Friday, April 8, 2011

On Tuesday last, Thabo & I decided to venture into the neighbourhood where my grandparents once owned some property, where my mum grew up on 3 Ayr Road in Atholl, Sandton, Johannesburg. 
I wanted to go there to see how the property had developped, who lives there now and if there were any remenants from the house my grandfather had designed. We travelled there by the standard cheap taxis (once known as KAFFIR taxis), ending up in a park where we had to squeeze through a gate and walk along the highway to the off-ramp...then another 30min trek up and down the hilly area called Atholl, finally to arrive at 3 Ayr Road, the last place I had seen my grandfather before his death in 2006.

enterance to 3 Ayr Road, the way it looked as I last saw it in 2001

as it stands today, 3 Ayr Road, surrounded by high security walls

To my surprise, the property had been split into 2 houses: 3A and 3B Ayr Road. I rang the doorbell at both and the domestic workers told me that the owners would be back shortly. Thabo & I waited outside the properties (that is to say outside the gates), only to discover that someone had pressed the "panic button" on us and so arrived the big black security truck with 2 big black men--armed with RIFLES--who stepped out of the truck to inform us: "we will use maximum force to remove you from this property", followed by: "I AM THE COMMANDER OF THIS AREA". I tried to explain the situation, but clearly we were without a car--no quick getaways--and these gorillas were not prepared to listen to any reasonable account of why we were there. So we up and left, walking down the path, me cursing under my breath, Thabo laughing from the absurdity of it all.
Just a few meters into our journey out of Athol, I realized that big black security truck was actually FOLLOWING us! We turned in disgust and demanded to know why they insisted on following us, and if they wanted us to leave so much, why not give us a lift to the nearest main road? They didn't give us any clear answer but instead told us to wait where we stood and they would come back to escort us out. Once they drove away, Thabo and I tried desparately to hail down any car which drove past. Finally one car stopped, 2 darkies in a beat-up toyota. We jumped in, and not a second to soon!--the security gorillas were driving in the opposite direction looking for us! We ducked our heads and breathed in a sigh of relief, knowing we had made our quick get-away afterall.

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