The Pause

Ingredients

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp clove

Some vanilla something

1 mug of contemplation

Directions

“Do you have ingredients for a chai latte today?”

“Yes we do”

“I’ll have that please”

Doubleshot – the corner café in Braamfontein that makes momentary happiness on demand. While some people obsess over coffee and its ability to get them through the day, I do the tea thing. Not for the pick me up, but for ‘the pause’. That first sip of Earl Grey, Five Roses, Rooibos…I could go on and on. But yes, it’s that first sip that I look forward to. It’s the way I involuntarily close my eyes and let my taste buds have their moment of bliss. That’s ‘the pause’. But brown sugar and milk are a must, or there is just no point at all. I can’t play with my taste buds like that. They can get quite moody if I switch up the combination. The warmth of milky sweetness with an after taste that only tea can provide, that’s the satisfaction that they need. I don’t know that much about tea so I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a connoisseur, but I know how to find the right balance between the strength of the tea, the sweetness of the sugar and creaminess of the milk to make the perfect cup. That takes more skill than you think. It takes practice, and I practice about six times a day. My bladder may complain about being overworked, but at least my taste buds get their exercise. Fitness is key.

When I’m feeling a little adventurous the chai latte is my next favourite fix, and Doubleshot does it right. Perfect for Jo’burg’s chilly winters, and the grey clouds have befriended the wind recently. I’m not really one to discuss the weather, but sho!

“Your latte is ready”

“Thanks”

Oh yes! Time to take a seat in my usual spot outside. Ok so yes I’ve just complained about the cold but, you see, the Doubleshot experience is not complete if you don’t sit outside. Their mismatched wooden tables, chairs and benches provide the perfect spot for ‘the pause’…and scanning Juta Street for potentials hotties. You know, it just depends on what your aim is for the day. Besides, I know that the spicy mug of goodness I’ve got between my hands is going to heat up my tummy. You’ve got to let the latte sit for a while though. You don’t want to frighten your tongue with the shock of hot liquid.

It’s quite amusing to watch the metamorphosis of my latte as it cools down. The foam that’s hiding my liquid paradise kinda resembles a mountain range; the brown, grainy spices forming the foundation of each mountain and the tiny white, frothy bubbles forming the peaks.

I probably look quite odd to those passing by. I mean, the wind is threatening to blow my makeup off. I’m clutching my mug and pressing it against my nose in an attempt to defrost my fingers and get some feeling back in my nose. So clearly I am aware of the low temperature, and here I am sitting outside. But come rain or shine, ya don’t mess with a tea-lover/chai latte drinker’s ritual! Umm ok mayyybe if it’s raining. Then I definitely suggest staying indoors.

I can’t allow myself to get lost in thought. Any warm beverage drinker knows that there is a fine line between letting your drink cool down to a drinkable temperature, and letting it freeze. If you let it sit for too long, the whole flavour of the tea just isn’t right anymore. And if you drink it at that point, you’re drinking it purely for sustenance or as punishment for losing focus on one of life’s great pleasures. So I take a sip. Spicy lurrve with some vanilla something, hello!

And then there is that something that no barista can create and no tea connoisseur can pick up on. Memory and the flavours it harbours; so unpredictable. Huh, it’s funny what recalls moments of the past into your consciousnesses. The beginning of a second chance and the first flicker of love. The power of ‘the pause’. It can take you in many directions.

A few sips in you’ll find every warm beverage drinkers’ worst nightmare. You’re ready for another sip, and oh wait…your drink is finished. FINISHED?! When did that happen? How can the goodness be over? I gotsta know what’s in this latte! I’ll ask the guy at the counter when I give back my mug. Let me try and be slick about this.

“That was delicious as always. I can’t quite figure out the different spices you use though”

“Um cinnamon, clove, lots of stuff”

Well, I tried.

What does “flâneur” mean?

Although I do not speak French, I have been doing research on Johannesburg and city life for my Honours thesis. I have been looking at the ways in which city life can be written about and explored, as well as who are the dominant actors in literature on cities and city life. One of the most facinating characters that I have come across is the “flâneur“. I am cureently reading Walter Benjamin’s “The Arcades Project” in which he takes on the role of the flâneur. 
flâneur
/flaˈnəː,French flanœʀ/
noun
  1. a man who saunters around observing society.

The flâneur has become one of the key figures used over and over again with regards to understanding, participating in and portraying the city. It is important to note that the flâneur is seen as observing and participating in the city, while also retaining some kind of detachment from the city and not being completely absorbed by it. There are many connotations attached to “flâneur“. As a result of this, I will continue to add to this post as my research develops.

*While a flâneur is a male figure, I have decided to call myself a flâneur as more of a personal political act. I am against any sort of separation of men and women. Whether this separation be through legislation, tradition or the structure of language. Therefore, I will call myself Jozi’s Flâneur.

What is Ethnography?

Never heard of ‘ethnography‘ before? Don’t stress. Let me help you out:

There have many different definitions of what ethnography is throughout Anthropology’s history. However, I have come up with a simple definition taken from Sarah Pink’s Doing Visual Ethnography (2007).

eth·nog·ra·phy
eTHˈnäɡrəfē/
noun

Ethnography is an “approach to experiencing, interpreting and representing culture and society…[and] is a process of creating and representing knowledge that is based on the ethnographer’s own experiences” (Pink 2007: 22)