Joburg’s street people

I am trying to work out the hierarchy of Joburg’s street people, prompted by my ongoing fascination with who is outside my car window. This is Joburg and the cast is carnivalesque, a constant reminder that no matter your state of privilege there is no getting away from poverty. If you have a car,  there you are cocooned in your own thoughts, listening to the radio or occupied by a cellphone call and thinking it’s a private moment when a knock on the window calls attention to a man draped in cellphone chargers, or holding a large box of fruit that you don’t eat  or wielding a soapy-filled water bottle and a squeegee and hellbent on cleaning your windscreen (in the North it’s Grayston Drive offramp, in the east it’s the corner next to Eastgate Mall) milliseconds before the traffic light changes. (In my hierarchy, the window-washers occupy the lowest rung because after having had a smash-‘n’-grab (there’s even a neat phrase for it) years ago I get panicked when someone lies across my line of sight).

Taking the Banksy view

In this city begging is an art. Continue reading

Weekend getaway: Johannesburg to Parys

Inside the Plum Tree cafe, Parys


We have a house rule. The best weekend getaways are less than two hours away and involve no cellphone reception (it’s the one time I thank the networks for a job not well done – that doesn’t excuse the dead spots in Joburg’s “under-resourced suburbs” like Sandhurst, Dunkeld and Parkhurst where for around two to R20-million you can get a house but not an uninterrupted phone call. Funny that.) Okay, they also involve crisp white linen, large bath towels, warm weather, a natural wonder (in this case a World Heritage Site), a smidge of shopping, delicious food and great company (these all necessary, in no particular order).
Human Right’s Day weekend in Parys checked all the boxes.
Parys lies just over a 100km south-west of the city in the Free State, where the sky lets you know how vast it is. Continue reading

Weekend life in Joburg's parks

#28. Take advantage of the great weather by going to a park. And this weekend I went to two – the re-made one in Melrose opposite one of Joburg’s cutest boutique hotels, the Peech, and the Hugh Wyndham Park in Dunkeld that has been taken over by the suburb’s residents who now maintain this great public space.

It’s in Joburg’s green spaces that people lose their usual inhibitions about social interactions. Continue reading