Soccer City and Scarves

by | Aug 19, 2010 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Markets/Shopping | 3 comments

Joe is shooting a rugby match at Soccer City this Saturday – South Africa’s reigning world-champion Springboks against the New Zealand All Blacks. It’s a rematch of the 1995 Rugby World Cup championship, featured in Invictus.

Soccer City was the site of last month’s Soccer World Cup championship, and this is the first time a rugby match will be played there. I wanted to go to the match but the tickets (all 94,000 of them) are sold out. So I settled for going to the stadium with Joe yesterday to pick up his media credentials.

The stadium is designed to look like a calabash – an African woven pot. Here’s a small piece of it.

We drove into the massive parking lot and went in through a back entrance to a small auditorium. Joe picked up his credentials and the PR person took us for a tour of the media facilities. I got to see the field, which was cool.

Inside the calabash.

On our way home from Soccer City we decided to visit the Oriental Plaza – a city-block-sized mall packed with Indian-owned stores. It’s a bargain-shopper’s paradise.

One section of the Oriental Plaza, still decorated for World Cup.

The first place we passed was a cluttered kitchen supply store. We stopped to browse and left 20 minutes later with a cooking pot and a whisk.

The kitchen store. The guy on the left is holding my new pot.

We wandered further into the maze and found a small fabric shop called Rajshree Boutique, tucked behind a curtain store. The shop was stuffed with fabric – we could barely move down the aisles. Piles of cloth grew from the floor and shawls swayed from the ceiling. It smelled pleasantly musty.

The entrance to Patel’s shop. Can you find Patel?

The interior.

I had some fabric with me that I bought in India four years ago. I’ve never gotten around to doing anything with it and wanted an opinion. I showed the fabric to Patel, the boutique’s proprietor. He admired it and said I could have an outfit made for about R200 (less than $30). He said I must come back another day — the tailors were closing down early for Ramadan.

Patel showed us several beautiful scarves handmade in Kashmir and Afghanistan. They cost about $10 each. I bought three.

It was getting late. We stopped at a samosa stand for a can of mandarin orange juice and a coke, then made our way to the car.

Samosa shop.

Plastic flowers.

Joe likes to avoid highways so there’s always a lot to see from the car. We drove through several interesting neighborhoods – Fordsburg, Mayfair, Brixton, Auckland Park. I saw women in burqas walking kids home from school, a horde of tiny children playing soccer on a dirt pitch, a burned-out house heaped with trash and a village of people living inside. We crested a hill on a winding road next to the Brixton radio tower and the city spread out like a fan below us.

Today I’m busy admiring my scarves and planning my next trip to the Oriental Plaza. I may become one of Patel’s most loyal customers.


  1. Ingrid Stahlman

    Hi Heather, I’m a friend of Tricia’s and we are both extremely interesting in South Africa! My colleagues at work had made many trips to both Cape Town and Jo’Burg supporting the International AIDS Conference. Unfortunately, it’s a trip I haven’t been able to make but I’m happy to report I MUCH prefer to go on my own, rather than on a work assignment where every minute is monitored.

    I’m looking forward to reading your blog and love the pics I’ve seen so far.


  2. Nyain in Spain

    Oh the Oriental Plaza! I used to go to Fordsburg with my then boyfriend nearly every fortnight. You should go to Shalimar’s Delights – they sell “Sweet Meats” there – (it’s not anything to do with meat though)… Just sweets made of mainly dairy. So yum… I suggest you try the Burfee and Sweet Paneer. Gosh I can’t wait to go back to JHB now! Memories…!

  3. aaa

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