I got a visit from my father, who was here working. He invited me over to spend a night in a good hotel and have supper with him at the V&A waterfront. As opposed to taking a metered taxi, I did the South African thing; I took a blaxi (A taxi taken mostly by black people, not always the case in Cape Town. I see white folks here and there now and again). I’ve blaxied before in Johannesburg with my mother and I distinctly remember it not being fun. But in Cape Town should I need to go somewhere, I tend not to mind, I am always entertained by the interactions between the sliding door operator (Ganshi is no longer a politically correct term), the people on the street and the very annoyed Xhosa and coloured women. This occasion was extraordinary as my trip in blaxi took me all the way to the town taxi rank! I jumped into a taxi (with the sliding door operator shouting “Caype towyn”) near cocoa wah-wah, Rondebosch and away I went on an adventure like none other than one a Capetonian (or a Capetonianish) can experience.
The driver was unforgettable. He had kind green eyes. Not playing at all into the stereotypes about blaxi drivers. He was so sweet, docile even. Just driving his taxi along and offering the occasional slice of well received humour. The sliding door operator on the other hand was thuggish, having many backstreet tattoos on is arms (I remember a lion with a full stylised mane) and obviously wearing false teeth. Out of his mouth came the fast beats of the Cape Afrikaans dialect. But he was entertaining! Chuckling at jokes he made himself every now and again and speaking to customers, he knew the occasional person and engaged them in conversations about themselves. Very charming. These guys are talented, jumping out of moving taxi’s and shouting their destination loud and far enough to have people running. I wish I could say I sat there in my element but I was shrinking back into my seat trying to avoid being noticed (and also because I was squashed due to the overload), looking everywhere but into people’s eyes. I was taking it all in, looking at everything as though with new-childlike eyes.
Arriving at Cape Town station was something else. The station was a mess, litter and puddles of dirty water everywhere. Concrete chipping off the ground and the smell of piss heavily clouding the air. The sound of reggae. But while I was feeling sorry for myself, the taxi had reached its destination and every passenger was disembarking. Every passenger but me. I grabbed my backpack quick and acted like I knew where I was going, too proud to ask. Outside the taxi, life was buzzing with the activities of people too busy to notice my awe stRuck face and awkward stares. MaNy stores had been set up in prefabs built by the City of Cape Town. I noticed some All-Stars. I’m looking for a pair, in white.
A video to guide others into similar Capetonian(ish) adventure