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04 March 2011

The church above the sex shop

When 120 wedding guests take this in their stride, you know that South Africans are not only used to contrasts, we're addicted to them, says Susan Erasmus.

When 120 wedding guests take this in their stride, you know that South Africans are not only used to contrasts, we're addicted to them.

I attended a lovely beach wedding of an old friend yesterday. Gorgeous setting, gorgeous bride, delightful bridegroom (he won't appreciate being called gorgeous) and an astonishing sunset.

The reception was held in the church they attend in Main Road Claremont. Yes, you've guessed it – not only is this church on top of Adult World, but they share a staircase.

Industrial-looking stairs wind their way upwards, first past the sex shop, with its heavy curtain over the entrance and several notices addressed to their somewhat furtive-looking clients darting past us up and down the stairs. Then you get to the landing, and someone has strewn frangipani flowers on the stairs. One more flight of stairs and I am in the church. Soft candlelight, gentle music, a cross on the wall.

The short journey feels like travelling through the stage set of Dante's Inferno. Except this story had a happier ending.

I suspect every single person who lives in this country has similar experiences. I can't really speak for other people, so will concentrate on my own experiences. (It's my column after all).

Years ago, in the days before cellphone cameras, I can remember waiting in line for the photocopy machine at the Uluntu Community Centre in Guguletu.  In front of me was a sangoma in full regalia who was photocopying what looked like prescriptions/medical records of patients. He had bunched leopard-skin around his waist that more than once got caught in the machine and was duly photocopied.

 
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