Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Makes Jozi Great?

By Pamela Moeng

Leaving the little black steed aka my Hyundai Getz to my man to chauffeur me this morning and risking the adrenaline rush of will- the-number-83-hit-the-bus-stop-or-not in the afternoon, I get a fresh perspective on city life and have time to let my usually rushing thoughts meander - no, actually amble - through my mind.

For instance, why does the Harrison Street taxi rank reek of pee? Who says 'thank you' to the Outsurance youth who stand in for the robots that so often don't work? Why aren't more streets turned into pedestrian malls to keep traffic on the outskirts of the city as much as possible? Why don't bus drivers have change for a R50, now that fares border R20? Is Ghandi Square really the pickpocket paradise I was warned it can be since I've been lucky to avoid mugging so far? Who was the idiot who planned that all the roadworks should happen simultaneously and which lame brain manager approved the plan? I mean really! Ask any woman and she'll tell you not to plan to renovate the house and re-design the garden at the same time!

The upside of public transport is the community of fellow passengers. I've ridden buses that featured morning prayer meetings and gospel sing-alongs and no one was more caring in the last stages of my late-lamb pregnancy than the women who rode the bus with me. I've had older women give me advice on child rearing and ways to deal with a bad man and I've had strangers pour their hearts out and thank me for listening.

I think the thing that makes Jozi great is the shared humanity of so many people. The rotten apples don't manage to spoil the apple cobbler the rest of Jozi's inhabitants create!


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Jozi is great, in spite of its bad reputation. Like any great city of the world it has its seedy underbelly...but it also has an energy, a light, a vooma! that makes it hum with life and hope.
Judy, South Africa

Pamela said...

I agree completely. I was born and grew up in a rural area and thought I could never ever live happily in a city, but I've come to love Jozi like a native!

Damaria Senne said...

I find Jo'burgers very friendly. I've had interesting conversations with strangers while on a queue at the bank or the supermarket.....It makes it special for me, because there'sa warmth to it that's contrary to perceptions of what a city is like.

Pamela Moeng said...

You know I once had a shopkeeper offer to "trust" me to bring the money I was short of for a purchase at my next visit. Granted it was a shop I did frequent regularly, but still in a city one doesn't expect that kind of humanity. I was touched and did take the money the next time, so that I wouldn't destroy that man's trust in his customers! I could give countless expamples but I won't bore you with them. I just love Jozi and get a thrill every time I drive alongside the city towards the south. They skyline is amazing!

po said...

That's funny, when I used to take the bus in Cape Town, it often turned into an impromptu gospel session, it was amazing! That just doesn't happen to me on buses in the UK, unless it is drunken singing.

Damaria Senne said...

@po - I've also enjoyed impromptu gospel sessions in the bus on the way to work. It was a good way to start the day.

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