Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Emotional intelligence....

Having spent most of last year chatting to my therapist in Vilnius (and paying for her new windows in passing), I am a bit better at sussing out emotions, mine and those of others. Which is very interesting.

Picked up last night at Cape Town airport I found myself the victim of a deluge of non-stop praise of South Africa by the white taxidriver of British-French descent. He seemed disappointed that he could not take me to Cape Town because he would have given me lots of information; instead he took me to Stellenbosch and never stopped praising his country; including offering interpretations which languages different words and names came from (not always correctly, but with much conviction), telling me about the history of SA (mainly white), and stating everything with a very clipped and almost aggressive sense of conviction. Talking about the languages he went through English, French, Dutch, German.... eventually arriving at some 'black' languages.  I felt it wise not to ask about the black population; his discourse was so forceful that I thought he was defending something that he certainly did not want to be touched.

As it happens, I did touch a rather sore spot. Talking about his life (there's only so much you can talk about whilst driving through dark countryside) it turned out he had been a policeman. Seeing he is younger than me and the police seems like a safe job (better than taxi-driving) I asked him why he had left the police - I knew I should not have done when he burst out along the lines of 'I killed the fucking bastards'.....He had left for his sanity, he said. Myself, alone in a car with a killer (policeman or not), in the dark countryside, I wondered if he was really a) in total control of his feelings - they seemed damned close to the surface - and b) the right person to take tourists all over the country.  After this small interlude the conversation became very superficial, talking mainly about wine....