A Johannesburg Feeling

The last few years living in Johannesburg were bittersweet. I was married (!), and had two beautiful babies. My dream life had come true. We both had work, some savings, a home to live in, and a wonderful nanny for our children. My family was close by. Everything was as it should be. My mother-in-law was still alive, and we often used to drive to her on Saturdays (in the neighbouring city), and stay the night. Those were the best times. We had an amazing connection.

And Johannesburg thunderstorms are the best. And shopping at Sandton City.

But. Even though everything was perfect, it was not. Always, always an unsettled feeling. We could be murdered today. Hijacked or raped. Or all of the above. Locked in the trunk of the car to die. And, if we lost our jobs it could be difficult to find another. In time, it would become increasingly difficult and eventually impossible. What about our children? The prospects were too frightening to think about. 

A constant, underlying, unsettled feeling. 


Friends Forever


V and I have been friends forever.
Or at least since I was twelve years old. We grew up in the apartheid years. Which meant we could not go to the cinema together. Or a restaurant.
Or catch a bus. Our friendship was only possible because we attended a Catholic school, and mixed race was permitted. V often used to stay in our home. She knew my parents well. Distance may keep us apart, but we will always be friends.

Loser Me


Waiting, waiting, hesitating
Waiting, waiting, contemplating
Waiting, waiting, wasting time

Welcome to Africa, and African time. Where it takes an hour standing in the customs queue, because time be 5:10am, and skeleton staff to process all the people. But that’s okay, because we are not going anywhere (we got ya!), we just all be like, stand in the queue until it be our turn. Not going forward, not going back. Yeah, but I need the bathroom, people!

Yay, baggage collection time. But where is my luggage? Empty carousels everywhere, three with luggage, but none from Perth. Ask an ‘official’ and he be like – look at that one, if not there then look over there, otherwise go that side. No. None. Eventually I saw – a couple stray bags on an empty carousel. Hey that’s mine! A man called to me – those are the last from Perth. Huh? What did I miss? I came off the same flight and stood in the same queue, how come I’m the last to get my luggage? Everyone else been and left? Ah, I get it. I stood in the ‘foreign passport’ queue. Loser.

Ladies and Gentlemen


Welcoming face

It’s been a while since I’ve flown South African Airways (SAA). The onboard staff were very warm and welcoming, and lucky me, I had three seats to myself to lie back and relax. The experience felt though as if I was stepping back in time. From the aircraft itself, as well as to the onboard experience. Many of the announcements were introduced with the term ‘Ladies and Gentleman’, I can’t recall how other airlines address the passengers. It just kept on sounding very odd. What was more odd though, was the announcement that the plane was refueling – after we were already in the air. The arm rest next to me had a missing silver button, with only a button hole appearing where the button should be. And the pillows, whilst bearing clean paper covers, were re-used. I know this because I thought to look under the cover (should these covers be taken off?). And the one I looked under bore old stains (coffee? blood?). I took a pic to share as this is a story like – if there isn’t a picture it wasn’t so:


Can you see it?

The inflight entertainment system was also rather dated. The interface looking like it was state of the art somewhere in the 1980s (I did manage half of the Intern until the entertainment system was switched off for descent). And all electronic systems (including mobile phones) to be switched off ‘completely regardless of their mode’. Because why?

Apart from all of that, the flight felt strangely familiar. This is the airline of my youth. The inflight magazine is the same brand as the one I used to read when I flew jhb to Cape Town many times. The cabin crew all South African, and hey, I am going ‘home’.