When you live on a small holding outside of town, Tshwane in this case, life is a bit different to that experienced by city folk. For instance, the thoroughfares connecting us to the world are all old-fashioned dirt roads. They are uneven, rocky, severely corrugated and ignored by the city.

Our communal discontent is complicated by the fact that the water we use comes from our own bore holes. After perhaps four months without rain when the water table is starting to get low and bore holes are not producing that much, when it does start to rain our feelings are sometimes ambivalent. We need the water, to be sure, but when it does rain it often comes down in buckets and digs away at our dirt roads that the city does not see fit to grade.

The result is that the little trenches across the road outside Kota’s place are starting to look more like dongas now, on their way to becoming canyons. Kota himself must be wondering how long the road outside his property will still be passable. The huge underground rocks that were just below the road surface outside van Tonder’s gate now have the dirt between them washed away and are a threat to car tyres. The dip near Barrie’s fills with water. Last time it rained Auntie Mog’s little van got stuck there and had to be pulled out. New potholes develop after any storm and they are only smoothed over up when some civic-minded smallholder fills them up.

Refuse removal in our world is another challenge. For most of us it is undertaken by one of the neighbours for which we all have to make a contribution. That seems to be going pretty well, excepting that he has taken to using his own property as a dump. What will happen to it, if his place disappears under our empty cans, wrappings and plastic containers is anyone’s guess.

It has to be said that electricity breakdowns are repaired – sometimes rather languidly though. A neighbouring plotlands was recently without power for some days.

One of the locals, a man with a short temper and little sympathy for municipal workers, recently declared that he had enough and was not going to take any more. He would stop paying his municipal rates. And he did.

It was not long before a clerk from the city was on the line. The man who refused to pay explained his position to her. “But you have to pay your rates,” she told him.

“But I’m not going to,” he said. “I won’t do it anymore.”

After some minutes of argument, she had enough. “We’ll cut off your services,” she screamed at him.

“Be my guest,” he said. “I can’t imagine what you think you’re going to cut though.”

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