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Risky air travel & fried rice

After spending a week in South Africa and frequenting a fair bit between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, Subhash Rajta compares the two coastal cities...

india Updated: Apr 25, 2009 01:13 IST
Subhash Rajta

It's been exactly a week since I set foot on South African soil. After frequenting a fair bit between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, I find myself qualified to provide some insight into the two coastal cities.

People

They don't seem to get tired of saying 'thank you' and 'sorry'. For every act of generosity (actual or perceived), there's a prompt 'thank you'. Even the unnoticeable inconvenience caused by someone is followed by a heart-felt 'sorry'. A complete stranger wouldn't mind walking up just to say 'hello' and 'have a nice day'.

Places

It would be in one's interest to come here with the jaw bandaged (the way Anil Kumble did in West Indies) for it drops too frequently. The sight of a mountain, beach or just about anything here takes your breath away.

Weather

The weather, especially in coastal places like Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, changes colour faster than a chameleon. People claim that these cities have the most fickle weather on earth. Now if that's so, from where did the IPL bosses find out that it would rain here less than in England. Anyway, would someone care to find out how hard it's raining in England. Meanwhile, the clouds have opened up yet again in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Food

Not an issue until you are a vegetarian like me. There are some odd restaurants offering my kind of cuisine in and around PE and Cape Town, but it takes some effort, time and local guidance to find them out. I neither had time nor was I willing to make the effort, so I gorged on pizzas for the first four days after arrival. Disgusted with my pizza-eating spree, a friend offered to find out a vegetarian joint and ordered vegetarian fried rice. I cleaned it up in no time, only to discover that it had a mishmash of egg. I am back to collecting Pizza Hut numbers, and am not going to speak to my friend in hurry.

Travel

If anything has troubled me more than food, it's the travel. I have been shuttling between PE and Cape Town, and the small aircrafts that fly between the two coastal cities don't let you forget God even for a second on board. What makes it worse is the almost perpetual cloudy and windy weather, especially early in the morning. Sometimes, the aircraft shakes so much that the airhostesses skip a smile. It's equally terrifying on the road.

Your blood pressure rises as the cab meter adds a minimum of eight rands per km (Rs 50 km per hour). I am checking if I need to call up office to send me some more money.