Archive for the ‘Metrorail Mondays’ Category

Lost in Music

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The Boland Express suffers no delays. Today it runs like clockwork. The train driver is a smooth operator. No sudden abrupt movements. Pulling away, acceleration, slowing down and stopping all seem to be incorporated into one smooth action.

In a corner of the carriage on the opposite side of us a young man sits oblivious to the world around him. He seems to be in his early twenties. His eyes are hidden behind a famous brand of sunglasses. His foot is rhythmically tapping, gentle, almost unnoticed.

He removes the earphones, turns up the volume on his little ‘boom-box’ device, and the carriage is engulfed in the melodic sound of Ray Phiri and Paul Simon collaborating on the song ‘Call Me Al’.

Commuters are caught by surprise but can’t help but acknowledge that the African rhythm of the song ignites the music in them. Feet are tapping and heads bobbing as a result of the beautiful melody. Older commuters are looking at this young man with admiration and with some degree of confusion. The norm is that youngsters of his age listen to Hip Hop or modern RnB which I am sure some of them find quite irritating.

The next song features Ray Chikapa Phiri with Stimela doing a song entitled ‘Come to Me’. Again commuters can’t help but to be captivated by the rhythm and the soulful voice of Chikapa.

Commuters standing in the aisle are tempted to explode in dance moves expressing their appreciation for the captivating African rhythm. A lady in her twenties can’t contain herself any longer and erupts in dance moves which cause commuters to rhythmically clap along, all smiling from ear to ear. The ‘DJ’ quietly hides behind his dark glasses; his face expressionless; his right foot still tapping.

The lady on the ‘dance floor’ is in full flight, enjoying the sound and rhythm with pleasant sensual moves. As the song fades she returns to her seat saying “Yooh! That was nice! I didn’t do that in a while”.

Commuters respond by giving her a warm round of applause.
“Thank you.” She acknowledges their gesture and at the same time she blows the ‘DJ’ a kiss. His smile is shy, yet he shows his appreciation as he nods in response. He isn’t done yet.

It seems like the Graceland World Tour is going down in this carriage on this joyful morning. The introduction of the song ‘Diamonds on The Soles of Her Shoes’ featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Ray Phiri is the final straw. The lady in her twenties is on the ‘dance floor’ again; this time grabbing a guy by the arm. At first he’s reluctant but her bright smile is enough to persuade him.

In perfect harmony they dance together with “ooh, yeah, aaah,” and handclaps resonating through the carriage. For a moment they’re in each other’s arms, smiling, dancing; lost in the rhythm and the music.

“Oooweeh… Eish… Where’s my station? I must get off,” the lady suddenly shouts.

“I think I’ve passed it,” she says in disbelief.

The smooth operator slows the train down without any discomfort to the commuters. “Now, that’s being lost in music,” a commuter remarks.

The song fades and the ‘DJ’ grabs his bag and gets up slowly, making his way to the door.

“Thank you Mr DJ!” another commuter says.

“Yes, yes, thank you,” almost as if in one voice, others agree.

“Politics will never unite people; only music can,” the DJ responds as he steps out the carriage door with a clenched right fist raised high.

Rest in Peace Ray Chikapa Phiri

Raymond Chikapa Enock Phiri was a South African jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician born in Mpumalanga to a Malawian immigrant worker and South African guitarist nicknamed ‘Just Now’ Phiri.

Born: March 23, 1947, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Died: July 12, 2017, Nelspruit, South Africa
Music group: Stimela (Since 1982)

Look Away

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“Why you look at me?” a lady asks a guy in the overcrowded carriage. She has an annoyed look on her face and speaks with an Afrikaans accent.

“Who… Me? I’m not doing that. Never… not me,” he replies looking somewhat surprised.

“What you want?” she asks abruptly.

He laughs in disbelief. After a few seconds he says, “This is ridiculous. I don’t want anything. Please stop it.”

“Then you better stop looking at me. I’m not liking it,” the lady says, still annoyed.

The train squeals under the heavy load. Eventually we reach Goodwood station where a significant amount of commuters leave the carriage. Whether it’s because of a lack of oxygen or having reached their destination is unclear.

“Oh Lord… thank you,” a young lady whispers. “I’m being squeezed from both sides. I thought I’m the cheese spread on a sandwich,” she complains.

“You better check where’s your phone and your purse,” the commuter next to her warns.

“My phone is hidden away and I don’t bother with a purse when I use public transport. I suffered too many losses,” the young lady retorts.

“Oh tell me about it, especially with crowded carriages. That’s when the vultures seize the opportunity.” The young lady nods in agreement.

“You can stop looking. Look out by the window,” the lady tells the guy again in broken English.

He laughs again in disbelief. “Woman what’s wrong? I’m minding my own business. Should I close my eyes?” he asks almost irritated.

“Yes, close your face,” she sarcastically replies.

The guy just laughs and covers his face with his right hand.

“I’m getting off at the next station Madame then you do not have to put up with me,” he jokingly says to her in a mock British accent.

The lady just rolls her eyes.

“What?” the guys asks teasing.

“Wat wanne jou ma kos opskep… Nogal vi my kô wat,” she mumbles this time with eyes as sharp as knives.

“My ma bly vê innie Somalia djy,” the guy exclaims.

The surprise is evident in her eyes which are now as big as saucers.

“Djy skrik ek ken. Ek praat Afrikaans ja,” he rubs it in.

“Nou kyk djy vi my,” he teases, laughing and showing big white teeth.

The train slows down noticeably.

“Ek sê, wat issie girl se naam?” he asks as the doors open and we exit the carriage.

“Hoekô will djy wiet?” she snaps back at him.

“Dan wiet ek mos vi wie ek kyk girl, aweh,” he playfully replies, smiling again.

A smile appears around her mouth.

The cold wind is tugging at us, jealously looking for attention.


Urban Dictionary

wat The Afrikaans word word for what”.
wane The Afrikaaps word for “wanneer” which means “when”.
opskep The Afrikaans word for “dish” as in dishing food.
nagal An Afrikaans word meaning “after all”or “actually”.

The Afrikaaps word for “kom” which means “come”.
The Afrikaaps word for “ver” which means “far”.
issie The Afrikaaps word for “is die” which means “is the”.
hoekô The Afrikaaps word for “hoekom” which means “why”.

“Wat wanne jou ma kos opskep… Nogal vi my kô wat.”
“What when your mother dishes food… Actually (you have the nerve) to come (say) what to me.”

“My ma bly vê innie Somalia djy.”
“My mother lives far in Somalia (you).”

“Djy skrik ek ken. Ek praat Afrikaans ja.”
“You are shocked that I know. I speak Afrikaans yes.”

“Nou kyk djy vi my.”
“Now you’re looking at me.”

“Ek sê, wat issie girl se naam?”
“I say, what is the girl’s name?”

“Hoekô will djy wiet?”
“Why do you want to know?”

“Dan wiet ek mos vi wie ek kyk girl, aweh.”
“Then I will actually know who I am looking at girl, alright.”

Alternative Arrangement

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“Commuters, please be advised that all trains are suffering delays due to technical issues. We apologise for the inconvenience,” the voicemail lady announces in her usual friendly voice.

Impatiently commuters glance at their watches and cell phones.

“Lat wiet ma die laanie voo’ julle ‘n disciplinary hearing face,” a station dweller teases lightheartedly.

“Die laanie is op holiday in Barbados,” a commuter snaps back.

“Lekke! Stie hom ‘n postcard met ‘wish you were here’,” the vagrant shoots back while making his way to the subway.

“Sorry, ek bly hie. No ticket required,” he tells the verifier at the turnstile.

Reluctantly she lets him through.

“Thank you. Lovely day to you,” he says while passing through. The ticket verifier gives him a blank stare.

Almost unnoticed the signal turns amber.

“Hi, morning Joe… Am I on time for the train?” a lady asks a guy fiddling with his phone.

He looks up for a moment, his eyes meeting her gaze, and casually responds by saying: “Hi, morning Thandeka… You’re lucky the trains are delayed and that allows you to be on time”.

She smiles and says: “I can’t remember when last I’ve been on time. It’s a schlepp, but my budget only allows me to travel by train. So I’m caught between a rock and a hard place.”

“Well… We’re in the same boat; love it or hate it,” Joe adds. Thandeka just smiles and shrugs.

“I think we need to start a lift club,” Joe says shoving his phone into his jacket pocket.

“That’s not a bad idea. When do you think this could happen?” Thandeka asks with excitement in her voice.

“I didn’t really give it much thought. I still need to wrap my mind around it. It just popped into my head now,” he replies looking surprised.

“Well I have two other potential passengers who wouldn’t mind to contribute instead of suffering the inconvenience of public transport,” Thandeka says, encouraging the idea. “By the way we could perhaps alternate the cars every second week… Just thought I’ll throw that in… What do you think?” she adds.

Joe is quiet for a moment. Thandeka’s gaze is fixed on him, impatiently waiting on his answer. A sheepish smile appears around his mouth.

“I think we should discuss this in detail… perhaps after work? What do you think?” Joe suggests, this time fixing his eyes on her.

Been admiring this chick for quite some time now, he quietly thinks.

Mmmmm… Not a bad catch, she thinks while assessing him.

Their eyes meet again. A gentle war ensues.

“What do you have in mind?” she asks smiling, showing perfect white teeth.

Slightly nervous but remaining composed, he suggests: “We get my car after work and go to a cosy place with a fireplace, good food and soft music and even softer lights.”

Her heart skips a beat. Oh my goodness, rushes through her mind.

She hesitates for a moment then says: “Not a problem, but allow me to first freshen up after work. It won’t take long… I promise.”

But you already look gorgeous, goes through his mind.

“Not a problem; I’m sure you would like to be more relaxed and casual, right? ” he says trying to make her feel comfortable already.

What a sweet guy, she thinks still smiling charmingly.

“Yes you’ve got that right. How insightful of you,” she whispers as the distance between them becomes smaller. He smiles back at her.

Oh my word, she wears my favourite perfume, he mentally observes and almost says it out loud…

The train sneaks into the station unnoticed to them. As it comes to a halt he gently touches her hand, guiding her to the preferred carriage.

Is the lift club going to be more interesting than this? Joe asks himself.

We are heading for interesting times, Thandeka thinks to herself.

“Metrorail wishes all of our commuters a pleasant and safe journey,” the voicemail lady announces in her usual friendly tone.


Urban Dictionary

lat ¬– The Afrikaaps word for ‘laat’ which in this case means ‘let’. The word ‘laat’ also in a different context means ‘late’ but in Afrikaaps it would also be pronounced ‘laat’.
wiet ¬– The Afrikaaps word for ‘weet’ which means ‘know’.
ma – The Afrikaaps word for ‘maar’ which means ‘rather’ or in other cases could mean ‘but’.
laanie – The Afrikaaps word for ‘boss / employer / owner’ in some contexts also could refer to a white male in or even as an adjective to mean ‘upmarket’. In South African English slang the word ‘larnie’ is used.
‘voo’ – The Afrikaaps word for ‘voor’ which means ‘before’ and could also mean ‘in front of’ or ‘ahead of’.
Stie – The Afrikaaps word for ‘stuur’ which means ‘send’.
Lat wiet ma die laanie voo’ julle ‘n disciplinary hearing face. – ‘Rather let the boss know before you have to face a disciplinary hearing.’
Die laanie is op holiday in Barbados. – ‘The boss is on holiday in Barbados.’
Sorry, ek bly hie. – ‘Sorry, I live here.’

Change in Focus

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The train is running at a gentle pace. No rush this morning – it’s right on time. The mood in the carriage is pleasant. Surprisingly this carriage has no broken windows.

Scarves, jackets, gloves and beanies are the preferred clothing against the bite of a winter morning.

At Goodwood station a man in his mid-twenties enters the carriage, recognises someone standing on the other side, and walks over to him. The whistle blows. Within seconds the train responds with a gentle jerk.

“Howsit bru?” he greets the friend.

“On the ball bru; your side?” the friend returns the gesture.

“No worries bud” he replies.

“By the way what were you busy with during Youth month?” the guy in his twenties enquires from his friend.

The older friend gathers his thoughts for a moment. “Well as the youth leader at church, I took the initiative to reflect on the youth actions of 1976, 1980 and 1984,” he answers thoughtfully.

The young friend looks surprised and curious at the same time. “But why is the emphasis on the youth of 1976?” he asks.

“The ‘76 uprising was the first major form of resistance against Apartheid which really got the world’s attention. Subsequently the international community imposed all sorts of sanctions on the South African government,” the older one explains.

He continues: “I’m of the opinion that the following uprisings of ‘80 and ‘84 were just as important as ‘76 in order to keep the momentum and sustain the pressure. It was the uprisings during those periods which gave birth to the United Democratic Front and many other civic organisations. Leaders such as Alan Boesak, Ebrahim Rasool, Jakes Gerwel and Desmond Tutu stepped into prominence speaking out against the injustices of Apartheid, taking the National Party head on. These were the leaders who inspired, motivated and encouraged a generation who stood together as one fighting the odds against one of the most powerful oppressive governments on the continent of Africa, bru”.

“Wow, but where is the youth of today?” the young friend asks.

“That’s exactly my point buddy. I guess we lost direction. We are unemployed, we turn to crime, we became materialistic. We disregard the counsel of those who paved the way for us. In my view we are rudderless. Instead of partying and having a jol on Youth Day we should have embarked on a national strike against corruption, cronyism, nepotism and mediocre government officials. We are facing a new revolution but have become complacent and silent.”

“Only when all youth of all colours come together and let their voices heard and show collective concern for the current political climate in this country… only then will Youth Day celebrations make sense to me,” the older guy explains passionately.

“But we must do this. We must stand up and be counted. How about next year?” the young friend asks with excitement.

“Let’s wait and see buddy. One thing is sure. Things can’t carry on in this way.” Almost whispering, he adds: “Change is inevitable.”

We’re at Salt River station. Table Mountain, visible in the distance, is covered in white. A storm is looming.


Urban Dictionary

howzit – A colloquial South African greeting which is a shortened form of “How is it?”.
bru – A term used by English-speaking South Africans meaning “brother” from the Afrikaans word “broer”.
jol – A colloquial Afrikaans term meaning “having a good time” from the Afrikaans word “jolyt” meaning “jollity”.


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Finally rain is predicted. Bucket loads of rain too. Capetonians quietly release a sigh of relief. The Almighty finally instructed Mother Nature to look with favour upon the province.

The voicemail lady is somehow in tune and promises that the trains are only five minutes late. She has a ‘not-to-worry’ tone in her voice.

“I’m nogals excited for the predicted rain that’s coming. My garden was in dire straits,” a guy says to the friend next to him as he pulls up his jacket collar to shield him against the morning breeze.

“Spare a thought for the homeless and vulnerable,” the friend replies.

“Yeeeesss,” he whispers through his teeth, sounding impatient.

He then takes a glance at his watch; followed by a stare into the distance down the railway line.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ the friend asks curiously. “What are you thinking?” the other one asks.

The friend is silent for a moment then with a twinkle in his eyes says: “The train has been capture.”

They burst out laughing.

“That’s a good one,” he says after gathering himself. “But then again what isn’t captured? Apparently all government SOE’s are captured,” he says shrugging his shoulders.

After waiting a second he continues: “We are so far removed from the people shall govern, it’s like we never believed it in the first place.”

The friend nods approvingly. “My life has been captured man; nothing belongs to me. My car and house belong to the bank. My salary just briefly visits me every month. Bills to pay; commitments to meet; if I’m lucky I at least have something left for an end of month braai. At times that doesn’t happen either,” the friend moans without sounding too downhearted.

“Moenie praatie ou bra,” the guy says adjusting his collar again. He quickly turns his face to see if the train is coming. “I told the wife ‘Yes Madame, I’m sorry but you have to cut on shopping, buying; spending just because the money is in your purse. You better cut some corners,’” he explains without checking whether his friend is listening. It’s almost as if he is thinking out loud.

“I don’t have to tell my wife that. She knows the drill. We are just about scraping through. Sometimes sit ôs broeke se agterkant nog annie draad vas,” the friend explains further.

“Wanne kommie trein man?” the guy with the upturned collars asks impatiently.

The friend looks at him thoughtfully. “I think it’s Bob Marley who sings ‘The Zion train is coming our way,’” he says staring down the track.

“Aweh… For a moment I thought that train did arrive… but we shouldn’t lose hope… That train is coming,” the guy with the upturned collars philosophises.

“Yeah, with MetroPlus carriages for all,” the friend adds.

At that moment the signal turns green…


Urban Dictionary

moenie – The Afrikaans word is a shortened form of “moet nie”
which means “must not” or as in this case “do not”.

praatie – The Afrikaaps word for “praat nie” which is Afrikaans for
speak not”.

broeke – The Afrikaans plural for “broek” which means “(a pair of) pants”.

agterkant – The Afrikaans word for “rear end” which in this case means the “backside of the pants”.

annie – An Afrikaaps word for “aan die” which means “on the”.

wane – The Afrikaaps plural for “wanneer” which means “when”.

kommie – The Afrikaas word for “kom die” which means “comes the”.

“Moenie praatie ou bra.”
“Don’t talk (about it) old friend.”

“Sometimes sit ôs broeke se agterkant nog annie draad vas”
“Sometimes the backsides of our pants are still caught on the wire”
(A term used to describe that fact that you’ve just about escaped a situation or as in this case, scraped through your financial situation.)

“Wanne kommie trein man?”
“When is the train coming man?”