October 24, 2012

Ghost Town

Have you ever been in a city and felt scared? Have you ever walked the roads of a metropolis and constantly looked back to see where signs of life were stirring? Have you ever been terrified by a city?

When I checked into my hotel, I never thought that the stories I heard about Johannesburg were true. The city during the day seemed no different from all the other cities in the developing world, in a mad rush to get bigger and achieve more. It attracted people from across Africa who came here for a better future and stayed on.

Everyone is scared of Johannesburg. And sometimes it’s easy to understand why. It’s a huge city surrounded by the mountains and the mines and having some of the worst thunderstorms in this part of the world. No one knows for sure when a storm would lash against the city. Stores get empty, people drop the shutters and people wait for the storm to pass.

But as night falls, the city changes. Suddenly you see fewer and fewer people on the streets. And if you have played Max Payne when you were in college you will feel all alone as you walk the streets of Jo’berg with the leaves rustling all around you.

The almost nonexistent public transport disappears all together, the stations shut down completely and there is not a single soul on the roads of Jo’berg. Taxis are rare and if you find one, you can never be sure if it’s the one that is safe to take.

There are rarely any city beyond the Indian hinterlands which has such a stark difference between its days and its nights. But Jo’berg carries on, scaring its visitors and shackling the country from soaring higher.

And we wait for change to come in.

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