Sunday, October 15, 2006

I hear the drums echo in the night

Last week was my second trip back to Johannesburg, South Africa. My overwhelming feeling from last visit was I had real doubts about the safety in the city. I arrived back with some apprehension. The was reinforced when I walked into my room to see a little warning card on my TV much along the same lines as I previously posted.

It did not help that throughout my time nearly everyone told me about their experiences of hijacking, robbery, kidnap, shootings and hold ups that had happened to them or close friends. I was frankly shocked. But not as much when I saw a brand new BMW X5 with the number plate "Moolah" - it might as well have said "Please hijack me".

This time around I stayed at the Plazzo Intercontinental Monte Casino in Fourways. I immediately felt at home as I walked around the casino. It feels as if part of the casino floor from New York New York in Las Vegas had been picked up and transported to the very bottom of Africa.

The local team and partner who organized my time during the week did an excellent job. One of the highlights was a visit to the theatre to see a show called "Defending the caveman" It appears to have a cult following and is essentially a comedic one man monologue that examines the differences between men and women founded on the roles of the sexes in the prehistoric era. The performance by Alan Committie was number 1571 of the show and was acted out full of energy and emotion - I enjoyed it however probably not as much as a chap sat behind me who on several occasions was having trouble breathing as he was laughing so hard.

I think it would have been much more enjoyable for me if I could have got a little more of the South African/Afrikans sayings and nuances. In fact the South Afican slang from the show has permeated through to everyday conversation in Johannesberg. Below are a list of my favorites

1. Lekker - nice! (the same as Dutch)
2. Oke - pronounced "oak" shortened version of bloke meaning man/dude/guy
3. Kougle - one step up from a "Yuppie"
4. Ciao - bye - odd the use of Italian
5. Ja - Yes
6. Pooble - Afrikans for a bum
7. A robot - context traffic - meaning traffic light
8. A circle - context traffic - meaning a roundabout

Also one of the guys I met there used a phrase that I had to hear twice before I belived he said it - while ordering coffee "Two Hurry Ups and No Back Chat". However I am not sure I would use it when eating at nice restaurant called Adega which is famous for their king prawns. Not wanting to miss out I duly went for their special:



A lot of wealthy people live in gated communities with the promise of "Armed Response" - for me the best of them appeared to be a place called Melrose Arch. A self contained area for business, restaurants and swanky apartments.



It is certainly somewhere where I could see myself living if I chose to work in Jo'burg. I also saw where I would hang out on a Friday night at a very nice bar called "Mybar, Mygrill". There a lot of young South Afrikans were partying and hanging out.

This time despite the threat of violent crime - I enjoyed myself and caught a glimpse of what it would be like to live and work in Jo'burg.

3 comments:

halfmanhalfbeer said...

Englishman: congrats on your appearance in Gulf News today!

Aaron said...

Wow - that was a surprise! Thanks for the heads up halfmanhalfbeer (great handle btw)

The article can be found here:

http://www.gulfnews.com/tabloid/Society/10075270.html

Watts said...

Congrats on getting your blog in the newspaper. /clap