Driving in Durban

One of the things that shock you the most in Durban is the driving, especially if you come from generally polite Cape Town and having spent a year in ultra-polite England. (although their motorways are a lot like Durban)

Here its like everyone is on steroids the minute they enter the road system. Everone hoots all the time for every misdemeaner, like taking one second to take off at the robot, or DARING to switch lanes even if you have signalled and checked for cars..there is always another racing into your bum.

Cars pass both left and right no matter what you do. They are always going the fastest they can, and trying to get ahead of the person in front no matter who they are and even if ,or especially if, cars are piled in front. Cutting across three or four lanes vertically is quite normal, and simply stopping in ANY lane by putting on their hazard lights is considered sufficient excuse.

I tried driving in the left lane, but discovered that, since there is no yellow line, as in other south african cities, the left lane IS the yellow line. After some close shaves in cars stopping without warning right in front of me, and lanes suddenly leaving the motorway, I decided to try the second lane. This is infinitey safer, but beware as the left lane then becomes the passing lane as well as the right. It feels a bit like a kyalami race track.

Most people blame the taxis, and they certainly are guilty of all the misdemeaners expressed above..the worst one being HOOTING..mainly for custom. I think all taxis need a special sound for custom so that they dont use their general hooters, as after a while you begin to switch off to all hooters. This is a dangerous thing to do. In England it is a finable offence to hoot for any other reason than an emergency so you rarely hear hooters. (British people are also solaw abiding mainly because their fines are HUGE, and you get fined more if you protest in court..a bit of a police state,I would say).

Anyway, I forgive all taxis because every taxi takes ten cars off the road. Imagine how many cars there would be if everyone in a taxi had a car? So I always am grateful and allow taxis their idiosynchronicities. Also, I have used them occasionally and they are far and away the best form of transport in South Africa. they are fast and efficient, air conditioned (often), not overcrowded, as most people think and will go anywhere and stop anywhere..unlike buses. They are also cheap for what you get.

I put the blame on the roads in Durban. The fact that there is no yellow lane ensures that the inner lane is a disaster area. Also, the road markings are bad, and you willsuddenly find that you are supposed to be in a right lane even altough you are going left off a highway. Also there are many offramps and roads that come into an intersection at an angle to meet a robot that is both red and green! Yes. unless you know the road, you dont now if you are supposed to stop or go or which robot slightly angled you should obey. Notice the robots in the photo below.20170406_064741

I just about killed myself taking this photo.

Durban has a glut of one way streets. Despite this, I must say they work well. I have rarely sat in traffic for long. The robots seem quite co-ordinated as a result, so despite theis photo, the traffic is not bad compared to other cities,its just that you have to constantly be vigilant that someone is not going to stop or turn in front of you suddenly.

More usual is HUGE trucks. As Durban is an industrial city, huge trucks are everywhere, and they dont drive slowly either..so its quite common to meet them in The right lane speeding with 10 new cars on their platforms or a number of containers. Can be quite fightening when they are on either side.

Durban also has high and huge highways, mainly because they ave to cater for high and huge trucks. I have not yet managed to get a photo of the astounding wall paintings on the N3 by graffiti artist Faith 47. I will post them up when I do. 20170327_162024There is an amazing vibe at the taxi and bus terminus, and I deliberately drive through just for a bit of it even though I risk my life getting around the thousands of taxis. the photo above is of the taxi rank area. There is loud music with a real African vibe and lots of market stalls selling everything from muti to plastic. 20170327_161938

I have been trying to get photos of the many white beggars in Durban. The only other place I have seen so many white beggars is in England. I’ve been told its because the weather is good that the Joburg beggars migrate to Durban, and back to Joburg in summer where the pickings are richer. I have an aversion to giving money to a white beggar, especially if they are young and fit. This is because I know they have been given every opportunity to not be on the street and have not taken them. (My bit of racism..sorry)

Looking for poor people in Britain

I spent a lot of time looking for poor people in Britain. I was told that they are there. Of course, what the British call poor is very middle class in South Africa. I was looking for really poor people. Poor people in South Africa live in a two room shack built of corrugated iron without insulation (very hot in the hot summers..freezing cold in the colder areas that reach below freezing..definitely NO central heating..a communal toilet, shared by 4 households if you are lucky and a tap with clean running cold water shared by 40. The shack is shared by two families..one in each room, if you’re lucky.)

There are those who are completely homeless too, and sleep in the streets carrying their homes in a supermarket trolley. In South Africa there are no payouts for the really poor unless you are disabled or old or have young children. Even these payouts amount to: R1,500 per month (75 pounds) PER MONTH not per week, as in England, and ONLY if  you do not earn more than R64,680 ( 3200 pounds) per YEAR.The same amount is given for a disabled person. The child support grant is R350 (17.50 pounds) per MONTH to the main caregiver of a child 18 or younger. The applicant must earn less than R39,600 (4000 pounds) per YEAR.

So you can see, that there are different levels of poverty in he world.

So I did find some poverty in a manner of speaking. Very occasional beggars usually with a dog, usually, are white, young and often drug addicts or alcoholics.20151003_135910 I saw only about 5 in the year I was in Britain. (South African beggars usually are black, trying to sell or make something or looking for work, very rarely just sitting with a hat. here are many in one day. We have a few white beggars too, but they are always alcoholics or drug addicts) I also found one bag lady in the year I was there. But I wasnt certain, as she looked quite posh.

It was likely because I was living in the Cotswolds, which is a fairly wealthy place, apparently, so I went to Bristol to look for signs of relative poverty.

This area had piles of rubbish like this.

You would never find piles of rubbish like this in South Africa, mainly because the poor people would have piled it in a trolley and sold it to the re-cyclers. Truly, every bin day in SA you find bin pickers looking for things to recycle or sell. Never would you have found a duvet with pillows as here. These would have been taken home to be used. Even paper is scratched from the pile..this called white gold, as the highest prices are paid at the re-cyclers.

Graffiti is often a sign of disaffected youth, and this area in Bristol was graffiti area de-luxe. At last I found some colourful signs of protest.

There was this satirical piece with Trump and Boris Johnson kissing..a comment on the brexit voting that was taking place at the time. 20160710_152341on a damaged building full of graffiti.20160710_152308 Lots of other graffiti:

Banksy is probably the worlds most renown graffiti artist, and one could call him the Banksy of the poor. You can be glad if he trashes your wall, because it will be very valuable. His recent installation at Western super mare, a town outside Bristol and comparatively poor, where he took over a derelict holiday resort, and despite (maybe because) charging a low entrance fare by British standards,  brought 20 million into the Western super mare economy. So, these are two Banksy’s that I found by chance..I didnt even go and look for them.

These look like Banksy’s, but I cant say for sure. One was in Camden, London, the second in a subway in Bristol and the third, just something quirky in Portobello road, London.

My son, Byron, is a Banksy fan, and later on I found a shop selling Banksy T-shirts, I had to get one to take home. Unfortunately it was too small..British sizes are slightly different, and I cant change it! sob!