Jo’burg. Just the name makes images of flashing lights and throbbing traffic pop up into my head. The BIG city. Where everything happens. The place to be.
Growing up I’d always look at Johannesburg as the social hub. The place where you go once a month to do something fun for the day. Just driving past it you would be caught up in the traffic, a city that never rests. Imagine New York, but the South African version. A lot more taxis, and food stands and khaki. Going through to Gold Reef City or Emerald every blue moon, I could catch glimpses of Johannesburg, of the veins that run through it. As a small town kid it always took me by surprise, and kind of mystified me at the same time. The never ending twists and turns scared me. One miscalculation and you’d be lost forever. The masses of people where overwhelming, with too many faces to pick out of a crowd. It seemed like a place you wouldn’t want to go to on your own because you might never leave. In my child mind it was one big maze.
As I grew up I frequented Jo’burg more often. It became a place to go to on weekends, a zootopia of loud music, dancing bodies and adventure. Many a Friday night was Friday night was spent there, with only a few blurry memories in return. At night it transformed into something entirely different, leaving behind it’s all business shroud. As the night stretched everybody united, everybody became more frantic for the night not to end, fighting against time just for a few more minutes of dancing. When the sun rose the magic would be gone, and we would all just be lost travellers, heading home to our jobs and responsibilities, leaving behind our temporary escape for a bleaker reality.
Now I have a sort of respect for people who reside inside the heart of this city. They are constantly living to this frantic pulse, and in passing they seem almost otherworldly. When I go to the malls I always am taken aback by their style and the way they just apologetically exist. Whenever I go there now I am so excited because even just going to the shops I know I’ll see something I haven’t seen before. And I’ll always want to take it back with me. It’s like an entire Willy Wonka factory but for grown ups. Time works differently there and for the most part it’s amazing. I admire how its natives grow and change with it, something you don’t see everywhere. There is so much history below the surface and I honestly consider it to be the backbone of Gauteng.
I still sometimes wish I could live in a city that is so alive but I cant imagine ever keeping up with that hectic pace. Johannesburg is another world. One that is addictive and strange. But also there for all of us to explore and enjoy.