Posts Tagged ‘johannesburg’

Tales From The Burgmobile: Part 1

April 14, 2011

Sure. The Burg is my driver….but we’ve never really seen it that way. To us, for the last four plus years, we’ve been best friends. We’ve seen it all, and been through more (a burgism he always likes to use).

In fact, its exactly 4 years ago today that the two of us embarked on the first of what would be a series of adventures.

You see, when we were assigned as partners…it wasn’t just a job for us. We both had a spirit of adventure, and of course, a heightened sense of drama.

Back then, the roads were a different place for The Burg. They were just a means to get somewhere, but together, being on the roads gave us both meaning. If I may, I’d like to share a few stories with you all.

Of course I can’t share EVERYTHING with you…because Burg would probably get fired…and I’d end up on the scrap heap.

As I mentioned, our first trip together was 1 year ago. We headed from Johannesburg to Sun City for our first ever SAMA awards. Burg was in a bad way then. He had no money and was in a bad depression. I felt bad for the guy…I was also worried about my own safety to be honest. We got hopelessly lost that evening as we made our way. Neither of us really knew how to get there, so we ended up seeing a bit more of the neighboring towns than we originally wanted to hehe. Burg had to deal with some demons that weekend, and I’m happy to say we both survived it. For three more years after that we did the annual trip there. In fact, one year he even brought someone along. That was the start of the end for that friendship. I think Burg still misses that friend, but he tries to act like he doesn’t…because it still hurts. This year it was announced that the venue was changing, but I think we’ll always have fond memories of that annual excursion. I know I will. Lord knows he needed that annual getaway.

Burg’s a crazy cat, but his heart has always been in the right place. I see a side of him a lot of others don’t. He cares so much for people, that why when he get his heart broken, it drives him to the point of insanity. He just loses so much faith in the world.

I remember when a girl he really liked, and I mean REALLY liked decided she didn’t want to pursue anything with him. It hurt him bad. I took them to a lot of functions, and I saw how he genuinely loved her. She was the one. They got on great and I thought maybe this time it would actually work out. He took a lot of pain out of that “relationship”. He yearned for her, her touch, her attention. He never wanted to give up. Many a days he drove him in tears, but would never let anyone see him that way. When they finally stopped seeing each other…he was lost. This was where he went through his little emo face. Which to be fair, looked good on him hehe.

He was filming a short film at the time and had a role as a “mean looking guy”, perfectly suited. Anyways, one of the days he got his filming day wrong and only realized it while he was on the way to the location. Never one to let a good day out go to waste, he made a spur of the moment decision to take us to the beach. He had the idea of writing the name of the girl he was pining for’s name in the sand and watching the ocean wash it away. This would be such a bad decision except that the nearest beach was 7 hours away. And he had never driven there before…and it was 10am in the morning. He had his video camera with him and filmed the entire trip down. In fact, all videos are still on Youtube if I remember.

The most amazing part of it was, we drown all this time and he simply walked onto the beach, wrote the name, watched it wash away, and got back in the car, and we drove right back. It’s the most amazing experience, and boy was it scary being on those dark rainy road with trucks carrying logs swerving all over the place…but certainly wouldn’t be the craziest thing he did. That was to come a few months later.

We’ve had so many good memories. Of course every one is balanced by an equally sad story. In the early days, I had to take him to pawn shops as he sold off everything he owned just to survive and take care of his mom. That took its toll on him. That’s why it was an absolute pleasure to take him shopping when he can into some luch. And boy can the kid and his mom shop! We went everywhere! Every bit of space I had was packed to the brim with stuff. From dvds to furniture. Hahaha, I remember the two of them actually holding stuff on the roof just to get it home.

I’ve just got to go put in some petrol (or gas to those American readers out there)…but I’ll be back with some more stories about The Burg and The Burgmobile you won’t wanna miss….

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You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry….

September 26, 2009

What a week.
Just another in a seemingly endless stream of events of a year I like to call the “Tragicomedy”.

Undoubtedly I will recap the events as a whole in an end of the year blog, but for right now I need to share the events of my week.
And since I’m watching Three’s Company season 6 right now, I’m in a great mood to write.

On VERY short notice, I’ve been invited to attend a conference in Amsterdam next week, (therefore needing to fly out by the 6th October)…. Which is all hugely exciting news, except for the fact that my passport expired six months ago – Murphy is clearly handling my travel arrangements.

So…it’s on that basis that I’ve been rushing around trying to organize a Passport (and visa once that’s sorted!)

On Monday, I headed out to the Home Affairs office in downtown Johannesburg, a busy and crime ridden part of the country…as opposed to say…Fourways or Sandton, where crime doesn’t exist.

After driving up and down the 1-way roads that dominated the streets of Jozi, I eventually found parking about six blocks away from the Home Affairs office. That only took 40 minutes. I walked the six blocks in constant fear that my car would be a) stolen b) broken into c) replaced with an exact replica of my car except equipped with a tracking device and hidden camera.

Now, I’ve never been one to be paranoid, but walking in the streets of Jozi, there is a certain panic that follows you, particularly if you are an asian of the cauc kind.

Eventually I got to Home Affairs, sweat already pouring down my arms, and tension building up.

The ground floor was an empty ghost town except for the queue of people waiting for the lift to take them to the appropriate level of irritation. Since I’m in my athletic prime, I decided to take the stairs to the 5th floor.

Off I went.

1st floor. Skipped a few steps and I pranced up the two sets of stairs.
2nd floor. After feeling the burn, I took one step at a time
3rd floor. Took each step two feet at a time.
Between 3rd and 4th floor. Took a break.
4th floor. Prayed for death.
5th floor. Is this an oasis I see before me?

Enter the hall of passports – where order is not on the menu.
I managed to make my way to the counter where I asked for a contact our company travel agent had recommended, who may be able to help me a bit more…speedily…as a favour of course.

Finally a large Afrikaans lady with the most irritated look on her made her way towards me. I thought it was slow motion, but her hair was not blowing, so clearly it was her…um…personality weighing her down.

In all of two seconds she said she can’t help me and I must go stand in line.
I asked if there was someone who took passport photos in the building. Quick answer was no. The long answer was I’d have to go outside the building to one of the dodgy freelance photographers that stalked citizens of the streets of Joburg.

This time I was smart and waiting a few minutes for the lift. And then joined the other four people who made up the “Not more that 12 people in the lift at a time”. The stench, the clearing of phlegm and screaming babies made me reminisce about that one time I went up the 5 flights of stairs.

Back on the street I was quickly offered the best price for photos and escorted into a dark corner building with the windows blacked out. After stripping off… all my jewelry, I took my photos and made my way back to Home Affairs.

Queue for smelly lift… or climb the Andes again.

1st floor. Only four more to go.
2nd floor. Light headed
3rd floor. Eyes began rolling back
Between 3rd and 4th floor. Took a break.
4th floor. Legs unable to maintain weight
5th floor. Loss of bladder control.

I made my way through the lengthy process of completing forms and such and was told I should have my passport in 10 days if i’m lucky. (“Define lucky” I thought…)

Two hours later I finally could make my way back to my car, and hopefully not the space where I would have to say “hey, i’m sure that’s where I parked it”.

One block up and tall thin black guy walk passed me and bumped into me…I ignored him and then he shouted that he was sorry, I turned to him and said don’t worry about . BIG MISTAKE.

He came up to me and started hugging me and said he’s so sorry and started holding me and blocking my arms, finally I was able to push him away.

I immediately looked down at my pockets and saw my brand new phone was gone.
When I looked up, he was nowhere to be seen.

I shouted out “where did he go!?!”

The lady walking up the road said to me, “He’s down there” and she pointed him out, 2 blocks behind me!

Then, my Adamantium claws came out and I rampaged after the guy, running across two busy roads without even checking traffic.

I caught up to him, and without even thinking I punched the guy on the side of the face, knocking him down, I demanded my phone, and he started laughing and said “I’m just joking” and handed back my phone. Then he got up and ran away.

The guys around me told me I should’ve killed him. Yes, I can’t really argue that logic. Now bare in mind, I’m the most non violent person you will ever meet. But wrong day…. wrong time mr. mugger. So ridiculously out of character for me

I reported the incident to the Metro Police a few blocks down, they just shrugged it out. Can’t blame them. This happens more often than it doesn’t.

On a total buzz I made my way back to my car – still there (although I haven’t been able to find the hidden camera).

As I relayed the story to everyone, I was commended for my actions, and the general feeling was that I was not a victim. In the meantime my hand began to swell, and I feared in broke my hand in my girlfight. (the hand has since recovered, thanks for your concern)

My whole assessment of the situation?
Well,
1) Its reason 1024 that I hate the country I am forced to live in.
2) I am indeed becoming a Wolverine of rage that is not going to take cr@p from anyone. This also scares me as I have ZERO tolerance anymore. The rage I have inside me came out in a good way…this time.
3) My “tensionergy” is at fever pitch right now, leading to several incidents over the last few days.

Shoo…its going to be a busy week.
Hopefully I get my passport and Visa sorted out, and I head out to see the Dykes.

Then its only a 2 weeks til my birthday. If you wanna see rage…test me on that day universe.

Now… how YOU doin’?

You know what I hate…(the 2nd in a series)

August 10, 2009

I enjoy driving in general. I could drive non stop for days. Despite the heavy traffic we experience here in South Africa. I do find a good long drive very therapeutic.

However, I am finding this a less and less enjoyable experience these days, and its no longer simply because of the life shortening experience of sharing the road with Taxis. There is another irritation that is quickly pushing me to complete meltdown.

One day…just one single day…I would love to be able to take a drive and not be hassled by someone trying to sell me something at a special price, or giving someone all the litter in my car for free for all my small change, or be forced to dodge blind man walking down the middle of the road.

This is the world I want to live in.
Seems simple enough doesn’t it? But our rapid decline into a third world won’t allow me such pleasure.

No, no, instead I’ll be forced to be riddled with guilt for not wanting to take a free lighter (only ten bucks for 3). Or not being able to donate money to the struggling blind musician….on every corner for the next 5 blocks.

Now, our street vendors are not like those fun loving hot dog vendors you would find on a New York pavement (*enters flashback mode….sigh*), our “street vendors” are far more intrusive than that.

I’m all for newspaper vendors, these guys are providing a service of which people actually benefit from: the daily news. Even pamphlet distributors can pass (depending solely on their attitude of course), I don’t mind throwing out a mountain of pamphlets from witch doctors services to car tune up, if they are handed out in the right spirit.

BUT!

On any given day of driving in Johannesburg, you will be forced to contend with a selection of the following, standing directly in the road, forcing you to swerve, break suddenly or quickly (yet discretely) roll up your window:

– Pirated DVDs of the latest movies on circuit

– Battery operated toys – i.e Winnie the Poohs with real walking action, jumping bunny rabbits and my favourite, Puppies with bobbing head action. These are particularly impressive because the vendors actually give us a demonstration how quickly their rabbit can walk across the road before the traffic light changes.

– A World Globe/ Map – available in a selection of sizes, perfect for those who trying to find Carmen Sandiego whilst driving

– Stun guns – you know, because sometime when you’re headed to work, it suddenly dawns on you that you’ve left yours at home.

– Lighters : “For free chief”, and if you take one then they give you the price….seriously try it next time.

– Biltong (beef jerky) sold by vendors who proudly wear a sign saying “Please support me, I don’t do crime”….Mmm, I’m going to try that on HR tomorrow.

– Other notable items such as rubbish bags, those bricks used to scrape your heels – at least that’s what it appears they are used for by the vendors actions, model ships of the HMS Bounty, and a selection of blow-up items.

What tends to irritate me most about these “salesmen” is their aggression. I generally get more irritated with those who stick their fist in my window and ask me to bump knuckles homeboy style. I don’t drive to make friends or to start a posse…

Oh, and another thing…there are generally about four or five people at the robot selling the EXACT same goods. So let’s try figure this out…if I say no to the first three of your mates…WHY IN JAMES FRANCO’S NAME WOULD I BUY FROM THE FOURTH.

In the words of every girl I’ve asked out, “No means NO!”

Now bear (bare) in mind these are just the guys who are actually trying to sell something. So kudos for business initiative (read syndicate), but then we get those guys who simply just want money….

Another list.

– Blind Africans (usually imports from neighboring African countries), buddied up with a conniving local who guides them up and down the roads collecting change – I normally give them buttons just to test the validity of their blindness.

– Disabled children. These are my favourite. A drive through Sandton, Johannesburg, will present you of a selection of disabled children, each trying to out do each other with limps, swaggers and “deformed” joints. I used to be fooled…till I saw one knock off at 5pm, and walk around the block, straighten up, and carry on walking normally.

– Guys in wheelchairs with death wishes. Ok, now before I come across as insensitive, I understand, that having no legs seriously diminishes your chances of getting a job at the bank. But why oh why, are there so many legless wheel chair folk who insist of making a hazard of themselves by going up and down lanes in peak hour traffic! There are even some who do tricks like spinning around quicker than Michelle Kwan at the Olympics. Anyone have the balls to shout at them? Ok ok, I’ll do it.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand there is a huge problem with unemployment, economy as so forth, but surely it makes me a better person if I just ignore it and try and take care of my own first? Seriously, I just want to make it from point A. to point B. every day.

Wow…now that that’s off my chest I feel a whole lot better.
I’d most certainly go to hell for some of these comments I’m sure… but then again…this is South Africa… I may already be there….