Being an outsider in a foreign land means you tend to form bonds with people over things that you may not have considered when at home. Having never seen “The Godfather” was what bonded me with a group of other volunteers and workers on Saturday night. Of course, no Godfather night could happen without good Italian food.
The night started with some fantastic garlic and herb bread, and homemade antipasto, including roasted olives, capsicum, pepperdew, zucchini, artichoke hearts etc. This was followed by fresh pasta and pesto, handmade by the Honorary Italian Consulate (naturally!). Third course was an eggplant parmigiana, insalata tricolor and green caper salad. Finally, we finished it up with Tiramisu, and Portuguese grapper. Despite our reason for being there, the conversation and food was so all-consuming we never got around to watching the Godfather. Yet there we were – Aussies, Canadians and an Irishman – indulging in some of the best Italian food I have ever eaten, in the middle of Swaziland. No wonder I sometimes forget where I am!
This reminded me of what I consider to be one of the biggest perks of living overseas. Just by being there you are, inevitably, contributing to a multicultural landscape. If you can appreciate and capitalise on that, you literally have the world at your fingertips. This thought became even more apparent as the night wore on and I wrangled my engorged stomach off the couch to head down to “Tinkers”.
Tinkers: Carwash by day, nightclub by night. Yep, this is it, the only real nightclub in Swaziland (except when House on Fire has live bands). The nightclub is not much more than a shed with corrugated roof and half-brick walls. I quite appreciated the open-air feel, especially with all the cigarette smoke that lingered in the air. I’m sure the smoking rates are not helped by the tobacco advertisements that still hang on the walls and bar.
As you make your way to the bar, you do your best paintball impersonation to dodge the pick-up lines being thrown your way (new great game!). You purchase your poison of choice off one of the Gogos (Grandmothers) waiting behind the bar, conservatively dressed in their headscarves. Then it’s on to the dancefloor….
Music is a blend of house and pop mixes, and at certain stages throughout the night the DJ (or one of his mates) will provide the vocals. The audience on Saturday consisted of about 20 people and a lot of gyrating buttocks’. Most of the young things were coupled up, the rest hoping to couple up. If you can’t find a partner at Tinkers, you’re clearly trying too hard.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening for me was the guy whose pants were so low they exposed about 95% of his underwear, and who wore a shirt with an arrow pointing down saying “My better half”. Classy. Or it may have been the platform that you can dance on, complete with a pole if you so desired. Yep, real classy.
From the high life to the nightlife, Swaziland is one tiny country, with a million different worlds.