Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Where Does One Meet People In Cape Town?

I recently started playing an online, browser-based game called Popomundo, which is basically a web reinvention of The Sims style of gaming but with a "build a musical career" theme, as research for an article I have been asked to write (sometimes being a tech journalist can be great fun). An aspect of the game requires you to form, manage, and maintain relationships with other characters, so I decided to leave my character in Central Park overnight, as the park is always well populated and this would enable other players to interact with my character as a change from me always trying to interact with other characters as, to maintain a relationship, you really need both players to make an attempt and I was getting sick of all the one-sidedness.

My experiment worked, as a few people interacted with my character while she was in the park (and she also fell victim to a mugger who stole a book she was carrying - who knew such a thing would happen?), but it got me thinking about Cape Town and how lacking it is in places to meet people. In New York you have, for example, Central Park, and London has, for example, Hyde Park and St James's Park, but Cape Town doesn't really have anything equivalent to that - well, certainly not on the same grand scale. Here, we have many beaches, but each has an unwritten identity and I've never found most of those near to the city to be that friendly to "outsiders", although, to be fair, I haven't ventured to the beaches for a few years so perhaps I should do some research during the upcoming holidays.

Other than that you have clubs, which each have their own very particular identity, of course, and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which is a wonderful place to wander around in or visit on a Sunday afternoon during summer to attend for one of its Summer Sunset Concerts (highly recommended!). There's also the mountain and surrounds, but it's not very safe there at the moment, so where do you go? I have no idea.

I think living here, in some ways, makes it harder because many of us become bogged down in our jobs and lives and end up commuting back and forth between office, home, and the malls (*ack!*) without really interacting with people in any meaningful way. There isn't really a culture of "communal commuting" here, except for the truly unlucky who have to rely on public transport, which is not safe anymore and therefore not recommended for those who can afford not to use it (or, well, technically, anyone..). And not that "communal commuting" necessarily equates "meaningful commuting" [quick shoutout to London ::wave::], but at least you have an opportunity that you can choose to take advantage of, should you wish.

As for the rest of us in Cape Town - what's the answer? I don't know. Between the hecticness of life and general Capetonian apathy, it's very hard to meet people, even in a city of over three million individuals.



Blogger ibis said...

Hey there!

I live in CT and I've been blogging for a while, but I've only recently decided to be a bit more pro-South African. So I'm doing a search to see if there are any good SA blogs out there that I can add to my blogroll. I found your blog on Blog Explosion and I really like it :)

Could we swop links? I'll add you to both of my blogs and in exchange you can add my 2 links to your blog...?


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...


LOL. I guess the answer to "Where does one meet people in Cape Town?" is "online" (or while being held hostage in a mall or bank - little joke for South Africans reading this).

I don't just link to stuff for the sake of it. I only link to blogs I actually like/read, but I will definitely check yours out over the next few days and see if I like them.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 3:27:00 PM  
Blogger Francois Maree said...

Ok, I'm adding to bloggage out of fear for revenge on my guys in the black van becoming victims to a hijacking in Cape Town. ;)

So, with me being an ex-Capetonian and being a guy I thought I'd give my point of view. Now normally guys will just hit the pub/club scene and pick up any chick. Sounds like fun but, I mean come on guys. How much money have you spent on average on a girl for drink just to find out she's not what you are looking for? I have been there, done that and had enough. I am now deciding on taking the no nonsense approach. I'm going to look at speed dating.

Ok, I admit. I am in Ireland, and therefor have no idea if speed dating exist/are heard of in Cape Town. But I reckon if it's not there it's just a shame and someone should do something about it. What is speed dating you ask? Well, you register for a speed dating evening. Over here in Dublin you pay €30 for the evening, and that include beverages (from what I can tell coffee and soft drinks). You go to the event, get assigned a number. Then there are tables and at each table one girl. You have 5 minutes to chat with a girl. You ask questions and decide if you would like to meet with the girl again. After the 5 minutes you make a note on a clipboard and move on to the next table. The girl does the same. At the end of the evening the clipboards are gathered and the organisers looks at what guy and what girl marked on their respective clipboards that they want to meet each other and organise a more private (as in not at the speed dating event but a proper date at a restaurant or such).

I just like the idea a lot. You don't spend loads of money, slur, stumble around plus you don't waste loads of time on wooing a girl that doesn't want to be wooed. :) So, as soon as I know where I'm going (might leave Ireland soon) and depending on if I do start studying my I really want to, I will tackle such an event.

Friday, January 27, 2006 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...

[The black-van comment is an inside joke between the two of us.]

Anyway, you know, I asked politely if you'd maybe post a little comment, not an essay worthy of your own blog. :)

So I shall just say this: we aren't so backwards that we don't know about speed dating. Whether or not it actually goes on around here is another question (that I have no interest in answering from research-based personal experience). I learnt about the practice from TV, years ago. My post was more about meeting people in wider terms - friends, in other words, not just people to date.

And the answer still seems to be online, which I find rather amusing.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 3:17:00 PM  
Blogger Francois Maree said...

First I wait before I post then I am in trouble for lackage thereof. Now I post and I'm in trouble for too much. Sheesh! :)

With South Africa I would be surprised if there are speed dating going on there.

And yes, for meeting friends online (IRC, IM) seems to be the only way.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 8:30:00 PM  

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