[spoiler] Jeoffrey on Game, and cutting out of work. Big day. Back to the drawing board. But richer / in experience!
No expectations. The only way I had tagged South Africa in my head was under “safari” and “Cape Town”, which I’d recently been told in a Buzzfeed quiz was the place I should actually be living in. Except I wasn’t going to either. Without solid preconceived notions of the city, this week in Johannesburg has been a revelation.
Not a bustling metropolis, it felt like some parts of LA. No crazy skyscrapers, at least in the parts of town I was shown around to. None of the offices we visited were more than a couple of stories high. No underground or train, just lots and lots of drivers. Traffic, but not hopeless gridlocks like we get in Manila. No elaborate highways like Elevated Yan’an or ESDA. Lots of signage on lamp posts but not too many billboards. Lots and lots and lots of green - grass and trees everywhere. And the sky, I am in love with the sky here, huge and blue and sprawling. White fluffy clouds and gorgeous sunsets. Cool, crisp, clean delicious air, though too thin according to Mike, so thin he coudln’t yawn..? But a startling break from our concrete, smog-infested Shanghai.
The working vibe seems to be more laid-back, but people also seem more honest and direct. They have a sense of humor about their advertising, as usual I can tell when the creative team was made up of guys. The office here used to be a house and has a big backyard, and in true South African fashion comes with a grill. Barbeque is what you do, brai they say is a way of life. We stood around a bonfire for an hour, guys debating over the right methodology to get the flames to grow.
Multicultural ethnicities, with no sensitivities it seems about calling white or black, or even, as one guy pointed out, Indian. They all seem to prescribe to the same outdoor lifestyle, where danger in the form or lions, elephants, rhinos or organized crime are only a few hours away.
One of the best things about this place - the meat. I would come back here for the delicious steak. In one restaurant, dry aged, wet aged, all over twenty-one days and charted on a blackboard out front.
I can’t reconcile this friendly, casual vibe with how dangerous the city supposedly is - no walking alone at night or alone at all, our friends advised. When we asked for directions to a convenience store a colleague offered to drive us instead as it was after dark.
I can’t say I completely understand the vibe but I leave Joburg with a good feeling for sure.
This is on the bucket list for sure, to come back, experience more of their amazing outdoors, maybe do the drive from Joburg to Kruger and hopefully hug a baby lion.