The bodaholics and taxi lovers that I connect with on social networks sent me such a nice collection of stories that I had enough material for a second Stiletto Point article. Big thanks to everybody who contributed. First of all, y’all saved me from having to write that Sunday. Secondly, thank you for helping me paint a picture (wordpicture?) of what it is like to use public transport in this our chaotic and often funny city.
Akech: I once boarded a taxi from Gayaza to town. When one lady got off off at Kubiri , the conductor started to call for people to come in. Unfortunately, that woman had thrown up all over the back seat. Passengers of course refused to sit there. The conductor then said, “Whoever accepts to sit there will pay half price.” In unison, the whole taxi shouted, “yiiiyyiii?!’
Laura: A taxi I was once in stopped to wait for customers in a sunny spot. When a lady sitting next to a window complained that she was getting sunburnt, the conductor said, “Woviira mu waliwo umbrella?” – meaning “Is there an umbrella at your stop?”
Kyakyo: One time, I flagged down a boda along Acacia Avenue. He was wearing a helmet. It was around 9pm. I didn’t bother negotiating and just said “stage” and he grunted. I hoped on. As we approached the now Mish Mash area, he reached back and touched my thigh! Indignantly, I shouted, “excuse me!” but he insisted on touching me. When I told him to stop the bike, he took off his helmet and that is when I noticed that he was Indian. I just told him to scoot on.
Kumbuka: In my O’Level at Mwiri college, I was once sent home for school fees. Fare from the Jinja park to home had always been 2500/=. All through the journey, I sat confident that I had enough money, not knowing that fare had been increased to 3000/= . When I paid, the conductor asked for the 500/=. I didn’t have it. I explained that I was just from school and didn’t know about this increment and even started faking tears but the man wasn’t having any of it. He said,”Mwe kusomelo temusoma mawulile?” Meanwhile, he was taking my shoe!
Achetun: Yesterday evening, I boarded a taxi near Mulago hospital. As soon as we joined the main road, a Police bike followed us. Two officers ordered our driver and conductor to get out and sign in their book. They then issued a fine demand note. When they asked see the driver’s permit, he claimed to have left it in town. It was when the police unleashed another ticket that the conductor started to complain bitterly, saying they had received three other tickets that day. Altogether they had been charged over 800K in one morning. We were chased out of the taxi and it drove off via Yusuf Lule road.
Ntezi: I always have conversations with my boda men, especially when we’re travelling long distances. Also in the unusual or ungodly hours I find myself sharing real life experiences with them. This is my way of ensuring I am humanized in their minds, so that they abandon any evil plans they might have. Hasn’t failed me yet.
Osweri: I’d always wondered about people in taxis who make a spectacle of themselves over 500/- until I boarded some taxi to Ntinda (1500). I told the tout I was disembarking in Nakawa. Translation: I’m paying 1000, right? Long story short, my beautiful leather handbag is sans a shoulder strap now. I’m mad and mournful, but without an ounce of embarrassment. I need to stop talking and just buy that scooter already!
I’m with Marvis. I spend so much time and money on boda bodas that it would be a super smart move if I bought a scooter. Perhaps I would even hire a rider.
Do leave a story of your own in the comment section.
See you next Monday.