Thursday, June 12, 2008

Driving Miss Crazy

So the photos in that last post took such a long time to download that I had time to write a whole 'nother blog. About driving in Arusha, as promised.

If you’re in a good mood.
Get into car. Take a deep breath. Put seat belt on. Head on down the very bumpy very rocky road towards the tar. Giggle at the sound of your teeth rattling in your head. Smile at the children who are running beside your car shouting “Mzungu, Mzungu” (white person, white person). Grin inanely at them and wave. Shikamoo (respectful greeting) the old Maasai man who always blocks the road with his cows and goats. Wait for him to hobble past, as well as the cows and goats (aah, sweeeet, look at that little baby one) and carry on. Get to the clog of minibus taxis (daladalas) blocking the bottom of the road. Wait patiently for them to clear. Look out for madman whose always there. He waves crazily at the tyres of your car.

Indicate to turn onto tar road into town. But first wait for very slow very unsure learner driver to decide if they’re going, stalling, stopping or turning. Then just as a clearing opens for you to turn, a pedestrian walks in front of you. Stops. Has a chat with his mate, leans on the bonnet of your car. You toot politely and wave, ask them to please chat just over there, smile at them as they scowl at you.

Its rush hour, but that’s okay, you’ve got time. You shake your head good naturedly at the daladala that overtakes you and then immediately stops in front of you, to pick up some passengers (he’s just doing business, you say). And as he pulls in front of you again just as you’re about to overtake you smile.

When you come across two men pushing their wooden cart up the hill weighed down with a whole three piece lounge suite you shout ‘pole’ out the window (and they say ‘asante!’ - thanks) (pole - sorry, or expression of sympathy - see dear friend J’s blog for more on what pole means) You look at them struggling up the hill and think ‘Geez that is really hard work. I am so glad I don’t have to do that. I will always be nice to these guys and let them cross the road when they need to. It can’t be fun, having everyone in the traffic shouting at you when you’re trying to cross the road. All the fumes and the sweat. Its hard bloody work. Hats off to them. Pole. So you swerve calmly around them and continue on your way.

When a car overtakes you on a blind corner and a daladala overtakes the overtaking car, causing you to have to pull over, narrowly missing oncoming traffic, you think “oh dear, well, maybe they have an emergency. No need to get cross” Chuckle at the slogans on the back of the daladalas. "Get Rich or Die Trying", "Not Me Its God"

As the traffic starts slowing right down and choking up the streets, you turn the radio on to Kiss FM and listen to DJ John Karani, JK telling his funny ‘did you know’ stories, (did you know that your thigh bones are harder than concrete and a 5 minute kiss burns a hundred calories) or his crazy true life tales (like the one about the man who found a lizard in his egg. Really! They thought it crawled in there before the egg had formed properly – or is that just me being gullible?) or his jokes (there was a very pregnant lady sitting at home, when suddenly she started going in to labour. She was home alone, except for her three year old son, so she called the fire brigade (now why would she do that? I’m sure that’s what he said, and not 911) anyway, the paramedics come and suddenly the power goes off so they get the son to hold the torch while they deliver the baby. After much pushing and panting, the baby pops out and the paramedics give it a slap on the back to make it breathe or whatever it is that they do. They say to the young boy, so what do you think of that? To which the boy replies. “He shouldn’t have crawled up there in the first place, spank him again!” That may have been one of the true life stories, I forget!) So you’re listening to the radio, chucking at JK’s stories when a cyclist cuts right in front of you and nearly smacks straight into you. He starts shouting and cussing like its your fault, but you say samhani and pole again because the only reason he’s angry is because he nearly got knocked down by a ton of landrover and he’s just got a big fright and it can’t be fun trying to cycle to places when there’s no proper cycle paths or anything. You get to the shops, have to drive around the block three times (which takes 45 minutes) coz there is no parking but that’s okay, the radio is on and a space is bound to come up some time.

And then there in all their white and day-glo glowing splendour are the cops. They pick you out of the traffic. Saunter up as you pull over. You smile, give a round of Shikamoos. "Drivers licence" The cop says. "Sure!" you smile. Hand it over. Its your Zambian one, a little worse for wear. He looks at it for a very very long time. "Is this real?" He asks. "Sure it is!" "You should have a Tanzanian licence now. How long have you lived here?" "Ummm 3 months?" Not true you've lived here 6 months but you know that after three months you're supposed to get a Tz licence. He confirms this "No, after three months you need to get a Tanzanian licence. Three months is the cut off" "Okay" you grin "I've lived here two months and two weeks then" He scowls. Lets you go. "Thanks, Bayeeee" you say in an irritating singsong voice. Still in a good mood. Amazing

Eventually you find a parking space, get what you need and head home. On your way back home, you let all the daladalas in in front of you, giving them a gracious posh voiced ‘Please, DO’ movement of your hand. They grin and give a thumbs up. And you do likewise. When 6 other cars and daladalas take advantage and push in front, hey that’s okay. You’re alive. Look at the gorgeous mountain. Life is good.

You head home with the shopping and have a nice cup of tea. Coz its always a NICE cup of tea isn’t it?

If you’re in a bad mood
Get in the car. Take a deep breath. Put your seat belt on. Start driving down the road and curse. Why can’t they bloody fix this road? How hard can it bloody be? Scowl at the children who are running beside your car shouting “Mzungu, Mzungu” Roll down your window and spit “Mimi si mzungu, mimi ni mtu kama wewe” (I am not a white person I am a person just like you). Briefly wonder if your Swahili is correct, then realise you don’t give a toss. Scowl at the smug smart churchgoers, clutching their well worn bibles. They are on their way to the church right behind your house and they are LOUD! Every day. They start WAY too early. Crazy crazy preaching. A man with a microphone set to the loudest level SCREECHING (I’m amazed he hasn’t lost his voice yet. I wish he would). “You will BURN in HELL” type of preaching, serious radical stuff. That is why you’re in a bad mood in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with living next door to a church, but this particular one? Well. It is too much. 5 o’clock on a Saturday and Sunday morning they start. I once counted the HALLELUYA’s - 24 all in a row until he reached his crescendo. Getting louder and louder and LOUDER. Anyway, so you get to the bottom of the road, curse and shout at the daladalas blocking the access to the tar. “Just fucking MOVE over. You think you’re the ONLY ones here, huh? Have some F*&^$#*G consideration”. Weave your way through them, nearly knocking over some school children in the process. Curse some more. Get onto the tar.

Oh look at that, you didn't even NOTICE the annoying speed humps when you were in a good mood. Sump damaging, vicious things that are preeceeded by teeth juddering rumble strips (not so funny now) placed every 100 metres or so.

Turn on the radio. It’s the screechy breathy IRRITATING Brown Sugar as the DJ today. With her fake charm and her fake voice. Bitch. Switch her off. Go up the hill, hooting and flashing and saying “GET OUT THE WAY. CAN’T YOU *&^%$#@ DRIVE?” Get off the road, you in your wooden cart. I don’t CARE if you’re carrying the whole of Manhattan on there, I need to get THROUGH. Traffic crazy. Too much. Too claustrophobic. No way out. Bicycles and wooden cart pushers weaving in and out of the traffic. Selfish drivers not letting anyone in. Blocking the way for everyone. Now NO-ONE can move. Shit, shit, can’t breathe. Bicycle gets too close. Scream at him out the window. Make it to the shops (past the cops, don’t make eye contact). No &#$^%&*()_ parking. That’s, it I’m going home” Back though the traffic, the way you came, can't breathe, can't breathe. Dodge and weave and curse and swear. Nearly there, up the road, bumpity bump, more cussing. MOVE YOUR COWS AND GOATS. Get in the gate, tumble out the car, stub your toe, tread in dog shit.

Bollocks, writing this post has put me in a bad mood and I need to go into town to have the lock fixed on my car. Now look what you’ve done!

I’d better go later. And breathe IN.......and.....out.....

New something I've learned today: Your thigh bones are harder than concrete and a five minute kiss burns 100 calories (do you think thats true?)

Over and out


tam said...

oh Mo this is so funny, you make me laugh out loud. Reading your blog burns calories, but not sure about the kiss. how many is 100 calories anyway? how many pieces of toast is that?

is it living or dead bones they were talking about?

xxx t

fush and chips said...

Kief blog. Keep up the photies, they add lots.