Month: July 2017

The walk to work, Pretoria

Most days, instead of getting off the Gautrain bus opposite the Treasury, at the corner of Thabo Sehume and Madiba, I get off at Madiba and Bosman, and walk the couple of blocks to work, past the Department of Public Works and the High Court, for what passes these days for exercise. I know, I need to take better care of my health, as Rob rightly reminds me, but at least this is something, right?! I took these images on my way to work one morning, when the sun was still raking across the street, casting long shadows. By the […]

Of Gautrains and stations

There are three guys in my office whose job it is to review the evidence – cost-benefit analyses, emissions studies, traffic analysis, urban sprawl, you name it – for a mooted east-west addition to the Gautrain network. I ride the train most days, from Jo’burg to Pretoria and back again, and much as I love the speed, safety and convenience I do have to wonder about the economics. Fortunately, though, it’s not my problem. What does exercise my imagination is the place of the human, in all of this. It’s something to do, perhaps, with the scale of the individual […]

Upcoming post

I will be posting some images soon of Pretoria and the Gautrain; here is a taster.

A Note to my Family and Friends

I have alluded before to troubles in the workplace. I can now say that the team leader I was working with has been let go. It gives me no pleasure, but I will confess to a huge sense of relief. Enough said.

Swords into Ploughshares

Every South African of my generation remembers the Casspirs: the massive troop carriers, mine-proof and threatening, that lumbered through the townships, through two States of Emergency and countless insurrections, bearing death and violence. So what a shock and surprise, at the Turbine Art Fair yesterday, to see this huge Casspir beaten to a ploughshare, beaded and glittering in all the colours of the South African rainbow, standing on the patio where we went to find a glass of wine and something to eat, and a break from the artwork. Moved almost to tears by all that it brought back of […]

Turbine Art Fair

Joburg, as my son-in-law likes to point out, is alive and kicking. It may be edgy as hell, dangerous to your health, but there’s always stuff going on. The annual Turbine Art Fair, in Newtown, Johannesburg, is one of the highlights. You cross over the Nelson Mandela Bridge and descend into a maelstrom of township ┬átaxis, honking and swerving, while shoals of pedestrians swarm the crumbling streets like sardines on a sardine run. You need eyes in the back of your head to keep from running someone down or getting yourself run into. You park the car on the top […]

O, Pretoria!

These days I work, not in downtown Toronto, but in Pretoria, Gauteng – administrative capital of South Africa, a small city with Boer Republic roots and an African feel, a place of substantial Anglo-Dutch architecture from the nineteenth century commingled with brutalist Afrikaner buildings from the 1970s, and the litter, taxi mayhem and crumbling sidewalks of Maputo or (who knows, since I haven’t been there) Nairobi. I go there, most days, by Gautrain, the gleaming Bombardier-built high-speed commuter train that links Johannesburg with Pretoria and the O.R. Tambo International Airport. Most days, since I try to travel outside of rush […]

Three Toms

From last weekend, Sunday – three pictures of wee Tom Tjasink, my grandson, aged 2 months.

44 Stanley

44 Stanley is the place to be, on a chilly Saturday morning on the edge of downtown Johannesburg. A warren of small courtyards, art shops, craft shops, restaurants, it’s abuzz with the hip and the funky, old and young, a place for picking out fine hand-made chocolates at Chocoloza, ceramics at Storm in a Teacup (we bought two striking, black, nested bowls, with a long-handled jacaranda spoon, for under $20), linen at Mungo, furniture at Colony, or ordering a wood-fired pizza and a glass of wine at Il Giardino, where Rob and I sat by the Queen Anne stove last […]