"Pillay's Perspective" began as a leader page column in theSaturdayPaper in Durban. The paper was then known as Natal on Saturday and editor George Parker offered me the spot in a moment of lunacy for which I am eternally indebted to him. George coined the name, "Pillay's Perspective". "Editor's prerogative," he said.
The column appeared every week after July 15, 1995 through October 29, 1999 with two exceptions. (In December of 1995, George took early retirement to live on the beach and contemplate the nature of the universe and I gave up the slot for him to write a farewell piece. On October 22, 1999, I decided — on deadline — that the quality was not up to its usual chaotic standard.) From October of 1997, the column also began to appear in the Cape Times in Cape Town where I was Managing Editor for the following two years.
theSaturday Paper closed in April of 1998. For a several months after that, I published reprints of earlier columns that Cape Times readers had not seen, hence the gap in publication dates. (That in itself was an interesting exercise showing that some subjects, if appropriately written, never go stale.)
I'm at a loss to describe these pieces. They are a jigsaw puzzle of things that I find interesting (which is just about everything). The writing wanders between agony and ecstasy, between brilliance and idiocy, and is sometimes just plain tedious. I am almost never completely satisfied with the way they turn out. But they provide a diary of my life over that period — stepping stones to thought processes over the past years.
My mother has a copper covered elephant statuette with a broken trunk. It's the only souvenir of my trip into Zimbabwe of January 1984, when I shared petrol costs with a friend to drive up from Johannesburg.
I was 22 years old, drinking in the wonders of a country that