Saturday, 12 June 2010

A Day In Pictures: Pre-World Cup

I should be in bed. Doctor’s orders, given that I’ve been unable to shake this fever, clogged nose, brain diarrhea, wheezing cough, zapped limbs and what-not. But there are just too many things to do… too much to see… to many people to meet… and SO little time!

I’ve been given a few weeks off from work for the World Cup and have decided to bide my time constructively (as constructive as I can be anyway). This means that I've been on the prowl for lost and confused tourists to help them get around the vast expanse called Johannesburg. Its easy to spot the lost and confused foreigners. They're usually the ones standing in a circle with a map in hand, pointing in various directions and arguing with each other. So far my activities have included driving a few Mexicans (trust the Mexicans to be the ones getting me out of my social networking “mexicoma”), Serbians, Argentinians and Americans to their required destinations in and around Johannesburg and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way.

For me, this epitomizes what the World Cup is about, meeting hundreds of foreigners from all over the world, all coming together for a single event, engaging in conversation, getting to know who they are and what they’re about and forming inexplicable connections based on the premise that we’re all so different, yet exactly the same. We need and want the same things. It’s utterly fascinating and I could literally spend my entire life wandering from place to place, just talking to different people… words cannot encapsulate how much I love it.

So for the next few weeks, I don’t really care who wins or looses, I’ll just be out and about, meeting tourists from almost every part of the world, forming new connections and helping out where ever I can. I have offered to assist by driving those lost and confused foreign individuals to any destination in and around Johannesburg and the surrounding areas, as well as providing accommodation to any foreigner / tourist who is struggling to find decent accomodation… all for FREE. GRATIS. MAHALA. NADA. It’s my contribution to the world, so if you know any visitor in need of a good nights sleep, a shower and a meal… or if they are lost and confused and need to get to Soccer City etc. and don’t know how to… I’d be glad to assist and drive them to any venue in Gauteng, as well as provide essential Jo’burg survival tips and mini amateur tours of the city.

That said, I was inspired by Mezba’s post titled “This week in Toronto through a cellphone camera” and wanted to do something similar for some time now. Then a few days ago, I came across The Boston Globe’s tribute to the World Cup, which is a series of photographs taken all over the country chronicling the days before the World Cup kicks off. So I thought of amalgamating the two ideas to create my own amature  documentary and on Wednesday, two days before South Africa was due to play Mexico in the opening match of World Cup, I hit the streets with a Sony Digital and a Nokia Cellphone Camera, and this is a pictorial journal of that journey:

05:40am - Rise and shine. I prefer hiding under the covers with red sleepy eyes. I didn't want to get out of bed because of the cold and chose this pic so that no one has to see the horrid state of my hair in the morning.
09:27am - Off into the suburbs. Beautiful day, 22 degrees celcius, not bad for mid-winter. The streets of Auckland Park are quiet.

10:12am - Stopped briefly at Campus Square Mall and left for Melville, running errands.

11:53am - Downtown in Doornfontein, on the other side of Johannesburg city, people line the streets as they prepare to show their support for the South African team, Bafana Bafana, in a two-hour vuvuzela-blowing noise fest.

1:45pm - Due to the high volumes of traffic, we waited a while before hitting the M1 North Highway to Melrose Arch. The Beams supporting the structure are painted in the SA flag colours.

2:10pm - Melrose Arch acting as the Mexican home base for the team and their supporters.

2:18pm - The Angle of Independance was especially imported from Mexico to bring the team good luck and will stay here for the duration of the World Cup.

2:29pm - A reporter from Fox Sport gathered with enthusiatic Mexican supporters.

2:55pm - A South African supporter and Mexican supporter square off, showing their support for their respective teams in a good-natured, humourous fight bringing-the-noise.

3:13pm - More supporters, mostly Mexican and some Argentinians, lounge around and dine in Melrose Arch at the various resturants surrounding the square.

3:25pm - Walking through Melrose Arch to other precincts. The businesses, boutiques and shops were open but quiet as most people lobbied around resturants and in the square socialising and celebrating.

3:30pm - More people suddenly visible.

3:32pm - Melrose Arch is a Fan Park venue and technicians, organisers and press were hard at work setting up the screen etc.

3:50pm - On the way to Sandton, passing by a street vendor selling SA flags at the traffic light.

4:12pm - Taking a back road through the suburb Illovo means that we're there in no time, skipping all the traffic.

4:25pm - In Sandton City Mall, department store Stuttarfords show their support to the FIFA World Cup 2010 with a display at the entrance.

4:34pm - Outside, in Nelson Mandela Square, a sea of fans and supporters from various countries gather to sing and make a noise with press and media from all over the world.

4:36pm - ESPN set up a studio in the square to cover the event.

4:38pm - Hoards of people and supporters in great spirits walk by the newly erected Sony 3D Arcade, in honour of the World Cup, in the middle of the Square.

5:00pm - Fast approaching dusk in the winter sky.

5:07pm - Mexican supporters with a larger-than-life statue of Nelson Mandela in the background.

5:11pm - Don't know who she is, but alot of the Mexicans were asking to take a pic with her. Must be a famous reporter.

5:21pm - Inside at Latte-licious having a coffee break. I don't linger outside at dusk as part of my religious beliefs.

6:09pm - The parking lot is an excellent place to make Salaah if anyone wants to know. Walking through the Mall at Sandton once again.

6:28pm - Dragged inside the Sony 3D Arcade by enthusiastic sister. Was surprised that we didn't need any tickets and that it was free.

6:45pm - Waiting to watch the World Cup theme song 'Waka Waka' by Shakira ft Freshlyground in 3D, amongst other stuff.

8:04pm - The Sandton skyline at night.

8:31pm - Decided to drive by Soccer City on our way home. Johannesburg's star stadium is where the opening and closing of the FIFA World Cup will occur.


  1. Sorry that you're not feeling well, but I can imagine the atmosphere it electric and you'd definitely want to be a part of it.

    That's wonderfully kind of you to help the tourists out. Sometimes being away can be very stressful, and you're being so sweet!

    Thanks for the pictures, very cool stuff on the go by the looks of things!

  2. AA-

    Cool pics.

    "I’ve been given a few weeks off from work for the World Cup"

    Nice. Did the SA government request this from many businesses in order to lighten the traffic load during the WC?

    "For me, this epitomizes what the World Cup is about, meeting hundreds of foreigners from all over the world, all coming together for a single event, engaging in conversation, getting to know who they are and what they’re about and forming inexplicable connections based on the premise that we’re all so different, yet exactly the same."

    What a beautiful description of the Hajj! Oh wait, you're talking about the world cup. ;-)

    "I don't linger outside at dusk as part of my religious beliefs."

    Is this related to the teaching of the Prophet that the shayateen (devils) are out before Maghrib? I had never heard this when I was growing up and only recently learned about this when a friend told me to call in my kids 10-15mins before sunset. Is this a common practice among SA Muslims?

  3. I like the travelcamalot.
    I like the travel cam a lot.
    I like the travel camalot.
    All of the above.

  4. LittleLeslie - Its true, I don't want to miss a moment of it and have postponed illness even though my body doesnt want to comply ;)

    Naeem - Wasalaam brother.
    1. Well SA Government have closed schools and some businesses are more lenient as many staff members are taking days off to go and watch the games- but most businesses are operating as usual. I was just lucky that my boss allowed us to take paid leave from work during this time.

    2. I really do love meeting all kinds of people and I'm sure that I will absolutely LOVE Hajj especially since, I suppose, that people bond on a more spiritual level. InshaAllah I will have the opportunity to go soon Ameen! :)

    3. Yes it is related to that hadith. Ever since we were very little my parents and teachers would always chastise us if we were outside at dusk and would call us inside. Its become so ingrained in us that I actually feel very uncomfortable being outside at that time. It is said that the sun sets between the devils horns and that Shaytaan usually congregates with his followers at dusk and asks them what they've achieved for the day. Also said that when the Adhaan or call to prayer sounds, the Shayateen disperse and run for the hills and enter any home that is open (with an open door) and seeks refuge in such a home.

    Mash - I'm not really because even though I'm helping out because I really want to, it's also partially selfish (so that I can meet and engage with different people). So in essence I'm also getting something out of it innit? ;)

    Kaloo - Thanks boet :)

  5. How lucky you are to see a World Cup like this where you live, first hand!

  6. Thank you - I feel as if I was there.

  7. mezba - Yes indeed, we are lucky. I am lucky that I get to meet so many people during this time :)

    LL - It's my pleasure. I'm taking more pics as I go along and will do more "days in pics" through this month :)