He hasn't learnt much of substance from the younger people who have crossed his path, says an older, rather academic friend of mine.
Although, as a well-travelled chap with a curious mind open to new experiences, this statement always bothered me somewhat.
After finding myself in such youthful company this week, the kind my friend finds lacking pearls of wisdom to hand out, I confirmed the root of my inability to fully agree with him.
He was generalising.
A firm believer in there always being an exception to the rule, my faith was rewarded.
I barely know the Eastern Cape beyond Port Elizabeth. My sister in law's clan hails from East London and apart from poking fun at their heavy English accent when speaking Afrikaans, I used to listen with great interest when they spoke of their hinterland.
Conversing with someone from the rural villages in this in many ways, still untouched province, offered intriguing new insights.
"In the villages, that is where you can still feel the love," explains the young man with a calmness uncommon to youth shining from his eyes.
"When you see people not from here, they will first offer you a place to sit and some tea. Then only will they ask what your business is."
His life was formed, he says, in the koppies surrounding the village where he too, like the other boys, learnt to herd. In pursuit of a future, he studied and now works as a young professional, but his grounding clearly makes him different from other 20-somethings.
Being part of a generation that suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) and other "addictions" to technology and electronics, he shakes his head when he speaks of television. "Where TV comes, comes war. It breaks the cycle of people being able to speak to one another. They have fixed their eyes, and hence their minds, elsewhere."
He laughs at the memory of an old lady in his village, who even bemoaned the arrival of electricity. According to her, it gave rise to selfishness. "You see, this lady says that when someone slaughtered a cow, the meat was shared with everyone. If not, it would spoil, because no one can eat all. Then, you see, came electricity and with it, cold storage."
He pauses. For a few moments it seems as if he is reliving an inaudible conversation.
This is another thing I have observed from my young friend – he thinks before he speaks, unlike me, whose sentences often topple each other like dominoes, ruining the substance of what I was trying to get across.
"She said, people started putting the meat in the 'mortuary', meaning the fridge or freezer, causing them not to share anymore, but keep it all to themselves."
We sip our coffee. I have learnt in this short conversation that despite my curiosity to learn more - I need to respect the silences in between and let the journey of discovery unfold at its own pace.
The way of the village.
During our time spent, I have but dipped my measuring cup into the things that shaped a fellow South African. Driving back home though, I realised that my cup runneth over with the privilege of having listened and learnt.