Taxi Tales….and Musings…

Taxi rides in Kampala can be everything from extremely hilarious to downright annoying to scary. This one was two of those.

For purposes of ‘flow’ I will first list the characters that feature in this particular taxi situweshan. (This word should be added to the dictionary)

  1. Myself
  2. First neighbour
  3. Second neighbour
  4. Taxi driver
  5. Truck
  6. Drunkard
  7. Boda boda 1
  8. Boda boda 2
  9. Traffic officer

I got into this taxi and took one of the seats next to the driver. There was already a guy seated there so he pushed up and I sat near the door. (First neighbour) The first 15 minutes of the ride were so uncomfortable as he somehow couldn’t put his legs on one side and was practically stepping on my shoes. I couldn’t take it so at the next stop, I changed seats.

Second neighbour – girl from uni *she had books handouts and all* who with a tough tone and literally elbowing me asked that I push up and she sits well. I was too shocked to make a verbal response and just moved a bit. Ps: to make sure she was comfortably seated, she had to take part of my seat…that’s how tiny I was and she must have thought I was some primary school girl.

As the taxi moved, at some point it stopped for some passengers to disembark and others got on…normal taxi business as usual; and we were at this stage for about 2.5 minutes but those few minutes were enough to change one man’s life, hopefully not so fatally.

When I sit at the window seat, most times the window is open…that is why I sit there, for fresh air. So I was looking out the window watching whatever was happening on the road when this boda boda (Boda 1) lost control and fell right at my window. Of I literally saw him fall. The confusion trying to figure out what was going on????

It turned out he was trying to avoid a drunkard who’d just walked into the road and when he braked there was a truck right behind him, the sudden brake made the truck hit the bike….hence the fall. At this point drunkard who probably had no clue what had happened, continued his zig zag walk to wherever. He wasn’t hit. The boda cyclist however wasn’t so lucky and was now under OUR taxi. Thank God it was parked! Images of how terrible it would have been if we’d been moving had me all types of mentally scarred. The truck sped off.

If you’ve witnessed an accident on a Ugandan road before, you know how fast the crowd gathers. Now this was 11am so you can imagine. The crowd got huge. Surrounding the victim….nobody cared where the truck had gone. Except our taxi driver. He kept telling other bodas to follow the truck because we could see it drive away but none paid attention.

About 100m away from the scene were traffic lights and as fate might have it, the light turned red just before the truck crossed. In comes traffic officer…who after seeing a bleeding man under our taxi asked the driver what had happened, driver in not so many words pointed at the truck and told him that’s the guy that should be questioned. Meanwhile traffic officer had no car or bike or any means of transport and if he was going to chase this truck, he probably thought about running after it! He randomly picked on one of the boda boda riders (boda 2) that had gathered and instructed him to follow the truck. The light had turned green and it had moved a bit. Just a little ahead, they managed to stop the truck driver.

Back at the scene, some of the people from the crowd carried the injured cyclist off the road to the side.

Our taxi then left……I don’t know how this ended. Seeing as the officer on duty had no means of transport I don’t know if he came back to have the victim taken to hospital…or if a good Samaritan helped. Or if the truck driver was detained…or if he argued or paid his way out of it. I don’t know if victim lived. He was carrying boxes of what looked like shop things. Salt and stuff. I don’t know if the people who had sent him bothered to find out why he didn’t show. I assume he’d been sent. I don’t know if the drunkard stood and watched at a distance what he had caused. Because yes, he was the cause of it all. And why was he drunk at 11 in the morning on a Monday?…And was he on his way back home? Was he aware he’d just survived an accident? My mind had all sorts of things going on.

Back to my neighbour 2….we talked about what had just happened the rest of the journey…and the whole while I kept wondering if that would have been the case if I had snapped at her initially for using ‘excess force’ to get me to move a bit so she could sit. We even talked about how important it is to say a prayer before getting out of bed in the morning…for God’s protection through the day. She felt sorry for me because I watched the whole thing….she actually asked if my entire day hadn’t been spoilt. I wasn’t thinking about my day at this point, I was thinking about the cyclist. His day. His life. The extent of his injuries. How long he was probably at the roadside before he was taken to hospital…etc. I was not thinking about my day.

The conversation somehow changed to shoes. Yup! You’d think the journey was long but it wasn’t. But somehow she pulled out this pair of awesome heels from her bag (you’ll be shocked at the things a girl’s bag can hold) and told me she’d looked at my foot (I have no idea at what point she did this) and it was not a perfect fit for the shoe but wanted to show it to me anyway. Smh. It was a beautiful shoe but yes, like she guessed it was small…and if I had had the money she was selling it at, and it was my size I probably would be getting ready to write a post about how I once bought a pair of shoes from a stranger in a taxi! Now that I think about it, I laugh! They could have been stolen for all I know! But they were pretty! And new. So pretty that when she told me the price at which she was selling them, I gave her advice to sell them higher. She had under-priced them.

We got to my stage and I got off…..confused, shocked and wondering about how fleeting life is and how just like the conversation swiftly changed to shoes, the world keeps moving….it doesn’t stop, it doesn’t pause.

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