About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

17 September 2011

Gautrain Notes

The Gautrain has become quite popular in the office - many of my colleagues make use of it for daily commute, and they are all quite impressed with it. One of them made the point that it is not actually faster - but it is a lot less stressful than driving, and according to him, a lot less expensive even without tolls. Others, often comment that every day they have not take the train (for example, because they have had to work much later or have to commute elsewhere), they have spent a lot longer on the road; so it also faster.

I have taken the commuter service only once, but on Wednesday/Thursday I had the opportunity to take the train to the airport. It was a rather unusual time for me - with an afternoon flight, so I got to see some "other" users of the Gautrain - a mother and daughter returning with shopping, some people going to the airport, and a few business men commuting between meetings. And on my return trip (around 19:15) I saw something that Vavi and co say the train doesn't support - the low wage worker (a security guard, not employed by Bombela) using the train.

Yes, the Gautrain does not extend to everywhere. Yes, the Gautrain fare structures need better work (why not use zones instead of fixed distance pricing). Yes, the times that the train current runs is inconvenient (I cannot make the first flight out of OR Tambo with the train, nor most of the evening flights) - but these can be fixed easily. The foundation itself is strong!

12 September 2011


Just outside Heidelberg (in Gauteng, not Germany), Suikerbosrand is a fairly large nature reserve, and excellent hiking trails. I have been hiking (more like walking) the Bokmakiere day trails (there is a fork halfway with the routes being about 10.5 and 11.5 KM respectively) for over a year now, though I have not been there much this year.

Recent veld-fire (apparently in July) has completely transformed the trail area. Previously, grass on either side of the trail was, at times, over my head - and now completely burnt away. There is a stark contrast between the green sprouts and the untouched yellow veld on the opposite side of the valley. The change in landscape has also meant a change in wildlife - at least in the scenery of the wildlife. Previously, wildlife spotting along the trail was an occasional affair - yet, yesterday I saw an abundance of Zebra, Eland and Red Hartebeest - and perhaps even Wildebeest (in the distance). On the downside, the chatter of birds has diminished greatly with the loss of large shrubs and trees.

11 September 2011

Movie: Incendies

I expected a "heavy" movie, but wasn't exactly sure of what this movie will be about. A woman dies (seemingly from some type of shock), and her twin young adult children are given a very strange missive in the will - for the daughter to find the father, who they believed was dead, and for the son to find the brother they didn't know existed.

Although never mentioned, the movie takes place in the backdrop of the brutal Lebanese civil war. As the daughter traces her roots in Lebanon, the parallel story of the mother is shown. It is a remarkable story of woman who fights for her ideals, though not necessarily the ideals of her community.

It is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. It does not hide the brutality, it does not hide the horrors, and at the same time it also highlights what often drives the horrors (in the tit-for-tat battles). Superbly acted, brilliantly written and directed, it is definitely a must see.