James Burger



This week, I was struck with the realisation that in just a number of days we will be having our End of Year Ball. It hit me rather hard, signifying the end of my time here.

I often get asked by my bemused friends, “Why on earth PE?”. I don’t actually know what made me so attracted to the concept of moving to South Africa’s armpit, as it has been misguidedly dubbed. Prior to my decision to put PE as a front-runner for my internship, I had only ever had a once-off pitstop here for Oxbraai supplies way back in the hay-day of the Maroon Baboon and Car Bar.

I always idealised being dumped into a city and having to make friends with a new bunch of people, where we all had to struggle together and learn a new city, new system, and try cope with our work. This is what epitomised the idea of internship for me.

The little city of PE seemed to tick all the boxes – and my two-week elective reiterated that fact, despite spending my time in the second busiest medicine department in the country. Although many of my close friends were heading up north, I couldn’t bear the thought of mistakenly kicking out one of my friends from their top option of internship-party-capital PMB. Having had such a phenomenal group of friends from school, rugby and varsity, I always knew it would be an adjustment, but one for which I far more excited than nervous.

I was lucky when I moved here to have Jess, my remaining university link to PE, and the rest of the Social Club who welcomed me into The Pretty Easy. Bocadillos 2-for-1 pizza Mondays, Bridgestreet for all of the drinks on Fridays, Salt Most-days, Fushin, Cubata, and basically every restaurant in between. In all seriousness, I think I did more calls on average each month than meals at home that whole first year. And call numbers were very reasonable thanks to those that fought before us.

Kicking internship off with medicine was made easy by the fantastic group in which I found myself. Julian (one of the best humans in the world, confirmed by my sister, the authority on these things) will testify to my slow speed back then, which I feel has only become progressively worse during my year in psychiatry. I still don’t know how he managed to give me all my roster requests through those two years.

Our group was made up of characters, from “the tall Burger” with the massive yellow truck and horribly delightful sense of humour, to Cindy, undoubtedly the feistiest in the group. Our solid friendships and hard-working nature, where everyone had each other’s backs, made the winners of the inaugural ‘Intern Group of the Year’ award predominantly drama free, but never boring.

A couple of my best friends in PE still rag me that they weren’t invited to my first birthday here but you know I love you both, and miss you guys incredibly this year! That was back in January 2014 at Zest, the place where many a Hansa draft was had at many a management meeting with Barney, Kempo and Nadus. Yes, I’m a Kings supporter, despite all the drama… that’s when you know you’re properly a PE convert. And everyone who knows my previous girlfriends knows I love my drama.

I will never forget all the fun on sweaty Castro’s evenings, beach sundowners and post-jol swims, self-administered IV rehydration, Rouge with Ludwig, together with missions all over: St Francis, Knysna, Plett, Slummies, Kenton, Grahamstown, Nieu-Bethesda, and Addo. I still cannot believe I never made it to Hogsback, though! I also can’t not mention the many a dinner with Marlise, Wiggy and co, with whom I was lucky enough to enjoy my first two gay weddings – looking forward to when Kevin and Paul also finally tie the knot so I can make it number three.

The friendly city has also managed to bring Thumela together. Starting Thumela with the team has been an incredible learning experience, and I’m excited to see where this goes as we grow. Watch this space!

This year at Donkin has been equally special, with a group of new friends and definitely not short on characters. I really am appreciative of everyone who made me feel so comfortable and gave me all that guidance when I needed to bounce things off you. I do blame you all, however, for my newly-developed coffee addiction.

Staying a third year in Protea has helped me keep up this rather lavish lifestyle as I have definitely taken all my opportunities to enjoy myself and tear through this disposable income which we are lucky enough to receive. This lifestyle I will most definitely need to curtail both for the sake of my waistline and with the prospect of not having a full-time job next year in that exorbitant place in the southern corner of the Republic of the Western Cape. I am also really thankful because it helped me to make friends with the awesome new batch that came in this year.

These three years have gone by far too quickly, but I feel like I have been here forever. Having been born, schooled, and then studying in the undeniably magnificent Cape Town, I felt that I needed to get some further experience elsewhere – this experience was more than I ever imagined it could be.

The last 9 years of medicine have been a journey for me, gaining confidence in myself and realising my passion for people. Times change and people unfortunately move apart, a feeling which we all experience all too regularly. From the dissolution of that original Social Club as people spread their wings and ended up all over the country and world, to the Marnuses, Ramonas, Clintons, Michael Geoffreys and Roussouws (sic) that helped make this place so fun, and that #Nuglife.

I think, at the end of this cathartic outpouring of premature nostalgia, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who helped make this journey so special. This period of my life with such special people and in this incredibly underrated, very windy city, has been truly unforgettable.

I’m looking forward to taking advantage of my last few weeks here and relishing the lifelong friendships we have made in the years to come.