My time at JNU will end in early December. I am scheduled to travel to Malaysia thereafter to participate in a symposium on "Diasporas". There will also be about a week to do some traveling in the country that is home to my ancestors from my mother's side, but more about that later. After Malaysia I will return to India until the end of January 2007.
Right now I am preparing for my departure to Nepal next week. There is, however, also another more precarious preparation that is floating through my consciousness. A big part of my preparation includes rehashing troubling memories of Rhodes University in 1986 (oops Mooi sternly corrected my assumption that we were at Rhodes in 1987 ... this means that we know each other for two decades now ... I need an aspirin ;)
While at Rhodes I met many characters from across South Africa but none can compare to Faizel Mooi. Mooi as he is infamously and even affectionately known, was a fellow first year law student. He had just completed a B.A. in journalism with some coursework in political science. I had just returned from four 'free' years in the US. My undergraduate degree in political science hardly prepared me for life at Rhodes and certainly not for life in volatile apartheid South Africa.
I flunked my first year. I can't remember how Mooi did, but he left Rhodes for Wits in Joburg the next year. Of course, he blames my influence for the awful experience he had at Rhodes in 1986.
Anyway, this a long story to say that Mooi is going to join me in India after my trip to Malaysia. He has us going to Srinagar in Jammu Kashmir and then to Bangalore where he is destined to commune with Sai Baba at his ashram. Don't ask me why but this is Mooi's second trip to Sai Baba in as many years.
I don't understand the reasons or religion involved with Mooi's call but respect his beliefs. After all, he may just be right and in that case maybe he will put in a good word for me. Whatever the existential outcome, I expect that Mooi will provide Reiki to many stranded soul in India and as is his usual spiel, he will deliver predictions whether you want or need 'em.
My confusion over Mooi's spiritual life goes back to 1986 when I went to his dorm room to confront him. Mooi was pissed with me over a childish prank I pulled on him during dinner and he said a few choice things and wagged his finger knowingly at me.
My ego was bruised and I wanted to scrap, well not really scrap cause Mooi is not really the kind of bra you hit or try to hit. On arrival in his room I found him in a yoga pose I will never forget. There next to his bed Mooi was balancing on his head and mumbling something that was probably not legal under apartheid. I just stood looking at the brother and fronted like something nasty was about to go down.
Mooi was cool and not intimidated, or that is how he appeared to me. Before too long I knew that Mooi and I would be friends for at least this life. I'm not sure that he felt the same way then or now. You never really know with Mooi. He is a character in every sense of the word. I am, therefore, not surprised that he is still a bachelor living with his mama. Ummm, there are no similarities between us, I don't live with my mama, well not all the time. And as for being single, well OK so maybe we are similarly destined.
Mooi is a lawyer and I think he runs his Joburg practice out of his car's trunk. I would not expect any less from this iconic brother. My assessment of him has not changed over the years even though he can hardly party as hard or long as he once did.
In 2005 he visited me in Saldanha and involved me in buying crayfish (kreef) in less than legal quantities from the locals in Paternoster. Buying kreef is not illegal as long as it is no more than three per person. Anything more requires a strict permit. Let's just say Mooi is a criminal and should be locked up in a special cell on Robben Island. To be honest, both he and I are criminals but I am a victim of his special powers, or something :)
Mooi had my mom fix a delicious kreef meal the night before he left for Joburg with contraband crawlies in tow. There were three of us and Judas enjoying what the waters off South Africa's west coast offered.
Later that night Mooi offered pearls of wisdom and far-sighted predictions about happiness and life. I will not offend the brother by pointing out the level of sewerage involved. Some things don't change and that is a blessing at times. Mooi has not changed from 1987 even as he has grown out of black nationalist politics to versions of capital accumulation that however still has him driving a Toyota Corolla held together by a steering lock from hell.
Mooi's take on the new South Africa is refreshing. He has admonished me to forget the 80s and struggle politics. He laughs off the times he was robbed at an ATM in Joburg, though he now brandishes a device that can shock the crap out of a potential robber.
He was the first person I called that fateful morning in Joburg when a botched car-jacking ended with the vehicle crashing head-on into us. With my head bleeding profusely and the driver seemingly dispatched to that playground above, I found myself trying to convince Mooi that I was not kidding about what had just happened. When he came to see me in the emergency room he was characteristically dismissive and joked about the patch of hair that I left in the car's smashed windscreen.
This is Mooi. He is one of a kind and for that I thank God. We don't need anymore like him. So like in Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", I am "Waiting for Mooi" in India and wondering what will unfold. Stay tuned broer it is bound to be weird, what else?