Durban is the sort of city that, thankfully even Michael Bolton skips on his touring itinerary. When events do occur, (such as the recent A1) local’s are usually hard pressed to find the cash to attend. One must therefore forgive us for being prone to a little over excitement in the face of last Monday’s tempestuous tides.
A surfer buddy was the first to alert my attention to the impending apocalypse. ‘The surf’s going mental Bru.’ he yelled into the phone ‘J- bay just pulled in Thekweni way and now North Beach looks like Baghdad.’ I arrive to find a few officious police men cordoning off what’s left of the waterlogged promenade. The usual array of North Beach riff raff stands gawking alongside stupefied tourists and big bummed power walkers. A mangled life- guard tower lies in the parking lot, while restaurant owners rummage through the remains of their fast food franchises (generously distributing packets of soggy hamburger buns to the hungry and destitute) ‘Tsunami.’ A toothless fisherman assures me ‘Forget Durb’s by the sea, come high tide this afternoon and this place is going to be ‘Durb’s under the sea!’
Radio stations do little to quell the speculative fires, labeling it an all out Armageddon while punting the nauseating Aero Smith ballad from the film. Weather bureaus blame a hellish collaboration of global warming , leap tides and cyclones, while Hippy astrologists point ‘yin yang’ ringed fingers at the catastrophic cosmic alignments of sun, moon and earth. Officials urge citizens to stay well away from the beach at high tide ,while lamp post headlines’ scream ‘More Killer Waves Head For Durbs!’
Now in the face of certain tidal doom, it would be advisable for the cities population to fast track it’s way to highest peak of the Drakensburgh . Not a chance-here in Durb’s when the end of the world looms, one makes sure not to miss the free spectacle. And so armed with a six pack, cozzie and cam corder, I set off to the beachfront in the hope of surviving the swell and capturing an astounding tape of footage.
Come half three and it seems I’m not the only one with this ‘not so bright’ idea. Cars are backed up for miles along the coastline, sound systems pumping a blend of Bhangra beats and ‘The Final Count Down’ remixes. Every man, granny and dog has pulled in with their binoc’s and Briyani, setting up deck chairs and unpacking picnic hampers. Besides a rather optimistic mother, who has kitted her toddler out in arm bands, the onlookers, with no tomorrow predicted in sight, are partying like its 1999.
Unsettled by ground zero’s- doomsday revelry, I escape to the privacy of a friend’s beach front flat only to find further drunken festivity, blazing spliffs’ gleefully exchanging hands’. Strangers cram themselves into every available window- all bleary eyes fixed on the encroaching sea. ‘Five to four’ announces the designated clock watcher. More excited chatter about global warming and Al Gore’s less than convenient truths. Images flash through my mind of our soon to be submerged city. ‘Sun Coast Casino’ that garish coastal den of inequity- transformed into a coral reef, luminous fish swimming around slot machines, or Gambit the long suffering ‘Ushaka Marine World’ Dolphin, swept back out to sea, liberated from ever having to leap through another god damn hula hoop .
By five o’clock we’re still awaiting the predicted rush of the wrathful Indian and by six it appears the tide is on it’s way out. The dissatisfied doomsayers left scratching heads and calling for refunds.Admittedly, after all the hype one can’t help but feeling left a little unexpectedly- high, drunk and dry. By seven o’clock its official: Tuesday will be met with raging hangovers, Gambit won’t be escaping into the big blue beyond and some merciful god , has taken a leaf out of Michael Bolton’s book and skipped Durb’s altogether.