A tale of two cities
I have come to realise over the years that you're either on one of two sides, Team Joburg or Team Cape Town. I have met some who left the manic free-fall that is life in Joburg, to live in Cape Town and absolutely hated it. They could not wait to leave 'Slaapstad' and return to a city that had an unmistakable pulse.
On the other hand, I know others who packed up their belongings, drove 1263 kilometres south and never looked back. So when I decided to make the leap, the most obvious question thrown my way was, "Why did you move to Cape Town?" My responses varied from person to person, each time becoming more philosophical and profound until one day when I was once again asked that very question, my response was simply, "Why not?" The reaction was an empathetic nod and smile. The Joburg versus Cape Town debate has been an obvious topic during casual and sometimes not so casual interactions over the last few months.
It was during my first few days in the mother city that a friend, born and bred in Mitchells Plain, pointed to an attractive woman in the city, as if he had just had a eureka moment. She was wearing workout attire and had a yoga mat slung under her arm. "There it is", he said, sure of himself. To him that image of the woman on her way to a yoga class personified Cape Town. I don't know if I agree but I have to admit that I have since taken up yoga.
During a brief email exchange with a member of Team Joburg about why she prefers to live in Jozi, she cited the pace, energy and vibrancy of the city. "It's where it all happens", she said.
During another conversation - the same topic of course - I was told "things work in Cape Town", "There aren't any potholes" and "the city is clean". All of which, I agree, is true. But I also think the DA-run municipality has more to prove. The opposition can't afford to drop the ball. Things have to run smoothly, because they have a lot more to lose. Cape Town is seen to be the capital of the unrecognised, unofficial Republic of the Western Cape, where provincial government MECs insist on being called ministers, minus the blue light brigades.
Some of the more hysterical musings about life in Cape Town were shared by a colleague who has been living here for a few years. He says, "Cape Town drivers believe they are among the best drivers in the world - in their own heads maybe - but in reality far from the much derided Capetonian 'shoo-wow' factor, they rank among the worst motorists in the country." "A flicker is a foreign concept" he moans, "as is fourth gear, because puttering along at 20 km/hour in the right-hand lane on the N2 highway is a common exercise in patience-testing."
A die-hard Capetonian, who incidentally like many other die-hard Capetonians, immigrated here several years ago, scoffs at insults about the fair city. She loves the natural beauty and the mountain which she says is not only soothing, but serves as a beacon for motorists. The same motorists, my testy colleague would probably argue are in a constant daze, hypnotised by the mountain itself.
A friend, who lives on Long Street in the CBD, says he likes the varied nature of each suburb which captures the 'complexities' of the city and the people in it. He must be talking about the hipsters, the well-to-dos, the gangsters and the e-kazi folk and not forgetting the immigrants like me.
I haven't been here long enough to make such informed statements as that of my friends and colleagues, but I have come to realise that Cape Town does have its own weather system - sometimes four seasons in one day and make no mistake the wind will knock you right off your feet or as my colleague says 'the wind will rip your skin off!'
I haven't been here long enough to have spotted a pothole - I'm still looking. I can't tell you for certain if the mountain has healing powers, but it is incredibly soothing. I can't be sure that Cape Town drivers are the worst in the country, but they are pretty bad. What I can say is that I have picked a side. It's obvious, I would never have moved here had I not picked a side. But wherever you chose to live, whether it's Joburg or Cape Town, just be glad you're not in Limpopo.
Rahima Essop is an Eyewitness News Reporter, now living in Cape Town.