THE TRIP TO THE WORKSHOP
By: Nokwazi Qumbisa
There isn’t a place quite like The Workshop, as one can pick up various languages and business due to the market of people who go buy there. At some point you can end up feeling like a tourist in Durban, as the interesting quality of various goodies, you end up buying, unintentionally.
A trip to The Workshop never disappoints, as there’s always something new to either learn or appreciate. Recently I came across two men, dishing out a big dish of samp to the homeless, around 5pm. So I made it my mission to arrive earlier so I could hopefully get a chance to interview one of the men who work there.
When I arrived at The Workshop, I picked a spot where I could sit and just blend in with the background. Well that goal was half achieved as, people kept on coming up to me to ask me if I’m a journalist or if I’d like to get my nails done, (well to be honest that question was quite tempting, considering how chipped my nail polish was.)
It’s 4pm and some shops are preparing to close, people have either knocked of from work and of cause the after school rush. At one point I see a mother and daughter fighting over which nail-polish color looks better with a new hair color. And on my other side it’s the smell of freshly fried chips and people arguing over who must be served first, as they both paid at the same time and both ordered the wors roll. And amidst that rush I hear two people talking, and it sounds like they are coming towards me, fighting. I turn around abruptly so I can get a clear view of them, but to my dismay, they just continue towards me, and the unfamiliar language they were speaking, had me fearing for the worst. As it turned out, these two men were just sharing an interestingly loud conversation in Portuguese.
I decide to go and approach one of the guys who work at the Hungry Hut. And he later introduced me to the manager, Ntokozo Makhatini, who tells me about the business and how the routine of feeding the homeless came about and that its been 14 years since the business has been going on, and that the main manager is the man behind the idea, and usually goes according to his fasting regime and his religion-like on Monday’s and Tuesdays its veggie breyani, and on Wednesday its any thing with meat. He also added that as they usually have food that gets left over, and they don’t throw that away, they share that too with the people.“….we feel sorry for them.”
After talking to the manager, I decide to cross the road to get a better view of the proceedings, and maybe talk to some the people who usually got their meals from the Hungry Hut, a fitting name considering they do just that. I decide to sit on one of the benches facing the municipality offices. Different people come and sit next to me and I later realize that they are waiting for the food to arrive I then engaged in a conversation with one of the customers. She’s a colored little girl around 8 or 9 years old, who smiled at me so invitingly and told me about how much these meals meant to her and her sister since they only depend on these meals, but the lady she’s with quickly tells her to stop talking to strangers. So I quickly try and put that lady at ease and tell her what I’m about.
I went on to speak to a woman who calls her self Beauty. She was very keen to be in front of the camera, and asked for R2 so she could add to her money to go buy facial cream. Beauty told me that her favorite meal is briyani, “as it’s always delicious and meaty”, and how it reminds her of her mom’s briyani.
The queues start to build up and the women have their own queue. There’s small bickering here and there, but besides that the meals are served in an orderly fashion. The people really do rely on the Hungry Hut to bring them meals, and the Hungry Hut does exactly that. As they finish off, the big pot goes back clean as if it didn’t contain any food whatsoever.