The Good > The Bad

It is ameezing how 30 seconds of a completely ordinary, partly cloudy afternoon can make your whole day spectacular.  These little guys must have just been waiting to have their picture taken.  I drove past, slowed down, lifted my Blackberry, they all grinned, I took the photo, grinned back and drove away.

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Message in a Bottle

My friend, The Ameezing Jacqui, recently moved back to London after spending two years in Joburg.  In the short time she spent here she became one of the best and truest Joburgers I know.  I miss her every day.  She has written a letter to Joburg about her time here.  I am honoured to share it with you:

Hello Joburg

I left your shores just over a month ago and now that I’ve had a little time to reflect I think maybe it’s time to share my feelings with you. After all I spent two crazy roller coaster years in your presence.

I arrived on your shores as a token Australian who had endured most people she knew questioning why in hell she would want to move ‘there’. That place where people get murdered all the time and apparently cars have flame throwers built into their wheels to ward off the thieves.

But I like to think I have changed those people’s perceptions because you’re actually a pretty amazing place. You’ve taught me to find beauty in the most simple things. Sunsets like I’ve never seen before. Gorgeous farms just a short drive away. A city centre that shows the promise of a new era. And a community spirit that goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.

Yes it wasn’t always pretty and I had a fair few days where I really hated what you showed me. But you taught me that there are a lot of people in the world who don’t have anything at all. And as much as I might want that new copy of Vanity Fair it’s really not the end of the world if I can’t afford it. Because it’s nothing in the scheme of things. And I think there’s a lot of people in this crazy world who need that lesson.

Most of all you taught me that, maybe because of how you are, you breed some of the most incredibly loving, giving people I have ever met in my life. People who will go out of their way to make you feel welcome, show you the best bits of the city, and save you when you’ve broken down for the third time in two weeks. Without complaint. They are people who will buy you coffee and pretty earrings and share Ameezing photos with you. Just because they want to.

These people changed the way I see life in more ways than I can mention and that’s pretty damn cool.

I may not live on your fair shores forever but you’ll always be in my heart. And I hope more people get to know you like I did.

Lots of Love

Jacqui xxx

(Ameezing: Thank you Ryan for the beautiful photo)

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Let’s Do the Time Warp Again…

There’s a tradition here at Ameezing of reposting the first story every couple of  months.  Ameezing Day One.  Where it all began, with a photo of my Dad and a post about Joburg.  To the ameezing readers of Ameezing, thank you for reading and commenting (here and in real life!) and sending me ameezing things you have stumbled upon.  And to the new readers, welcome! It is ameezing to have you.  Here is the first story.

Joburg, You Heartbreaker, You

Living in Joburg is like having a boyfriend with more than seven tattoos that you would never take home to meet your Mom.  He may be an excellent kisser, wear the perfect skinny jeans, love dogs and play the bass guitar, but man alive is he scrappy, unreliable and able to break your heart when you least expect.  He is Joburg. And you’re sixteen and can’t believe this rock star wants to hold your hand.

And everytime he disappoints you, you think ‘This is it, I’m leaving for good. Go and trash someone else’s life, asshole’, he arrives on your doorstep with a spectacular sunset, a stranger’s random act of kindness or a new building, (the breathtaking Circa Gallery). And your heart softens and you stay because you know for every flaw, he has a meellion strengths you haven’t yet discovered. With cautious optimism (and for the last time you tell yourself) you tack your heart back onto your sleeve, take Joburg’s hand and stay a just a bit longer to see what will happen next.

This year is Joburg and my ten year anniversary.  It’s been a torrid relationship. But one with many perks and little regret. And I think we’re probably in this for the long run. Growing up together, making friends that became family and having family that became friends. I love you Joburg, you drive me crazy and break my heart to glue it back together to bulldoze it apart again, but geez, you make me happy and keep me excited and unnerved and curious and inspired.  So thank you, I’m thinking about inviting my mom to come and meet you properly soon.

My brother Ty and I did a shoot with our Dad in Main Street in the city a while ago. Thanks Ty for always taking beautiful pictures, Papa for being a super willing model and Joburg for being your unapologetic self.  This is my favourite shot.


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Orphan Images 3 – It’s Summer Outside

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We can walk if we wanna…

Living in the largest man-made forest in the world, one of my all time favourite things to do is go walking at dusk on a weekday.  There is no kind of work day horror that can’t be erased by strolling through the grass, velvet green trees and sometimes mud at Emmarentia Dam, watching a ragbag of dogs playing and swimming and stick hunting.  One of my favourite walking companions is the Ameezing Joel.  Thursday’s walk looked like this:

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Roll Up, Roll Up…

So it’s Friday and you’re wondering what to do this weekend.  Whilst all the fancy Joburg blogs will tell you about shows, art exhibition openings and loft parties, here at the offices of Ameezing, we only have one thing to say: Woolworths has a new product, on the box it says, ‘Vanilla Flavoured White Chocolate Covered Almonds Dusted in Icing Sugar’.  Has there ever been a more devilishly tantalising sentence?  And holy panda’s toenails, are they delicious.  We, at the offices of Ameezing, will be loading our recycled shoppers with these little boxes, heading home and watching Zombieland for the bazillionth time.  Happy munching, happy weekend.

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Go sit in the corner, Joburg.

Dear Joburg,

It’s been a while since we spoke, so let’s have a chinwag.  First, the not so good.  Please can you send your taxi drivers to Finishing School, I’m thinking a My Fair Lady-esque class with wooden desks and an old chalkboard, with the whole class repeating, ‘No, after you, please’.  Also, pot holes and broken traffic lights, need I say more?  And lastly, please no more Tuscan townhouse pimples, they ruin your otherwise edgy and interesting landscape and make us feel a little sad every time we drive past them.

Now to the good stuff.  You are really keeping us on our toes with the weather, and secretly, I think we all love it.  I’m a huge fan of a mid-afternoon wardrobe change and with the skies going from blue to black to grey to hail green back to blue, its easy to go from pumps to boots to flip flops to scarves to vests to gumboots and back, all in one day.  It’s fun, so thank you.  And high five on the new places popping up all over town.  From the lovely 70 Juta Street in Braamfontein to the achingly chic Market on Main on Sunday afternoons, new places=new faces, nice.  And lastly, for the people of Joburg who continue to pour their hearts, money and minds into projects that timid ninnies like myself would blush and run away from, you are ameezing.

Okay Joburg, I think that is all for now.  Don’t forget your homework and gold star to you for the other stuff.



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From Thailand, With Love

Thailand, much like Joburg, is a place of extremes.  Extreme neon lights and moonlit beaches, beauty and smog,  Buddhist monks and prostitute lady boys, air-conditioned taxi cabs and dusty scooters, sacred cloth and sequined mini skirts, high rises and bamboo shacks, chubby tourists and waif-like fire jugglers, wooden fishing boats and high tech jet-skis, wealthy and poor, foreign and local, wrinkled, beautiful, beautifully wrinkled.  All somehow move together in a huge theatrical production called Thailand.  And, much like beloved Joburg, everyone knows their part and plays it well.

Wondering how to capture it all, written or photographed, was making me break out in suntanned hives so I decided to let it be, walk through it instead with eyes wide open and what sticks, sticks.

My view from the internet cafe, well internet glass box really, is the ocean, as blue as an Aryan race child’s eyes, and a few little Thai toddlers playing on the sand with a plastic tea set.  Last night, walking home across the beach Aadil looked up and said, ‘That’s the thing about the sky, wherever you are in the world, the stars are the same.  Amazing.’

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The rain came down, and the floods came up…

Joburg has become a way more ameezing place since my little brother, Joel, moved to town.  Unfortunately, a few days ago when it rained so much I considered buying Crocs (kidding), Joel’s room at my Aunt and Uncle’s house flooded with 7cm of water.  That doesn’t sound like alot but glance down and you’ll be amazed how much is going on from carpet to top of skirting board.  On Joel’s floor it was his entire book collection (an enviable book collection at that).  Lifting your duvet cover to be sprayed with the rain water that has become your roommate can never be a fun experience.

When I asked Joel how he felt about the flooding he said that is was upsetting and frustrating but that these things happen,  possessions come and go.  A wise and gracious answer from a wise and gracious brother.

Aadil took these beautiful photographs of the rescue mission and drying process of almost one hundred books.


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Why Nature, You take my breath away…

I have driven down this road a million times, maybe even a zillion times.  But it took driving along it at 5:30am on Saturday morning to literally make me gasp.  Times like these I wish that instead of sticking my Blackberried hand out of the window, clicking and hoping for the best, I had an inflatable camera crew next to the jumper cables in my car boot.  I would whip them out, bicycle pump them to life and say, ‘Hey, capture this breathtaking moment we have happened upon.’




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