Since taxi commuters, drivers and street vendors are my neighbours at work, I am bound to listen to their music and conversations. I have little choice as my office is on the first floor of a building that is alongside a busy taxi rank. Suffocating heat and no air conditioning obliges the opening of windows. After two years, I have acclimatized to the music as it blares from vendors and passing taxis. When the music becomes too raucous I talk to them and this usually helps.
Similarly, my suburb is not peaceful. For a few hours every day coming and going to work, cars from the Cape Flats and Southern Suburbs convert Walmer Estate into a race track. To enter or exit your own driveway becomes a dreadful experience. To evade extra minutes in traffic on the N2, drivers throw courtesy to the wind to access De Waal Drive and Victoria Road in Woodstock.
In my street, a neighbour operates a metal shop from his garage. I have not reported him because he is the entire neighbourhood watch. Since he is always home, he questions any suspicious activity in the street. Between the regular police patrols and his availability, our street remains protected. In my street, dogs bark frequently, I have not reported the owners because the barking indicates that a stranger is walking in the street. This may be annoying but it does serve a purpose. Since Walmer Estate was built before cars were popular, most houses do not have garages or driveways forcing residents to park on the street. A barking dog is an unconventional alarm but a useful deterrent.
As neighbours we have learnt to give and take, we greet and talk but do not necessarily socialize. We have learnt that people are different; beyond the polemics of race and religion we all have our own mannerisms and quirks. So when a neighbour’s bin is blown over by the wind, another will pick it up, otherwise the entire street will be a mess. Although we pay serious rates, we have learnt to sweep in front of our own homes since the Council sweepers are almost non-existent. We have no library or municipal hall but our parks are clean and some owners are beginning to pick up after their dogs.
Rapid urbanisation and as rates and property prices increase, Capetonians are being compelled to live closer in physical proximity to each other. To make this work we are all going to have to learn to live together with or without our quirks. I suggest the sooner the better, what alternative do we have.
Cllr Y Adams
Cape Muslim Congress