Geek Ink Thinks: Five things I don’t like about Pietermaritzburg

Tying into the piece I did yesterday, Five things I like about Pietermaritzburg, here’s five things I don’t like about Pietermaritzburg:

1) It’s pretty damn boring

A friend of mine came to Cape Town to visit recently and even though I’d had a busy weekend (movies Friday night, food festival most of Saturday) when he asked what I’d been up to I replied not much. I said this because I knew he has absolutely zero interest in the things I’d been up to that weekend. However, he took this as an opportunity to jab me about moving to Cape Town to sit in my room and play video games, just the way I used to in Pietermaritzburg.

Now I’m not going to lie and pretend I am some kind of social butterfly who goes out partying every night, but here’s some of the things I can (and do) do, if I ever feel like leaving my man cave to investigate the outside world:

  • ¬†Art exhibitions
  • Movies (including art house cinemas and film festivals, although my art house viewing has declined a lot since Cavendish closed their Cinema Nouveau)
  • Sketch meets (Legion Ink, Dr Sketchy’s, Doodlebug, and of course the meetups that I host)
  • Concerts (that don’t require me driving over an hour to get to)
  • Food festivals
  • Gaming meetups
  • Hanging out with people at places that actually have a bit of character and aren’t all about drinking and nts nts nts (horribly loud music) blasting in your ears
  • Book launches and festivals
  • Occasionally the odd bit of theatre, stand up comedy, or live music (that isn’t a big concert) if the mood strikes me
  • Random interesting things happening at the CTICC (Design Indaba, Book Fair, etc.)

As a geek who doesn’t really drink, what can I get up to in Pietermaritzburg?

  • Movies (only the big Hollywood movies, which are a pain to book for since the only cinema doesn’t even have a website)
  • Sit at home and play video games
  • Go out to an ok restaurant
  • Go out to one of the few clubs here and have to deal with drunk people and nts nts nts (horribly loud music) blasting in my ears
  • Perhaps an interesting play might happen at The Hex once in a while (but who knows what the theatre scene is like these days?)

2) There aren’t any really good restaurants

This really is a first world problem, but Pietermaritzburg’s idea of “fine dining” is pretty terrible. I had a steak at RJs that was ok for the price that I paid, but the next night I went to another more “upmarket” restaurant. The prices were in line with what I would normally pay at The Hussar Grill in Cape Town, so I was expecting something similar in terms of the overall experience. The service was slow, and the steak wasn’t even as good as RJs.

This is a problem I have whenever I come back home and try to find a place to meet friends for supper.

3) There’s no easy way of saying this, but the place seems to be going to shit

Maybe I’ve been living in Cape Town for too long but I’m used to having flat roads and working traffic lights. Oh sure, Pietermaritzburg finally has that awesome flyover that gets people to the mall, but what is that worth when the rest of the roads feel like a giant man wearing rugby boots with titanium spikes decided to take a walk? The city also seems to be getting worse, with poverty slowly creeping out into areas of the city that weren’t previously affected by it.

4) Crime

I live in a fairly safe area in Cape Town, and while it’s not perfect, as a brown skinned male I have had no issues with walking around at all hours of the night. Where my parents live in Pietermaritzburg, I don’t go walking anywhere, even during the day! Take the car, get what you need, get back or go to a nicer suburb to get it. Now my parents don’t live in the greatest neighbourhood, but even other areas of the city that were fine are no longer as safe as they used to be. Now this isn’t me saying Cape Town is some kind of crime free paradise (far from it), but at least I can take a walk and go get milk after dark without someone trying to mug me and steal my shit.

5) All of the damn speed bumps

Driving along late at night on unfamiliar roads. Doo do do doooo. “OH SHIT!”

Tying into number three, there’s little to no warning in some areas that there are speed bumps, which has often resulted in me having to slow down very, very quickly. You’d think some cats eyes (reflectors) or reflective paint would be too much? Thankfully I obey the speed limit so it’s not a case of burning rubber, squealing tyres or mangled bodies.

So there you have it folks. As a former Maritzburger, I’m quite happy to call Cape Town my home and to visit Pietermaritzburg once in a while. Just don’t ask me to stay…


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