Growing up in what is widely perceived as a joke city gives a person a naturally defensive edge. This is my excuse, anyway. It’s possible that I would be quick to bristle and actually quite bad at taking a joke if I had grown up in a cool, serious place, but I didn’t, and so I suppose we will never get to the bottom of that mystery. Would I remind my mother of, as she once so brutally and memorably said, “one of those little bears that just sit around in the trees and you wouldn’t even know they have incredibly long claws and then PAM – the claws come out and they RIP OUT YOUR MIDSECTION” if I had grown up in Paris? We will never know, because I grew up in Durban, or Durbs, or “The Fundamentally Unserious Place,” and it gave me an attitude problem.
Fairly or unfairly, Durban (on the east coast of South Africa) has a reputation as a sort of pretend city, where people are constantly smoking shamefully cheap weed and going surfing and failing to adhere to workplace standards of professionalism. That or becoming a born-again Christian and being named Taryn or Megan and somehow making a living as a netball player. You can be named Taryn or Megan if you are a surfer OR a netball player, Durbs will be a happy place for you either way.
Obviously, this reputation is not at all representative of the actual demographic or economic realities of Durban. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and most of the people who live in Durbs are not in any kind of position to be going surfing all day and then later driving to church in a huge car with a personalised number plate that says “THANKS DAD.” Still, this is how Durbs is often perceived by people who live in real cities like Joburg and Cape Town, and I have a long and established history of taking exception to this. What I have to say about criticism of the city I grew up in and then left as soon as I finished school is: No thanks.
I love Durban for all the reasons the people who have spent their whole lives there love it: best ocean, best food, everyone has been friends for 30 years, close to the best mountains, humidity v good for the skin, low expectations both socially and career-wise. I am very practiced at reeling these points off, because I live in Cape Town now and there is always someone shitting on Durban and making me listen. The other day my boyfriend told me that he and all his friends that he plays cricket with were making fun of Durban because “it gets dark too early” and “it rains too much” and “it’s bad for cricket matches when that happens.” My friend Rob recently sent me a video of an old white man standing on a small stage at a popular Durban “nightspot”. The man was wearing one of those Rasta hats with fake dreadlocks and doing an acoustic cover of the Shaggy song “You’re my Angel”, singing in an obviously offensive approximation of a Jamaican accent. He didn’t even need to tell me that this terrible scene originated in Durbs. I could tell just by looking. There’s a lot more where that came from, much of it sent by Rob, but I do not want to give any ideas to those who might have had a neutral opinion on Durban up until now. Really though, there is a lot, and my so-called friends are always telling me about it. I get all worked up when this happens and leap to Durban’s defense, which is obviously funny and just encourages more people to send me updates on whatever nonsense the city has conjured up this time. Meanwhile, the sense of grievance grows within me as I find ever more creative ways to tell these assholes to leave Durban alone.
The one point where my powers fail me is on the issue of Cane and Appletiser. Appletiser is a beloved and delicious kind of fizzy apple juice that you only get in South Africa, and cane is, per the copy on a website for a bottle store, “distilled from sugarcane or fermented molasses, refined cane spirit is the precursor to rum (which has been aged in barrels to give it colour and flavour) and is often termed white rum. In South Africa we call it cane, and produce it here from the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal. Cane generally undergoes multiple distillation processes to get that super smooth taste.”
Needless to say, it does not have a super smooth taste. It tastes like it has been sitting in the back of a hot car for three weeks, or like nothing really except “burning at the back of your throat”, or like you are drinking the idea of alcohol, or like someone breathed poppers fumes into a glass of lukewarm water. It tastes inexcusable, but you try tell that to all the people at the Durban Undersea Club (per the website, “a family orientated, social activities club for people that have an interest in the ocean and it’s beaches”), who drink Cane and Appletiser every day for fun. This is their drink! They drink it while they are listening to an older white man do a cover of Fast Car, and they love it. My dad told me this, and I didn’t believe him, until one day I was standing at the counter ordering a giant toasted cheese sandwich and a man came up next to me and said “Five Cane and Applestisers, hey”. The bartender didn’t even blink.
I have never tasted Cane and Appletiser, but you don’t need to stick your hand directly into a fire to know that it would be a bad idea to so. I know that it would taste like if you had to drink hot nail polish out of an old plastic sippy cup that had once contained apple juice. It would taste like having a hangover in a mall. It’s making me agitated just thinking about it, and guilty, too, because there is something so Durban about this hideous drink, and now I am making fun of it just like the people I told myself I would never become.
 No such bear exists in reality.
Popula is 100% ad-free, reader-supported journalism accountable only to you. Every dollar of your subscription goes straight to our work. Thank you for supporting Popula.
Hmm, looks like you don’t have MetaMask activated!
If you know what MetaMask is and have it installed, activate MetaMask and refresh:
If that doesn’t make sense to you, click here:
The MetaMask window should have popped up and asked if you want Popula to have access to your MetaMask. Click the ‘CONFIRM’ button.
Don’t see the MetaMask window? Click here to request it again:
You have an old version of the MetaMask extension installed. Before we can continue, you must install the latest version.
- Uninstall (don’t just disable) the existing extension from your browser.
- Restart your browser.
- Go to metamask.io and re-install the extension.
- Come back here and try again!
We know this step is inconvenient, but it’s necessary to make sure this all goes smoothly!
Your MetaMask extension is running, but for privacy purposes you have to allow us to connect to your MetaMask wallet.
You need to connect to the Main Net before you can actually tip. Click on your MetaMask icon so the window pops up, then select ‘Main Ethereum Network’ from the dropdown.
How much do you want to tip?
You can adjust either amount to see how much ETH or USD you’ll be sending.
You can adjust the tip amount in the MetaMask popup window before confirming the transaction.
Popula’s authors contribute 5% of their tips to Popula to help with the overhead of running the tipping system.
Author participation in the Popula tipping system is optional; if an author declines to participate in the tipping system, your tip will be refunded to you in full within 60 days.
Your MetaMask window has popped up now, and you need to confirm the transaction.
Hit that ‘CONFIRM’ button to make it happen!
Did you reject the transaction by accident? Want to adjust your tip amount? Click here:
Maybe you’re not quite comfortable with this yet?
That transaction didn’t go through for some reason.
Try clicking on the MetaMask button in your browser bar (looks like this: ) and see if you have any transactions listed at the bottom of the popup. If you don’t see the tip you just tried to leave, then try again:
Or just want to ask us about it? We’ look into it personally for you.
Thank you so much for your tip, and for your direct support of journalism. The author will appreciate it a lot, and so do all of us at Popula.
Want a receipt?
To see your transaction logged in MetaMask, click the MetaMask button in your browser toolbar—this one: —and your transaction will be listed in the popup.
You can also track the transaction on the Etherscan website. It usually takes under a minute to process, and you’ll get a notification from MetaMask when it’s done.Track on Etherscan
If you have any questions at all, please let us know!
All set?Home to Popula, please!
We know this cryptocurrency stuff is new and weird. We’re here to help you understand. Ask us firstname.lastname@example.org
ETH is Ether, a popular cryptocurrency generated on the Ethereum blockchain.
You’ll need some Ethereum cryptocurrency (ETH) in a MetaMask wallet in order to tip an author. Currently it’s not possible to tip in other cryptocurrencies, or in dollars or other fiat currencies.
For a comprehensive FAQ to help get you started, please visit our help page, “How to Tip Your Favorite Authors with Cryptocurrency on Popula!”
If you have any questions at all, please let us know!