Tag Archives: Range Rover Evoque

My car isn’t mine, and it isn’t me

28 Feb

Do you match your car? Does it express, externally, what you are?

The car I am driving at the moment matches me very well, and that terrifies me. It isn’t mine (it belongs to my grandmother, who is no longer able to drive). And I want to say it isn’t me – but it is. For a woman of my age, living in Sandton, it makes perfect sense.

“It makes you invisible,” a friend observed, and he is right. I am pretty sure that when clients and suppliers see me in it they assume that I have money, and have had money for a while, which must mean I am successful, and credible. I am comfortable without being spectacularly wealthy, and they feel reassured about dealing with me.

This is what a Mercedes C-Class 180 says about you. Continue reading

An Anniversary and a Link to the Past

6 Dec

Madiba’s face on our notes takes on a new meaning now, doesn’t it?

Madiba note

Today, December 6, is the anniversary of the day I returned the car that inspired the creation of this blog last year. This time last year, I drove my Range Rover Evoque back to Land Rover’s offices and left it there.

I still don’t own a car. I very nearly bought a Subaru XV this year, but panicked at the last moment and decided against it. I’ve had friends try to persuade me to buy a Fiat 500. I’ve borrowed Fords and Citroens and loved them very much. There’s still that car blog I need to get around to launching. If you’re wondering, I use my grandmother’s C Class when I need to. It has less than 14,000km on the clock despite being more than four years old.

Do I miss the Range Rover? Yes, of course. I miss having the freedom to drive up mountains. I miss the thumping sound system. I miss the space for transporting easels and artworks. But sometimes it’s necessary to part company from the objects you love in order to open up space in your life for other things.

Instead of cars, I spent much of today thinking about Nelson Mandela – as I imagine most of the world has done too. I watched the tributes on the TV as I lay in the dentist’s chair, and fired off emails and texts to clients and colleagues as we tried to navigate the challenges of running campaigns when the world in which they were planned has been turned upside down.

There was a link between the Evoque and today, though, one that goes beyond an anniversary. On the way back from the dentist, I thought about how I could try to emulate Madiba in small ways. I thought about the campaign that triggered this blog, where I was going to hand out money to beggars at intersections in an effort to compensate for the luxurious car I was fortunate enough to drive for free.

I passed Madiba on to this beggar, who is usually found at Hyde Park Corner. While I waited, he told me that he is from Orange Farm and has two kids. Unlike most of the beggars I’ve met on the streets of Joburg, who are Zimbabwean, he’s South African.

Beggar 1

Around the corner from where I live, I gave another note bearing the image of Madiba to this regular:

Beggar 2

I see him often, and he waves and wheedles and who can blame him? Today he scored. Tomorrow my heart my harden again, and I’ll do my best to make him invisible. But today – today I wanted to pass Madiba on.

So… what now?

6 Dec

Today I handed back the Evoque after two years of driving Land Rovers. This is me this afternoon with Roland Reid, the man responsible for involving me in the Pulse of the City campaign:

Me with Roland Reid

I look happy, but obviously I’m really sad about no longer having the freedom to explore the city and beyond in a beautiful car which has cosseted me in a world of cream leather and a superb sound system for so long.

Driving along the William Nicol to the framers, again, to pick up the rest of the lipstick hearts for a big client job, I thought about the beggars and this project. Has my relationship to them changed? Yes, definitely. To be honest, I’m not as magnanimous as I was. I’m back to being anonymous, the chick in the Hyundai i20 – the one I used to drive until I sold it to my mother – not the woman in the hugely desirable luxury car, the one I had a responsibility to evangelize in social media. I’m back to feeling less guilty about looking like I have a lot of money when the truth is that I don’t. That part of this project where I give lots of money to beggars to compensate for driving such an expensive, flashy car, is over. I’ve given more to charity this year than in the previous ten years combined – more about that in a future post – and I have donor fatigue. I’m feeling under financial pressure, and I want to hold on again.

I think I’ve started something interesting here though. This project has catalyzed all sorts of conversations, and I want to continue having them. I’ve been talking about this kind of thing for ages – our emotional relationship with the city we live in and the cars we drive – but haven’t house the conversation anywhere specific.

This has the potential to evolve in all sorts of directions, and I’d like to keep it going should I continue to write about cars, which is the plan. Thank you to everyone who has got involved in some way – I look forward to wherever this road takes us, and what we find at the next red robot.

Could you cope without a car?

4 Dec

Lourie talking to Kenneth

The biggest difference between motorists and beggars is that motorists are in cars and beggars are not. Well, duh, you say. Obviously.

But consider this: the issue is much bigger than one of functionality.

Having a car means you have choices, and that’s important. Yes, there are costs associated with it, but you enjoy a level of freedom and autonomy that isn’t possible without one. Continue reading

Things I found on top of the mountain

3 Dec

I found several things on top of the mountain. They include, in no particular order, Continue reading

Joburg’s love affair with the car

25 Nov
Audi R8

Photo: Justin Lee

An edited version of this piece appeared in the Sunday Times Lifestyle in November 2011. 

 “YES, we do have a conscience, and it tells us to get that car.” Of all the things that Khanyi Mbau has said or will say, to Debora Patta or anyone else, it’s probably that line that will get her into the dictionary of South African quotations. We all claimed to be horrified by the brutally simple logic of her devoted worship at the temple of bling, but it’s hard to think of another statement that does a better job of summing up Joburg’s relationship with the car. Continue reading

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