This time last year…

The harsh sound of the alarm wakes me up from sleep on the huge white bed wrapped in a blanket… it is around 6:30 in the morning and I wake up without Rhiju sleeping next to me. Through the blinds, I can figure out it is still dark outside, but I have come to know over the past few days that this is normal around this time of the year. Morning light almost rushes in around 7ish, but before that, it remains pretty dark and I had almost mistakenly gone back to sleep on my first day break here.

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I throw the covers off and lazily head towards the bathroom. In about 20 minutes or so, I find myself rummaging through my cupboard for the right thing to wear. It seems to be cold outside and I have to be ready for the freezing wind tunnel at the office. I pick up my phone, habitually, and dial a number 3 hours ahead of me to find out if all is going well there!

That done, I stuff my necessary belongings into my trusted backpack for the day, unclasp the key card and head out for the day. I meet one or another of my friends on my way down the lift, heading for a quick grab before the bus leaves for the day. I walk past the lobby, and Allen says, “Good Morning, love”. I acknowledge and amble towards the restaurant to be greeted by Joseph, the coffee guy wishing me a bright and cheery “Good Morning, beautiful”!

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At this hour, I invariably meet Larry, Ellen, Vane, Pradeep, Imelda, Megha, and Yuka as their bus leaves earlier than ours. I walk up to the guy making eggs and he knows just what I want. He wants me to listen to folk songs and is sure that I would love it. As I load my plate with my cheese, jalapeno, mushroom, tomato, onion omelette, bacon strips, croissants, and sausages; and top it up with a bowl of fruits and yoghurt and head towards my table, in walks Alon, Ale, and JP. Gearoid joins them sometimes as well. Katie comes in last of all and Dayon is already done with his breakfast and out smoking in that little porch-like area right outside the bar.

Hotel front

I wrap up breakfast, pick up my special “Cappuccino with two sugar” and head to join Dayon and wait for our bus. The bus starts from New Church Street, turns left and takes the first left on Bree Street to meet the traffic flow on Buitensingel Street turning in to Church Street, heading down Burg Street and dropping the DEDAT team at the intersection with Hout Street. The next turn towards Adderley Street pushes us further towards Strand Street. This broader stretch of road passes through Cape Town Station on one hand and the Caste of Good Hope on the other a couple of blocks ahead. We weave through the morning traffic and reach Woodstock Exchange, a handsome sight on Albert Road, with the welcome smell of fresh coffee emanating from Superette.

Route

Our lunch is usually at the Bicycle Café or Field Office and we await our drop back home (yes, we do refer to it as home) by 5. Back in the room, we drop our bags and take our usual walk down to Precision Laundry or to good old Woolworths at the Park Road Kloof Street intersection. Now, this is a rather interesting stretch – deserted in parts and super busy in parts. The small by-lane that connects New Church Street to Lower Buitengragdt Street is one of the shadiest and scariest stretch for some of us.

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With a row of deserted Heritage Houses on the left, sometimes lived in by strange people, and the fast-moving cars of the Buitengragdt Street on the right, the sights and sounds are most amazing! With portions of the lofty and mystique Table Mountain in the distance as a constant company, the turn towards Park Road brings us to a different world altogether. Lined with restaurants and teeming with diners and tourists, the Park Road spoils you for choices. At the end of this road, bang opposite stands the tempting Tiger’s Milk on the left lies Nando’s and on the right lies Lifestyle on Kloof – our one-stop for ATM, pharmacy, book store, laundry, provision store, wine shop, clothes, memorabilia…you name it, they have it!

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Sometimes we go out for dinner and sometimes we have it right here at the hotel.

No, this is not happening now. It has all happened this time last year. And I can see, hear, smell, feel every second on this life even today!

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