Nostalgia plays a large part in allowing one to enjoy a new place. By bringing up these feelings that you have not experienced for years, a new restaurant or market can bring about deep feelings of love even though you’ve never been there before. Or when a fashion district puts on some clothes, it transforms it – completely.
One of Durban’s holiday features is the lights in the CBD. When I was a kid (actually this lasted way into my teens,) my parents took my siblings and I on special trips to town to see the lights. Only a few streets had lights with West Street being the centrepiece for this magnificent celebration of colour. Us kids were mystified and completely hypnotised for what felt like hours (even though it was probably just 20 minutes) as my parents drove through these happy streets. As we got older, my parents told me how the lights actually weren’t as grandiose as the previous years and that there was even politics behind the lights. Rather than detract from the enjoyment, I think this made me enjoy these more.
Last week, I found myself at Melrose Arch in the late afternoon. After meeting a friend at the oh-so-stunning Protea Fire and Ice Hotel, I reappeared on the streets of Melrose Arch just as twilight fell away and night took over, the lights above brought on this nostalgia. The lights were nowhere as ostentatious as the lights from my childhood but their gentle beams delicately illuminated the wide smile on my face.
The worn-crystal coated glow from the evening rains added this radiance to the roads, making it more familiar, more homely, more happy.
In the piazza, stood an exhibition to complement the lights. If you’ve ever read the paper napkins given to you at KFC, you would have noticed the “Add Hope” campaign that KFC have run for the last few years. Depending on the KFC you go to, the teller should ask you if you want to add R2 to the cost of your meal to feed a hungry child. This is a great way of tugging on your heart strings which has made it a pretty good campaign. I would think it would be a better campaign if KFC matched the amount donated by their patrons but hey, there is always room for improvement. The campaign has the images of (hungry) children playing. To feed each child, you insert a R2 coin into their tummies.
When to go: The lights are up for the holiday season and should be there till January. The Add Hope campaign was running for a rather short period of time but after reading this post, be sure to give the homeless person at your favourite intersection a R2. Do it –please?
How to get there: Melrose Arch is easily accessible from the M1 taking either the Corlett Drive exit or Atholl-Oaklands exit. It is always worth a visit. There is always a great vibe with great food and great places to shop.
Cost: Petrol money? And the money it will cost you to park. I hate paying for parking.
Anything Else: I do find it quite weird that Jozi central, like most towns in South Africa, does not have Christmas lights in the CBD. Then again, come December, Jozi does empty out with every one moving off to these towns that actually have lights in their central streets. The one other thing that would be cool is if these lights use solar panels and batteries. Charge during the day and use this at night.