Getting Settled in Jo'burg

Day 1 - So, the day started with a Cab picking me up to take me to the Accenture South Africa office. I must say, it’s a very beautiful and different office from the ones that I have seen in India.

Actually the drive to the office also was very beautiful … The city is full of small mount sprinkled all over, so the roads go up and down as you travel through the city. I reached the office to finish some paperwork and some banking formalities. I had discussed hiring a car when I was in India, but I didn’t know that it would be arranged for me on day 1. So they gave me a Volkswagen Citi Sport 1.4 – a very basic car that would get me around the city with ease. But the thing was that I didn’t know the roads !! So I went about downloading the road directions from my office to my home. I got directions after some search and assistance from my office colleagues. As I started driving back home and I realised my driving discipline had been spoiled after driving in Pune City. Driving in Joburg is about strict discipline and very less room for error. The traffic is fast and requires complete focus. But as I started driving I actually started enjoying the drive. I also started learning some local driving jargons. In Joburg, Robot = Traffic Signal and Garage = Petrol Pump. So after getting lost a bit, luckily for me I managed to find my way back home. The flipsides here is the security concern that eliminates options like stopping by and asking locals for directions – as it increases the risk of your getting car-jacked (evolved from the word hijack). So I realised that there are some hitches with the map strategy to get around the city.
Day 2 - I had to drive to the centre of the city called the Joburg CBD to my client’s office on the Monday morning. So I decided that I should do some rehearsal over the weekend to reach the office. I decided to give my Map strategy another chance and it was a good start when I started to get to the area with ease. As I approached the area I realised that it was a highly crowded area with crisscross roads that confused the hell out of me. To make things worse there were many one-ways and I had lost track of my map. I also got tensed and distracted by the fact that the one-ways roads would mean - the way I come would not be the way I go back - and I realised that I didn’t have a proper map route to get back home. And moreover, I had lost my way to the office also. Somehow I used some commonsense to take some turns etc and suddenly I found that I was in front of the office. I again continued to move on and somehow I managed to get my way back on the road to home. That day I realised the map strategy would not work for me in a city like Joburg which was full with its security issues. One wrong turn and I could lose my way into one of the “unsafe” areas and become a potential candidate of mugging !! So I went straight to the shopping mall and got myself a GPS system (Global Positioning System – well, for the uninitiated it’s a device that would tell you the way to your destination)
Day 3- So then the next day I took another ride to my office to have a rehearsal with the GPS and I found the ride smooth and me feeling safer and driving at peace. So in 2 days straight I was “all set” in the new city – Stay, Travel and getting around without getting into much trouble all taken care of.
So I now had a nice home to stay in Joburg, a neat car to drive and a lady’s voice that tells me, “After 100 meters take right and then go straight on, then you have reached your destination!!” - Not bad at all !!

3 comments:

Sachin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sachin said...

Its wonderful that you have captured your expierience and feelings related to your first visit abroad here. I felt similar anxieties and excitement myself but all that is now lost beneath the layers of other crap I have accumulated over years.

Poornima said...

yeah its good to have gps...but having map book which is available in shops for close to 200 rands would make you a wiser person as you would understand the logic...

I am reminded of our early days in joburg...you are such a great writer...am spell bound...