Cape Town Stories 22

Coming from a meeting with my agency in Rondebosh I decided not to take a Taxify back home but instead revert back to the cheaper option of a main road taxi. Because although time is money, I honestly had nowhere to get to in a hurry. I walked to the main road and within a second the first gaatjie hanging out of a flying white van shouted my way:
„Girl, town-toe?“
I quickened my step to reach them and hopped into the van. Now while I searched for my money and told the gaatjie my stop (KFC) I noticed that the driver was both driving and simultaneously talking to someone on his cellular phone. We aren’t lying when we say we have an abundance of talent all around; look at all these multitaskers! And when he almost crashed into a car, do not think for a second it crashed his spirit or even made him any more careful, oh no! It made him more ambitious! He cut in front of other cars at breakneck speed – during rush hour no easy feat at all – but of course we all know that taxi driver’s do not have to abide by the common man’s road rules. Just before we almost hit the second car I cleared my throat to voice my concern:
„Driver, can we arrive alive?“ Unfortunately my accent came out more British-sounding than usual (the sound of fear) and so immediately Mr. Driver turned around, laughed in my face and let me know that my concern was not his problem, in fact, I should be happy: he was just putting on a show for us. I retorted „That’s nice, but I love my life“. Mr. Driver of course loves his life too, but he loves living it in full force and to prove it he smiled and put his foot on the accelerator, his eyes still on me rather than on the road. It was then that I realised that he was quite clearly high on drugs and not the kind that makes you happy and friendly, but the one that I saw many a fellow friend in Woodstock succumb to in the early 2000s. My fear fueled his aggression and he accelerated some more to provoke me.
The gaatjie recognised my horror and added „this is not an office job. If you want to drive slower, you must pay extra“. I decided that actually I did not need to get off at corner of KFC at all, that in fact any corner would do because after all a corner is a corner. Luckily we were trapped behind another car at a red light and so Mr. driver was not able to speed while I jumped off. I walked just a couple of meters and came across a traffic cop on a bike parked on the side of the road to police the traffic. I assume. Maybe it was his lunch break because he was not actually paying attention to the traffic rules that were being broken every other second. I told him what had just happened: that there was a driver who I am almost a hundred percent certain is on tik and nearly crashed into a car, because he wanted to „put on a show“. The traffic cop tried to suppress a smile:
„Have you ever taken a taxi before?“ But before I could answer he added „Where are you from?“.

„I’m from fokken Woodstock, goddam! I know I sound British-slash-American but I grew up in this fokken neighbourhood and taking taxis was the only way ever to get anywhere! Don’t assume I don’t know what taking a taxi means: I once took a taxi back to Walmer Estate from town (pre 2010 World Cup, so pre-MyCity busses) through Zonnebloem and the gaatjie slammed the sliding door closed, which promptly fell off its hinges and detached itself from the rest of the taxi to come crashing to the road. The driver, with a brief look into the rearview mirror decided that doors are overrated and continued driving, leaving it lying lonely in the middle of deserted District Six. I have driven a taxi to town that caught fire underneath the seat in front of me, smoke appearing at first underneath a woman’s skirt, without her noticing until I pointed at what looked like exhaust fumes coming out of her ass. We jumped off while the gaatjie casually tried to extinguish what had now turned into large flames licking the car. I have driven with endless amounts of taxi drivers who are their own gaatjies and count money while steering, I have driven with taxi drivers who drive on pavements, who ignore red lights, who don’t have rearview mirrors. I am from this fokken city, I know how taxis work! But still I think I should be allowed to tell a traffic cop that there is a drugged up driver provoking his passengers!“ I did not say any of that. Instead:
„Yes sir, I know they drive recklessly and the road rules do not apply to them, but perhaps a driver who becomes aggressive and provokes passengers by showing off his reckless driving, should be…not allowed to do that?“
„I will look into it.“
I pretended like I believed him and continued to make my way home on foot.

Culture and Politics

Over the last couple of days I have met some truly remarkable people while accompanying president Steinmeier and Elke Büdenbender on a state visit to South Africa and Botswana as part of the cultural delegation. Those remarkable people I speak of were not the heads of state or the politicians – competent in their own right of course – but rather the artists whom I met who continue to create their work despite a lack of support from government or other institutions and despite a lack of resources. Artists and creatives who continue to dream up better futures, who continue to create beauty and culture despite lack of recognition for the importance of their contribution to the world. South Africa must recognise the importance of arts and culture and then invest in cultural education and cultural innovation accordingly because while technological innovation and economic growth are important for the future of our country, it is art and culture that makes a future even worthwhile wanting to strive for. For a world without art is like a home without love – fokken boring and just pretty damn sad.

Cape Town Stories 21

One local resident of Woodstock’s streets came out of a shop with some take-away. We stood at the traffic light together, I waiting for green, him waiting for space to cut between rushing cars. He told me he hadn’t initially recognised me with my new „hair cut“. I asked him what he had bought to eat to which he replied that it was „only chips“ because he does not currently have a job. He then continued to inform me that he was going to rob a bank. I laughed,  suprised that he was willing to share with me such classified information.  He insisted that he was not joking. „I am not afraid of robbing a bank because how can I be afraid of prison when I am already living like a prisoner?“ he pointed at his street corner and the others who reside there with him „I can’t live like this“, but he sat down to share the chips amongst them. I wished them a good day and they waved goodbye as I walked home.

Cape Town Stories 20

I have been advised to carry a headscarf with me in my handbag at all times. Why? Oh, just incase my wig gets stolen from off of my head.

Cape Town Stories 19

Cape Townians are not stingy with compliments. But they also do not hold back on unwanted criticism. A man just straight up told me: „You look horrible!“ as I walked up Roodebloem road. „Excuse me??“ I said. He thought I hadn’t heard him and repeated, for the sake of clarity: „You look horrible!“. No additional information, no nothing. He said what he needed to say and then disappeared in a house.

Edit: Shortly after this encounter I left the house again to go to a casting and on the way I received some comments that slightly contradict his „opinion“. Here a small selection of my favourite:

„Who’s got the body that rock the party?“ Followed by some finger snapping in my direction by a resident of Woodstock’s streets
„You look beautiful aunty!“ by three teenage boys in school uniforms sitting outside on a stoep
„I like you even more now!“ from the roof of Jamaica me Crazy (referring to my shiny new bald head)
and my favourite: „Yesses girl, Cape Town is a beautiful country!“

Cape Town Stories 18

I was sitting at an FNB bank waiting in line for the customer service with another pregnant lady next to me and the assistant ( a man who looks rather banky, very clean cut from the front but has a little rat tail at the back ) seems to really love his job because he tells customers where to sit and which number to pull with so much joy that it makes you feel guilty for not wanting to be there. After a while of us waiting and the pregnant lady complaining to him that we have been sitting there for over 30 minutes he – and I am not joking nor lying – offers her a foot massage! She laughs „Oooh, I would be so blessed“. He walks away only to return some seconds later with a bottle of yellow-ish massage oil and waves it in front of her face, while he drags a chair behind him for her to rest her feet on. Remember, we are at the bank!
Pregnant lady laughs: „No shame, man, I was joking, my feet are very dirty“ Him: „are you sure?“ Pregnant lady: „very very dirty“. Him: „Okay, I was also scared your husband was gonna come and moer me while I massage your feet“. I almost lost it. I am so happy I have blocked all my social media on my phone so that I can experience all the absurdities that Cape Town throws at me daily.