When people heard hubby and I were moving to Johannesburg…boy were they worried! Dozens of emails and calls from friends and family and only one question – “Are you guys REALLY sure? After all, armed robberies, murders, car jackings, smash & grabs are a daily affair there”.
After weeks of deliberations, scouring of news reports, blogs, advice columns, etc we decided to move anyway. Afterall, looking at the how crime had spiralled in Delhi (the city we call home), in recent years, I was sure no place could be worse.
We landed in Jozy with hearts full of trepidation; nervous about what lay on the other side of the ‘arrivals’. Despite our better judgments, we had been pre-conditioned to be afraid.
The first couple of months saw hubby and me praying for dear lives if we happened to unwittingly drive any where near the Johannesburg CBD, Hillbrow, Alexandra and the likes of them. We had again been pre-conditioned to avoid these places at all costs by people living in Jozy and not all of them were expats.
So it was bad enough that our house felt like a mini jail with its electric fencing, high walls and armed response systems, now even a simple night out in the city needed careful planning.
It wasn’t long before I realised that this was not the way I wanted to live in a city that was going to be my home for the next few years. I needed to feel the pulse of the city, to know the city beyond its suburban malls, swanky casinos and expat areas.
I wanted to start with exploring central Jozy – the CBD, New Town, Braamfontein, etc., all the places that were a big no-no. So I started scouring the web for inner city events and news. And I was surprised to read about various groups and organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, that have been working relentlessly to revive these areas. I even found some local tour companies that organise inner city tours and walks regularly in Newtown, Hillbrow, Braamfontein, etc. Knowing very well that hubby would not agree going to any of these places on our own, I organised a walking tour and invited our friends to come along. The details of that memorable tour I leave for another post.
This was the beginning of my love affair with the real city of gold. Since after the tour, hubby and I try and spend every weekend discovering a new part of Johannesburg; each time getting to know the city and its people a little more.
While it still may not be advisable to drive to the CBD alone in the middle of the night or leave valuables in your car in plain view when you park (something I would not do in general), living in Jo’burg is not much different to living anywhere else, albeit with a little more caution and awareness.