Archive for the ‘City living’ Category

We walk (that is, my husband and I). In fact, we walk a lot. Primarily with Felix, the little dog, who doubles up as our personal trainer (I know a dog isn’t strictly speaking a “who” but Felix isn’t strictly speaking just a dog). So I thought I’d capture some of our love for walking, and show off a teensy weensy bit of our city and our ‘hood.

This is where we start our walks, outside our house, with a view down our street and into the city of Cape Town.

This is also outside our house, looking up our street to see a slice of Signal Hill.

This is our neighbour's car which sometimes runs, but not often. Most times our neighbour can be found working on it. Sometimes his father gives advice. Sometimes his teenage son lends a hand. Oftentimes his grandfather looks on. Mostly it's a talking point. Yesterday the teenage son washed the car. This morning it wasn't there. It seems thus to be in running order. For now…

This is a view of Table Mountain on our city-walk route. We have a sea-walk route as well. We think it's pretty special to have the option of a mountain or an ocean as backdrops to one's walks.

This is where we walk along Government Avenue, which is flanked on the one side by the Parliament buildings, and on the other by the Company Gardens.

This is one of the creatures that torment the little dog when we walk along Government Avenue. The lane is filled with squirrels, Egyptian geese and a trillion annoying pigeons.

Sometimes this is where we walk. When, like this time, I'm on my own then the photos tend to come out a bit blurry. I blame it on trying to operate the camera while keeping a tight rein on a Jack Russell Terrier in hunting mode. And that is why the people on the benches look like aliens.

This is who we mostly walk with. He only loses the leash when we walk in De Waal Park, aka Doggie Park, which is enclosed and a safe place in which city dogs can happily go mildly crazy.

This is when we take a five-minute drive to the Sea Point promenade for our sea-walk route. The signs clearly indicate no skating, cycling or rollerblading. Sometimes people ignore these instructions, which is when the little dog puts on his sheriff badge to ear-piercingly, persistently and somewhat sternly, bark them to order. Rules are rules.

This is also the Sea Point promenade. On a misty morn'.

If the stalls were open that early, and if we actually wanted fast food at 7am, then we could stroll to the end of our road to sit here after our walk. They're not and we don't.

This is the view from our balcony where we sometimes recover after a walk. We love this city. A lot.

This is where we sometimes really like to hang out after a walk. Felix doesn't mind, as long as he has a seat with a view.

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Recently we – hubby and I, along with four other friends – returned from a week in Delhi. Two days later my ears  stopped ringing. Man, that place is epically manic.

Delhi is vibrant, noisy, smelly (of the good and off variety), noisy, mostly friendly, noisy, dusty, noisy, almost colourful if it wasn’t for the dust, noisy, tasty, noisy, cheap-ish, noisy, traffic rule-less and, did I mention, noisy.

Old Delhi. A crazy, vibrant place that launches a full assault on all the senses.

India is noisy

The simple car/truck/bus/tuk-tuk/cycle rickshaw hooter/bell contributes handsomely to the level of noise that attacks the ear of the visitor with joyful abandon. Hooters aren’t tooted in an act of aggression, as they generally are in my hometown. Rather, they are used as a courteous but firm way to communicate with the driver of another vehicle that you intend to cut him off in more or less 0.003 seconds and he really ought to be perfectly okay with that since he’s not going to be given much of a say. Cars, bikes, buses, trucks, wagons and all manner of transport not restricted to tracks or thermals, bob and weave around each other in a symphony of madness while traveling in vaguely the same direction, chopping and changing globally accepted traffic rules to suit the moment at hand. That’s how a two lane road can sprout another lane or two, using the solid white line as a handy guide; and that’s how traffic lights become nice enough suggestions but not quite ultimate authority.

Our prefered mode of transport.

Yet, with all that [noisy] chaos, we didn’t witness one accident. Okay, not one that required police assistance or first aid. A few light encounters, yes, but the drivers seemed to take these in their stride. There were, however, roughly 65 000 near misses per kilometre.

This mom was on the back of a scooter, holding a baby in her arms with no hands free to hold on to anything else. And traffic was hectic.

India is smelly

Spices (love them), incense (loathe them) and dog poo concoct a perfume that is at first a tad overwhelming, but soon settles into familiarity. Even though the pollution levels are apparently down since Delhi’s buses and taxis  have been converted from diesel to gas, it’s still hazy/foggy/smoggy and blue sky wasn’t a common sight – at least it wasn’t in the week we were there.

India is dusty

While I’m glad it didn’t rain buckets, the layer of dust on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g begged for a high-pressure hose pipe to wash things down a bit. Those poor plants, trying to soak up a helping of photosynthate through a choking layer of dust was quite quite sad. There’s a huge park across the road from the hotel in which we stayed, which would’ve been a lovely place if it wasn’t that the flowers, the leaves, the benches, the trees, the paths, the grass all seemed embarrassed to be caught in their dust-gear.

India is mostly friendly

Personally I found the men to be friendlier than the women, but that’s just a gross generalisation. Since we’ve been back I’ve been aware of how I treat tourists in my ‘hood, of whom there are plenty, and I’m not always little miss sunshine either. I shall try to remedy that.

The spectacular Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi.

India is cheap-ish

Shopping was an interesting experience. For one thing, I had to stop gasping for air when prices crept into the thousands. I wouldn’t buy a 700 rupee silk scarf until I hauled out my 6x table and figured that a little over 100 SA rands for a pure silk scarf from an upmarket store was probably a good deal. I can now divide any figure by six at the drop of a hat. Textiles are fabulous, tableware is fabulous, shoes are bling-bling, jewellery takes bling to a whoooole new level, the markets take manic up twenty notches, and haggling is expected as in:

How much does this cost?
Two hundred rupees.
What? That’s too much. One hundred rupees.
Noooo. Okay, we make it one-ninety (like we’d just agreed on the price, the goods are shoved in a plastic bag, ready for hand-over…).
Eventually, after more negotiation and a mock walk-off, we settle on an aggrieved one-fifty and get a my-kids-will-be-going-to-bed-hungry-and-it-will-be-on-your-head look to boot.

India is tasty

Despite a serious lack of fresh salad, which we were warned against as we couldn’t be sure that the ingredients had been rinsed in filtered water and not the Delhi-belly bacteria-bearing tap water, we ate up a veritable storm. Let it be said, though, that it will be quite alright if a bowl of butter chicken and the accompanying naan bread didn’t make it onto my dinner table for, let’s say, two years. Yummy as it was, a week was enough, hey. One night we hopped onto the surprisingly clean, modern, efficient Metro to pay a visit to Karim’s in Old Delhi, which is almost four million times more manic than New Delhi. Travelling down the drag in a cycle rickshaw it felt more like we were trespassing on a movie shoot than real life. The narrow road was lined with teensy-weensy shops and street chefs cooking and baking anything from mouthwatering chicken, breads and things that defy description and would, I’m sure, give you an express journey to the afterlife.

A colourful array of fabulous chilies.

India is lovely

Dusty, smelly and noisy as it is, India is lovely and given the opportunity to return, I shall do so at the drop of a hat. I’ve seen but the smallest part of a vast and diverse country and I hope that I’ll have a chance to dip into more of its crazy, colourful, vibrancy. No wonder it’s referred to as Incredible India!

So the little dog and I went for a stroll into the city this morning and came across two new additions and a potential firm favourite.

New kid on the block is Stef and his Baguette Sandwiches bicycle. With freshly baked bread from Knead (100% rye, ciabatta, bretzel rolls and, of course, baguettes) and toppings such as black forest ham, salami, roast beef, chicken or ham, garnished with cheese, tomato and lettuce, and ranging in price from a mere twenty SA rand, these sarmies are sure to attract lots of attention. The idea is to test this one outside Deluxe in Church Street and then expand to other locations in the city. Be nice and go say hi to him.

Baguette Sandwiches bicycle, stationed outside Deluxe Coffeeworks in Church Street.

On our way back, after a quick Deluxe coffee fix (for me, not the little dog) we strolled past a new building upgrade, housing Liam Mooney and his fabulously amazing furniture and homeware; Honest Chocolate, which is ridiculously and habit-formingly good (it’s raw chocolate, so it’s fine); and Commune 1, a new gallery that is a work of art in itself. The building is on Wale Street, between Bree and Loop. I could quite happily drag my bed down there and move in – it’s altogether lovely.

Tilt your computer – it's not easy taking a photo from the middle of the road hanging on to a Jack Russell that is intent on catching a rat, any rat, anywhere…

And then we got to within a block of our house where a long-awaited new restaurant/coffee shop has finally opened its doors. Beautifully renovated building, lovely Bo-Kaapish colours, nice enough interior, fair attention to detail…yes, things were going along swimmingly but then, sadly, all came to a screaming halt when the signage went up and revealed the name: Wale Rose Lifestyle… for no apparent reason other than that it’s on the corner of, oh yes, Wale and Rose Street. Maybe if you’ve worked on a project for months, perhaps years, you just don’t have any energy left to think of a name for it… Must be that.

Wale Rose Lifestyle. Corner or, uhm, Wale and Rose Street…