New Beginnings. New Domain.

Posted: March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

And so its time to put an end to https://findingjozi.wordpress.com

BUT

This is not sad news. Finding Jozi is moving to its new home at http://www.findingjozi.co.za

The site is now being hosted by MWEB and I’m going to hope and pray this goes well. As a result, all my updates will be done on that site. EVERYTHING has been moved including all your comments (except for one or two stray ones.)

The new blog is really good looking. There are a few minor niggles but I’ll sort these out in time. I will also be publishing blogs much more frequently (around one post a week) on the new site as well. I do hope you like it as it did take me quite a lot of time to get everything looking all pretty. If you would like to see anything else on the blog, let me know (using the new contact form) and I will take a look into it. The new site is best viewed on your PC. I do have a mobile friendly version which should pop up on your mobile but this does need some work. I am working on it and I would appreciate some feedback.

I’ve also included a blogroll of my favourite blogs about Jozi. If you do want me to check your site out and add it to the blogroll, drop me a message. I will be adding a blogroll of non-Jozi sites soon.

The one thing I did not get moved across was the subscriber list. If you were a subscriber to my blog, PLEASE can you visit the new one and re-subscribe! It is a bit of an inconvenience but it will just take you a minute.

Anyway, enough of this – hurry on over to the new site. There is a new post waiting there for you.

Finding Jozi has moved! Why don’t you check out this post at: http://findingjozi.co.za/china-town-chinese-new-year/ 

One very important reason why I believe religion was invented was for the purpose of congregation. It gave people an opportunity, every week or so, to meet other members of their community and engage with other people in a common surrounding. Even though people lead such divergent and uncommon lives with different hardships and successes, it allows people to meet and mingle. Your economic status or social status is secondary to the act of congregation.

Modern society is slightly different. Many don’t follow the congregation side of religion and prefer to practice religion without attending the weekly service at their place of worship. Or they just don’t believe in religion. Sadly, this means that people don’t meet people that they don’t choose to meet. People gravitate to closed social circles and any intruders are shunned. It’s an approach which works with modern life but I think it has made us forget the community of humanity. We can now connect very well with some but we cannot connect with everyone.

As South Africans, it is worse as the only place you truly encounter all facets of society is in a bank queue. I don’t think anyone has ever been excited whilst standing in a bank queue so that’s not really the best place to interact with people. Markets and shopping centres are the next best places to interact with people but even our markets are segregated with the rich going to fancy boutique ones and the poor frequenting ones the functional ones. Our malls are the same. It really is pretty sad.

People have split lives with many having no idea how to take a taxi or a train or use Microsoft Word. We’ve split in groupings that have no way to empathise with other groups of similar human beings living in a neighbouring suburb. I believe human community is important. There’s a great power that people hold. Yet it is something we’re being constantly driven away from as we exist in these boxes we call homes with our white ear buds keeping the world at bay.

Walking through Cyrildene’s Derrick Avenue, I was engulfed and overwhelmed by the mystical power people give off when a melee of cultures and personalities from all walks of life converge in harmonious glory to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The diversity of people gave off this power that I’ve not felt in quite a while.

Chinese labourers were brought into Johannesburg to work on the mines at the turn of the 20th century. Just below Commissioner Street in the Newtown precinct existed Jozi’s original Chinatown where you could pick up all the Chinese wares you needed. With the urban decay of the inner city, these shops were boarded up and the shop owners moved elsewhere. With China becoming a superpower since Jozi CBD started decaying, there has been an influx of Chinese culture into suburban life. There are Chinese Food Stores everywhere and the China Malls of City Deep are spectacular with their grandiosity. A new Chinatown has been set up in Jozi, this time in Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene. Whereas it’s nowhere close to a Chinatown of the scale of the one in New York City, it does give one a wonderful peek into this vibrant culture.

On the strip, you will find restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, hairdressers, videos shops, supermarkets, tea shops, gift shops, massage parlours amongst a host of other rather interesting shops. The street is not exclusively Chinese with a few other Far Eastern cultures being represented. On the far end of the street is Sai Thai which is apparently one of the best Thai restaurants in Jozi. On the other end is a Thai Supermarket which took me back to the incredibly well stocked 7-11 stores in Thailand. They also had Chang Beer! I’ve heard that Chang is not brewed with the exact processes used to brew the usual SAB beers so the alcohol content in each bottle can vary from a sobering 3% to a monumental 15%!

The street is filled with beautiful Chinese signage and architecture. You do get the sense that you’re in a suburb claimed by an ethnic group rather than it being a half-hearted attempt meant to draw in tourists. Think about the pseudo-shebeens on Vilakazi Street offering an authentic African experience complete with Parmesan cheese and a sprig of cilantro (whatever that is.) Okay, that is quite mean. But yeah, it’s nothing like that.

On a normal evening in Chinatown, you can pick up some tasty treats being freshly made on the roadside. These taste so good!

Anyway, we came to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year celebration. This celebration is held annually at the end of January or beginning of February, this festival of happiness and colour turns this bright suburb into a festival of cheer, happiness, colour and gastronomical splendour.

According to legend, the New Year started off with the fight against the evil dragon Nian. This dragon would enter the house; eat the food and even little children. To scare him away, people would hang little children (not really but they do hang food) outside their houses. They also hang bright red lanterns and red scrolls outside as the dragon is scared of the colour red. Lastly, fireworks are used to scare away the dragon and bring prosperity for the coming year. This is re-enacted outside each shop along Derrick Avenue. Fruit and a bunch of fire crackers are hung outside each shop. The dragon approaches the shop and sometimes peeks into it. The fire crackers are lit as the dragon then eats the fruit hung outside. The acrobatics involved are quite impressive. The crowd lets out a cheer and the dragon moves on. It is quite spectacular and the fireworks are quite an earful. An observation which I found quite funny was when everyone blocked their ears and recoiled in horror as each one was lit. The Indian people in the crowd just stood and watched without batting an eyelid.

We stepped into a supermarket along the strip to sample the wares of this district. The shop just blows your mind. It really does. You’re shocked by the immense selection, then you can’t believe how cheap it is and then you look closely and can’t believe what they’re selling. I ended up getting a pack of some of the coolest chopsticks you’ve ever seen for R12. And my friend bought some wholesome chicken feet. I also ended up with a miniature lucky bamboo. What I need is more luck after all…

In Chinese culture, dragons are seen as helpful and friendly. They bring good luck, long life and wisdom. An important part of the festival is the dragon dance. A dragon made of bamboo, silk and paper is manoeuvred with great agility and finesse by skilled puppeteers using poles. The dragon dances to the beat of a drum whilst being enticed by a pearl of wisdom. Dragons can be hundreds of metres in length. The skill and intricacy needed to perform swift movements with dragons this long mean the longer the dragon, the luckier it is thought to be.

Ever since I watched Disney’s Tangled, I’ve been fascinated by these hot-air balloon type paper lanterns. Okay, I watched Tangled a few months ago but still, these are quite amazing. In abundance, these spray the sky with a bright happiness shimmering in the dark.

I didn’t sample the cuisine this time around but on a prior visit, I ordered a meal that I couldn’t pronounce and received something I couldn’t discern either by sight or taste and got a drink with a multitude of suspended solids. Even with the apparent shortcoming of not being easily identifiable, it tasted oh so good. With food, never go for the safe option. Take some risk. You never know what delectable delight you may stumble upon. If you don’t like it, you have another meal coming up in the next six hours so you can make up for it then.

However, the best aspect of this festival was the power exuded by the people. People from all social and economic walks of life were there. Young and old, rich and poor of all races came by to celebrate this marvellous festival. There was such a beauty to all of this. It’s not a beauty you usually experience.

As the fireworks brightened the night sky, I had this happy feeling that came over me. It was a feeling with no further agenda than to be happy.

When to go: Chinatown is open all week. Generally, the shops will be open during the day with the eating establishments being opened late into the evenings. The Chinese New Year festival is held annually around the end of January and beginning of February. It normally coincides with the 15th day of the Chinese New Year.

How to get there: Coming from the M1, it is a bit of a mission to get there if you don’t know the suburbs of Orange Grove, Norwood and Observatory. If you do, it’s actually pretty easy as it is a right turn off Cooper Street/Friedland Avenue just after the BP Garage. From the N3, at Gillooly’s Interchange, go westwards on the R24 towards Johannesburg. You can turn right into Marcia Street and follow it until you get to Derrick Avenue on your right. This route will take you past the Bruma Flea Market. You can also turn right into Queen Street (which will become Friedland Avenue) and follow it until you get to Derrick Avenue on your left. Derrick Avenue is the road just after you see Tong Lok Restaurant.

Cost: The supermarkets are pretty cheap whilst the restaurants are slightly below the average price of a typical Jozi restaurant. Take cash as not all establishments take cards and the only ATM is at the Engen Garage at the intersection of Derrick Avenue and Marcia Street.

Anything Else: Be a bit bold and try something that you wouldn’t normally try. Also, if you are going for the Chinese New Year festivities, book a table at a restaurant early.

10 Things I like about Jozi

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Entertainment
Tags: , ,

Finding Jozi has moved! Why don’t you check out this post at: http://findingjozi.co.za/10-things-i-like-about-jozi/

Recently, I was asked on Facebook to list my ten favourite things that I like about Jozi. This is what I came up with. Yes, there are a lot of omissions but I feel as if this list is very ME and are the elements I will miss when I move out of this exquisite city. What are your ten?

  1. The Carlton Centre

    Once upon a time, this was the Sandton City of Jozi. Even though business has moved north, this is still an amazing mall. The view from the top is pure magic.
  2. Sunninghill: Corner of Maxwell and Van Der Bijl

    As random as this location is, the sunsets from this point are probably the best in Jozi. The real gem is a few hundred metres away at the helipad inside Megawatt Park. Wow…
  3. Rivonia McDonalds

    How did the blandest chain in South Africa land up on this list? I should be more specific and say that this is best enjoyed on a Saturday morning around 10am after a heavy night out. I had a ritual a while back where I would get some breakfast and read the property section of the Saturday Star. I still go there except I don’t really read the property section. Also, if it is a Saturday morning, get the orange juice. It will do you good.
  4. Emmarentia Dam

    The gardens around the dam are a pleasure all year around. However, autumn brings a little more to it as the leaves brown and leave a glow that just makes you happy.
  5. The avenues of Old Jozi

    I think I am the only person that remembers the series “Avenues” that played on SABC 3 for like two episodes or so. It was widely touted as the worst piece of television ever made in this country. That is not why I like the avenues of Jozi. The avenues are this sea of glorious green. In spring, these transform as the jacarandas bloom. I cannot explain this as you just need to see it.
  6. Cocktails in Melville

    I’ve previously touched on the marvels that this bohemian (yes, I used the word yet again) suburb possesses but the coolest thing is the half price cocktail specials at many of the bistros on the strip. Sixeshave a legendary selection of cocktails that are half priced till 19h00. Then you move across the street to <insert bar name here as I have no freaking clue what the name is> and you keep the night going. The taxi fare back will hurt but it is totally worth it.
  7. Food in Fordsburg

    Tikka chicken (or Shayona’s if you’re vegetarian) and a visit to Hanover Bakery are all you need to live a content life.
  8. Jozi CBD on a Saturday morning

    Granted I’ve not been there much but there is something about a bustling city centre that moves you. When I make my way to Durban, I love just taking a walk through the old Grey Street complex and up and down West Street and Smith Street. You feel something. You also get some seriously good food and some GREAT bargains. Jozi CBD on a Saturday morning is that on some heavily banned steroids.
  9. 44 Stanley

    This is undoubtedly my favourite place in Jozi.
  10. A braai at a townhouse

    Modern Jozi lives in townhouses stacked three high. These townhouses number in the millions, possibly billions or maybe even hundreds of trillions. As monotonous as these are, you cannot beat a braai on the balcony of one of these in the company of good friends.

Finding Jozi has moved! Why don’t you check out this post at: http://findingjozi.co.za/collectors-treasury-where-getting-lost-is-a-good-thing/

 

Most of you will have these memories of going to your local library and excitedly picking out books for you to consume for the fortnight. I was a big fan of non-fiction and most of the arbitrary stuff that I do recall nowadays was instituted into my brain at a rather early age. Anyway, the one drawcard of a library is you don’t have to spend more than your monthly salary in order to gain some knowledge. More importantly, a library offers books that have been previously loved and enjoyed by tens and maybe hundreds of others. Yes, sometimes pages are defaced or torn out and this causes huge annoyances especially when you’re ten pages from the end of Mario Puzo’s “The Family” and then the book just doesn’t end BUT is that really an issue? Pictures might be removed so someone could get an “A” on an assignment or the story intensified so much that the person just ripped out the page where their favourite character was killed. Books tell you a story but as you read more and more, your imagination develops and the books themselves tell a story. You don’t get this when you get a crisp, brand new, 15th edition of a 1995 bestseller from Expensive Books. These stories spill out the entrance of Collectors Treasury.

Your first time at Collectors Treasury is completely overwhelming. Your mind will be completely boggled by the sheer volume of books on offer. The store is housed in an eight story building which is a five minute walk away from Arts on Main. Every floor is dedicated to books with the exception of one which is dedicated to about one million vinyl records. You cannot imagine this. Do not even try.

The shop has two main floors that are generally accessible to the public (while the other six floors are accessible using a rather rickety lift that is filled to the brim with books.) The first floor has a multitude of trinkets from yesteryear. Theres fine china tea sets of a quality that you’ve never seen. There are beautiful paintings. There are old vases and even tea pots shaped like some guys head. Camera enthuisiasts that aren’t too fond of instant images will fall in love with the beautiful devices that actually take pictures that look like the ones in this post.

The entire store is a step into a world which cannot exist anymore. We happened upon this postcard from one hundred years ago. I stared at it for more than a moment trying to fathom what life was back then. History books tell us about the major events around this time but what about the normal folk? I always wonder how normal life was in this period or during the renaissance and even before that. What did a typical month consist of for a normal human being? What did they talk about? What were their hopes and dreams? This postcard struck me as the content was the equivalent of a modern day instant message. Yet this would take several days just to reach the recipient. In that time, that river would have subsided or even burst it banks. How would you share that information? Or is that information something we didn’t really need to share? Not sharing this seems unheard of in an era where every raindrop is documented across a multitude of social networks where it is open to instant comment. We live in a world completely changed by communication. Anyway, if you do want to boggle your mind a bit more, check out the date on the card.

Downstairs is accessed via this avenue of books that leads you to shelves and piles and nooks of more books. You will find everything here. I stumbled upon an early edition of Mein Kampf during a prior visit. There is also an enormous selection of classic vinyl spanning from the 50s right through to the 90s.

A special room is dedicated to just first editions.

Collectors Treasury is pure magic and although it has so many words etched into the countless volumes, words escape you when you try to describe it. Its best you make a trip there and lose yourself in this maze most beautiful. You will not regret it.

When to go: The shop is open from 09h00 till 17h00 on Monday to Friday and from 10h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. I’ve only visited on a Saturday. Seeing that it is in town, you should make it an entire day into a trip around the CBD and surrounding areas. Maybe pop into Neighbour Goods Market for an early breakfast then go to Collectors Treasury then do some shopping in town before watching the sunset from the top of the Carlton.

How to get there: The store is located in CTP House at 244 Commissioner Street. It is just beyond the point where Commissioner Street becomes a one-way going towards town. It’s a five minute walk away from Arts on Main.

Cost: With this many books, the prices are going to vary – a lot! The books are pretty well priced for a second-hand book store and so are the vinyl records. Most albums cost around R30 with some going for less and the rarer records selling for a bit more. The store has a huge selection of supremely rare wares and these can retail in the thousands. They do accept cards but take cash if you don’t intend on spending more than a few hundred Rands.

Anything Else: You need to visit this place twice before you can understand it. The first visit warps the mind. You grab onto everything because you just “have to buy it.” I’ve taken several friends there and most start grabbing but then get so stunned by the sheer volume of quality material that they ended up not buying anything. That is perfectly okay. Just enjoy it for the marvel that it is and after a few visits, your personal book collection will naturally grow and be populated a number of beautiful novels.

Finding Jozi has moved! Why don’t you check out this post at: http://findingjozi.co.za/pretty-lights-in-melrose-arch/

Nostalgia plays a large part in allowing one to enjoy a new place. By bringing up these feelings that you have not experienced for years, a new restaurant or market can bring about deep feelings of love even though you’ve never been there before. Or when a fashion district puts on some clothes, it transforms it – completely.

One of Durban’s holiday features is the lights in the CBD. When I was a kid (actually this lasted way into my teens,) my parents took my siblings and I on special trips to town to see the lights. Only a few streets had lights with West Street being the centrepiece for this magnificent celebration of colour. Us kids were mystified and completely hypnotised for what felt like hours (even though it was probably just 20 minutes) as my parents drove through these happy streets. As we got older, my parents told me how the lights actually weren’t as grandiose as the previous years and that there was even politics behind the lights. Rather than detract from the enjoyment, I think this made me enjoy these more.

Last week, I found myself at Melrose Arch in the late afternoon. After meeting a friend at the oh-so-stunning Protea Fire and Ice Hotel, I reappeared on the streets of Melrose Arch just as twilight fell away and night took over, the lights above brought on this nostalgia. The lights were nowhere as ostentatious as the lights from my childhood but their gentle beams delicately illuminated the wide smile on my face.

The worn-crystal coated glow from the evening rains added this radiance to the roads, making it more familiar, more homely, more happy.

In the piazza, stood an exhibition to complement the lights. If you’ve ever read the paper napkins given to you at KFC, you would have noticed the “Add Hope” campaign that KFC have run for the last few years. Depending on the KFC you go to, the teller should ask you if you want to add R2 to the cost of your meal to feed a hungry child. This is a great way of tugging on your heart strings which has made it a pretty good campaign. I would think it would be a better campaign if KFC matched the amount donated by their patrons but hey, there is always room for improvement. The campaign has the images of (hungry) children playing. To feed each child, you insert a R2 coin into their tummies.

When to go: The lights are up for the holiday season and should be there till January. The Add Hope campaign was running for a rather short period of time but after reading this post, be sure to give the homeless person at your favourite intersection a R2. Do it –please?

How to get there: Melrose Arch is easily accessible from the M1 taking either the Corlett Drive exit or Atholl-Oaklands exit. It is always worth a visit. There is always a great vibe with great food and great places to shop.

Cost: Petrol money? And the money it will cost you to park. I hate paying for parking.

Anything Else: I do find it quite weird that Jozi central, like most towns in South Africa, does not have Christmas lights in the CBD. Then again, come December, Jozi does empty out with every one moving off to these towns that actually have lights in their central streets. The one other thing that would be cool is if these lights use solar panels and batteries. Charge during the day and use this at night.

The Baron: Mondays are the new Fridays

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Food
Tags: , ,

Finding Jozi has moved! Why don’t you check out this post at: http://findingjozi.co.za/the-baron-mondays-are-the-new-fridays/

Just as Oliver, in the play/movie/book “Oliver Twist” was told about the magical streets of London that are paved with Gold, so is the reason so many millions have flocked to Jozi. Jozi is filled with delicate beauty but the thing to remember is that what really attracts people here is the money. Jozi may not have streets paved with Gold but the Gold does permeate society as the Gold dust from the mine dumps travels far and wide touching the millions of business parks strewn like the gold bearing rocks tossed into piles by the miners under your feet.

The ludicrous amounts of money that is being spent needs to be spent somehow. That is how capitalism works after all. When you make money, you don’t go and uplift your fellow human being, you go blow it on booze. The Baron in Sandton is synonymous with this. On a Friday, it’s strictly standing room only. The entire establishment is completely packed with suits, ties and skirts that end before you know it. In all honesty, it’s a really great vibe. As packed as it is, it does show you the machine that keeps Jozi running. Even though the heart and soul of Jozi resides in the townships and the fanciful boutiques in Melville and Parkhurst, the money is what keeps Jozi breathing and allows it to venture off into its organic markets and designer cupcakes. This is what truly makes Jozi.

As much as Friday is pretty damn awesome, I had to be different. My friends and I went by on a Monday evening. It wasn’t really a special Monday. But it was a Monday. I think that was reason enough to go. The Baron is very pretty. The red lighting has a really cool effect which is accentuated with the red-kissed water feature outside. It’s a setup that’s tailored for large crowds but has this scattered yet not really, beauty. Also, inside the restaurant is an outside section with an open roof. It will make sense when you see it.

The food is also pretty impressive. The Baron is a franchise and I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food there before. The casual platters that we ordered were really good. I guess this works hand in hand with the amount of alcohol you are consuming though. The Baron has this effect that makes you drink more and more and more…

So why is Mondays the new Fridays? The Baron, in itself, is actually a great venue. The manager was super cool when he came by to have a chat with us and the place is set up really well. It’s something you can’t enjoy on a Friday when it’s packed to the brim. This Monday was just superb. A bunch of good friends sitting around, drinking eating and laughing (a lot) whilst being told that caramel vodka is not really vodka (but we drank it anyway.) I guess that is actually all you want and need in life.

When to go: You should actually go on a Friday just to experience that vibe of the place. Many love it whilst many hate it and insist on some indie bistro in Linden. But hey, I can’t predict what will float your boat. I do actually like the venue so Monday worked out great for us. Who knows, maybe we can start this Monday trend…

How to get there: This Baron is situated in the heart of Sandton on Fredman Drive in the 24 Central. It’s a quick walk away from both Village Walk and Taboo.

Cost: It’s not cheap. It is situated in the heart of Africa’s financial district so don’t expect your R5 Kara Niccha’s sandwiches here. If you are broke, make friends with someone with at a big table. That bill might be paid by their company so you can drink till you’re in 1973. All at their expense!

Anything Else: The cops in Jozi are extreme so have a sober driver or call a cab. It really is not worth getting caught for something as stupid as drinking and driving. Also, this place is fancy. Don’t be like me and rock up in sandals – wear some formals and look the part.

Jozi Sunset: WAY up North

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Sunset
Tags: , ,

Finding Jozi has moved! Why don’t you check out this post at: http://findingjozi.co.za/jozi-sunset-way-up-north/

I enjoy driving. You probably already know this. Twenty years ago, I was just a kid and driving was something my parents did in our old blue Toyota Corolla. I knew that one day, when I was big, I would drive but that would be multiple lifetimes away. One of the simplest yet most joyous of pleasures was after a long day spent at the beach or visiting cousins, we’d return home in the dark and I would fall asleep on the backseat with my siblings and once home; my parents scooped us up, carried us into the house and tucked us into bed. As the years ticked on, it became cooler to stay up whilst my two younger siblings fell asleep and had to be taken into the house whilst I stood tall and made my way in all by myself. As a child, you never really realise that, although you’re displaying this brave independence, you let go of simple pleasures that can never be relived.

Anyway, so where does Jozi really end? Is it actually a mentality more than something that resides within physical borders? Well no – it is bordered pretty well. If you are from Krugersdorp or Springs, you cannot say that you are from Jozi. Anyway, I’ve been making several trips up North to Lephalale of recent and on the absolute outskirts of Gauteng is Total Petroport Panorama that stretches across the N1. It’s very much like the Caltex at New Road in Midrand except this one is not spread over 10 lanes and enveloped by a newly commercial hub. It is placed such that you can take some pictures of the cars using a very slow shutter speed.

By some freak act of nature, I got to the garage just before sunset. Next to the pumps is open veld. Nature takes over from here. It’s absolutely stunning. It’s humbling. As the sun tucked itself in for the night, I, instead, absorbed the magnificence and felt a new joy – a joy six year old me probably would not have truly understood. We go through life always thinking back to simpler times of our adolescence and childhood. Yet age brings so much more…

When to go: If it’s a weekend, leave Jozi about an hour and a half before sunset to ensure you get there in time. Actually, you really should only go here if you’re driving back or to Polokwane on the N1.

How to get there: The Total Garage is just after the Pumulani Toll Plaza and N4 Rustenburg split

Cost: Petrol Money

Anything Else: You will get some beautiful pictures here so don’t forget your tripod. If you do want some slow shutter speed car shots, take a good SLR. You will love yourself to bits when you process the shots. Don’t worry about taking your smile along. At sunset, it will find you.