“Tshepo, do you live in Hollywud?” “No mma, but I used to live near a place called Hollywood.” “Tshepo, is California in Los Angeles?” “Tshepo, is Beverly Hills a State?” “No mma, let's sit and have a nice Geography lesson and talk about movie stars.” This was the start of one of many never ending conversations with teachers in my school. I sit her down, draw a map of California, and explain to her that California is the state, and that Los Angeles is a huge city with suburbs like Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. I tell her about Rodeo Drive with all it's glitzy shopping, and about the Hollywood Hills with the sign on the hill, the Hollywood Bowl, and all the hand and foot prints of the rich and famous along Hollywood Blvd. “You mean they actually stepped in cement with their feet?” “Yes mma!” “Do you know any movie stars?” “Do you?” “Well, only one--Clint Eastwud, would I see his handprint?” “You betchya!” “Would I see any movie stars if I went there?” Well, since you just know of one, if you were staring down Meryl Streep, I doubt you would know who she was, and she'd probably love that! “Merul who?” Ok, let's keep things simple--Clint is a great one to know, in fact, he lives near me in the Monterey Bay, was Mayor of Carmel, and I think my mom and cousin Louise saw him getting gas when they were visiting me. “Tshepo, you mean Clint Eastwud gets his own gas.” YEP.....according to Pearl and Louise! “Tshepo, it all sounds so complicated, is Hollywood anything like Mmathethe? Ok, now you have me completely thrown! “Uh, not exactly!”
For the next hour, we talked about California and it's different faces. We talked about how to save money to see the things you want in life, and we talked about our differences. We talked about walking along streets and seeing a variety of different cultures within a mile radius, and we talked about food. I love talking about food and my favorite restaurants in LA, and trying to remember what things actually taste like. While I can visualize everything about Hollywood, I look into her eyes which just convey confusion and wonder. This is the third conversation this week with a teacher about various American things, but California is confusing, it tastes different than any other state in the USA, if feels different, and it is different! California is like living in a different country, or maybe like Disneyland. In reality, California is like a playground where people are living in a fantasy world, and the true nature of things are hidden behind special effects and spectacular scenery!
Seriously, I hope that somehow, someday, someone I know here gets to experience a taste of the USA. It would be a wonder to see California through their eyes instead of mine, and then they can come back to Mmathethe and tell all their friends they saw a sign called HOLLYWUD!