9 courses later: Cube Tasting Kitchen

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

As part of our jam-packed and thoroughly awesome show-Johannesburg-off-tour with our visiting friends, Saturday night we did chef Dario de Angeli’s Cube Tasting Kitchen in Parktown North. We spent an evening working our way through a nine course tasting menu (and … Continue reading

A Johannesburg Mosque at Sunrise

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: Living in Johannesburg, Exploring the world, Documenting the things I love

Yesterday I missed my first Friday post in months, apologies. I got to go to my first cricket game (South Africa vs Sri Lanka) and among other things, we got to sit in the posh bit and I can say that never before have I been able to watch a professional sport from the comfort of a pool. This morning I got up at 4 and went with a lovely new friend to the biggest Mosque in the southern hemisphere to snap a few photos as the sun rose. Next time we are going to head to a Buddhist temple. I’m so thankful for photography and all the people I’m meeting.

Help Portrait: Gogo’s that give back.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

I wrote about my first experience with Help Portrait not too long ago. Yesterday I went back for more, first at a nursery school and then the Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry in Orlando West, Soweto. I had a (photographically) educational experience shooting children during my first Help Portrait shoot, and this time I got to click a bunch of lovely, loud-mouthed, sweet, and all around badass group of grandmas (called gogo’s in many RSA languages). The Ikageng Itireleng programme seeks to look after and support 1,500 orphan-headed households in Soweto who are left parentless because of HIV-AIDS by providing counselling, home-based care, school fees, supplies, electricity, and psycho-social health through a network of volunteers and professional support.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

These gogo’s care for orphaned children through Ikageng and we came to their support group to shoot them. It was such a pleasure to be there- while we were setting up they did their singing, dancing, praying, and the best part: gogo aerobics. These grannys took their exercises quite seriously, calling out anyone who wasn’t putting in full effort, and taking pleasure in the cameras that were there to document.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
If you feel like helping out financially (which you can do through Ikageng’s website) and want reassurance about where your money would go, you can rest assured that  it will be in good hands as corporations such as McKinsey vet, help and aid this organization, and it is a member of betterplace.org which strives for transparency and accountability in aid for small, lesser-known organizations . If you live in Jozi, you could also donate your time by volunteering at a creche or tutoring math, for instance (again through their website).

*As per usual, these images are not the images that will be returned to the gogo’s, but are my outtakes.

Jozi’s Skyline

Johannesburg skyline at sunset
Land of Nams: living in johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
We spent Sunday night at the Arts on Main after party at the 12 Decades Art Hotel. It was super fun to let loose, but because there was a band the music wasn’t very bumping (sorry band) and they were charging a cover. I guess it was only a matter of time before they started charging a cover because that is some prime real estate.  And I’m still too shy to take pictures of people’s outfits. I did, however, get some banging shots of the Joburg skyline during the beautiful sunset (and a new banner out of it too).

My First Help-Portrait Experience

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love.

So, my friend Karen is constantly preaching the gospel of Help Portrait. I like the organization because it doesn’t overreach in its stated goals or self-importance (i.e. only a minimum amount of this and this type of crap). Its mission is fairly straightforward: Find a person who wouldn’t normally be able to afford a professional portrait. Take her picture. Process it and print it out. Give her her portrait.

Land Of Nams: Living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

For my first time we trekked to two nursery schools, one in a neighborhood called Hillbrow and one in a township called Diepsloot (like most things in RSA both have interesting/depressing pre and post apartheid histories). I was timid to join because I was afraid I would take sub-standard portraits. But after initially constantly seeking reassurance from Karen and Nathalie about aperture settings and good lighting like a panicky second grader, I got into a groove and was able to take some decent shots.

Obviously, the best part (besides that I now know how to take a portrait of someone ) is the kids. Kids are universally cute and fill your heart with joy. Kids are exponentially more cute and fill your heart with more joy when you are not in charge of disciplining them. They also love mugging for a camera. Check out these little mamas.

editing credit: Karen Lim

If you have some time, whether you are an amazing photographer or are just an omgpanicky novice like me you could spend a few hours doing Help Portrait…You’ll learn a lot and/or provide some happy people with a bangin’ portrait.  If you live in Jozi, you are looking for Ubuntu Help Portrait. If you don’t, google your local chapter or make it yourself if you’re feeling inspired or superhuman.

Land of Nams: Living in Johannesburg, Exploring the world, Documenting the things I love.

photo credit: Karen Lim

Land of Nams: Living in Johannesburg, Exploring the world, Documenting the things I love

photo credit: Karen Lim

ps. these are my outtakes since we are not to post portraits we are giving.

The New Chinatown in Johannesburg

new chinatown in johannesburg, land of nams    On the top of my list of favorite things is food from around the world. So when my fellow Joburg expatriate Bing (she is showing up a lot in my blog posts huh?), who is from Singapore and is Chinese, said she wanted to take us on a trip to Joburg’s ‘new’ Chinatown we were very excited. She says the old Chinatown, which is in downtown Joburg, sells such cheap stuff that the Chinese won’t even buy it.  So we trekked to Cyrildene and reached glorious Derrick Avenue.  She showed us the best oriental grocery stores and Martina and I stocked up on all those hard-to-find ingredients for our Burmese and Indian dishes. I even took home some tapioca pearls to make Bubble Tea since I can no longer order them to my apartment like in good ol’ NYC. There were veggies as far as the eye could see, as well as electronics and massage parlors. Whatever you want, they have it for you and it is cheap as hell.

chinatown derrick avenue joburg, land of nams

Then Bing took us to the pièce de résistance:

 What, you ask. What is the piece of crap hole-in-the-wall doing on your sexy blog? It is a well-known fact that the dirtier the restaurant the better the food. We let her do the ordering, and man did she order…enough food to feed an army us three women. Pour l’entrée, lamb skewers. We couldn’t actually even tell what kind of meat they were because they were so deliciously fatty.

chinese style lamb skewers, land of nams

Then, a beef dish. Was it stir fry? I think it was salt and pepper beef. Who knows, I was too busy stuffing my face to pay attention to that.


salt and pepper beef, land of nams

Some noodles because if there was anything we needed after fatty lamb skewers, it’s lots of carbs.

Then to assuage our guilt, spinach.

spinach, land of nams

Another well-known fact is shopping is good for digestion. We headed to Bruma Oriental City to shop for all the cheap household stuff that we could ever need. If you are new to Joburg, don’t waste your money on household crap at Design Quarter. Look here first. We even found some bikinis, because if there is anything we are in need of, it is cheap chinatown bikinis.

When you’re in the mood for a cheap and extra delicious chinese lunch, some groceries, and some god-knows-what to stock your expat house with, make a trip out to the new Chinatown on Derrick Avenue and then Bruma City for some shopping and your wallet (and friends and hell, your husband) will thank you.