BATW Member Wanda Hennig Publishes Lockdown Stories in South Africa

Hi BATW friends
We’ve had a hectic lockdown here in South Africa. The first three weeks, things like no walking of dogs; no going out except to buy groceries; no sale of alcohol (wine!) — with the ban on alcohol sales extended through the second level of lockdown (the given reason being that hospital trauma units fill up when people drink); no cigarette sales (I don’t smoke), which remains in force going on, what, 12 weeks later? The black market is thriving. Everyone who smokes has some illicit source. Every homeless person one sees is smoking some illegal brand bought from some illicit source at great cost. Nothing going into the tax coffers. Many conspiracy theories.
As a freelance journalist I got an “essential service” letter to move around. But mostly, as the stories I write are food-focused and the people I have needed to reach are in lockdown (what it was called here) I have mainly used WhatsApp. (Two interviews this morning!) And found all manner of interesting uses for Zoom. One being signing on for the past two BATW chatty hours. The first BATW meetings I’ve been able to get to in — years.
I have never quite mastered the time difference thing, despite living in the Bay Area for more than 25 years and in many ways being more connected in the US (and Europe too) than right here.
The first one I signed up to (where Laurie [Armstrong] spoke), I subtracted nine hours and was planning to Zoom in at 8am.
But turned out I need to go the other way. So I join you all at 2 a.m. my time. Same last week for Tim Cahill. I slept for two hours first. Set my alarm. Next time I will leave the video on (at least for some of the time). I noted at the last meeting you were all casual, so me sitting in my bed will work. I was at a British Academy Zoom meeting (a digital dinner date) on Friday night and the host was barefoot in her kitchen.
Last week I ran a four-part memoir and mindfulness Zoom workshop as a fundraiser for the Buddhist Retreat Centre here in South Africa (like everyone, they are closed and needing survival money). I was meant to give it in person. It was good to be pushed into this alternative (for me) delivery mode. Will be doing others and more varied.
Here’s a link to some of the lockdown stories I’ve done (and others) for The Daily Maverick (who I contribute food stories to regularly)
And a link to my Cuisine Noir stories
I had a bit of a gap at the beginning of the year. A routine hip replacement left me, thanks to a surgeon doing something untoward to my knee, with nerve damage in my lower leg and foot drop. It meant I was in a form of lockdown long before lockdown. The nerve tabs they gave me played havoc with my head, which I only realized when I weaned myself off them and was able to write again. Am doing physio and walking a lot and hoping to fully rehab. Although if you saw me walking around, chances are you wouldn’t know.
I look forward to more BATW chatty hours on Zoom. I hope you’ll keep having them. I am doing yoga classes now online. My septuagenarian surfer yoga teacher runs them via his cellphone on Facebook. I cannot imagine ever wanting to go back to in-person classes given the convenience of doing them in my bedroom. Oh, and we’re in the middle of winter here. But the beaches (not the sand) are open for walking (as of the past month or so) so was there this morning. T-shirt weather this morning. So between the homelessness and misery and issues of Africa that are part of life here (if you read my story Liberate us from Lockdown you’ll get a glimpse) — life with all its broad strokes goes on. And here we are, until we can travel again.
Love Wanda
This is me (and Frances from the U.S) the night before she flew out on a repatriation flight just a month ago. She was my lockdown friend, downstairs, for about five weeks. We were at Durban beach on the eve of her departure.


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