Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hatfield: day and night

So, I finally decided to get off my ass and do some walking around for a change. Footlike movement comes rather naturally to me (spend a few years in Grahamstown while lugging your laptop everywhere, and you'll see what I mean) but in Gauteng, that habit all but dries up in favour of getting to far-off locations with a private vehicle of some kind.

Deciding that my personal improvement and whatnot relies exclusively on my ability to wander around aimlessly for at least an hour every day, I've recently been slipping into my anti-mugger kit (also known as “dressing up like a freakin' hobo”) and took to the streets in search of adventure and geographical enlightenment.

My grandparents stay rather close to a lot of important places in Pretoria. After a few trips around the local neighbourhood, I've realised that I'm within perfectly acceptable walking distance of the University of Pretoria, the Loftus Versfeld stadium, a local KFC and Hatfield Square.

Hatfield is possibly THE hangout for Pretoria's student population (aside from the University itself, that is) and is, in general, a place for a great day (or night) out.

Hatfield in the sun: nice restaurants, open plazas and interesting walks.

Hatfield in the dark: jostling jocks, sticky floors and blurry pictures.

Although most of my recent expeditions to Hatfield have been during the sunlit hours, I also went there for a post-rugby party on Saturday night against my own better judgement. Not that I have an undying hatred of the jock crowd or anything (hey, they're people too. Sometimes), but they tend to get on my nerves when I'm surrounded by too many of them at once. And there's just way too many people in this world who enjoy getting drunk because it's an excuse to act like an ass.

Hatfield is nicely cosmopolitan though, which I quite like in a student hangout. There's stuff like dance clubs, Irish pubs, sports bars and all that other mainstream tomfoolery, but there's also a few slightly more alternative spots like Tings an' Times, Cool Runnings and a nice, down-to-earth bar called Aandklas where I received no less than three separate compliments for my glorious fedora hat.

And then there's stuff like this:

Not a student club.

Hatfield is bursting at the seams with fancy stuff like embassies and diplomatic establishments hailing from all sorts of countries. It seems rather strange that they'd throw in such official buildings amongst the student / backpacker riot that makes up the Hatfield area, but there you go. I've literally got Iran setting up camp just a little down the street from where I'm staying, so I guess it's kinda normal around here.

The embassies themselves are also quite unexpectedly plain-looking: you'd think that stuff from Thailand, UAE and Singapore would at least have some pretty cultural architecture, but no ... most of them just look like big houses. Or flats, even.

Canada totally has the best crib. Other countries are totally jealous about it.

Quite a few people ask me why I insist on walking about everywhere even when I have access to transport, but the fact is that I'm somewhat “car-blind”: since I'm not a driver, I get absolutely no sense of direction or geography when I'm using motorised transport.

Humble use of my feet generally gives me a much more solid sense of a location than vehicles ever could – often bringing about rather critical revelations such as the fact that Hatfield has always been just a little north of my grandfolk's place instead of some indeterminate location “somewhere in Pretoria”.

A funny habit, you say? Well, screw you.


  1. ubu! thanks for cheering me up!

  2. Hatfield is awesome. It's the only place where you can go out wearing slops and shorts and not feel like an outcast.

    Going out in Joburg is mostly all about dressing up and putting on some retarded pretentious show "Dress shoes ONLY, b*tches"). Nah screw that, I prefer the chilled vibe, even though there are plenty drunken retards there (hey, admittedly I'm one of them :D).

    Plus it's really far away from people that know me ha ha, so no chance of those 'awkward moments'...you know what I mean? Yes? Yes.