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.
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:
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.
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.