Thursday, September 6, 2012

Adventures in Johannesburg

I recently went on a work-ish trip to Johannesburg in Gauteng for something known as the A MAZE. Interact Festival (weird punctuation and all). The event describes itself as the meeting point for games and art in South Africa -- before attending, I had absolutely no idea what the hell that meant. Presumably, though, it was of interest to folks like me, and at the very least I could make myself useful around the Desktop Dungeons exhibit that my company had organised.

I'm rather jittery about travelling nowadays, the short story being that I've had quite enough movement and adventure in recent years and would much rather spend enough time in one place to grow some desperately-needed moss. Furthermore, it's well-known in my humble backwater hamlet of Cape Town that Johannesburg is the single most dangerous place in the known universe, marginally more perilous than the core of a star going nova and about as imposing and inevitable as the eventual heat death of the universe.


That said, I had a few friends in the area that I was desperately anxious to visit. Furthermore, attending the expo was an important way to personally touch base with the local game development community after several years of relative isolation. So I decided that one little trip in my home country wasn't going to utterly destroy me, and reckoned that keeping a diary of my experiences would be a great way to maintain sanity.

To ease my pre-travel jitters, I swallowed half a bottle of StressAway pills and drank a small can of Monster Energy. After further consideration, I took several lines of Ritalin and dropped a tablet of LSD for good measure. Washing it down with a small cocktail of PCP and Captain Morgan's (and chewing on several grams of what may or may not have been hallucinogenic mushrooms) I waved goodbye to Cape Town and clambered aboard my ride to the airport.


Pieced together my memory today starting at OR Tambo. Realised that I'd been fined approximately R600 for a "series of minor disturbances" aboard my Kulula flight. Spent an additional five hundred thousand rand on a ten-minute Gautrain ride to Sandton. Emerged in the heart of Joburg feeling optimistic and only slightly dehydrated. Unable to stop grinding my teeth, remained vigilant of potential attackers until my cousin arrived to pick me up. A suspicious man arrived trying to sell me wire animals, but I threatened to kick him in the face, so he left.

Cousin arrived in a typical Joburg vehicle: sufficiently armoured to withstand most small arms fire, yet still light and manouverable enough to run red lights or break speed limits whenever necessary or desired. Hoisted my massive bag of luggage, fondly known as Titanus the Destroyer, into the boot of her car before jumping at the sound of fresh gunfire coming from nowhere in particular. My dear cousin swore before urging me into the vehicle. Vaguely recall her explanation that rush hour was "totally the worst". Her head momentarily turned into Fur Elise by Beethoven. I was moved by its beauty.

Titanus. Contains a few t-shirts, a change of underwear and an extra large packet of Safari peanuts.

Scrambled for my seatbelt to ensure responsibility and safety, and she asked me where my combat helmet was. Stared blankly at her for approximately forty-five seconds (counted out loud). Cousin swore again, muttered that I could buy one if we made it to the next Engen station, then drove me off for a quiet and relaxing evening at her home.


Found it difficult to sleep last night. May have been withdrawal, may have been the constant whipcracks of neighbourhood gunfire. Cousin kindly offered some nondescript tablets, advised to take two and wait half an hour. Suspicious, I downed the whole bottle and raided her medicine cabinet for some cough syrup. Felt good.

Still have a couple of days before the festival starts, so I'm able to experience the city. Followed my cousin to a film school where she taught film school stuff. Asked her why she taught on a Saturday, and was also curious about the presence of the disco ball (reckoned it would probably screw around with the green screen). Cousin told me to stop asking so many fucking questions. Pills kicked in.

At some indeterminate point, I found myself outside, standing next to some guy's car. Referred to himself only as Q. Guy asked me if I wanted to drive back to his place and play Rayman Origins. Saw no downside to this plan.

Fuck you if you don't like this game.

Started trembling horribly. Asked Q if he had any tik. Settled for meth instead.

Firing up Xbox now and singing along to "We Like Them Girls" by Your Favorite Martian. Bonding.




Woke up at Q's this afternoon. Head splitting open, ears keep ringing. Helped myself to something from the lab. TV feed pointed at his front gate revealed some intruders posing as his grandparents. Took initiative and dealt with them.

Remembered with a sudden panic that I was supposed to be in Sandton. Persuaded Q to give me a lift, avoided talking about the misunderstanding with the grandparents. Some belligerent taxis attempted to ram us off the highway and I briefly manned the machine gun at the back of Q's vehicle. Q was busy screaming something at me the whole way but I couldn't make out what he was saying. He later explained that he was just upset about the new e-toll system on the Johannesburg highways -- I understand this completely.


Arrive at a casino city. Patted down by a concerned-looking security force, though had no concealed weapons ("Except my penis," I quipped. Confiscated). Ate at Spur with a friend and was offered some clove cigarettes. Delicious. Ate them all. Vomiting commenced half an hour later for unrelated reasons.


Woke up in Braamfontein at about 3am, sprawled across Titanus. Man in an elephant mask attempted to steal my slippers, so I kicked him in the face with my energy legs until he went away. Buzzing and enthused, my lips have gone strangely numb.

Vaguely aware of weaving through some Joburg ganglands, got caught in mortar crossfire. Phoned cousin in a panic, got told that I probably wasn't going to run into any cops. Relieved. Checked in at my hotel, which seemed to have suffered heavily from the recent fighting.

The view from my bed.

Introduced to two roomies who promptly asked me if I wanted any cat. I fucking love cats.


Preparing for A MAZE. Festival opening this evening. Should be good.


I now have a new nickname: the Non-Stop Nyan Cat. I gave it to myself and I'm proud of it. Festival opening was a little screwed up. People kept talking with horribly fake German accents, then suddenly everything was in French and we got shown a movie about gnomes in spaceships and kickboxing gangs fighting over turtles. Briefly considered whether I should just take it easy on the drugs. The light-painting afterwards was pretty cool though, and the buffet was awesome until an army of Johannesburg beggars stormed into the event, devoured everything in sight and then turned on us. Huddled together on the high ground and fought them off with Playstation Move controllers.

I really want this game.

Found a small corner shop this morning selling some strange herbal cigarettes from Cuba. Illegal because there were no ingredients listed on the box, but only R50 a carton. Score.

Attended the first AGM for the new South African game developer's association. Meeting held amidst the smoking ruins of last night's fest opening -- some beggars were still sleeping around the wreckage and we had to chase them off.

The group decided to name its new association Make Games SA, rejecting my proposal of The Hand of NOD. Applied for position of chairman, treasurer, committee member and undercommittee member. Failed first three, told the fourth didn't exist. Fascists.

Have to stop writing now, internal organs trying to perform mitosis.


Spent most of today guarding the Desktop Dungeons exhibition stand. It's hidden in a basement to avoid the worst of the Johannesburg violence. Entering the expo involves a five-step navigational process and a full bio-scan to ensure that only dedicated attendees make it through security.


Decided to unwind this evening with some light jazz, accompanied by my cousin and a fellow game developer. No idea where, cousin told me it's a demilitarised Green Zone in Joburg. The ceasefire has been in force for almost a week. Very relaxing. Started with one Hunter's Dry, three tequila shots, a double cane and cream soda, two black labels, some sort of brandy lime thing and a deep-fried baby elephant served with a side of chips.

After half an hour at the jazz lounge, we moved on to a nearby club (accidentally left my Cuban cigarettes behind, they will be mourned). Ran into a biker gang that turned out to be an indie rock group instead. Asked them if they were Desktop Dungeons fans. Replied with "FUCK YES" and gave me double high-fives for a solid hour. Both arms hurt but it was worth it. Gifted one of them with my Desktop Dungeons-branded t-shirt. Kicked out of the club a few minutes later because I apparently wasn't wearing a t-shirt. Fascists.

Official DD fanboys.

It's about 8am now and we're hiding in a shack at the end of some property that Biker Gang recently torched. Just asked them if they've got any weed, settling for cocaine instead. Never tried this stuff before, but I once snorted two kilograms of Omo washing powder with few ill effects. Seeing no downside to this plan.


ASFASGHIJDFG okay I am SERIOUSLY pissed off right now. Attended a series of talks at A MAZE. this evening after stumbling back into Braamfontein, and one of the speakers delivered a LITERALLY UNINTELLIGIBLE speech. I got so angry that I threw a fucking chair at her head.

Promptly escorted out of the venue. On the way, bit twelve men, three women, two teenagers and a pole (the architecture not the nationality). Kinda peeved, my mouth tastes like construction material. And why are the Johannesburg lights so fucking bright all the time? Don't they understand that's what the fucking sun is for?

Going to cool off with the other guys in my hotel room this evening. We've fired up a muted copy of Conan the Destroyer, accompanying it with "You Spin Me Right Round" set on repeat. Good times.

I could watch this video forever.

Apparently had some work to do, so I punched my laptop until the code compiled. I forsee no problems.


There were problems with work, got me feeling so low that I had to chow down my other half-bottle of StressAway. Feel a little better now.

Went to a game developer's workshop where we learned about the beauty and creative potential of chalk. Accidentally ate half a box because nobody warned me that it wasn't hard candy. Fascists. Designed an amazing sidewalk game that involved balance, poise, and trying to touch other people's arms a little too much. Ended up defacing half of Johannesburg (not game-related, just really enthusiastic with chalk).

Spending this evening at a friend's place. Have to be extremely careful about everything I touch, and I'm not allowed on the furniture (crazy roommate rules, I thought she knew me better than that). Retaliating with a plan to shed hair everywhere and urinate on the rug.

Ordered two kilograms of pork ribs from the Yanky's in Melville. Offered a menthol cigarette, but initially declined because I hear those things are fucked up. Contemplating trying them out though, I'm feeling pretty adventurous tonight.

Difficulty tier: Vicious.


oh god kharrak what the fuck is wrong with your dog that creature is not natural its legs and eyes and the way its moving its mouth jesus christ its staring into my soul kharrak its staring into my soul and burning everything away

help me im in hell


fuck airports

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I may be a horrible neighbour

Okay, so let's drop Cracked-inspired presentation for a moment and play about with Thought Catalog (even though it's sometimes a little too whiny as a whole which doesn't stop me reading it so whatever).

After a recent weekend party effort involving an impressive routine of sport watching, pre-drinking and night-on-the-towning, I came to the realisation that I'm a rather paranoid host, or maybe just a horrible neighbour (actually, yes, definitely the latter).

As it so happens, I worry about a lot of things related to hosting and living alone in a complex and stuff like that, especially since some sections of society may consider me a little weird. I mean, being weird is okay, I suppose, you just don't want to be both weird and inconsiderate. You know.

I had a moderately robust house party. I can imagine my neighbours hating on me somehow because my recent predrinking expedition had about seven guests inside my little studio apartment and I had the doors and windows open and we were playing noisy videogames and such. As a matter of fact, I (just barely) recall a point where we were drinking shots over round of Soul Calibur, and I was winning so hard that I was on the verge of alcohol poisoning. Also my one friend laughed really loud at one point because three people died at once in Spelunky and I was worried that the neighbours weren't Spelunky fans and perhaps assuming that we were laughing at them, which wouldn't do at all. So, granted, it was a Saturday evening. It was ten-thirty. And my lease technically states that noise hours last until 11pm on every day of the week. But sometimes, even now, the guilt keeps me awake at night.

Animals bark at me. Or rather, dogs bark at me. Occasionally cats. The big thing is not usually the barking itself (though again, cats), but rather the countless mutts which have absolutely no beef with mankind in general that cheerfully decide to bark at me and me alone with full gusto, often late at night, often while I happen to be dressed like a serial killer. And my neighbours probably just shake their heads and sigh whenever the dogs sound off, thinking, "I bet it's that creepy serial killer dude again, man I hate that guy." Sometimes, even now, the guilt keeps me awake at night.

I burn strong incense. I have this really effing powerful incense that my dear mum gave to me when I visited her over Christmas, but I'm scared of lighting more than the occasional stick because, hey, what if my landlord hates that? I mean, I've read and reread the lease agreement and everything seems straight and it doesn't seem to mention smoke or anything and oh god what if I burn down the entire suburb? I mean, Dragon's Blood is powerful stuff: I burn a quarter stick of it and feel like a damn Targaryen. Sometimes, even now, the guilt keeps me awake at night.

I chew too loudly. I have a rather awkward tendency to completely wolf food due to a childhood involving something the family affectionately termed as "Sibling Survival Dinners"*. That's not to say that I'm such a barbarian as to consume my meals in some slack-jawed, open-mouthed, social faux pas, but it does get uncomfortably loud because I basically attack food with something akin to actual, honest-to-goodness animal lust otherwise. I truly fear that the sound of my chewing has, on some occasions, robbed my entire complex of sleep. Forever. Sometimes, even now, the guilt keeps me awake at night.

I screamed at the top of my voice once, at about 2am. It was a Monday evening. I'd just died in Spelunky. You know, just as I was on the cusp of handing the Gold Mine Key to the Tunnel Man. So we all get that feeling, right? I cut off my shriek rather quickly, but I'm pretty sure I woke up at least a million babies in the neighbourhood. And, of course, 200% of all the damn dogs. And a few barking cats.

You should follow Rodain Joubert on Twitter here.

*Involved a home-made fighting pit, a single slab of meat, several sharpened rocks and sometimes a knife

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Isn't that just an awesome title for a blog post? With something so badass, how can this entire entry not be 98% hyper-concentrated coolness?

So, this blog post is about squirrels. Hell fucking yeah! To kick it off, I'm quickly gonna grab some squirrel images off google and -- oh, wait, I won't, because I already live in fucking Squirreltopia.

From top to bottom: squirrel, squirrel, sentry squirrel, squirrel and leg, another fucking squirrel, Squirrels 2: Electric Boogaloo

I think I hinted at this in a previous blog post*, but I basically exist in the realm of permanent squirrels. Every time some halfwit Ned Stark wannabe puts a lacklustre "Winter is coming" remix on the Internet, a squirrel pops into existence somewhere in my neighbourhood. And that's a lot of fucking squirrels.

Made for a friend. Don't even ask.

Okay, well, I'm not absolutely drowning in squirrel the moment I set foot outside my front door (though oh god that would be awesome). Still, there's an occasional rascal scuttling about the area -- and for a guaranteed Squirrel Central experience during even the most frigid Sunday afternoon, I can stroll on down to Government Avenue.

Wedged pretty much in the middle of Cape Town, this road is a very long and very straight walkway through the Company's Garden -- basically the biggest and prettiest park in the area (and there are loads of those buggers scattered around my neighbourhood). It's a really great place to go through if you're running or on your way to town, leading to a startling diversity of distractions: an art gallery, some war memorials, flower gardens and even a holocaust museum.

Here's just a couple of pictures:


It would take a much longer blog post and approximately 63 cellphone pictures to do justice to all of the cool stuff in this area, but I'm pretty sure that I'll never find a word count adequate to describe the sheer squeelicious joy of the local squirrel population. Whenever I've skipped on through this place, it hasn't been unusual to find at least half a dozen squirrels doing awesome squirrelly stuff on or next to the avenue. Everything about the existence of these creatures suggests that a mouse and a cat got it on once and the offspring just kept the most mind-meltingly killer traits from both parents because fuck yeah genetics. Squirrels are awesome, man.

Oh, wish you could touch one? Don't just wish, believe.

The glare is being emitted from a choir of radiant angels singing just off-camera.

This isn't a lucky or painstaking shot. When you head along Government Avenue, squirrels don't scamper out of your way, they scamper towards you -- and a swarm of three or four fluffy little pumpkins all eagerly hopping out of the undergrowth and bounding over to you is more than enough to overload your cute glands and send you into complete brainheart meltdown of candy canes and love.

Of course, they're just being greedy little shits -- as soon as the pictured squirrel realised that I *didn't* have any food in my hand, it promptly lost interest and fucked right off again. But man, these poof-tailed fellas are adorable as hell anyway, so I forgive them. It beats the total snubbing I get from some of the local cats, anyway.

... which, in turn, STILL beats the luck that I have with some women.

Anyway, that's a heavily abridged and extraordinarily rodent-focused view of the Company's Garden in Cape Town. I originally meant to go on a full town expedition and write about all that (took the photos and everything), but I realised that would be waaay too much content for a decent bite-sized blog post thing and the squirrels really deserved as much attention as humanly possible. So I'll write more about Cape Town central in posts to come. Or forget about the idea entirely. We'll see.

At least I remembered the squirrels.

*... as opposed to a future one, duh.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The neighbourhood dogs: a rating system

When doing runs around the local suburbs, there are only a few things I invariably stop running for. One of those things is obviously traffic (duh). Another is house alarms. If I hear an alarm go off in my proximity, I freak the fuck out and immediately stop running for fear that (a) some authority will see me running and assume that I'm an escaping criminal and (b) actually, no really, that's about it.

Then there's dogs. Dogs give me the same fear that house alarms do, except in this case the dogs are both the alarm and the authority and they probably spend many restless nights in their kennels thinking of new ways to afford me an excruciatingly painful death.

Presented without comment.

I am not a dog person. That's not saying that I have an unusual fear of dogs or anything. I'm just wary of the ones that leap up at you and pound against the fence in a 50kg blur of toothy froth and fury, spit and blood flying at you in menacing globs as they bellow out a string of barks so forceful and so murderous that you cannot help but think (in your final moments of pain and terror) that the three-headed hell hound of legend begat some mortal offspring just so that these creatures could one day meet you and drag you back to hell with them, kicking and screaming and drowning in your own blood.

So I decided to rate some of the dog encounters I've had in my City Bowl meanderings. I'm not going to talk specifics, since I fully believe that half of my reader base are hardened criminals. Instead, I'll remain suitably vague, and draft in the first images I find off Google searches. Each dog will also come with a rating of 1-10, where 10 is hell-squared levels of crazy and 1 is a miserable yapping puffball that just pissed itself barking at your ankles.

This should be cool.

Case study #1: The German Shepherd
Image search: "german shepherd"
Scariness rating: 8

It's quite apt that this is the first image Google brings up, because this is the most common view I have of the one I know. I'm sure that there's a face hiding behind the jaws somewhere, but I've never been able to confirm it.

The first time I saw this dog, it was quite peacefully minding its own business on the pavement just outside the house while its owners were unloading something or another from their car. I walked past unmolested, only to be shocked when, approximately 0.068 seconds later, the dog's entire general attitude shifted from amiable mutt to get the fuck off my lawn levels of slathering toothy fury. Fortunately, this swing only happened after it was locked behind a gate.

Now on the one hand: the dog didn't attack me while outside. So hey, maybe not that scary. But on the other: wow, mood swing of the century. And there's always the simple, horrifying possibility that the dog hadn't noticed me until just then. Shudder.

Case study #2: Roof Dog
Image search: "roof dog"
Scariness rating: 6

I cannot remember offhand what breed Roof Dog was. It wasn't a big dog, to be sure, and it seemed docile enough to allow safe passage on the sidewalk. That said, how safe can you ever actually feel when there's a mutt looking down on you from the perfect murder perch just a few metres away? No barriers, either. At any moment, that brute could choose to launch itself at my head like some Alien-style facehugger (albeit with less extraterrestrial wang and more angry canine teeth), which is a slightly unsettling prospect.

And now you will permanently associate that thought with the image of alien wang, so you're welcome.

Quick google-related fact: the search that led me to this picture revealed that "roof dogs" are actually a pretty common thing in Mexico, where they often serve as sentinels in crowded living spaces. There's no front or back yards attached to the houses, so the (often flat) roofs serve as home. Yep, my blog is educational.

Case study #3: Fuck Yeah, Border Collies!
Image search: "fuck yeah border collies"
Scariness rating: 4

Upon googling this image, I was delighted to find that there was already a Tumblr called Fuck Yeah Border Collies. I think this little discovery just made my entire week.

There's a couple of border collies in one of the houses who bark at me rather vehemently whenever I see them. They certainly look like they mean business, but they always remind me of the lovely, gentle border collie I had as a kid. His name was Badger -- an odd-one-out in the litter with some weird reverse colouring and a playful attitude. Sweetest animal ever. Could chase a mean tennisball back in his day, too.

Border collies are hands-down the loveliest dogs around. And while I'm sure that this particular pack would cheerfully tear me apart and feast upon my innards if I even set so much as a foot inside the property, I like to think that I would die with a happy, half-knowing smile on my face.

Case study #4: The Yorkshire Terriers
Image search: "yapping little rat yorkshire"
Scariness rating: AAAHAHAHAHA

I really do have to suppress laughter every time I see these fluffy little shits in action. Despite the fact that their most radical security feature involves being loud and obnoxious to no end, they still have the nerve to crowd up against their gate in a heartwarming attempt to frighten me off, like a bunch of wannabe bouncers protecting the annual meeting of the Especially Harmless Knitting Club.

In a post which has admittedly described canine violence more often than the rest of this blog put together, I am relieved to say that I fear nothing of these walking toilet brushes. Well, aside from the very real and ever-present terror that I'll accidentally step on one some day. That would be horrible, messy and awkward to explain.

Case study #5: The Ghost Dog
Image search: "ghost dog"
Scariness rating: ???

First of all: wow, yeah, so apparently Ghost Dog is a movie about ... well, jeez, just check out the Wikipedia entry. Weird stuff.

So I have a special phantom canine in my neighbourhood. I say this because I have never seen it, but I know it's there. I guess that means it's the closest thing I have to a god right now. Ghost Dog exists somewhere behind a thick green hedge that I often walk past while doing the whole work commute thing.

This one is quite subtly the most sinister of the whole bunch. Nine times out of ten, walking past the hedge goes without ceremony. But on the tenth pass (often at night, usually as close to the witching hour as possible), the neighbourhood will, for no good reason, spontaneously exchange its eerie quiet for a sudden, somehow directionless bark, always at the precise moment when you are most off-guard. A second or two will pass, followed by a brief but terrifying eruption of deafening dog noises -- just long enough to shoot ice-cold daggers of terror into your soul.

Then the night returns to silence just as quickly, and through the hedges you think you may -- or may not -- hear the rustling of some large creature stalking you. But you'll never know for certain, and you'll never see it. Not until it gets you. Ghost Dog exists to take you by surprise, to remain threatening but unseen ... a valuable reminder that there are always things in life, great and dark and terrible, which even science could not hope to fathom or explain.

Beware of Ghost Dog.

In summary:

Cats and goats, people. The only animals you'll ever need. Dogs are entertaining and diverse creatures, but for the most part I encounter them as noisy, angry creatures who do their damned best to tell me to fuck off whenever I'm around. Not someone I'd be likely to hire after a job interview, though admittedly interviewing a dog is kinda weird in the first place.

In contrast, neighbourhood cats are great at two things: (1) looking adorable and elusive and (2) occasionally extending enough friendliness to come out and rub themselves on your legs or roll onto their tummies. It's a rare and heartwarming experience to come across a local cat, and such occasions are invariably cherished.

I do not see many goats in my neighbourhood, but I'd be pleasantly surprised to come across one some day. If you find any, let me know.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Daily Walk

I mentioned recently that I've moved to my own place in Vredehoek. It's really nice and stuff. Of course, now that I no longer live in my office, the work commute takes a little longer than rolling off the mattress and crawling to my PC every morning (or afternoon, whatever).

Although I'm occasionally working from home, I still walk/bus a regular route that takes me approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes door-to-door (got it down to a science, naturally). That's about two-and-a-half Scooters pizza deliveries, if that's your primary method of measuring time for some reason.

It's surprisingly neat, actually. Living alone has thus far had its fair share of ups and downs, but I really do enjoy the merry little expedition to my job. I decided to record one of my commutes to give you a better idea of what's involved.

Fuck yeah, rainbow!

The first thing I do is leave my living quarters and start winding through my suburb. Vredehoek is basically wedged up the side of Table Mountain, so there's a lot of hills and pain and stuff. Good training for runners. The peak in the above picture is Lion's Head -- it looks like a slightly skew nipple.

Fuck yeah, nipples!

It takes me approximately 15-20 minutes to get to the bus stop -- speed generally depending on how likely it is that I'll miss the next ride. I go downhill most of the way (not so much luck on the return journey) and generally stay in suburban paradise for quite a while. There's even a pretty section with trees and cobblestones and stuff. If you're lucky, you might even see a squirrel -- which is awesome*.

Fuck yeah ... er, cobblestones.

If you can tell by the picture -- it spontaneously began raining about halfway to the bus on this particular day. Weather is a rather tricky customer on the side of the mountain: sometimes, you'll wake up in the middle of a low-lying cloud and stumble through the Silent Hill-style world until you hit the bottom of the slope and emerge in a day of almost completely clear skies. On other mornings, you'll start your expedition in the bright blue and get hit by a mild storm ten minutes later because one sneaky little bugger of a cloud was hiding behind the mountain all along. Though to make up for it, the mountain gods tend to throw up rainbows faster than a unicorn eating a box of crayons.


The above shot marks the end point of my initial stretch. If you squint really closely, you'll see a little bluish blob far down the street. That's my bus stop, with a bus occupying it. This is a rather harrowing part of the expedition and I'm never quite sure how it goes. You know that thing with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in quantum physics? Yeah, I'm not saying the bus system is like that, I'm just asking you to get your head around a freakish scientific concept before you even try understanding the rules for the MyCiti bus routes. The bus waiting at the stop way over there can mean one of any number of things: I may be five minutes early, yet have mere seconds to haul ass down to the stop before it disappears. Or maybe I'm five minutes late, yet somehow have the time to amble over in good time and plonk myself onto public transport.

MyCiti bus innards. Note the douchebag up front wearing tight red pants.

On this day, I was rather lucky. After the most maddening bus sprint imaginable (minus a few moments of careful picture-taking), I managed to clamber on board. I spent roughly five minutes feeling a little stupid as the bus continued to wait at the stop, though I'm pretty sure none of the other passengers noticed me panting, sweating, fussing and crying. Maybe.

MyCiti is a fairly modern bus system. Heck, it's only been around for just over a year now. The ticket system is one of those fancy swipey-electro-bus-ATM things with the magnetic card magic (science!). It costs me R5 to get a quick trip to the Civic Centre stop, taking me through the Cape Town CBD.

You can practically taste the corporation!

Cape Town actually has one of the nicest business centrals in existence, and I should really have taken more shots of it (problem being bus window glare, et cetera). You don't feel like you're walking through some cold and imposing urbania at all -- it's a living, breathing collection of colourful, interesting and not-depressing-at-all people and places. Also, being one of the oldest settlements in South Africa affords it a lot of really old and pretty buildings that I didn't take pictures of. Pretty spacious, too.

Fuck yeah, bus central!

At Civic Centre, I typically hop onto a new bus and -- depending on how the transport gods feel -- wait between thirty seconds and ten minutes for my bus to depart to Table View -- a journey that will take just over half an hour. This day turned out to be a long wait, so I whipped out my latest reading material.

Fuck yeah, Game of Thrones / Song of Ice and Fire! Note the tight red pants.

In a rather weird way, this is what I appreciate most about bus trips. In recent years, I've not been reading too many good books -- if I'm inclined to dive into written stuff, I usually go on a Wikipedia safari or read online articles. But as I own neither a smart phone, tablet gadget or random whodingummy that you kids love using nowadays, basically the only thing I'm armed with as a pastime is a good book. It's great: I tear through one of these every two weeks and actually have a little discipline regime in place to make sure that I don't read too much outside of bus trips (hey, two to three new books a month can be expensive!).

Office stop!

This is a picture taken just before my bus stop in Table View, outside the Bayside Mall. It's the end of the line, which is a relief because bus employees seem to be quite mindful of people who -- nose in book -- will occasionally forget to haul themselves off the bus.

When getting off at Table View, one thing to note is that it's pretty fucking flat -- one gets the terrible feeling that this will be the first place to go when the sea god's terrible wrath is unleashed some day. Back when I first started running and stuff, I would train in the neighbourhood around Table View. There's one pisspoor hill in the middle of it all, and I remember how much hell it used to give me.

Just look at that monster! That's a slight upward incline, I promise.

Table View is everything that Vredehoek isn't, so it's a nice daily contrast. And the view is arguably excellent, which is good because there's a damn "View" just in the name and it would be a massive disappointment if there wasn't much to look at.

Faint mountain in the distance? I totally live there.

To get to my place of work, I go past a large lake wetland thingy. I'm often stumbling into some local wildlife, and it feels really weird chasing the occasional guineafowl out of the way while walking along a major road. Not quite as omigod-squee!-inducing as the squirrels in Vredehoek, but the sightings are much more common.

After a day of work, I'll do everything in reverse and clamber off at the Gardens Centre bus stop again.

Fuck yeah, malls!

If I get back to home turf before 7pm (which I usually strive for nowadays), this is where I do my evening grocery shopping before hoofing it back up the mountain. There's less visual appeal at this point. I usually walk home in the dark -- especially given the new winter hours -- and I'm often walking as fast as I can without taking stupid ol' blog pictures because (1) my cellphone camera shows nothing but black smears at this point and (2) holy crap it's getting cold.

Seen at the local Pick 'n Pay. Guess they're Game of Thrones fans as well.

So that's my weekday ritual. Hopefully, with a little bit of bravery and dedication, I'm gonna start running this route because I'm training up for a half-marathon later this year. More likely, however, I'm gonna start running this route because I woke up half an hour late and oh crap is that the bus leaving already?

Good times.

*I'll actually try dedicate an entire blog post to the neighbourhood squirrels sometime, they're a bunch of fluffy-tailed little badasses.