Monday, June 22, 2009

Half the fun: The mission to get there

“Two small”
“Forty rand”
Two small South African flags are passed through the window of the minibus taxi, with the ten rand change, and we’re off down Enoch Sontonga, on the iTransie park ‘n’ ride from Wits West to Ellis Park.
“It’s my first time riding in a taxi,” the gent in the front passenger seat announces with a mixture of pride, joy and embarrassment. I do a smug mental audit and conclude that this is my… fourth time in a taxi.
Baby produces the vuvuzela and fires off a staccato blast as we turn into Jan Smuts. A couple loafers on the corner by the service station make a cross-armed Bucs sign.
“Come, driver, you suppose to be playing music,” insists the lady by the sliding door.
“Ja,” agrees the first-timer, “It’s like a funeral in here,”
The driver fires up his sound system. Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown, No Air. We get on the freeway and stick our flags out of the windows as we circle around town.
In front of us, an accompanied lady smiles to herself. Indeed, this is not to be missed, whether you’ve someone to go with or not.
By the time we take the Mooi Street offramp, my ears are burning. It’s either from the volume of the speaker by my head, or from blowing the vuvuzela. There’s a hectic back pressure if you don’t blow it properly. It feels like your sinus glands are going to pop out through your eardrums.
If you do it properly, your lips go numb.
“You supposed to be hooting,” commands the lady by the door, and the driver obliges. On Jeppe street a girl in tight jeans twirls her hand above her head in response to our hooting.
By the time we cross Bezuidenhout Street we are every bit the clichéd, brash, inconsiderate taxi, disturbing the Sunday lunch of the law-abiding citizens of Troyeville.
It feels good.
Heads turn as we make our way towards the stadium. The taxi driver looks a bit embarrassed, in a good-natured kind of way.
We pull up at the drop-off and pile out.
“Sharp bhuti.”
This area’s been cleared of traffic. It’s just us park ‘n’ riders, pouring down the lanes towards the stadium, where you can already hear them testing the PA. Vuvuzelas call and respond all over the place.
You can see the stadium now, looming between the warehouses of Bertrams. “Please stand for the national anthem of Iraq!” comes the PA, followed by what sounds like the Star Wars theme.
Our lane feeds into another river of humans, the rising roar of thousands of people talking about a football game, checking they’ve got their tickets on them and practising vuvuzela blasts.
There’s the entrance! The security gate!
Metal detectors!
“Keys and cellphones! Place your keys and cellphones here!”
“Abafazi la, amadoda ngale…”
Men this side. I get in the men’s lane and head towards the gate. It’s like we’re taking a flight to somewhere.
After all this wait, we’re ready for take-off.

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