South Africans tend to be a pretty paranoid bunch and if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not entirely without reason. Crime, or at least, the perceived threat of crime has the power to change the way we live our lives. The saddest part about this is that we deny ourselves one of life’s simplest pleasures – a walk around the neighbourhoods in which we live.
You’ll learn a lot about your home from a number of people. At first, the person whose home you bought will tell you about all the benefits of your purchase. They’ll extol the values of the schooling system and the neighbours. Only later will you discover that the crazed hermit likes to sing opera or that a nearby teen is learning to play drums. But when you unlock your front door, key in the alarm pin code, check your pepper spray and take a step outside, there is so much more that you begin to notice about your hometown.
For example, the cemetery that’s just up the road from our house seems to have a very small number of graves when compared to cemeteries such as the ones near Braamfontein and Emmerentia. It’s relatively new and there could be any number of reasons for it being emptier but my best guess is that more people are choosing to be cremated when they pass away. Or everyone in my suburb is immortal. I have not seen any sparkly vampires or shirtless werewolves so perhaps post-death choices are changing.
Something I never noticed while driving down Hendrik Potgieter Street is that the vandals in our area have a sense of humour. Up on the hill rocks have been painted white and arranged to spell out “Little Falls”. A while back someone took the time to change the letter “F” to “B”. Puerile, yes, but not something I noticed sitting in traffic. To be honest I was too busy using bad language of my own.
There is a mammoth golf estate nearby and as you would expect it’s some of the most expensive real estate in Gauteng. What amuses me the most is that their perimeter wall continuously needs rebuilding. And it’s not just in one section. I’ve walked around a fair amount of their outer wall and have noticed teams of builders working on various sites for the better part of a year. If I stayed in one of Johannesburg’s most sought after addresses I’d at least want my perimeter wall not to collapse. I’m quirky in that way.
Someone in our neighbourhood has rabbits. I don’t know where they stay but I’ve seen them early in the morning, zig-zaging from pavement to pavement in search of a snack. I’m told they’ve been around for a while so it’s no surprise that we hear an owl hoot from time to time. I also recently saw sheep grazing in a nearby open veld. I don’t know how they got there or who they belong to, but I may just borrow them and let them loose in our garden. It’s been ages since I mowed the lawn.