The traffic lights were out on Nasrec Road beside the FNB Stadium on Friday. It was there that Nelson Mandela made his last public appearance, driven along the pitch on the back of a golf cart in the cold of the World Cup in 2010, his wife, Graca Machel, sitting beside him.
We drove on, past the stadium where there will be a memorial service tomorrow, to the place where he once lived. There were four of us in the car, David O’Sullivan drove, Peter Delmar, Keri-Ann Stanton and I. We headed to Vilakazi Street, to the place Madiba once lived, to have a drink at the Sakhumzi restaurant, to celebrate as well as mourn, to try to feel that bit closer to the greatest South African. We parked at the bottom of the street, which had been closed off by the police. Three kids ran up to us and asked if they could sing us “Soweto songs”, and started to sing tourist songs in English, but stopped when we said, “Howzit”.
Unless you are specifically looking for it, it is easy to miss the entrance to the team room for the cricket side of India at the Sandton Sun. That is the way the security would prefer it to remain. This is the room India will use to escape the four walls of their hotel rooms, to have team meetings and the odd press conference, as they did on Monday when they arrived in South Africa.
It was at that press conference that MS Dhoni was asked what he might do if any of the South African fans, miffed at the BCCI for the manner in which they had treated Cricket South Africa and shortened this tour, threw things at them on the field. His answer was “pick it up and give it back”, and then pointed to the hulk of a large gentleman standing behind the rows of journalists and TV cameras.
Yesterday was the first day of e-tolls in Gauteng. It was also the first day of a nightmare for cyclists in the province, where the back roads became main roads, alternatives to residents tired of being lumped with yet more taxes and suspicious of just who was benefiting from the monies clipped from their bank accounts by disco gantries and Comical Alli.
For while the freeways and byways of Joburg have been smoothed and widened, the roads in the city and suburbs of the city are pitted and potholed, and will, inevitably, become worse.
On a day early in November, during the India tour of South Africa in 1992, Ravi Shastri had a net at the PAM Brink Stadium in Springs. His teammates were taking on the Combined Bowl XI, a team made up from players of the smaller unions of the then United Cricket Board.
A former school friend of mine, David Mills, then with Eastern Transvaal, and a few other youngsters were asked to bowl to Shastri.
On Wednesday evening, Pakistan fans around the world celebrated their first-ever bilateral ODI series victory in South Africa. As quick as some were to castigate South Africa for the manner of their loss, there were many who remembered to sing the praises of the only homeless international nation. Winning away from home probably isn’t all that special for Pakistan these days. They have to win all their matches away from home.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Pakistan Taliban has warned the Pakistan media to stop singing the praises of Sachin Tendulkar. Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesperson of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban, appears in a video “flanked by two AK-47 wielding masked men”, and tells the Pakistan media he has his eye on them.
“It was unfortunate to see Pakistani media went to great extent to pay tribute to Indian cricketer by running video clips on TV channels and writing huge articles in his praise. On the other hand, it was sad to know same Pakistani media badly criticised Pakistani cricket team as well as its captain Misbah-ul-Haq. We condemn this move of Pakistani media and expect it will not repeat the same in future,” said Shahidullah Shahid, according to the Indian press. “Shame for Pakistani media that spoke highly of Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. No doubt, he has been a great cricketer, but, he’s Indian after all, so stop promoting him.”