I happened to be in Johannesburg this August. A city that is vibrant, colorful and is filled with very warm and friendly people. The culture is of an easy-going type and was a bit of a pleasant surprise for an Indian like me, who typically indulges in nothing beyond just work. But having said that people made sure there was enough personal time with colleagues, family and friends. In a city that is so vibrant, I just couldn’t contain myself but click pictures of people who make it such an interesting and lovely place.  Through these pictures I’ve made an attempt to symbolize the  balance that South Africa is trying to create within its culture, economics and socio-economic diversity, post the apartheid regime – it is delicate, the country is getting there but it will take patience and perseverance to hold on to and make it successful.

Not long ago, Johannesburg hosted the FIFA world cup football finals, and of-course the IPL 20-20 tournament prior to that. My first impression of the city, and I believe it could easily be true for all South African cities, is that people are crazy about sports. Everyone is hooked on to at-least one sport – the biggest events being Football and Rugby (sad that when I was there the local South African team and the favorites – The Springboks lost to the Kiwi All Blacks on the 20th) – nonetheless the entire city came to a halt – all pubs were full and TV screens (some as big as 6 floor apartment blocks) all around were blurting out excited voices of commentators. I could just imagine what would’ve been the buzz in town when the FIFA world-cup was hosted – I could imagine that the atmosphere was nothing less but ecstatic.

What really made my visit memorable was the people. South Africans (and somewhere deep inside me I believe all Africans) have a big heart – and one can easily relate to this feeling symbolized by their candid laughs and welcoming hand-gestures – which for a moment you’d be tricked into feeling – was right out of a hip-hop music video. The true spirit and culture of the South African people was my theme, therefore I decided to chat up with them while I was taking my pictures and I felt the one little question that could start an entire conversation was – What’s your name; add the words “my friend” at the end of it – and you’ll be left thinking you’re really meeting a long lost friend. Since I took these pictures, I did bump into these guys quite a few times later – and as we waved at each other, the shout from the other end saying – “how are you doing my brother” firmly set my belief about the friendliness and warmth these people have to share.

When I looked around in South Africa, I could reflect that the African women have a lot in common with their Indian counterparts – they’re shy, caring, motherly, easy-going, don’t mind laughing their hearts out. Through my pictures I wanted to capture the African woman’s inner beauty, which to me heavily outweighs what we see outside and something which is just skin-deep.

Sad but true that an average foreigner travels to Johannesburg with an impression marred by people who are an exception to the norm. Johannesburg has the tag of being one of the unsafe cities in the world with muggings, riots and strikes; but which city doesn’t – Delhi is infamous for its attitude towards women and you could get mugged if you end up in the wrong localities in New York.

My experience of the city – its a truly amazing city, people are caring, friendly and willing to help, You can easily make a friend for life here. As a foreigner you have to be obviously careful and be aware of your surroundings, as you would be, when traveling to any other city of the world. Local attractions include the Soccer city stadium (host of the FIFA world cup), the Wanderers stadium (famous for its cricket & rugby matches – there’s a tour as well for sporting enthusiasts), The Lions park (a must-do safari), Soweto – the birthplace of the apartheid movement with a visit to Mandela’s house and The Nelson Mandela square (it is place for some really mouthwatering restaurants if you love steaks or sea-food). I would love to be there once again!

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