The Cape Argus has launched a new collaborative editorial initiative called #TheDignityProject – a 15-part daily series about the homeless people of Cape Town. Homeless person Danny Oosthuizen will be writing a daily column for the duration of the project. Read the eleventh entry in Danny’s Diary below ...
A while back, my friend Bruno and I went to Napier Shelter to get some food.
On arrival, we walked into Edna, a wonder of a woman. We were told to go sit in the dining room. A breakfast pack was given to us and the promise that she would find us a shelter. And what Edna wants, Edna gets. After a hostile takeover by Bruno, I was left with just one apple.
Anyway, we did this breakfast thing for a couple of days and then… “Kom! Julle gaan Paarl toe!” Edna said. With a klap from behind we left without the breakfast pack and money for two tickets.
To go anywhere with Bruno is a huge gesukkel. You can’t tell him anything. He is the ou, and it took me a long time to figure out how to stroke his male ego so he thinks he is the one who came up with the wonderful ideas. So when he fell asleep just outside Woodstock station, the ride became a pleasure. After Kraaifontein, the scenery changes to the countryside. Even the air is fresh. It feels like I am going on holiday.
Bruno wakes up grumpy and wants food. I know he will harass fellow travellers for food and that would not be fair as they have no way out unless they jump.
With a cheeky grin like his, he always gets away with murder. He got a little bit more than his daily bread. Brother Bruno hooked up with a Polly.
A toothless wanderer from Worcester (they say love is blind, so he is heading to the right town!). I’m kinda annoyed that I have to now do this shelter thing on my own.
Oh well, more wine for me!
I am checking the directions Edna gave me and discover I must get off at Huguenot station. I see no vineyards. Am I on the wrong train? The train comes to a halt (so does my heart). I am in a dusty, dry area, very industrial. No romantic green hills. Just dust! There must be a huge mistake here! I ask about the shelter and low and behold, I am at the right place.
Just across the street, turn left and go straight (why do people always tell a moffie to go straight?)
The shelter is very pretty and clean. People are suspicious towards this white dust covered stranger, but I get shown around the place. Behind is rooms for the elderly.
They look like 99 in the shade but it turns out they have more life than the rest of us here!
Food is awesome and plenty. Why they would have shelter in this area, I will never know and never dared asked.
Going out to find work was, let’s just say not on my agenda. The only thing you will find here is a rash.
Bruno ran in here four days later. It turned out his Polly was a married woman! One day, he took me on a walk. A long one. We ended up in a place called Chicago (no, we’re still in the Western Cape, put your passport away).
We ended up in a smokkel huis.
Lemme tell you something for nothing: This time I ran straight down the road! I have popped varicose veins to prove it.
I left Bruno and Paarl very early one morning. I found work on a wine farm in Wellington for a month. As for Polly, rumour has it she emigrated to Ireland.
* To engage with Danny, e-mail him at [email protected]