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Grannies go mobile

Posted by: Mobile Kugel

Tagged in: tablet , south africa , Kindle , killarney , johannesburg , ipad2 , granny , book club , book , bobba , blackberry

Mobile Kugel

I am on holiday and have returned home to my family in Johannesburg. On the friends’ side, I have been juggling between breakfast, lunch and supper (because that’s all you can really do in this city). On the family side I have been popping into Dad’s office and frequenting Mom’s scrap booking sessions.

Today I accompanied Mom to her monthly book club where she and a group of much older Jewish women review books and koch over tea and blintzes, and have been doing so for 40 years. My great aunty hosts this outing at her Killarney flat, a perfect haven for Bobba’s to hang out and do their ‘Bobba thing’.  Two things amazed me at this particular book club session where two of the Bobba’s encountered technology. I will get to them later.

Out of the ten grannies, only four attended book club this month plus Mom, who is not yet a granny (despite the fact that she is chalishing for kindella).


Bobba 1 - The Hostess:

Thick white hair. Swears like a trooper. ‘Crap’ seems to be her favourite word. Currently reading a book written by a Jewish doctor about his life, clients and comedies. She reads the group an excerpt, has the other women in stitches. Bobba Host has had the book for longer than allowed but refuses to hand it in because she hasn’t finished it. Other Bobba’s a little uptight as they all want to read the book.

Bobba 2 - The  Vision:

Dressed in a matching royal blue suit with massive shoulder pads. Smokes like she has never heard of emphysema. Consequently she has a deep husky voice. Not sure if she even reads the books because all she can talk about is where to find the best gefilta fish in Norwood. Bobba Blue was the first to surprise me.

Bobba 3 – The Murder Mystery Monger:

A sophisticated lady and sucker for murder novels, this Bobba has read it all. From James Patterson to Michael Connelly, Bobba is the newest member of book club and a very well read lady with a sharp sense of humour. Bobba Mystery was the second to surprise me.

Bobba 4 – Bobba Goy:

Big goggley eyes and dressed in pink, this Bobba is not Jewish and was the blurb reader Bobba Pink also loves crime and murder novels but cannot watch murder movies.

The Process

The women put in R60 each which contributes to buying new books. They then discuss the pile of books that have been taken out on loan. Bobba Goy reads the blurb and within seconds a democratic vote has taken place and the book is either ‘boxed’ or put on the display shelf. At this point, the group needed to add up the cost of the books they wish to purchase to see if it balances with their kitty.

Surprise 1

Gevalt, I cant work this out we need a calculator,” said my Mom.

“Don’t worry, I can use my phone,” replies Bobba Blue (BB).

BB reaches into her Gucci bag and pulled out a Blackberry (nochal, excuse the pun on BB). Dangling from the bottom of the phone pouch was a blinging Magen David with an evil eye at the centre. Within seconds, she is hunching over the phone, her wrinkly hands and perfectly manicured fingers typing out the individual costs of the books to see if they have broken even.

For some funny reason, I found this surprising. I always thought that if Bobba’s were to have cell phones they would be on the lines of the ZTE S306, the little black box with a gigantic keypad, large font and extra loud ringtone to prevent missed calls. 

 Surprise 2

As I was getting over this incident, Bobba Mystery is checking to see whether one of the murder novels were available in soft cover as the price of such is significantly cheaper.

“Oh, you know, I will just write down the name of the book and author and download it onto my iPad 2.”

Despite being the youngest in the room by far, I felt like I was the one having hearing problems.

“iPad 2?”, I repeat, astounded.

Really Bobba Mystery? Really? An iPad 2. I don’t even have an iPad, never mind a second generation baby!

At this point, I was overcome with frustration. Surely Bobba Mystery could not use the iPad to its potential. Surely she could not appreciate the wonders such a device can provide. And finally, how the hell does she know how to download a book on the device!

I thought that the only tablets Bobba’s know of are those for their aching bones, eyes, knees, hips, hearts, arthritis, teeth and bunions. The Blackberry calculator I can get my head around, but the tablet was making me mashugana (crazy).

The bottom line is that while we think there are boundaries with who can use technology and for whatever purpose, there is no such thing. The beauty of the digital age is that it reaches out to those who are willing to give it a chance, even Killarney Bobba’s.

As I drove away from the apartment, I could not help but wonder whether or not the women had heard about the Kindle. I wondered how that would change the book club dynamics? Would it mean the end of the 40 year old club? Would it bring about a new vibe? However, I found solace in knowing that no matter how much technology interferes with these Bobba’s routine, the blintzes will always bring them together.


Cartoon: Dave Coverly. Cartoon 2-12.

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