03 January 2010

The Mall and the Coffee Addict

Monday 4th January 2010

This is the first day of the working year. Many will go back to work today and I am supposed to write one more positive factor for living in South AFrica. It is raining cuts and dogs outside - the normally sunny sky is dark and gloomy - and I have ran out of positives.

Voila I have found one more thing. The Good News South Africa website http://www.sagoodnews.co.za/ has published an article about John Mauldin, an investment expert, who visited SA recently and had a great number of positives to report, one of them being that 'Johannesburg is a world-class city, on a par with New York or London or any major city in terms of facilities, shops, infrastructure ... and traffic.'

Yes I have to agree - I love shopping in the malls - from books to clothes to food -Sandton City must be equivalent to any in New York, London or Sydney. Hyde Park Mall is more exlcusive and terribly upmarket and Fourways Mall more down to earth and easier to navigate, to mention but a few of the endless choices the many, many malls around. In fact the whole country is scattered with shopping malls - from cities, to towns and townships - you can find the top global brands fightigthing it out. We have developed a mall culture that can be quite addictive if we don't watch out, because it is so easy to overspend and buy stuff we don't need just because they look so good under the sophisticated lights of the malls and the joie de vivre atmosphere created to lure us shoppers into a hypnotic state to buy and buy and buy......

We have the opportunity to dress well, eat well and live well, for a fraction of the price that it costs those in the developed world. And I must say I prefer our locals when it comes to service. I know we always complain but when I was in London last year most of the shop assistants were foreigners and could not understand what I was asking - very frustrating it was indeed.....

Another positive about shopping in SA is that there is always parking at the malls. Yes I know that I moan about parking but that is because I am actually quite spoiled and want to find parking right in front of the entrance, which I have to say, I often do. I remember one year in Athens, we drove around for over an hour to find parking for our rented car and when we did find a space, eight blocks away, we were reluctant to move the car out of it - the result was that we used public transport. How bizarre that was!! We only realised a day later that we were paying for a car that we could not use because refused to endure the huge frustration and time wasted to re park it - so we returned the car and struggled with shopping bags thereafter - try lugging a watermelon and a two-litre coke bottle for a couple of blocks and then you'll understand the value of accessible parking. Taxis are never around when you need them and they particularly avoid people with parcels or luggage!!! London is even worse - cost of parking is prohibitively expensive so you have to think really carefully before you decide to shop until you drop because you will have to carry all your parcels through the quite intricate and exhaustive public transport system.

The best part of shopping in the malls in SA is the watering holes or eating places, especially for a coffee addict like me. Shopping is a ritual that I cannot and will not rush. Besides purchasing what I need, I like to stroll, pick up my post, visit the loo (which is free and very clean, compared to many in the developed world) have a cup of good quality coffee - cappucino, americano or latte, and a salad made up of the wonderful varieties of fresh garden vegetables, often organic, which is something I take for granted until I am in another country and discover how expensive it is to eat fresh salads.

I have to say that I need my shopping fix at least once a week - and it is quite a pleasant fix at that... Difficult to get my fix anywhere else in the world, so I guess this is a great personal positive for living in SA.

One more day successfully completed............will speak tomorrow...... chao for now...

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