Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mall run at Menlyn

Yesterday, I resolved to balance out my recent geekery by purchasing a popped collar golf shirt and a tub of hair gel before cruising the bars for an evening of arm wrestling challenges and seedy pick-up lines. What I ended up with was an afternoon at Menlyn Park, a sweet Mexican-themed dinner party in the evening and a bus ticket to Cape Town. Fair enough, I suppose. After all, I now have guaranteed passage to the fair coastal climes this coming Sunday (even if it's an overnight trip with uncomfortable seats and smelly people) and neat stuff to write about on the blog.

Most city folk will remain unimpressed by my description of the Menlyn shopping mall, but having spent a great deal of the past three years in far smaller population centres, it never fails to amaze me that a single building such as this can contain more escalators (and – dare I say? – more people) than the entire city of Grahamstown.

There are five billion escalators in this picture. Can you find them all?

It is easy to get lost in Menlyn. Entire tribes of misplaced individuals have established themselves in the forgotten corners of this shopping centre. People have lived and died, empires have risen and fallen and prophets have foretold of the day that the Mall People would return to the Great Outside that their ancestors once came from.

They keep the prisoners in here.

Seriously, though, Menlyn is big and rather pretty to boot. I could talk about the shops and the stuff that I've bought, but that would be horribly generic and perhaps best suited for a later post when I don't have so much other rubbish to blab about. If people stop for a moment to look up at the ceiling, study the enormous indoor aviary or figure out why one of the passages is called the celestial hallway, they may just realise that there's more to this place than swinging by Checkers or checking out the local Musica. It's deep and moving and stuff, too.

Fountain of the baby elephants! I now have three blog posts mentioning these critters.

After spending about four hours fending for myself at Menlyn (and looking like quite the picturesque tourist with my trusty camera and somewhat vacant expression), I was escorted to a friend's place where I ate an awesomely fancy three-course dinner with a whole bunch of interesting strangers.

Dinner aftermath with somebody wearing my hat. What an awesome hat.

It never fails to amaze me how much more prevalent Afrikaans/English bilinguality is in Gauteng than, say, KZN. I've dabbled in quite a few languages myself, but never to the extent where I'd feel confident to express myself in more than one tongue – let alone swap languages on the fly in the middle of a sentence.

I always feel a bit silly sitting down and speaking nothing but English around people who are so comfortable with more than one tongue. I can understand what they're saying quite easily, but I can never seem to muster the brain cells to belt out a few words myself without sounding like George Bush choking to death on a weasel. Why a weasel? Goodness knows, but at least it's not a baby elephant.

Ahhhh, sweet mattress of slumberation.

My final note for this blog post is another sleep review. The above was my resting spot for the evening, hiding somewhere in the living room behind the couch. It was comfy, had a blanket and didn't smell too awful. It gets ten out of ten because I really needed somewhere to pass out in the wee hours of the morning and this did the trick masterfully.

At times like this, even a master couch connisseour doesn't have the brain power to make a detailed analysis. Screw art - I want my sleep.


  1. No, really. I got lost in Menlyn for over an hour. When I eventually got out, I hadn't paid the fee for parking and had to go back in >_>

  2. Rodain! Nice work dude. By the way, I don't recall there being ANY escalators in Grahamstown...

  3. Hmmmmm...

    I haz an idea. We will build a giant mall-shaped spaceship, packing it with unsuspecting Grahamstonian shoppers, then launch it to Mars or summin. They'll spend all their time during the journey eating at fancy restaurants and gawking at aviaries and other shiny giant mall-like things that us big city folk take for granted, and will have a convenient natural predisposition to NOT find the exits. Then, when they arrive, the exits will be decloaked, and they can build another small town in the middle of nowhere... ON ANOTHER PLANET!

    This is a good plan. A very good plan.