Friday, May 29, 2009

Coming to town

I arrived in Joburg yesterday.

Driving back from the airport I am always elephant-shrew-in-the-headlights silent. Jaw dropped. Breathe. All those billboards! Just breathe. There is so damned much to take in. The cars! Everyone seems to know what they’re doing and where they’re going. And there is so much stimulus, I feel like a four year old at a strobe lit disco.

And on the way home we stop off at the shops. Man! How many washing powders do they actually make? Do we really need so much choice? A whole aisle of biscuits? All those neatly wrapped veggies, all looking perfect. My first two days in a big city like Joburg I just walk around like a head injury victim. Dazed and amazed.

And I say hello to everyone. And people look at me weird.

And then I get right into it and forget I am a country bumpkin, pumpkin, and turn into a straight-ahead-staring-cell-phone-talking-bump-into-strangers busy person. Kinda.

One thing I have never conquered though, is driving in town. I learned to drive at a very young age – as soon as I could reach the pedals - propped up on cushions so I could see over the steering wheel. This was in the bush though, on the abandoned airstrip, through the dongas and on dusty back roads. I am good at driving in the bush, in the mud, four-wheel drive, all that stuff. Town though, is another matter. The first time I drove in town – in Lusaka – I was with Shadreck in Cairo road, the busy centre of town. Shadreck pulled over and said, “Okay, now drive”. “Wha? Nononono I can’t I’ll cause an accident. I’ll kill us all. Nonono!” He would hear nothing of it. So I nervously took over and within the first minute a taxi shot past me and yelled out the window, “unapunzila kuti ku endesha galimoto iwe?” (Where did YOU learn how to drive) and I yelled back “Mfuwe!” And all was understood. Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny. Anyway, now that I live in a town I am better at traffic driving. In fact driving in Arusha is taking life into your own hands. There are no rules. I am not exaggerating. A car will overtake an overtaking car on a blind bend and you must just get out the way, into the ditch if needs be. Its true, ask anyone. But. The thing about that is people are terrible drivers and make mistakes all the time so they are prepared when you make a mistake. In joburg though, as I said before, everyone seems to know where they’re going. There is no hesitation, everything flows so smoothly and so fast!

But. Since I am here for a over a month I shall try and get over my silly traffic fear and get out there. Drive.

If you hear nothing else on this blog you’ll know what happened.

15 comments:

LoveANewIdea said...

Love reading about your different life.
PS - Funny last sentence!

fush and chips said...

Welcome to Gotham City.

Drive careful.

Good luck with the sprog.

family affairs said...

Drive carefully then Lxxx

SafariB said...

hee hee hee... that dazed sensory overload. everything in fast forward. The bush is way better ;) xxx

Janet said...

welcome back to Joburg
it's all the same, except there just so many more of everything!!!
people, cars, taxis, shops, shopping centres, and more people, buildings, road works, and more people.

and life goes on.

God I want to leave now, but the bank manager's not letting me go yet :-(

Beth Engelhart said...

Miranda you have the most amazing gift ... i love reading your words! from small town kasane, beth

Janelle said...

babe if you can drive in arusha you can drive ANYWHERE in the world...joberg will be a synch? sinch? que? it's just a matter of knowing where you going....X X X j oh and ps do you want larry de balled? x

karen said...

I am terrified of driving in Joburg, too. I have been living too long in a place with no traffic lights.. I will certainly be filled with admiration for your achievements!

Mud in the City said...

I've lived in London for 8 years and not once driven there.

I'm a wimp.

Miranda said...

Oh Mud, you don't know how happy this makes me!! I would NEVER drive in London!

Karen - oh good, its not just me then?!

J - yes this is true. Feel much more confident since Arusha driving. But it's still a different KIND of driving here. Aish. But I DID IT! Just once with my sister directing me and it WAS a sinch, synch, que? But the pedals are all so close together, I'm used to 4 wheel drive!! And yes to deballing the cat...sorry Larry

Beth - hello! And thanks!

Janet - I know, its all a little overwhelming!

SafariB - just takes a little time is all!

FA - thanks, I'll keep you posted!

Fush - thanks. Fok. Must make a plan to meet...maybe I'll get a taxi

\loveANewIdea - Thats the joy of bloggin!

karen said...

Hi, me again! This is to inform you that you have been "splashed" (visit my blog!)

Lori ann said...

Miranda, I was at the airport the same day as you, the 28th! and I was right across the river from you the beginning of the week, at Ruckomechi(Zimbabwe)we could hear the villagers banging pots all night(Zambian side) to keep the ellies away.
NO NO driving ok? just take a taxi. I don't remember much about driving myself in Joburg except for tears! well, but then, i'm pretty much rubbish in any big city traffic.

it's getting close heh? soooo exciting.
lots of love,
lori

Shiny said...

Ah, The Big Smoke. Use your big tummy as an excuse not to drive, it's a perfectly reasonable one I think xx

JoeinVegas said...

I thought driving in Vegas with all the idiots was bad, I would never survive in a car where you go.

spacedlaw said...

Your town episode is very revealing of how much we waste and wallow in.
And then the driving...