I meet a lot of people around Jozi these days.

When I meet a new person, the first question he/she normally asks is, “What brought you to Joburg?” I dread this question because it takes so long for me to answer.

The second question is usually, “Where do you live in Joburg?” I like this question better because the answer is easy: Melville. When I tell people I live in Melville, I get many responses along these lines:

“Ahhh. Melville used to be nice. Like Greenside or Parkhurst. But it’s gone downhill.”

“Oh! Melville is kind of sketchy, isn’t it?”

I’ve been thinking that I need to address this issue. I won’t delve deeply right now because I don’t have time to write a long post. For now, I just want to say that Melville is awesome.

I’ve lived in Melville for less than two years. It is nearly impossible for me to walk up 7th Street — any time of day, any day of the week — and not run into at least three people I know. Not only people I know, but people I actually want to stop and chat with. Because generally, people in Melville are unpretentious and cool. I’ve never felt this way about any other place where I’ve lived.

Melville has an old lady who walks the streets selling corn from a shopping trolley. Melville has guys who go from house to house collecting garden refuse on the back of their horse-drawn cart. Melville has countless restaurants and coffee shops with free wireless internet, a priceless commodity in this city. (I’m sitting in one now.) Melville has a nature reserve with million-year-old rocks and one of the best views in town.

In Melville, every house is different from every other house. Every person is different from every other person. Melville has white and black people, rich and poor people, old and young people, gay and straight people. Melville has quirky hippy people, conservative business people, and stylish hipster people.

Guess what else? According to my own experience and estimation, Melville is safe.

Melville at sunset. This whole post is really just an excuse to use this photo.

More to come on Melville in the near future.

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