Finally made it to JAG

One of Betsy her Dutch colleagues is already leaving IBM and South Africa. Some issues with his contract and a general dissatisfaction with the place have resulted in cancellation of his contract. As something of a ‘goodbye’, we had dinner at Apadana yesterday, a Persian restaurant in Rivonia, a Jo’burg suburb where every youth seems to hang out on both Fridays and Saturdays. The food, a buffet of many Persian dishes, was extremely good, but also quite expensive. We had no choice but to eat until, Katamari-like, we had to be rolled off the premises.
After dinner, we got home at around 12, but I couldn’t sleep until 4 in the morning, my digestive system working overtime and keeping me awake.

On Friday, we also had spent a bit on dinner. That time, at a very good Thai restaurant in the middle of Sandton, another Jo’burg suburb and also the area where Betsy works. Here, prices, on average, are probably about twice as high as in other upscale places around the country. The main reason being that Sandton is becoming somewhat of the new CBD (Central Business District) of Johannesburg, after the original CBD was abandoned shortly after the end of apartheid, all the sky scrapers in downtown Jo’burg now being completely empty.

We tried again today to get into downtown Jo’burg and visit the Johannesburg Art Gallery. We struggled again but finally did find the entrance to the complex. The exhibitions, most of it modern art, ranged from typical to mildly interesting.
I still find it amazing how downtown Jo’burg has completely been taken over by the black population. As said, the skyscrapers are now completely empty, no-one being interested in renting offices in this high-crime area. The few parks, although well kept, are packed with people, most of them taking a nap on the grass. The streets are lined with stalls or blankets from which people are selling, mostly, produce. Minivans, the standard form of public transport, endanger every individual out on foot.
Visiting central Jo’burg, it’s easy to see why so many white South Africans are somewhat reserved about the future of the country. If, under black majority rule, downtown Jo’burg has degraded from the economical hub of Africa to the open air market what it is today, what does that hold in store for the rest of the country?

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