Martini Mandate started out as a lark – a way to keep in touch with friends, while letting me scratch a creative writing itch. The fact that the blog is focused on drinking means that the research is convivial, social, and conducive to the generation of tall tales. I imagine that I am serving some kind of social good by telling people where they can go to for a good time. I’ve also come across stirring stories of people trying to make a difference in far away lands. Many are artists and entrepreneurs working to provide opportunities for those trapped in poverty. To support them, and to give you an opportunity to find some cool gift items, Martini Mandate created the Wander Room; a place to wander and wonder, credit card in hand 😉.
My quest to source interesting products with a social conscience brought me to a small sunglass factory in Woodstock, a still dodgy part of Cape Town. The factory workers, all locals, were proud to show me around. Entire families were supported by this tiny enterprise. It was a poor neighbourhood. Yet, the streets were clean. There were sunflowers blooming on street corners. A couple of older men sat on a patio, sipping tea and playing a never ending game of draughts. I had seen hope in the eyes of the factory workers. The sun was shining. This place was alright.
As the time arrived for me to leave, my taxi driver showed up, visibly shaken. There were three bullet holes in his vehicle. The first two slugs had penetrated the engine compartment. The last had missed the driver’s head by inches, the bullet embedded in the rear passenger seat; where I would normally sit. The taxi may have strayed into territory controlled by a rival taxi gang. The driver was terrified. He was getting out of the business – I would be his last customer. He also pointed out that the two lovely old gentlemen sipping tea and playing draughts were actually look-outs for the local tik den. Tik is the local slang for crystal meth.
There’s a story behind every item you will find in the Wander Room (http://martinimandate.com/shop/). Do visit.