Ready, Set, Travel!
An exotic land; cultures foreign from your life’s experience; musky smell of a new city; non-stop traffic and mindless honking; meeting new people of all shapes and sizes; unrecognizable food challenges matching a Fear Factor episode…
In today’s global village where traveling is made easier than ever, our inner explorer awakes with a fever yearning to see the world.
Hello World, here we go!
The excitement of a traveler, young or old, can be recognized from miles away from the cheek-to-cheek smile stretched across their face. You can feel the butterflies in your tummy, the palpable excitement as you mentally scan through your final checklist, and the air of firm determination as you step out of the front door. Aaah… there is something special about venturing into the unknown.
Hello, Cape Town.
This yearning brought me to Cape Town in 2010, right AFTER the 2010 FIFA World Cup that propelled Cape Town to international attention. Even though I just missed what locals referred to as “the magical month when the whole country united for a common cause: our pride as South Africans”, Cape Town welcomed me with warm smiles and open arms. Locals took me into their homes and shared family history, memories of the apartheid-era, dreams and hope for the future. The city was jolted in a celebratory rhythm as endless planes unleashed tourists onto the new MyCiti bus system, all with a hunger to explore the new South Africa. Long Street buzzed with activities and I was meeting new people at every corner!
Where are all the Cape Townians?
Only after a year of living in Cape Town, had I realized that I could count the number of my Cape Townian friends on one hand. Yup, born and bred Cape Townian friends can be surprising difficult to come by…. The challenge wasn’t in meeting a Cape Townian – but to infiltrate their long established friendship circles, get clued in on inside jokes from varsity and high school years passed, and secure the ultimate invite to a braai. After all, there is no better way to understand the city or country you are living in than its people, right? What is the point of moving halfway across the globe, to the Southern tip of Africa just to meet folks from the Northern Hemisphere? (not that there’s anything wrong with you folks, but I want to live and understand South Africa from locals’ perspectives!)
Once I became aware of the situation, I started observing where, when and how foreigners meet new people in Cape Town. With the world’s knowledge at my fingertips (Hello, Google), a quick research gave me a hilarious read on meeting people without being creepy; 6 tips for the socially intolerable; a detailed list on places to meet people; Ask Men’s 4 steps and other interesting, albeit sometimes obvious articles… That is when it dawned on me, that the only way to meet Cape Townians is to step into their shoes. If I was born in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and can choose to go surfing, hiking, trail running, wine tasting within an hour’s drive, where and why will I need to meet new people?
Meet new people through food
During my travels, the one universal interest I found that transcends language, gender, age, socio-economic, race and any other barriers imaginable was Food. At the end of the day, we all have to eat! And it is far more fun to share a meal with others! From intrigued chatters about ingredients (mopane worms?) to favourite ways to cook, food evokes our emotions and spark memories. People who are open to sharing food with others, are generally more friendly around the table too.
And so, Food and Chatter is born!
We can only truly call a place our own when we have a supportive network of friends and family, and it is the people that makes a place unique. My dream is to bring people together, whether you are from Cape Town or other corners of the world. For me, there’s no better way to meet new people than sharing a meal together!
I hope to meet many of you soon!