Touching Opulence

Breaking paradigms is often a good thing.

I have always had a soft spot for the poor and needy in community, and had in years past been privileged to go into areas where poor people lived and worked and raised their families.  I had always come away humbled and grateful at the same time.
I realised that it would take a mind shift to go from poverty to progress, even prosperity, and that it was a long road.  Governments and policies can change, but having a poverty mind-set will keep communities in poverty.

Over the years I have come to know that there are levels of poverty, and there are levels of wealth.   That is the way of life.  Secretly I have always had an inclination to regard the rich with a bit of disdain.  Why I do not know.  Perhaps it is a wrong perception, perhaps it was unfair judging of those who think they have it all, but more often than not,  have the arrogance to match it.  There is nothing wrong with being wealthy.  But it brings with it a lurking arrogance, that can morph into  greed, and that will stealthily steal from man’s character.   Few can wear wealth well.

But then I suppose, there are degrees of arrogance in all of us, whether rich or poor or somewhere in between.

In recent years I have had the privilege to live among those who seemingly have more than enough wealth.   It is good to live in an area where money can buy and maintain a beautiful environment, – necessarily so for the many wealthy tourists who come to visit, and spend their money in our ‘little village’

Umhlanga Rocks has an interesting history.  The Oyster Box Hotel is one of the oldest, and one of the beautiful hotels where the rich and famous reside when they visit our shores.  The iconic Umhlanga Light House is right on the beach in front of the hotel, which makes it that more special.
In years gone by, the hotel was first a shack, then a tea garden, owned by a brother and sister.   Later,  it became a restaurant.
In 1954 the hotel was built, and has grown into a five-star status hotel.

Beach & lighthouse
It has always been a little dream of mine, to one day, have afternoon tea at the famous Oyster Box Hotel.   Well I can tell you that dreams do come true.
My son Gareth and his friend Kerry came for a visit.   Now Gareth has an inclination to spoil, and Kerry loves cake,  as I do !   He decided to arrange for Kerry and I to have High Tea at  – the Oyster Box !!

Entrance Oyster Box
A sense of old colonial charm.

Near the stairway, in the lobby,  was a stunning floral arrangement.  At first glance it looked like a giant pineapple.  It was made up of bright red, and costly Antirrhinum flowers.

flowers at OB
It was a fascinating experience.   Just walking into the hotel is an assault on the sense of  opulence.    It speaks of bigger, better and brighter.  The lobby had, within it, an alcove surrounded by mirrored glass.  Glass table tops and white furniture gave the impression of a transparent but secret meeting place.

Lobby

In The Palm Court, the palm pots were bigger than usual, the ceilings higher with many fans cooling the air, and the palms grew high and large, to give a sense of tropical fullness.

Palm court palms
The Palm Court, where the High Tea is served.

A man was playing a piano in the Tea room, as we were ushered in and shown our reserved table.   The tea cups were of fine porcelain, with a pretty pink flower design.   A white starched napkin, was unfolded and placed on my lap by a friendly hostess.
You could choose your tea of preference from a box of assorted teas that was presented to you with a gloved hand.   Boiling water arrived in a little glass tea-pot, which you could pour when you were ready to do so.
The cake and savouries, were all arranged on a centre table, that were literally loaded on all sides, with all kinds of everything delightful and delectable.  A feast for the eyes and the  palate.

IMG_0418.JPG
A delightful and delectable feast of cakes and treats.

cup cakes at OB

My words could not do justice to the charm of the day,  so I hope these few pictures will give you a better appreciation of the opulence I touched in the Palm Court of the Oyster Box Hotel, one sunny afternoon in Umhlanga Rocks, situated this side of paradise !

Pretty Kerry.JPG
Lovely Kerry, my companion in an encounter with opulence.

An old song I once heard, went something like this  ‘ You gotta have a dream to have a dream come true.’     So dream on, it may come along quicker than you think.
And thank you to Gareth and Kerry for making my dream come true !!

Go and break some paradigms, and extend the horizon of your appreciations.

Phenomena – The winds of change

 

Coconut palm trees blowing in a breeze against a blue sky

 

Often, as the year comes to an end, we are presented with reviews of the current events of the past year.   I suspect that this year it will be no different.    We have experienced some strange phenomena going on in our world at large.

Curious to me, is the phenomenon of the Global Migration taking place.
Africa seems to be migrating to Europe.
Central Americans are walking, to America in what they call a caravan of people.
The devastating Syrian war that have caused huge Refugee camps to become new neighbourhoods for the victims of war

Why,  I wonder ?
I heard it said, that it is because  the poorest of the poor cannot tolerate their poverty one minute more, and are willing to risk life and limb to make a change for themselves and their families for the better.   Crime and oppression have just become to unbearable in their own countries.  Power and greed stifles, maims and kills !  And who could, or should live in those conditions ?

Migration poses enormous problems as it becomes a huge challenge, – but so to a change in the cultural exchange of the receiving countries.
It is unchartered waters where the solutions and outcomes are not known, and long-term effect will bring about irretrievable results.
What will a melting pot of languages and cultures mean in the course of time ?  Will there be conflict, for sure, will there be confusion, for sure, but no one knows, as yet the reasons or the results for this phenomena called Migration.  Will it mean a new global village ?  A loss of nationalism, and thus identity ?  No one knows the future.

The world, in its oh so developed state, have forgotten the poor.  The mass of the people of our  global world are poor and been ignored, and purposely, and conveniently forgotten.
We think we are so smart, with our smart phones and devices of mind-boggling technological  proportions, that in essence leave the people of our world in a poorer place.  Poorer in unemployment, poorer in equality, poorer in integrity !
I am not against progress and development, but that surge should be for all people, not just the rich, the famous and the powerful.

Muslims are being detained in China, and are undergoing a de-doctrination, in large “schools” being built to accommodate this plan.
Jews despicably murdered in their own synagogues, recently in Pittsburgh.
American politics have turned a corner in contemporary party politics, with targeted pipe bomb scares.  Maybe harmless, maybe not, but it is incomprehensible political warfare of a new kind.

Nationalism is another surprising and interesting phenomenon standing its ground.
Trump’s America and Britain’s Brexit strongly reflect this phenomenon.    Just when the globalisation of the whole world seemed unstoppable, with its fast trade, tsunami-like  waves for financial gain, that blows consumerism into a frenzy of more and more and more !   Is a resistance being raised to being dominated and manipulated by the money god of world economics?

Cyber information is perhaps the most alarming phenomena of our time – all about the subtle influencing of gullible consumers, advertising, branding and marketing, not to mention sinister manipulation, politicking and power – and eroding the facts and the truth about almost any given matter.    Fake news seems to be an acceptable thing ! And  at times the gossip on the social media is a ‘source’ for the news scoop of the day !

Morality has been turned upside down, reflecting the good as bad and the bad as good – what is trending is right !  The moral compass is out of sight, even some would say lost.
And to my mind, that is the saddest of the modern phenomena of the times we live in today.

The Crime and Corruption phenomena, although global, is very evident here in South Africa.   To watch the local news is a depressing experience.  News moves at lightning speed through our politics, which changes every day.  Our gruesome community stories, mostly about poverty, crime and community protests and unrest –  reveals the mountain of corruption we are enduring at present.
In fact, South Africa, seemingly innocently unaware, has been looted under a cloud of skilful strategic corruption of magnum proportions, –  for almost a decade now !
Now that the threads of corruption and crime are being unravelled, by an astute new leadership, we are left gobsmacked at the enormity of this wasteful expenditure – and the depravity of the sons of shame in our nation – as the poor are even poorer than before.
Yet there is hope with moments of the comical, the kindest of humanities and of course our invigorating and beloved Sport, that brings us a light refreshing.
Our news, most times depressing, but perhaps  ‘all sides of  diverse and vibrant’, would be a better catch phrase to describe the South African news.

But, not to be to much of a pessimist I need to mention another strange phenomenon that
has taken place in our country this past year.   Huge people-gathering events have taken place when thousands answered the call for prayer,  seeking mercy and sustenance for our leaders, our people and our country.
At the last gathering in October, prayers were said for a spirit of forgiveness for the peoples of South Africa  –  to give forgiveness, and to receive forgiveness from each other.    For racism, murder and evil to be nullified, and for a new day of progress and development for all South Africans.

To my mind, the best kind of phenomenon is Prayer, that ushers in the winds of change !

2 Chronicles 7:14
If My people who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray,
and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and heal their land.

Red rose