Tag Archives: Johannesburg

Walk your own dog!

Lots of things have fascinated me about Joburg over the past three months. Nobody knowing how a traffic circle works, the ardent socialising, the near-perfect weather, the ginormous potholes… But nothing prepared me for dog-walking in the leafy suburbs.

For some reason, the middle and upper classes don’t walk their own dogs – they get their “staff” to do it.

Driving around Parktown North, Houghton, Sandton and Saxonwold, I’ll often witness a young guy in overalls being dragged along by two Golden Retrievers and a Jack Russell. 29 years in Cape Town and I’d never seen this before.

It blows my mind. Half the pleasure of having a dog is in exercising with them. It’s not like this is New York, where you need professional dogwalkers because you live in a 30th floor apartment. Even my grandparents, who lived in typical colonial Rhodesia, never asked their gardener to walk the dogs.

Even Justin Timberlake walks his own dog

It’s like the women who take their maids grocery shopping with them – another Joburg quirk that leaves me speechless. I mean, how lazy can you be?

I’m starting to love this city in many ways, but this is not one of them. Walk your own dogs people, seriously.

Give A Duck in November

What is “Give a Duck”?

Get your little white duck for R100 and the proceeds will go towards two fantastic charities – Learn To Earn and the Bobs For Good Foundation. You can also make a donation on the I Give A Duck website and buy other quacky stuff for the whole of November.

How do I show my quacking support?

Your duck wants to get out and about! Take him everywhere and post pics of him and you on I Give A Duck. Tell your friends they can order their own duck on the website too.

Duck launches on 28 October 2010:

Joburg – 5pm at Giles in Craighall Park

Cape Town – 4.30pm at Simon’s, Groot Constantia

Of course I’ll be attending the Jozi Gives A Duck launch. Let’s show Cape Town we care about more than just high heels and X5s shall we?

About Learn to Earn – This incredible organisation has been helping the unemployed develop new skills for over 20 years. Learn to Earn trains people from Khayelitsha and Hermanus so that they can find jobs or start their own businesses.

About Bobs For Good – Imagine walking to school on a freezing winter morning with no shoes. Bobs For Good gives disadvantaged schoolchildren their dignity back with quality leather school shoes that are locally made.

Joburg Drivers vs Cape Town Drivers

We all know the popular South African aphorism – “Joburg has better drivers than Cape Town.” Even staunch, I-could-never-live-anywhere-else Capetonians say this. I certainly have.

We embrace our crappy driving and wear it as a mark of pride. There is no need for a sense of direction when you can just look up at the mountain to figure out where you are. Hurry? Why hurry? It’s not like anything is that far away. Indicate? Why indicate? You can only go one of three ways.

After six weeks of driving extensively around Joburg, I’ve noticed that Cape Town drivers are actually better in three ways:

  • Freeways: In Cape Town people moan if someone ‘sits’ in the right-hand lane. That doesn’t exist here. Joburg drivers have never even heard of “Keep Left, Pass Right”. It’s just “Pick A Lane, Any Lane”.
  • Traffic circles: I keep getting hooted at when I go through traffic circles. Why? Joburg drivers treat them as 4-way stops. The concept of “Yield to the right” has not trekked north yet.
  • Manners: Road users are more, er, “assertive” in Gauteng. The only people who let me in when I’m stuck behind a truck are the taxi drivers. Although I am driving around with a CA licence plate so maybe that has something to do with it.

All that said, Joburg still wins the Better Drivers Award for the following reasons:

  • A green light means go immediately – not 10 seconds later.
  • Indicators aren’t decorative.
  • Suburban roads are expertly navigated, despite enormous potholes and a million badly marked speedbumps.
  • There are less POSs* on the road and consequently less breakdowns blocking the freeway.

*POS – Piece Of Shit

A Capetonian in Joburg: First impressions

I’ve been here nearly two weeks after our “semigration” from my home city of Cape Town. Most of it’s been spent unpacking boxes, drinking too much whisky and driving around the megalopolis trying to find decent furniture.

In da area

The GPS has taken me through Mayfair, similar to the rougher parts of Woodstock with its seedy slum feel, and a suburb called Blairgowrie, which could have been directly transplanted from Cape Town’s Plumstead.

Then there was Fourways. Fourways defies comparison, but imagine Parklands mixed with Belville, multiply by 20 and wave a Tuscan wand over it.

I know it’s unfair and probably more than a little inaccurate to draw parallels with Cape Town areas, but hey, it gives me a sense of order. Desperately needed in a place that seems to sprawl and disseminate itself without end.

I visited Parkhurst and felt like the démodé cousin from a less stylish country. New Zealand perhaps.

Oriental Plaza was far more fun and affordable for someone who’s spent numerous days of her life hunting bargains at Access Park. It’s a bit rougher and much bigger than Access Park, with more Indian clothing and less sombre Muslims.

The coconut samoosas from World of Samoosas are incredible, and I sat in the sun quite happily munching five or six of them.

Rays! Golden rays!

Ah yes, the sun. The Joburg weather in general really. Yes, it’s very cold at night, but the days are magnificent for someone who only knows July and August as raining, grey, sleeting or storming.

How can I explain the simple joy of putting on lipgloss without having to check the wind speed first? Or hanging up a load of laundry and having it dry in one day?

Unfortunately this dryness also extends to lips, skin, sinuses and even my eyeballs – I used a pack of CelluFresh and a tub of Body Shop Shea Body Butter in a week. Still, worth it for the 22-degree midday high.

How can we help you?

Then there’s the usual question – are Joburgers really friendlier? Well, yes, largely by dint of socialising like the world’s going to end tomorrow. I’ve gone out more in the past two weeks than I would in two months at home.

Joburgers have also been incredibly welcoming and helpful to a one-city woman who feels rather misplaced and clumsy at this altitude. And, unlike Capetonians, nobody asks, “What school did you go to?” within five seconds of meeting you.

But despite its cliquishness and miserable winters, I still miss my Cape Town – crazy family and friends, all the best restaurants within a 5km radius, surfing at Muizenberg and Big Bay, strolling down Long Street on Saturday morning, sundowners over the Atlantic…

So to avoid being a sulky and morose émigré, I’m going to discover and embrace all the fantastic little things about living here. Like the fact my Cape Town apartment could fit into the bedroom of my Joburg one. Or that virtually every restaurant has halloumi on the breakfast menu. And that Mozambique is within driving distance.

One of my best friends, a fellow Capetonian-in-Joburg, keeps telling me, “This is an adventure for a couple of years. Then we’ll be home.”

He’s right. And I’m going to do, see, touch, taste and experience as much of it as I can. Starting with those coconut samoosas.