in the communal fridge also hardly serves a purpose. Other people get hungry too, what can you do. That’s perhaps an alternative reason for backpackers to be so chatty and curious all the time. They wanna make sure you are heading the opposite direction before they help themselves to your wardrobe. But do not stress, if something goes missing it is not much of a challenge to replace it with a little help from the next-best unknowing person. We backpackers are all poor after all.

Nonetheless, if you are really desperate to backpack around the world, I’m not gonna be the one to advise you against it. Just go through the experience and teach yourself that lesson. In fact, backpacking is very good at that: teaching lessons. It toughens you up. It inspires people to get better jobs, so they can afford a little cabin in the mountains. It also makes people appreciate camping a bit more. Although sleeping under a plastic sheet on a plastic mattress doesn’t seem appealing at first, you at least don’t have to talk to foreigners all the time. I’ve met retired backpackers who don’t wear sandals beyond the expiry date anymore and now buy their own new set of footwear. I’ve seen people that had never done their own dishes ending up with a straight-up cleaning disorder after their backpacking experience. Some refuse to sit in a bus ever again and got motivated to pass their driving license, yet others will no longer stuff Asian dishes down their throat and learned how to cook. I even met hippies that keep their cloth on, having experienced first-hand what exposed body parts can do to a person. So please allow yourself to be free, young and adventurous. You might become a better adult for it with some goddamn principles.

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The risk of liking people

We meet a lot of people in our lives, probably more than we are willing to deal with. But it’s not like we really have a choice these days. Most of the people we meet are destined to be forgotten shortly after they have crossed our path. Only the exceptional few leave an impression, for right or wrong reasons. The impression left behind by an individual can be good because he or she is a fascinating person with deliberating views, or bad because he or she has a disturbing soul with twisted thoughts. On the rare occasion, people we meet are likable enough to become our friend. Other people are so unpleasant that we go out of our way to avoid them.

But why is it that we like one person yet can’t stand the other? What makes a person either likable or obnoxious? What particularly fascinates me is that individuals that I tend to despise, for what I consider obvious reasons, have as many friends as I do. More disturbingly so, these people even get more likes on facebook than I do. Does this mean that I am too judgemental, or that other people are oblivious to the fact that they associate with unlikable people? Even if a bit of both were to be true, there is no denying that there is something skewed in society. A lot of shitty people are being liked and I wonder why.

Perhaps some people hang out with unlikables because they feel obligated or forced. Maybe nice folks hang out with obnoxious folks because they simply lack better alternatives. We might even choose to hang out with shitty people to boost our own self esteem. Or possibly, we are simply not always capable of distinguishing nice from non-nice. We may overlook individuals that lie, steal or manipulate because we just wanna have a buddy to share a coffee or wine with. We like company, prefer nice people, presume our friends are nice, and as a result give people the benefit of the doubt.

When I ask my most reliable source of knowledge about this matter, Wikipedia, I am told that likeable means ‘a person that is pleasant, friendly and easy to like’, which is stating the obvious. Obnoxious is explained as ‘extremely unpleasant’, pretty straight forward too. For the latter, however, an additional insight is given: bragging is considered obnoxious, as it intentionally disregards a social rule. Thank you dr. Wiki, I think we are on to something. Unlikables tend to lack human compassion and care about themselves only. Phycologists have been busting their brain over this shit and came up with a label: narcissism. This is of course the very extreme end of an unlikable personality, but it’s not uncommon.

Narcissists have high levels of despiteful characteristics such as arrogance, selfishness, untruthfulness and predatory behaviour. Yet, they are pretty successful at being liked. They are charismatic and well-trained at faking emotions and gaining people’s trust, whilst slowly taring their lives apart for their own benefit. On the other hand, some honest people that do have a sense of empathy are not cutting it in social society because they are not outgoing enough. Who really cares about nice people when they are boring or shy? After all, good people can make bad company and bad people can be good at entertaining a crowd.

It’s actually impossible to judge all the people we meet on likability. There are so many, too many, hardly any time to check their criminal record or mental illness. It’s all too familiar: you have a likeable friend, until she sleeps with your boyfriend. You meet a nice boyfriend, until he sleeps with your sister. You lend money to your cousin, soon to discover he emptied your bank account. You are on good terms with your neighbour, before he poisons your dogs overnight. You get along with the new colleague, until you read on the news that three corpses were recovered from his backyard. I think it’s particularly charismatic people that go on murder sprees and end up hiding their dead wives in the freezer down the basement.

So be wary, don’t trust anyone, particularly not your friends. Ask yourself: are they really your friends? Or did you convince yourself that they are likeable because you are lonely or bored? That’s one thing Wikipedia won’t tell us: avoid people with a lot of friends. If they do well in social society, better watch your back… evil is lurking. Any person with more than 500 facebook friends is nothing but trouble really. In order to protect yourself from social abuse, aim for obnoxious people. People that are shy, boring or lack any sense of humour. Their company might be torturous, but they are less likely to be cheaters or mass murderers.

Another alternative is to stop guessing who is either nice or disturbed, and quit being social altogether. Five cats, a vibrator and Netflix-account kinda lifestyle. Or you can decide to outsmart social society and become a narcissist yourself. There is really nothing you can’t teach yourself on youtube these days. And if you learn to master being a shitty person, you can even go into politics! But you can of course still choose to be a nice person. Even when you are not particularly liked by others, hang on to them good morals. Fuck it, we don’t need large amounts of friends, we don’t need facebook likes! Stick to the few people who do like you. Even if it’s very few, it surely saves you time and money preparing for a dinner party.

When miss universe meets the universe

The other day I ran into an arrogant person, aren’t they just a pain. A pretentious miss universe: “Don’t you know who I am”? Fuck no I don’t, why would I? Do you know just how many people surround me every day? At least ten a day, hundreds a week, thousands a month. A few million people live in this city, many more millions in the country, let alone in this whole goddamn world. And our world is only a small planet in a tiny solar system, which is nothing but a dot in our galaxy, which is only a blub in the local group that contains thousands of galaxies, which in turn is only a small corner of the virgo supercluster. Really, our planet is nothing but an ingrown hair on a tiny black spot of a Dalmatian. Imagine that this dog’s ingrown hair houses about 7 billion bacteria, and that one of those single-celled creatures asks the other why they are not being recognized. Spare me.

No person is really that important, and definitely not in cosmos space and time. We human beings hardly matter at all. We used to think that our planet earth was the centre of the universe and that we were the highest form of life. A certain Ciordano Bruno passionately passed on the message that our planet in fact orbits the sun, and as a result he got imprisoned for years and eventually got burned to death publicly by the church. How dare he question our superiority! We figured out he was right after all, just a decade or so too late for the poor fellow. A few more scientists were put to shame or crucified before we finally accepted that our planet is just one of many others, and that it circles around a star of which there are millions more.

We also learned that the bible was a bit off when it comes to time. We haven’t been around for a few thousand years, but more like 300.000 years. More painfully so, we discovered that even a few 100.000 years of human presence is nothing but a joke. The universe has been around for some 13.8 billion years, and our planet for about 4.5 billion. Life first appeared 3.5 billion years ago, and endless forms of it have dominated our planet for millions of years before we joined the party. So we matter why exactly? In cosmos time, we’ve hardly been around. Most of that negligible time period we kept ourselves busy with digging up roots and speering down monkeys, and we only started to understand physics and explore our cosmos backyard the last few hundred years or so. We knew nothing until recently and still know little today. Yet we keep believing that we are the light of the cosmos party and that life can’t possibly get more sophisticated than this…

Many people also think it’s nothing but a matter of time before we play of game of poker with aliens. But even though we have launched space crafts that travel at 56,000 km an hour, which is pretty damn fast, it’s not worth much in the cosmos. Space operates in light years rather than human years. At the speed of light, one year crosses about 10 trillion kilometres. So if we keep fingers crossed that the nearest star system to us accommodates life, it would take a NASA space shuttle about 80.000 years to reach it. Not to be a party pooper, but that’s gonna be a whole lotta sandwiches to pack for the road. Despite these facts, plenty of us keep believing that our small, insignificant planet has already been invaded by aliens. We have convinced ourselves that they tend to only land in the backyard of the White House, due to which it has become one the best-kept secrets of the American government…

Anyway, about that Dalmatian dog. Let’s say this dog has as many spots as stars in our galaxy: thousands and thousands, and we are nothing but one of those spots. What about the white fur, surely it ain’t all about the spots? Thing is, it isn’t: in space, the white fur of the dog is what we call dark matter. It’s there, but just hard for us to see or comprehend. It goes beyond our imagination, like a black hole, which is pretty much a star so big (about 40 million suns) that its gravity pulls anything in, even light. Many of us, however, imagine that black holes in space are like elevators in skyscrapers: hop in and you’ll arrive anywhere you want back or forward in time…

In any case, back to reality. What it is I’m trying to say: don’t take it too personal when I don’t know exactly who you are. And whatever it is that you do for a living, which you might make appear to be highly important, becomes pretty insignificant on a different scale. Of course we all want to be immortal in a way, leave some trace behind. Perhaps that’s why we refer to ‘rock stars’. Some stars in the sky still shine their light on us today, even though they died many million years ago. So keep aiming high: if you matter to yourself that’s all that matters. Perhaps just try keep it to yourself. And to the contrary, whenever you feel undesirable or unsuccessful in life, just remember that you are nothing more than earthy, recyclable carbons and hydrogens. Your carbons will one day turn into star dust again, when the sun swallows our planet and eventually turns into a supernova. So when you are in fact untalented and a shame to society: keep in mind that your life is short and irrelevant to history. Arrogant people, shameful people, even rock stars matter nothing in cosmos time. No need to care or worry too much about yourself.

What if but what ifn’t?

Thinking is essential, yet not often executed efficiently by people despite its use. Overthinking, on the contrary, is common in humans even though it does nothing but to waste one’s time. I myself daily struggle with the ‘what if, what ifn’t’ dilemma. It’s a useless occupation of the brain, as you will never get an answer to whichever concern you raise.

Picture a person, say a young boy full of potential, in a relationship with a beautiful talented woman. He decides to cook for his lady and goes out to do groceries, a simple daily chore. But he forgets to buy milk, which seems insignificant until he feels like a cup of coffee after dinner. When he decides to go out, just to buy milk, he accidently gets hit by a bullet that was meant for the drug dealer he happened to pass by. His girlfriend, who was predestined to become the first person to find a cure for Alzheimer, was so heartbroken that she quit her study in medicine. The drug dealer who made it out alive grew up to become a notorious mass murderer. It’s tragic. If only the boy didn’t forget to buy milk or decided against having a cup of coffee… Everyday I come home safely from work wondering what would’ve happened if I took a wrong turn, or remembered to buy groceries on the way. Tragedy is always lurking somewhere and fate can find you at random times. As a result, I overthink every cup of coffee I have and outweigh all possible scenarios that could result from my decision to go to Starbucks. What if?

I strongly believe that the modern term FOMO originates from our habit of ‘what iffing’ everything. We fear of missing out on excitement or opportunities, due to which we obsessively spend our time socialising, drinking, travelling and the beyond. How can you stay at home when you don’t know what would happen if you didn’t? But when you do go out, there is a high risk of ending up with regrets. You get robbed, wake up next to an undesirable stranger, or make such a fool out of yourself that you end up losing your job. If only you wouldn’t have gone out…

But this dilemma goes beyond personal concerns. Little moments in time have occasionally altered the turn of events drastically. Human history hasn’t been a particularly cheerful story, and many instances that changed our world forever were based on coincidences, misunderstandings or last-minute decisions. The Berlin Wall was broken down because a German politician misspoke, the American invasion of Cuba failed because the Pentagon forgot to take time zones into account, and atomic bombs were dropped on Japan because president Truman misinterpreted a single letter.

And it gets worse. A certain Franz Ferdinand was pretty much killed by coincidence after just surviving an attempted assassination. His death triggered a chain of events that eventually led to World War I. Even though the war ended, some 13 million deaths later, Europe was destined with economic failure for decades to come. The resulting poverty allowed a stage for dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini, who succeeded at starting another World War and even more blood shedding. When it all finally seemed over there was hardly any time for a tea party, as the aftermath soon led to the Cold and Vietnam War. The complete lack of human dignity or decency during these battles gave rise to hippies, who were desperately making love in hopes of creating peace while singing along to John Lennon, who as a result also got killed. So John Lennon practically died because Franz Ferdinand made a poor life decision back in the 1900s. What ifn’t?

In fact, most tragic deaths could have been avoided if it wasn’t for one person making one wrong decision somewhere down the line. The titanic tragedy could have been avoided if one soul didn’t neglect to bring the key to the locker that contained binoculars, which means a whole generation of young girls would’ve grown up without a poster of Leonardo di Caprio on their wall. On the contrary, a previous generation of young girls missed out on perving at James Dean because he crossed the wrong intersection at the wrong time. And if Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens would not have gotten on an airplane on the 3rd of February in 1959, music would never have died.

Despite the many tragic losses of lives, there have also been many tragic births in history. Perhaps history would’ve been spared of Pablo Escobar if there wasn’t an electricity cut on that one cold winter night. And who knows, maybe Ted Bundy would have never been born if his mother didn’t drink her way through a bottle of Scotch that fateful day. Perhaps Justin Bieber would have been talented if his mom stayed off prescription drugs during pregnancy. Maybe Paris Hilton would’ve been intellegent if her father ejaculated a second earlier and Harvey Weinstein handsome if his father ejaculated a second later.

The dilemma is endless. What if Muslim’s brew beer and ifn’t Russions drank vodka? What if Oprah was white and ifn’t Michael Jackson was black? What if Bill Gates decided to become a dentist and ifn’t Shakespeare became a writer? What if Trump’s brains were shot out his skull and ifn’t Kennedy’s were? What if I would go to bed now and stop overthinking? But what if I go to bed and miss a ones-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could redefine my future? Then again, what if I didn’t go to sleep and end up being so tired tomorrow that I make an essential mistake that would drastically change my life for the worse? Only one thing is certain: it’s all a little bit worrisome and very much pointless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optimism or pessimism, what side are you on?

I had a weak moment the other day and posted something on Facebook I shouldn’t have. I triggered the wrong kind of attention, but was charmed that I got some of it nonetheless. Which is morally wrong of course. I didn’t mean to beg for attention, but noticed that people who I hardly speak to showed me their concerns. Which makes me think… I did something that was socially incorrect, showing weakness, and I should know better than that. But even though people don’t like the weak, I got a surprising amount of digital affection. As the majority of these nice people can’t even recall my eye colour, I won’t take it too personal. But I don’t blame them either. I think it’s our natural response as social beings to live up to society’s expectations. “Treat people how you want to be treated” and all that bullocks.

But if we want to meet the demands of a social society: who decides what is right, what is wrong, and how do we agree on morals anyway? I think we all disagree so much on these topics that we act nice but avoid getting to actually know each other, and rather stick to “I really like the top that you are wearing”. No judgements here, I tend to do the same. I love having laughs and talks about non-intellectual stuff with strangers. I prefer to save whatever brain capacity I have left for work, no offense. So let’s talk about curvy bums and bad hairstyles instead shall we? “That famous person gained like, so much weight like, I know right?” “Hellloooo, 24 toilet rolls for only 45 rand, that is ámazing!” “My goodies, the last time I got so drunk I totally vomited in the Uber, haha my word!”

But what happens if you have laughed about farts long enough, entertained people that don’t entertain you back, and maintained conversations that leave you feeling brain-damaged? And what happens if you run out of inspiration to babble about the silliness of silly things in life, because you are actually not doing so well? When you aren’t at your best or show signs of discomfort, your company will vanish very quickly I tell you.

So that was an introduction, off we go. Optimism and pessimism: two words we invented and gave meaning to. Optimism is generally perceived as positive and appreciated highly in society, but it can bite you in the ass if you hang on to it too much. Pessimism, on the other hand, is considered negative and we don’t like folks openly executing this. But then, people of the latter category more often win arguments and get to say “I told you so”. They might be less popular, but they are hardy and protect themselves against false promises and fake people. And I kind of admire it.

I often look at my warn-down face in the mirror to convince myself I can become a better person. I should work harder, live healthier, be nicer to people, and grow a bigger bum. A surprising amount of morals and motivation floats to the surface when I speak to myself in the mirror. But this week, when I shared a rare moment of emotional negativity with whomever befriended me on facebook some blurry moment in time, I realized that I shouldn’t be so open about my personal disappointments. I was being too optimistic for too long and it resulted in a mental breakdown. Optimism, I think, is just a means to deny the reality that some things won’t get done, no matter how hard you try. Or it makes us deal with the lack of interest from other parties, who show no sympathy to your work motivation. Or it’s a way to convince ourselves that things will get better and justice will be served, as long as you give it time and keep up them good morals.

I stopped believing in this nonsense and got convinced that the future beholds nothing but pessimism for us. We should be strong and not share moments of despair publicly. After all, facebook is sócial media, and when people go social they don’t want drama. Get a baby, some kittens or a political opinion: otherwise rather keep it to yourself, please. Instead, I decided that I wanna become a pessimist: never too young to convert and change your believes right?! It’s gonna be so awesome, I can just be honest and piss on everything. And even though people might like me less for it, I think I have reached a point where it can’t regress much more anyway. Screw the opinion of other people; I’m a hard-core pessimist now, I shall never be disappointed again! I’m gonna be totally like: “Who cares, I knew you weren’t gonna show up”; “Whatever, I totally guestimated you wouldn’t reply to my email”; “No stress, I presumed you didn’t wanna do that anyway”; “All cool, I expected you were not gonna pay me salary”. It’s great, I am so resilient, I don’t care, about anything, or anyone, it’s all bad. Guess who’ll be laughing last motherfuckersss!

Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that… it’s so negative. The reality of a pessimist holds so little fun, I don’t think they ever laugh at all. They might often be right, but they don’t laugh. And by nature, I really like laughing… about anything ranging from bad hairstyles to excessive bowel activity. It takes little for me. Perhaps, for this reason, I can’t be a hard-core pessimist after all. I should rather try to stay optimistic while dealing with an endless supply of disappointments, false promises and fake people. And I can learn how to filter the good from the bad, and focus on things that do succeed in the chaos of failures. I can even wright a book about it! If it sells well it might just make some real, tangible money! Or is that too optimistic… I’m working on it, but I’ll get there.

Men, genes and disasters

We all have a bad day sometimes and I’m having one right this moment. It’s probably just the rainy weather and my period kicking in, but today I feel like I’m nothing more than a clump of cells, a combination of genes, and a machinery of hormones trying to make it all work. It makes me sad to know that my neutrons, electrons and proteins are just the same as everyone else. Don’t we all want to feel special every now and then? Reality is that we are all, in fact, nothing more than a collection of cells and genes, with hormones running full hours to keep them functioning. But we shouldn’t led that fact get us down, we should embrace it! Genes give us life, create proteins that build our bodies, and release hormones. And if it wasn’t for hormones we wouldn’t be able to sleep, feel happy, get hungry, digest food, absorb nutrients, and take a dump the next day. Just to mention a few examples.

But I also strongly believe that genes and hormones can work against us, and that they might be the main drivers of the chaos that we have created on this planet. It starts with the selfish gene, as Richard Dawkins describes it. He pretty much states that we are nothing but machineries designed to pass on genes to the next generation. Because it takes sex to keep genes going, we produce hormones that make us all behave like desperate, horny beasts. Men are programmed to spread their sperm generously because they produce endless supplies and suffer few consequences, whereas woman are rather picky on who to share their eggs with, as only a limited amount is produced and lots of energy is required. It’s only fair that ladies try to keep them legs closed until they find a suitable sperm donor that is willing to stick around for the next 15 years, which is about the time it takes to raise a child to independency. It would surely take some load of our shoulders.

In the animal kingdom, genes normally don’t require that much time and dedicated effort to be passed on. Most animals let go of their sprout from the day they are born or after no more than a year, after which the parents shamelessly continue humping around to produce yet another generation. When less time and energy is invested in care-taking, parents have the luxury to pick bed partners not based on parental quality, but rather on their genetic toolkit. It has been proven that some animals can sniff out potential mates that are genetically distinct and fit enough, and it seems that the ladies always prefer boys with the crazy genes.

Other animals can’t pick up another’s genetic assemblage that easily, so they tend to make males work hard to prove that they hold the very best sperm. This so-called sexual selection has pushed some males in the animal kingdom so far that they can hardly support their antlers, extensive feathers, or other traits that turn the ladies on. In some cases, such accessories substantially decrease the fitness of the appealing males, by making them more vulnerable to predation or starvation for instance. Some males will even fight till death to proof ladies their worth. Because even if you die young, as long as you got lucky it’s worth it right?

Realizing this, the behaviour of men around me makes total sense. Men have genes, which are selfish, and demand to be passed on. Sleep-overs are the only way to achieve this, which is the reason why men act so desperate to get our attention (evolution hasn’t yet caught up with condoms). Desperate acts for affection, however, rarely work to convince a lady to spend the night together, as only few of us accept the pity card and take one for the team. For one night perhaps, but for actual reproduction we rather choose a man who is confident, successful, strong and does shit for us that we are capable, but not willing, of doing ourselves.

Now, the problem is that some men have mistaken the ladies’ need for good genes with the need for domination. These men use brutal force, power, or money as a means to spread more genes, sometimes against the will of the ladies involved. The modern trend seems to be that wealthy, instead of genetically suitable, men get to reproduce, as the need for money now outweighs the need for protection against bears and the provision of food. Mr McCartney seems to have gotten it all wrong; money does buy you love. And ever since women started to like men that focus on power and money, instead of sexy bodies and parental skills, we have ruined our planet with fast cars, bulldozers, and guns. The disasters we see around us are all the fault of men, dominant genes, female hormones and erections; it’s that simple.

This trend has also obscured the purpose of evolution, as some men with completely unsuitable genes get to reproduce excessively; Donald Trump being a good example. As a result, genetic deterioration has occurred in modern human societies. And that weak men get to spread sperm isn’t doing us a favour. Nowadays, some people can only see through thick glasses, chew on food after years of braces, and face the light of day with severe sunblock. And in all honesty, I too have to maintain myself with allergy medication, sleeping pills, and steroid cream to hold my skin together. I think it’s the genetic deterioration.

I can blame my ancestors for being careless with their egg cells, but if I take a good look around or open any newspaper, they surely must have judged better than my generation. Perhaps it’s time that us ladies get together and fight the selfish genes that drive some men to be so sexually desperate, obsessively materialistic and socially obnoxious (I shall call this “the Trump syndrome”). We should do research to proof that money doesn’t relate to strong genes at all, and that we could rather focus on getting good jobs ourselves. Following, we solely have to spend our energy on handsome man with lots of brain cells that do nice things for us. If we all embrace contraception until (and if) we find the perfect sperm donor, this world could be a better place.

Life as a Joburger

I’m going to tell you a little story about Johannesburg. Partly informative and partly as a warning, cause life ain’t always easy here as a foreigner. I think I’ve lived here long enough to give my honest opinion about this city, and I would like to take this opportunity to make a few things very clear to other visitors. I mainly want to warn people that come to Jozi with certain expectations, when they are crazy enough to visit this city in the first place. Jeh, Africa ain’t for sissies and Joburg definitely ain’t.

Firstly, let’s talk about crime. People love talking about crime in South Africa and Johannesburg has been a specifically hot item. Tourist agencies and travel guides will tell you to avoid Joburg by all means, and rather spend some extra hours on a detour when Joburg is on your path. So I would like to state the following: you will be very, very disappointed when you do dare to visit Johannesburg and expect crime, as it is largely absent. I have lived here for 4 years and have not yet looked death in the eye. To make matters worse: I’ve had zero crime-related encounters thus far, none. No guns, no muggings, no harassments whatsoever. It is actually very likely you will leave this city without any cool stories to tell your friends at home. To illustrate: those many “I was shot in Joburg” T-shirts and posters often refer to photography, as all these people have actually never been shot. It is highly disappointing for some people.

A second issue I would like to warn tourists about: people in Joburg are extremely nice. They tend to have small conversations with strangers, help them out whenever needed, invite them for a drink at their table, or even open their doors to them. The strangest thing is that these Joburgers want nothing more from you than a nice chat, and will leave you alone afterwards. This is unheard of in many European cultures and might take some getting-used to. Joburgers also laugh a lot and make jokes that will make other people laugh. For strangers visiting this city it might be considered uncomfortable, because they are not used to such open and genuine human interactions.

Moreover, people that sympathize with racism and think South Africa is the place to be will be distraught when visiting Joburg. Joburg is actually very mixed and in most places people get along no matter what race, age or background they represent. It is even okay to be gay or transsexual. Joburg people seem to simply like being in the presence of other nice people, no matter how different they are. So please be aware of this.

Another thing I noticed about Joburgers is that they don’t care how you look or what you wear, which might be shocking to foreign visitors. They come all this way from fashionable Europe and no-one pays attention to their designer dress, which is not always appreciated. Because people don’t really focus on looks in Joburg, they tend to build more character. This can cause conflict, as many fashionable visitors from abroad have never worked on their character. So if you solely depend on your looks, Joburg might not be the place for you. I have also seen disappointed visitors that were told to never wear jeans, bags or jewellery in Joburg because it will attract crime. You will find out that all people in Joburg wear these items without any problems.

Then let’s move on to the aesthetics of Johannesburg. People often picture a large, dark city with high buildings and dirty streets. So if this is your thing, I’m gonna have to disappoint once more. Only few parts of Joburg are dark and dirty, and the part of the city that has high buildings is only very small. In fact, most of Joburg is hidden amongst trees, only has one-store buildings, and many parks and dams. Highly disappointing.

Even the traffic is different in this bad-ass city. Traffic rules do exist but are not considered to be there for our own safety. Traffic lights, referred to as robots, cheer up the streets in the same way as Christmas lights do, but are not to be taken too seriously. The same goes for indicator lights on cars. They look nice when flashed, but rarely serve the purpose of showing other drivers what direction one is heading. There are also many stop signs and roundabouts in this city, and they are used in whatever way suits the driver at the moment. When traffic rules are violated you don’t have to worry about police cars too much. Well, not more than usual that is. Because in Joburg, the police is your enemy even when you do nothing wrong. They always find something to fine you for, so you might as well give them some value for your money. I have occasionally created life threatening situations in traffic just to avoid an encounter with the police in a road-block further down the road. Pretty bad-ass.

Another thing I want to address about Joburg is that the weather is exceptionally nice. I come from the Netherlands where people bitch and moan about the weather all the time, and I felt uneasy with the lack of bad weather in Jozi when I moved here. I had nothing left to moan about. It’s never too hot and rarely too cold, and it’s sunny most of the time. Very annoying. To make matters worse: when it does storm it storms so bad that there is literally no time to complain about the weather. When roads are flooding, roofs are falling and bridges are collapsing, you just focus on making it home alive. And the next day it’s sunny and 30 degrees again, which makes it so inappropriate to moan about the weather the day before.

The last good advice I want to give to my fellow Joburg visitors is that there is no need to spend too much money here. People are often advised to only book the fanciest hotels, dine in restaurants with ultimate security, and to never walk around but rather stay in bullet-proof taxis. It’s not that fancy hotels aren’t nice, but so are cute guest houses of which we have many. And we have many lovely restaurants that sell the finest food for little money. And they even have outside tables, right on the street, surrounded by plants. Because Joburg has many nice plants. And although taxis are nice to get around with, you can even walk in Joburg; in fact we do it all the time! And we have bicycle lanes, and people actually cycle around too! And we have city parks where you can picnic without bringing armed protection. And there is a lot of street art too. There are even walls with the most stunning graffiti without a single drug dealer around. We also have many events with live music, food markets and performances with a zero-terrorism record.

So my conclusion: Joburg is pretty bad-ass and it takes some getting-used to, but once you do it’s a pretty damn good city.