Grahamstown 101

By Josi-Fay Salvadori

Our hair was all over the place swooshing towards every direction, our loosely hung t-shirts flapped viciously against our bodies like a flag roped to a flagpole, as we set off from the famous Arch of Rhodes University towards the most majestically grand building in Grahamstown: The Cathedral of St Michael and St George.

CathBeing able to track Jinni around the streets of bustling Grahamstown on this striking Wednesday afternoon was quite a treat for me. I got to experience the depths of High Street through the eyes of someone who feels comfortable meandering her way around the Goggo’s selling over-ripened, sweet, juicy plums outside of Checkers, the stray, malnourished street dogs who cannot help but look at you with dark, pleading eyes in the hopes of scavenging some left over food and the bustle of the working class people, rushing into the nearly packed ABSA in order to try and salvage the last of their ‘Savings’ for the month.

We continued our stroll down the widened pavement of the High street, occasionally stepping onto the road to avoid any human collisions.

Walking

“You know, I heard somewhere that this Cathedral is the tallest building in Grahamstown and no other buildings within the town are allowed to be taller than it,” Jinni Chirps as we pass a mother and her fledgling daughter shuffle into Mr Price in search for “tennis takkies”.  “That’s why Grahamstown does not have a McDonald’s, because the famous ‘M’ logo that is usually put up next to any McDonald’s building, would be higher than the highest tip of the Cathedral’s tower.” Jinni’s cute yet interesting statement manages to shape a massive grin upon my face as she considered this fact to be of high importance.

Our lengthily trail did not terminate when we reached the intimidating structure of the Cathedral. Now it was my turn to lead. The two of us scurried along High Street- with tiny dew drops of sweat perspiring down our faces-suddenly making our way down Bertram Street-a street that I know all too well from my late Friday nights/early Saturday morning missions outside of Friar Tuks Pub and Grill with my girlfriends.

I trace my familiar footsteps along New Street feeling nostalgic and slightly homesick as we pass the very first parking spot we pulled into and then restaurant my parents and I ate at, the day we arrived in Grahamstown.

“We parked in this exact parking bay,” I mention to my ‘cameraman’, with a hint of sadness sweeping through my voice.

Once I had pulled myself together, I carried on with my route, passing familiar takeout’s, pubs and eventually my favourite Café, situated within the creative space of the Rhodes Drama department: The Happy Café.

There were numerous by-passers along our transect walks who were incredibly interested in what we (and the rest of the first year journalism students, filming) were up to:

“We’re collecting footage for a Journalism project.” I would often reply with eagerness, to anyone who would stop to interrogate and then slowly continue with the rest of our journey.

Overall, this transect walk was something that opened my eyes to the way in which I view certain aspects of the quaint, little town of Grahamstown, as well as our beautiful campus. Seeing someone else’s perspective of little details throughout the walk is something special to keep and understand, and I am certain, the next time I stride down the lively High Street, towards the Cathedral of St Michael and St George, I will think of my new, kind-hearted little friend Jinni.

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