Tag Archives: Johannesburg

I can’t believe I’m alive

My first thought as the truck came hurtling towards me was “I’m going to die.” As metal screeched and the windshield cracked, I closed my eyes and then… Nothing. The truck had stopped, smoke hissing.

Luckily it clipped two cars, removed a traffic light and knocked over a street pole before landing on my Yaris. That’s when I finally moved, terrified the roof was going to collapse and trap me under the truck. I undid my seatbelt and climbed over the passenger seat as fast as I could.

I smelled the sweet slickness of oil running down the road. My legs wobbled and fell out from under me. A stranger helped me up.

I might start pole dancing.

It’s very unsettling to realise you’re alive when you were about to become another statistic. I feel like someone was watching over me. I’m also grateful for street poles and amazing Toyota manufacturing. Watching my wonderful little Yaris being towed away made my heart hurt – I’ll probably never see her again.

My poor Yaris. It saved me.

Impact-wise, my back’s a little stiff from tensing in shock and my stomach hurts from nerves, but otherwise I’m miraculously well; unlike the worker in the back of the truck who was bleeding and carried off on a stretcher.

I’m pretty sure the truck’s brakes failed. It was a dilapidated piece of crap that shouldn’t have been on the road.

Not hiring Randpave, ever.

Life is fragile. I never understood that until now. You can be innocently waiting at a red light and a one-tonner will come plowing across the intersection, over the traffic island and straight into you. Which is why I’m now eating a slab of Dairy Milk chocolate in bed with the man I love.

Cake, Love & an iPad

I pretty much had the best 30th birthday possible. Two nights of live music, time with my parents, wonderful friends who give lots of hugs, an incredible iPhone cake from Charly’s Bakery,¬†and being super-spoilt with gifts – including a beautiful iPad 2!

I felt lucky and privileged to have a husband I adore and so many special people in my life. Thanks to all of you for making it so. X.

iPhone cake from Charly's Bakery

Surprise! It's an iPad!

Me and my gorgeous Mom

Graffiti at 5Gum party

Krushed & Sorted at 5Gum party

Twitter? It's a piece of cake.

Gazelle makes me do a happy dance

Amanda goes to hospital

I ended up in Milpark Hospital the other weekend, just after Madiba. Al and I had returned from a wedding in Cape Town and the mild stomach pain I’d had for two weeks became unbearable.

I was admitted and waited for an hour while the nurse’s phone kept ringing. I had to pee into what looked like the champagne flute I’d drank out of the night before. This was for a pregnancy test, an automatic precaution for all women of remotely child-bearing age.

Finally the doctor was available. By this stage I was faint with the smell of disinfectant. I’m not good in hospitals. Visiting sick and dying relatives when you’re a kid does not engender a positive attitude towards clinical atmospheres. He touched my stomach and I screamed in agony.

Doctor: “You have an inflammation of the stomach lining, most likely an ulcer.”

Me: “Oh.”

Doctor: “What on earth have you been doing?”

Me: “Uh, I’m not sure.”

Doctor: “Do you smoke?”

Me: “Not really.”

Doctor: “Do you drink?”

Me: “Whisky.”

Doctor: “Half a bottle a day?”

Me: “Um, no. That was my grandmother.”

Doctor: “Hmm… Do you drink a lot of coffee?”

Me: “If 5 cups a day is a lot.”

Doctor: “Do you drink it on an empty stomach”

Me: “Yes. It’s breakfast.”

Doctor (shaking his head at my obvious stupidity): “Well, that will do it.”

Me: “Oh. Now what?”

Doctor: “Medication for two months. And no alcohol, no caffeine, no spicy food for a month.”

Me: “Really?”

Doctor (sighing in exasperation): “Yes, really.”

Next thing I had a drip in my hand pumping some wonderful opiate into my bloodstream. As I was flying upwards into the air duct on a wavy dizzy high, the husband helped me into a hospital gown so they could take x-rays of my stomach.

The whole experience took four hours and has put me off hospitals for at least another twenty years. I got a fright though. I take my body for granted and have subjected it to flagrant abuse over many years. My grandfather died of stomach cancer when he was 50. So I’m not messing around and ignoring the doctor.

That said, giving up coffee is sheer bloody hell.

Living in Joburg, 2010

Six months ago, Alistair, Boo and I arrived in Jozi from Cape Town. No, I did not burst into tears (those came later) or ask where the mountain was. I was keen for a “new adventure” and happy I didn’t need a job right away. I’ve always been one of those Capetonians who like Joburg (we exist), but visiting a place and actually living there are two different things.

Before the move I became very tired of people who’d lived in Cape Town their whole life, except for that “horizon-broadening” gap year in the UK, always reacting to news of our impending move with one of the following:

  • “Oh God, but why?”
  • “Oh shame, why?”
  • “Oh no, how can you live somewhere like that?”
  • “Joburg? I couldn’t live without the mountain and the sea.”

The last comment was inevitably spoken by someone who went to the beach once every three months, except in summer of course. How did they think I felt as a surfer who went every weekend?

We spent our last night in Cape Town in our small, empty flat in Gardens. We slept very badly on a blow-up mattress. Seven years of memories and freezing tiles kept me awake. I thought of all the parties, the dinners, the friendships made in this home.

I went onto our massive wraparound balcony and stared at the rain-shrouded Table Mountain like I had a thousand times before, moving my eyes over Lion’s Head and the city. Gentle, wild, comforting.

Five months later I would be at a book launch on the roof of the Lister Building in Jeppe Street, watching a thunderstorm break over the angles and grit of Jozi skyscrapers, the vastness of it making for a different wildness; an industrial beauty I appreciated simply because it was so alien. I felt love.

But the first few months were brittle and brutal. I missed my family and friends. I missed stepping out my front door and being able to walk five minutes and find myself in Long Street or Deer Park. I missed the smell of the sea. I missed the call to prayer from the mosques in Bo-Kaap. I missed how close everything was. I missed the noon day gun.

The saving grace was Joburg’s welcome brigade. I’ve socialised more in the past five months than I did in Cape Town in five years. Someone is always ready for a drink, a dinner, a coffee, a lunch. People call each other. I like it.

I also like how oblique everything is – the hills, the roads, the trees, the buildings. Cape Town’s physicality is overt, but Joburg’s beauty is always surprising. It requires discovery. It is a mosaic up close. I dislike Joburg being referred to as “The Big Smoke”; it’s too tired and uninvolved an expression for such a complex place.

Living in Joburg, I now know a few things I previously did not:

  • Who “the mielie lady” is and why people find her annoying.
  • Why people complain about taxis so much.
  • Joburgers talk about the traffic the same way Capetonians talk about the weather.
  • How green Joburg is and how ridiculously pretty jacarandas are.

Next week I go back to my city for three weeks. Yes, it’s still my city. My soul resides in the waves of Blouberg and Muizenberg, that won’t change. But my heart has opened to Joburg, a foreign lover thats oddly familiar and still so unexplored. 2011 will be an even greater adventure.