Jaywalkers of the world

Yesterday I took a drive down the old West Street in Durban – now called Dr Pixley KaSeme Street. The city of my youth. The landmarks were all there, and did a bit of a double take when I saw a sign 320 Pixley on a building, which I remember as 320 West. Now called the Heartbeat of Durban.


But I digress as this blog is about jaywalkers of the world. (3 cities in my survey – Durban, Hanoi and Perth)

In downtown Durban – jaywalkers abound, with total disregard to speeding taxis, cars, trucks and motorbikes. Here it appears that when you cross the road, the traffic travelling at the speed limit and those not…… are of no importance and that pedestrians have the right of way. It is almost as if the jaywalkers have a total disregard for their own lives.  Driving down the length of West Street brought back childhood memories of the dodgem cars at the fair on the beachfront, but instead of little cars with rubberised bumpers, this was real life, almost like a surreal reality game of miss the jaywalker. Robots (traffic lights for non-South Africans) do not come into play and the colours displayed are totally disregarded. Here the Jaywalker is king.

In Hanoi – the city of millions of motorcycles, where there are more motorbikes than households, crossing the road is an art.  To start with, the cacophony of sounds and never ending hooting is enough to dull ones senses. Here there are not many “formal” crossing points and where there might be a pedestrian crossing, unlike in Europe, where a car will very politely come to a stop when spotting a pedestrian waiting to cross the road, the traffic flow is never ending and never seems to stop. The speed of the traffic however is quite leisurely.  Here a jaywalker must never try and run to get across the road, just walk slowly amongst the oncoming, hooting mass of two wheeled vehicles and a path opens up, not unlike the Moses and the Israelites crossing the red sea. Somehow it seems to work, and here jaywalkers are a wonder to watch, flowing, slowly, patiently and without any anger or entitlement, crossing the road.


(Photo – courtesy Shutterstock)

Then we go to Perth.  One of the most law abiding city’s I know of.  It was a Sunday afternoon. The roads were deserted, not a car in sight.  No one jaywalked – apparently you can go to jail for doing so, okay maybe not jail, but will incur a hefty fine. The law abiding Australians stopped at the pedestrian crossing, which also emits sounds as to the colour of the robots (traffic lights to the uninitiated) for the poorly sighted. Not a car in sight, but the light was showing red, not one person even stepped off the curb. Light changed to green and only then was the road crossed. My take on jaywalkers in Perth – I don’t have one as they don’t exist.

Vets, hairdressers and beauticians

This is written with no disrespect to any of the professions above as I personally can not do without any of them, but ………….

Last week I had to take my little rescue kitten back to the vet for his vaccinations.  This is after taking him there just 2 weeks prior, but, because he didn’t weigh enough, could not get vaccinated.  Now 2 weeks later he has doubled in weight and looking incredibly healthy and lively after being almost on deaths door.

vetsAll is good, until I hear that dreaded question!

What brand of food are you feeding him? Arggghhh!!!!! I am feeding him the best food that I can afford to feed him. Now I know that your suppliers be they Royal Canine, Hills or whatever will give you benefits for promoting their products, but the look I get given when I state my budget only allows for Pampers, or Whiskas or heaven forbid – no name brand pet food – makes me feel like a naughty school child who has been sent to the principals office.  I am doing my best for my pets, and do not want to feel judged every time I take them for their necessary check ups, which can also break the bank.  Am I normal for feeling this guilt, as I would dearly love to be able to give them the best? This is what society does to us.

The question from your hairdresser, “Hmmmmm, what shampoo are you using, your hair is very ……….. (insert any word that may apply to you), you should really be using ….. shampoo/conditioner” !!!!!!! With the head held to the side!

Ditto the beautician “Hmmm, what moisturizer are you using, your skin is very ………”

Again I understand that there are kick backs for promoting various products, but each vet/hairdresser/beautician will expound the virtues of their products and anything else that may have been recommended to you is wrong.  I usually field these questions with a muttered jumble of words, trying to throw in well known high end brands and duck out the salon as gracefully as possible.

And then go home and stick with the Pampers, Vaseline and Colgate until the next run of the gauntlet.

Living without transport in Joburg suburbia

Just the title alone is not for the faint of heart.

After a bit if a disaster car wise, due to a couple of bad decisions on my part, so have only myself to blame, I find myself transportless. Now if I was living abroad, this would not even be a topic for discussion, but in Johannesburg this poses a slight problem, just by the sheer distances one needs to travel to get around the and lack of any formal public transport in place.

But as they say here in my beautiful country, ” ‘n boer maak ‘n plan”!

I treated myself to the luxury of a hire vehicle for 2 weeks, but just saw my bank balance being slowly siphoned off, it is an expensive luxury, so returned same a week ago and have had an interesting week, with 4 possible options.

Option 1 – walk – which I have done, very grateful for there being convenience stores within one kilometer radius of my home. So handbag over the shoulder, with cell phone and wallet securely zipped in the bag (remember this is the evil crime ridden South Africa that I live in), empty backpack on my back and off I go.  What a liberating experience.  I do think the sight of this white haired”gogo” striding purposefully up the road was a bit of an anomaly, where everyone drives around with darkened windows and car door securely lock without engaging with anyone who may approach their car to wash their windows, or sell them the latest cell phone gadget at the robots. Score 10/10 it was beautiful to be out in the fresh air, didn’t cost me anything and I spent less as really didn’t feel like being too laden down for the walk back home.

Option 2 – use the local minibus taxis – here it is a bit more daunting, but once you get the courage to ask the local population which handsignals to use, it is really quite easy.  No formal pick up spots.  You just stand anywhere on the side of the road, see the minibus travelling in your direction, held up the requisite finger symbol for your destination and “bob’s your uncle”.  Minibus stops, you climb in (again as the white gogo) you get given the front seat, which is not always the best as you then have first hand experience of the ability of the driver to mount the curb to bypass traffic.  So you just close your eyes and pray. Payment is easy – if you are sitting in the back you hand you money forward to the other passengers, who pass it forward to the driver, who then casually hands your change back. To disembark, you call out short left/right and taxi stops immediately, disregarding all traffic in the vicinity. Score  10/10 experience daily life of your every day South Africa.

Option 3 – Uber – ahhhhhhhh Uber – what an easy way to get around. Costs a tad more than the local minibus. But I get collected at my doorstep within 5 minutes of placing a booking and dropped at my destination and the conversations I have had with my drivers are priceless.  Had to be at work at 5.30 this morning and was worried about finding a driver up so early – no problem at all. Score again 10/10

Then I come to Option 4 – which after the above is actually not an option – stay at home!

So getting around Johannesburg is possible without your own car.  I now have no headaches of car licences, mechanics, saving on car insurance and getting to see Johannesburg in a different light, not via locked doors and rolled up windows of my own car, without engaging in the world around me.  Maybe not as convenient – but doable and an adventure at the same time.



Spin cycle

Lately I am increasingly thinking, “stop this world I want to get off !”

This world feels like it is on a never ending spin cycle, in a desperate need of a rinse mode which slowly comes to rest and we can all just take a breath.  From the daily dramas internationally, locally in South Africa, my own daily life and in my internal mind, where decisions need to be made.

But, with American children chanting “Our blood, your hands”, the attacks on Syria and warnings on the news that scenes shown will be disturbing, showing innocent people getting slaughtered, corruption charges against Israel’s prime minister, anthrax being sent to the British royal family, the removal of our own corrupt president, travel advisory given to people visiting South Africa about the threat of terrorism, somehow watching people slide across ice pushing a broomstick seems a little inane.

Where is the balance, how do you remove yourself, do you put your head in the sand? Memories pop up on your social media page which make you realise how much we take each day for granted. I don’t want to live in a cocoon, but at times it looks very inviting.  The drudge of everyday routine at times can feel like sinking sand where I am desperately looking for that  stable branch to hang onto, which isn’t there. So what is the answer. Do I just wait for my own spin cycle to stop of its own accord, or do I preempt it by pushing the rinse button. And what of the world, what will it take for the world to take a much needed breath ? Lots of questions running through my mind, and not enough answers to go around.

The urge to “drop out of society”, bury my head in the sand and not bow to society’s norms, daily looks more and more inviting. But for today I will just read this poem.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea , In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are, You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
And maybe that is the answer, amongst all the angst in the world, find some silliness to hang on to and turn your back on the spin cycle.

Peter Rabbit’s allergy

Yes, allergies are a serious matter, especially the life threatening ones.

But – the outcry and furor surrounding the scene in the most delightful movie Peter Rabbit, demanding an apology from the film makers for being so insensitive to the dangers and making light of allergy sufferers, seems a little off beat.  A charity group “Kids with Food Allergies” have started a movement #boycottpeterrabbit, as they say this lighthearted movie is harmful to their community and encourages the public not to take the risk of allergy sufferers seriously.

The filmmakers have bowed to public pressure and have written a letter of apology.

My take on this – instead of focusing on all the negatives and demanding apologies, why not see it as a way for children (and adults) to be made aware of the dangers, educate them as to how they can help someone that is experiencing a reaction to their allergy.  Use this movie as a positive platform. It is a family movie about the trials and tribulations of a talking rabbit and his friends who face daily hardships just as we humans do.  So instead of making a mountain out of a molehill, thank Peter Rabbit for showing the way.



“I will have one slice of toast, no butter with 2 Tblsp of grated cheese on top, please”

These are the words I heard this morning whilst waiting for my own breakfast of smashed avo and a poached egg on a couple of slices of whole wheat toast with some really good filter coffee.  I cannot, and made a conscious decision not to, judge the lady ordering this, as this is her preference, but it just got me thinking.

With this life we live, so full of negativity and a simmering under current to everything we do, why deprive yourself to such a degree.  The old cliche “life is too short” always springs to mind and I am loathe to slip back to this old adage, but have to say this simple sentence jolted me out of rut I have found myself slipping into.  We get so caught up with the conventions and responsibilities of everyday life and become blinkered to the endless possibilities waiting for us to discover.

This simple request made me realise that yes, I have had a few curved balls thrown my way lately, major car problems and a family member who is needing to step away from the normal accepted conventionality of life and take a different path, whose path I am wholeheartedly supporting, despite criticism from those who are scared to step outside of the box themselves, to name just two, that yes, life is too short.

Four years ago when my life felt like it had fallen apart and me with it, it took the death of a young friend to jolt me out of my inward introspection, to stop feeling sorry for myself and get out there and embrace life and this amazing world we live in.

So I thank they lady who ordered the plain toast with grated cheese on top for her breakfast this morning, it has opened my eyes again to what I want to do with this life of mine, given me motivation to get up and do something about it and not get lost in the spiderweb of entrapments of everyday life.

This is the peregrinating granny signing out for today ……. but I am back !