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The Lessons I’m Learning

I’ve been struggling with this post for a couple days, but what the hell, I’m putting it out there.

I’m not a writer by a long stretch. This is me sharing my thoughts. Doesn’t make sense to you? Makes even less sense to me.

I’ve been suffering from a bout of the blues lately. Badly. Poisoning myself with cigarettes. And I kept asking myself “Why?”

The answers came to me slowly, but they came. Some people also helped to point these things out. And they didn’t tiptoe around the issue. They said it like it is. It’s not easy admitting to yourself you’re wrong.

I tended to rely on other people or things for happiness. I wasn’t taking responsibility for my life. I wasn’t being a MAN.

And yes, this is hard for me to put out there. But there might be someone out there just like me that needs to read this.

It’s a sensitive topic. Sure. Admitting to the world that I haven’t been acting like a man is no easy task. But this is me, and I’m making the changes I need to. Take it or leave it.

I think the three answers are all interlinked.

Relying on other people for something isn’t being responsible. It isn’t being a man. Effectively, I’ve been putting my power in other people’s hands. What the hell for? To be accepted, liked or loved? That’s the wrong way to go about it. It starts with ME. My life. My happiness.

Being responsible for what I want and my happiness is actually a huge relief to me. It’s up to nobody else but me.

What am I doing to improve?

I’m waking up and getting shit done.

I’m going to the gym.

I’m running.

I’m reading (it’s the introvert in me).

I’m meditating.

I’m doing all the stuff that I wanna do.

I’m working on my business.

I’m apologising less.

I’m not relying on people. They’re either in or they’re out.

I’m not compromising. There are certain things that I want and need in my life, and I’ll make it happen.

You have to figure out what it is you want in your life and you have to go out and get it. Nobody’s going to do it for you. The most rewarding experience in life is getting something that you’ve worked your ass off for.

I’m clearly not perfect. But this is a process. A journey. And I’ve taken the first few steps. The thing is, once you’ve started taking those first steps, it gets a whole lot easier than you thought it would be.

The Maboneng Precinct

Experiencing Joburg’s Inner City. Differently

Even though I’m from Pretoria, I spend a lot of time in Joburg. There’s just something about the city, the hustle, that grabs me. As fancy as Sandton and its surrounds are, I find myself venturing into Greenside, Braamfontein, Parkhurst and Maboneng more often than not. The ambience is a little more laid back and chilled out, yet still with an underlying hustle. Maybe I just find Pretoria a little too conservative for my taste. You can only see so many malls. And see the same people over and over again. This past weekend I went to experience the city in a slightly different way. Being an ambassador for Gauteng Tourism, my mate Alexi and I were given the ‘assignment’ of sleeping over at the newly opened Curiocity Backpackers in The Maboneng District, followed by a guided inner city tour. The backpackers is run by Bheki Dube of mainstreetwalks, an cool initiative that shows people Joburg’s inner city the way it’s meant to be seen: on foot and by using public transport. We checked in on Friday night and got shown to our room, which was a tiny little room with a double bunk, a desk and two chairs. It kinda reminded me of a jail cell. I guess it could have been worse. It was a backpackers, after all. Not the Hyatt.

We originally planned to do Critical Mass that night, but Bheki told us that he was hosting a pub crawl. Guess which option won? We met at Curiocity’s own Hide Out Bar for a briefing and hit the streets. Our first stop was the Taxidermy Bar at the Zebra Inn. The Zebra Inn is owned and run by a hunter named Swazi. The whole place is decorated with trophies, masks and animal skulls. There’s a very relaxed vibe about the place and the staff were great. We figured that we’d do the pub crawl properly, drinking good old Zamalek (Black Label). I left a cigarette in the ashtray on the bar, turned my back for a second, and the barlady quickly claimed it as her own. Oh, well. Alexi and I came back after the pub crawl, starving, and the barlady offered to make us some German sausages on a roll, even after the kitchen had closed. Least she could do after stealing my smoke, I reckon.

The Taxidermy Bar

The Taxidermy Bar

Next up was Fairview Restaurant up the road, which is actually just a tavern. By this time we’d graduated to quarts and we started acting like a bunch of misfits. We were out in the streets, misbehaving, and taking photos like the geeks we are.

Troyeville Hotel was next on our list. The place has been around since 1939, and has a Mozambican menu. Mozambicans drink Laurentina, right?

Laurentina at the Troyeville Hotel

Laurentina at the Troyeville Hotel

Our next stop wasn’t a bar, but the rooftop of Beryl Court apartments in Troyeville, which is said to have been home to many influential South Africans, including some members of the Bang Bang Club. The rain was coming down hard, so we rushed up, had a shot of Jaeger, took a quick photo and left.

The Beryl Court rooftop, with amazing views of Jozi

The Beryl Court rooftop, with amazing views of Jozi

Our last stop was the Don Building, which provided some welcome cover from the rain. More Black Label. The Don bar and restaurant was one of the fancier of all the pubs on our crawl, and had a DJ playing some local tunes. After a couple drinks, it didn’t take too long for the white boys to shake their groove thang on the dance floor.

The Don

The Don

After a quick final visit to the Taxidermy Bar, we headed back to Curiocity to get our sleep on. The next morning, Alexi and I hit the streets again to do a walking tour of inner city Joburg, starting at Kwa Mai Mai traditional healers market, followed by a visit to Collector’s Treasury in Maboneng (which has over a million books and is a hoarder’s heaven), a walk through Smal Street Mall and lunch at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant in The Ethiopian Quarter in town.

Catching a taxi ain't thaaat bad

Catching a taxi ain’t thaaat bad

If you’d like to see more of our adventures in Gauteng, follow @visitgauteng on Twitter and Instagram and look out for the #geepeeshotleft hashtag, where all the Gauteng ambassadors share their cool experiences.

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10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

  1. I’m a South African born Italian.
  2. I live in Pretoria. For now.
  3. I worked many soul sucking jobs before deciding to work for myself in August 2012.
  4. Not many people know or understand what I do, and that’s okay.
  5. I’m a wigger. I’m a huge fan of old school hip hop and gangsta rap. And I love my Jordans.
  6. I’m an Apple geek. Once you go Mac, you never go back.
  7. I’m a keen mobile photographer. You can find me on Instagram at @alessiolr.
  8. I met my girlfriend, Miss Delicious, through Instagram.
  9. I’m an ambassador for Gauteng Tourism.
  10. I’m an introvert. Kinda.
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