Papa’s legacy and quizzical city strolling

This wonderful article in The Guardian about the joy of “quizzical strolling” in the city reminded me that it’s almost eight years since I set out as “flâneuse” on the streets of inner city Joburg, just a few years after we lost my dearest Papa who would have turned 82 years today.

Papa was curious and outgoing and he enjoyed striking up conversations with all sorts of people, bringing home the stories he learned from them.

As a teenager I was often irritated by this habit, it would delay us and I felt mortified at his engaging total strangers in casual chats.

When I began wandering the city and wondering about the buildings, people and sights I encountered, I suddenly found myself channeling Papa and chatting to shop owners, street cleaners and passers-by. These mostly enjoyable chats not only taught me a lot but they also made me feel safe in what is often considered a dangerous city; I found friendly people everywhere, making me part of an unexpected community.

Today I’m grateful and proud that I’ve inherited Papa’s outgoing manner of being in the world. It feels wonderful to have him on my side as I continue on my “flâneusing” way.

Josine Overdevest, 8 April 2021

Image: Cover of the book Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin

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