If you live in Kampala, and often use the available public transport options, you will properly relate to what I am about to share. This is the second part of my Random Thoughts! series.
I had to be somewhere not later than 8:15am this morning but you know the morning traffic. Getting from Nsambya alone to the city center will take you almost an hour, if not longer, even though you boarded that taxi by 7:10am, like I did. This calls for the obvious second best option; Boda boda, the motorcycle commonly referred to as Boda. So instead of boarding the next taxi to Kamwokya, I took a boda to my next stop, and as we journeyed, there was this moment I said that prayer you save for the moment you’re almost certain you won’t escape death.
Bodas in Kampala are not restricted by traffic rules; generally because they just don’t obey them anyway, and they have a fearless nature to them. It’s an inspiring quality to say the least, but mainly if it is going to take you to triumph, not rob you of the precious gift of life. This guy, trying to squeeze through the heavy traffic, had to bargain with a trailer from the rear side of the road. I argued with him to hold on a bit, the traffic will let up in a few and we can have enough space to maneuver, than squeeze in the little space left by the trailer.Never to be heard, I lifted my eyes to confirm how high up the road monster towered. God! It felt like it would fall on us any moment. I said a silent prayer to my patron saint.
I am one always on a Boda but my regular one is as cautious as I am, he wont do what you warm him not to do unless he is sure it’s safe for you. Probably why I freaked out while riding with one i picked up randomly. but they are all different and will treat you equally so. Lucky for me, my fearless rider was a polite soul of a man. he even apologized for scaring me, even advised that I should learn to trust the rider because I could easily get hurt trying to take charge of the situation. Advice taken. But the time you may chance on a rude one who wont care for the hair on your head. I have met this kind of Boda too. he meanders through the cars like you aren’t astride the back of his motorcycle, busy screaming for your legs as they get squeezed between the cars and motorcycle. You just pray there are no sharp objects to harm your very fleshy legs. Another will ride at such a high speed like he just robbed a bank and is trying to get away. You will meet those whose skin hasn’t kissed any kind of soap with water solution and their clothes have lived in the pigsty for God knows how long. It cant be a torture for your very sensitive nostrils. How do their wives deal?
Then we have the taxi drivers and conductors, they are dirty fellows too. Smelly armpits exposed in the name of collecting the transport fare, the bad breath, and worse still, their sweaty hands which are are in charge of keeping your change. I tell you!!! But yet still, there will be the kind and responsible ones and the outright insensitive, rude, insulting chaps. They don’t care how needy you look, whether you’re a primary school pupil or the oldest person they have ever met, they wont even sympathize even though you knelt down. Instead they will hurl insults at you as if they are the richest people at whose mercy you live. The taxi I boarded today had a very caring driver, who even second checked that there are no school kids dosing in the back, yet they need to get off at the school gate where he stopped for a bit. Bambi!!
Then there are those taxi drivers who are proud. maybe I should say they higher standards than their peers. They wont let a dirty looking fellow board their taxi, they even know who has the money to pay and who doesn’t. These ones usually appear in the evening hours . They know you’re spent after a long day at work and just wanna get home.they hike the fare and aren’t ashamed to tell you off should you dare bargain. These are the ones who made the phrase ‘since when?’ sound so mediocre. A trip that usually costs you Sh.1,000, will be doubled and us, ‘the English speaking ladies’ especially, will exclaim,cry even, Since when? It disorganizes your budget, you know. Especially when its mid-month. Hahaha, I know.
And there is my current favorite form of transport; Uber! Still new in Kampala but I must say, even when I will have bought my own car, I will always spare a moment to ride with Uber taxis. Personalized; they makes you feel like you have a chauffeur, especially if the car is a new and very smart looking one. Convenient; they find you where you are and will drop you at your doorstep, if you live in a decent neighborhood. The drivers range from entertaining, talkative, deaf, reserved to in-between all the above. There will always be music, one offered me a drink once,another shared his business knowledge and gave me valuable advise about investment. Will surely take action on it when the time comes. maybe even consult with him. Why not?
In a nutshell, I want to appreciate these people who move us around. I have had the privilege of experiencing the public transport system is Kigali, and it wasn’t as flexible as it is in Kampala. More systematic and organized but our guys here can take you anywhere, without caring for the rules or personal hygiene. They will even risk hitting the highway without a driving license, then take you through the back roads and show you the country in the name of beating traffic or evading the traffic law enforcers. Don’t mind the dusty back roads, just swallow some. Or the potholes, just work out more and be fit enough to endure the bumpy ride. Also, don’t be mean, be flexible enough to spend some extra whenever they say, or you will be left behind.
Sometimes, especially at peak hours, they will tell you that they are taking a shortcut which will leave with about 200m to cover on foot because the the so called shortcut doesn’t favor you.Its okay, don’t quarrel or curse, use the walk to clear your head.There will be so many more unpleasant experiences with public transport, but just keep your peace. This is Kampala. You just gotta love it. It’s beautiful, so many cultures all converged in one place, different beliefs and customs, and very definitely, you will be treated equally so.
There are bicycle boda bodas. But that’s a story for another day. #BreakingLymyts