Waka Waka...This time in Africa :)

4:00 PM March 22nd 2011, my manager called me and told that Pushkar you will have to fly on 24th midnight for Johannesburg. I was stunned for some time, I knew that I will be going to Johannesburg but I was not expecting it on such a short notice. Then, I asked for permission to leave early for doing all the preparations and make travel arrangements ASAP (Oops forgot to mention I got discharged from hospital 4 days before…I will discuss about it in some other post

I called up my dear wife and told her the story and as expected she was shocked too…I prepared the checklist and ran out for shopping…we finished shopping by 10pm and reached home…those two days were very hectic but somehow I managed to complete my packing and shopping. 

Friday 25th March 2011 2:30 AM, I was in flight. Well this was my first international journey experience and I was scared and exhausted due to Immigration check and lots of other official formalities. Anyways 2 large Rum settled down everything for me and I could sleep comfortably ;) After all India defeated Australia that day and reached in semi-final of Cricket World Cup… celebration to banta tha yaar…  

Flight reached Johannesburg early morning on 25th around 7:00 AM. I was out of airport @ 7:45am after doing all the formalities. My company’s driver was waiting for me with the board saying Pushkar Kumar.      

Driver was very friendly and he started to explain me about South Africa and its traffic, greenery, food etc. He also told me that this time South Africa is going to win world cup because the team is in great form, I said yes indeed all the best for today’s match. Unfortunately South Africa lost that game and they were out from world cup, I felt very pity on the driver’s confidence rather over-confidence.

I reached my office and again completed lots of onsite formalities for phone, bank account, house etc. When I was done with all the formalities, driver dropped me at 20 Hyde Park, Sandton. He said that make yourself comfortable, your room partners will come in evening. He also told that I can cook something or order pizza for afternoon. I nodded and said thanks man.

The room was decent enough for a bachelor, two rooms with attached bathroom, big hall and kitchen. I thought of making Maggi, the easiest food you can cook to survive. I tried to open the stove but unfortunately I was not able to do it, it was bit different from what we use in India. It was electric stove, some iron plates on top of it and different knobs around it. I was not in a mood to do any RnD so I left it as it is. Luckily maid (In SA you call them domestics) came and she showed me how to use that stove. Finally I made Maggi and gave some rest to the bloody rats who were jumping in my stomach since morning :P

I called up my Biwi and Gaurav and told them that I reached safely. I asked them to inform this to others as well. Too many things were going through my mind, I was in need of a number for making VOIP calls, I had to give test for car, how my client work location would be, work culture etc. Till Monday everything started finalizing, first day at client office was good. Being a pay TV domain company they have big LCDs placed on every corner of the office which helped us watching world cup matches while working.   

It’s been nearly 10 months for me in South Africa and I have experienced many things here. I think I will be able to explain something about South Africa now. 

I am staying in Johannesburg, one of the largest cities of South Africa situated in Gauteng. Johannesburg is a very beautiful city, people are very friendly here and most important thing “It is very safe to stay in Johannesburg (yeah few areas are dangerous but that are everywhere isn't it??)”

Food: You can find too many Indian restaurants in Johannesburg. Renowned ones are Taste of Punjab, Vintage India, Delhi Darbar etc. You can also find KFC, Mcdonalds and many burger joints which are really good (esp. if you are non-vegetarians).

Grocery: There are 2 big Indian/Pakistani market in Johannesburg Fords burg and Laudium. You can find all type of spices and other grocery items here which you can’t find it in stores. Other things you can find it in PicknPay, Makro and FruitnVeg.

Transportation: This is the biggest problem in Johannesburg rather in South Africa, you should have your own vehicle otherwise it’s very difficult to travel around. There are many agencies who give car on rent. Your Indian license is valid here and the driving style is also same as India.

Living Style: People in South Africa start their work early and they close it early also. All the big malls close @ 5 PM very few @ 6 PM. You will feel difficult in starting up early. However, it gives you more time for yourself and your family. People are very fashionable here. You can see very different and pretty dresses, hair styles and stylish boots :)    

Shopping Malls:  There are too many malls in Johannesburg Monte Casino, Sandton, Rosebank, Hyde Park, Cresta, Bright Water commerce. You can enjoy Hindi movies also in Numetro @ Monte Casino & Hyde Park Mall. You can also find some renowned African craft markets like Bruma and Rosebank. 

Tourist Attractions: Johannesburg has many tourist attractions; I will try to list down few here:   

Carlton Panorama - At the Carlton Panorama you will have some very wonderful views of the city from the 50th floor tallest building in South Africa.

Sun City - Sun City Tour with its casinos and roulette tables and beaches this proves to be a very fun outing.

Lesedi Cultural Village - You can see how the people live there with their cultural dance and much more. 

Gold Reef City - Spend some time at the Gold Reef City is a reproduction of the city of Johannesburg in the early 1900’s.

Johannesburg Zoo - A day at the Johannesburg Zoo is a joy. You will see so many animals and enjoy all the exhibits.

Johannesburg Planetarium - There is a tour of the planetarium that takes two hours to shows and explains about the planets. 

Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve – A very good place for one day picnic. You can also visit wonder caves inside this park.

Nelson Mandela Bridge - The largest the 284 meter long cable-stayed bridge in South Africa.
Mandela Family Museum - Nelson Mandela's house in Orlando West, Soweto, now called the Mandela Family Museum.
Montecasino – One of the best complexes in Johannesburg with an array of restaurants that include Japanese, Portuguese, Mediterranean, Eastern fusion and, of course, Italian. There is one huge casino and Numetro multiplex.

Museum Africa - Museum Africa’s focuses on indigenous African cultures, history and archaeology, and linguistics, and the collection of rock art.

National Museum of Military History – You can see collection of weapons, military aircraft, medals, uniforms and other war memorabilia.

SAB World of Beer - A tour that explains art of beer-making and brewing; and a cool treat of beer after that :)

Sandton City - One of the main attraction in Sandton is Sandton City. This shopping center is ranked among the largest shopping centers in Africa
Apart from this there are many good places which you must visit when you are in South Africa.

Kruger National Park
St. Lucia
Port Elizabeth
George & Knysna

Enough for this post I will share experiences about Durban, Sabie, St. Lucia and other trips in some other post. Hope you liked it and some of the information was helpful :)  


नागेश देशपांडे said...

Nice Pushkar, nicely summarized all memories and information is also nice.

how can you forget Hyde Park cricket man!!!

do write about it...

anyways very very good post.

Snehal said...

Badhiya yaar .. very informative blog... ek bar to SA and specially Johannesburg jana hi hoga :)

Yogita Lahori said...

indeed its very informative for anyone travelling for the first time...
u realli listed down everything very well..

& i'm soo glad u remembered me while mentioning abt the boots :D

Unknown said...

Well structured post. We can infact build on this to include all possible places we have been to :-).

Kuch Is Tarah... said...

Thanks all...
@Deshpande Ji: Next time cricket ke bare likhunga sure...
@Snehal: Aaja abhi...
@Yogita: How can I forget about boots yaar...
@Gaurav: Yes indeed...I am going to write about Durban, St. Lucia and Sabie...need some inputs from u as well :)