Hitting reset. Need to find my new inspiration.
Tonight was my first lesson in Shanghai as a city for transients. Granted, this one had been around for four+ years, but he will soon be followed by another veteran closing her SH chapter. And then, it looks like, my turn.
I’ve said so many goodbye in the last year or so. To Gen, to MRM and the crew, to Beau, to Manila, to family, to the girls, to Ellie and Max, to Louie, to Lumby. Not as big a deal but recently to Chiara also. Now Jaqua, soon Steph. And then the rest of the awesome non-GTB CW crew. Not all of these goodbyes will be permanent. But it does remind me about change.
How hard it is to keep track of all the movements, so difficult to take stock of who is where and what is changing wherever here or there may be.
But in this sea of movement anchors emerge, people who keep you tied to the past so you don’t forget the past you’re woven in to. And the more there is to miss about someone or somewhere, the more awesomeness must have transpired.
[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.