Johannesburg and the Little Case of Anxiety
A story of survival
I moved back to Gauteng about two years ago, but I never made it a mission to see old friends and acquaintances. I now live in Tshwane, and Joburg seems like a different beast right now. Listen, after two years in Cape Town, life inland does become a bit claustrophobic. I mean where is the ocean and mountains to hike inland? I'm joking, but life's way too fast here.
So, I needed to get out of Pretoria, you know, just to go and breathe different air. Oh, I remembered I have a friend I needed to see. She just had a baby; this means we have some catching up to do. A lot has happened since the last time I saw her. We agree on a date on when to visit, and I buy the baby some cute clothes, and everything is set.
So, I cook up a plan on how to get to the east of Johannesburg. I've lived there before, I know how to get there, obviously, but using public transport does give me slight anxiety. So, I must rehearse my route.
Here's how it works; I take a taxi from home to Hatfield gautrain station. The train will then take me straight to Johannesburg's Park station, then I get myself to Noord taxi rank. My anxiety peaks when I travel in taxis, I'm afraid of lot things that never happen. Park station gives me cold sweats on its own, and the walk to Noord gives me nightmares. Anything can happen, this is Jozi after all.
What was I thinking?
I keep repeating this to myself.
Joburg is a hustler's world. They own it!
And I picked the wrong date of the month's-end to travel there, which means it will be crowded beyond belief, so I'll be eaten alive.
I'm anxious, which makes me a little bit nervous, but I can't afford to show those emotions in these mean streets of Joburg or else I won't make it. So, I put my game face on. This face says "fuck off" without the words, and apparently, that's my face on the regular. Go figure!
I grew up eKasi (Township), so I know how to navigate tricky situations that life might throw at you. And you know how the saying goes when life throws you lemons, you cut them up, put them in a cup filled with hot water, and drink that to help with your digestive system. Yes girl, it's a thing!
But Johannesburg is not lemons, and the walk from Park station to Noord taxi rank was testing my patience, because I couldn't remember how to get there. I used the wrong exit so the walking to Noord became longer than anticipated, but I must still walk with the kind of confidence as if I know where I am going, and at same time manage the mini-breakdown I'm suffering. Clearly, the universe thinks I am a joke.
Some street hustler notices my apprehension and the tightness of my face, then he quickly offers his help, but I told him straight up, I don't have the money, so help because of your good heart, or leave me be. I handed him R5.00 I claimed to have, and he felt it wasn't enough, so he just showed me the directions without walking me inside the taxi rank to find the right taxi.
Finally, there it was. I see the MTN sign and that is the taxi rank. I wondered if this is how Moses felt when he finally saw Canaan. It was a moment of relief. The journey back was quite something too, it deserves its own blog post. There's never a dull moment when using South Africa's public transport. Actually, there's never a dull moment in South Africa.