Thursday 14 May 2015

South Africa: Getting under some rich Johannesburg skin

Having been emboldened to go out on my own, I caught a hotel taxi ride to the Sandton Convention Centre where I had been told I could go to Nelson Mandela Square and Sandton City shopping centre. Sandton is a contraction derived from the names of the suburbs of Sandown and Bryanston.
The concept of a convention centre, I fully understood, but I failed to grasp the essence of the square, because rather than see an open square as one would have expected of square, plaza, place or piazza in Europe, I saw a building. I was not daring enough to ascertain if within the walls of this place a square might indeed exist, I have since found out, one does.
I then circumnavigated the area only to find a stark contrast between the affluent wide roads in the front to the quite different gathering areas at the back. I eventually made it round to the entrance of the Sandton Gautrain Station where I decided to travel down to Rosebank Gautrain Station instead.
This station had stretches of shopping malls adjacent to the train station, it was easy to walk around this Rosebank area and find your way using the touchscreen information boards, the shops had brands I was familiar with, from Nando’s to Dr Martens.
The shop attendants were helpful, constantly smiling and even when technology failed them in the Dr Martens shop, they did not allow their seeming frustrations to dampen their customer service. I was quite impressed with the Dr Martens staff wearing sexy Dr Martens boots and shoes, that itself had its attractive quality.
One other snippet of trivia I have just learnt as I do when writing my blogs is that Nando’s is really a South-Africa export that started in Johannesburg in 1987. Who’ll have thought that?
In general, I have found South Africans quite friendly, from the people at my hotel where one of the ladies appears to view me quite suspiciously through to my colleagues, many of whom I have interacted with for over a year by email and telephone conversation until we finally met here.
Despite the earlier difficulties, people deep down are affable, wonderful and good. The conversations on UberBlack rides are just as amazing as with anyone who through driving meets with people with all walks of life.
From ordinary people to extraordinary people, our humanity on this global village can bring out the best in us.

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