Slice of life: The day I met my first friend

It was a normal day for me, sometime in the 1960s. I left my flat in Hillbrow and headed for the park, pushing the pram with my son as I went. We settled in the play area. I relaxed on a bench and he went about busying himself with whatever caught his attention.

This was my routine — a nice way to get some fresh air and not be stuck inside all day.

Despite being out in public, this was a solitary experience for me. I was still new to South Africa and didn’t know anybody apart from my husband. We met in Vienna. He asked me to marry him and, even though the only way was to uproot my life, I didn’t hesitate before I said, “Sure.”

I didn’t speak a word of English when I arrived in Hillbrow. I didn’t have many complaints, but not having anyone to talk to did make me feel cold sometimes.

Then, that day, a woman came and sat next to me, while her child played. We started talking, and realised that we were both from Vienna!

We talked and talked, instantly becoming friends. Meeting in the park, our children tackling the jungle gym, we would chat the afternoons away.

Our husbands met and we began hosting each other for dinners and parties — their place was best because it had a small garden the kids could play in.

We stayed close until the day they returned to Austria. But I will always remember the day we met in the park.Gundi Weinek, owner of L’ Elephant Terrible bookstore, as told to Luke Feltham

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Cost of funerals in South Africa a grave concern

With the cost of living rising, many families can’t afford to bury their loved ones and assistance is needed

Domestic workers the thread linking Mary Sibande and Dorothy Kay...

Dreaming Invisible Connections, a exhibition by postmodernist Mary Sibande and classical painter Dorothy Kay, highlights the domestic worker - in different ways

Will the ANC’s bones come together to bring it new...

Analysis of the the resolutions taken at the party’s policy talks show it will take good leadership and bold action to restore the ANC

Indulge in the Loading Bay’s ethical food

The restaurant, which encourages regenerative farming, is tucked away in Cape Town’s De Waterkant.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…