By Sylvia Mwesigye
What you need to know:
- There is a whole universe beyond embarking and alighting from a taxi. In there, you will find charlatans, cranks, snake oil salesmen and the most ludicrous solutions to any problem; all you have to do is just ask.
Travelling in Kampala taxis is just what the doctor ordered. It will help you eliminate all the stress of rising fuel prices and the constant political shenanigans in this beautiful nation. There is a whole universe beyond embarking and alighting from a taxi. In there, you will find charlatans, cranks, snake oil salesmen and the most ludicrous solutions to any problem; all you have to do is just ask.
On one occasion, I helped a frail looking old man clamber onto the taxi. Once he grabbed my hand, he refused to let go, so I let him hold it, after all, I thought to myself, how harmful can a man with only three teeth be? As we sat like young lovers, I noticed that he was sweating profusely and streams of black sweat were running from his shriveled neck and onto a shirt that might have been white several decades ago.
My suggestion for him to take off the coat fell on deaf ears as he continued to grip my hand. After sitting like that for a while, he turned to me and complimented the softness of my hand. I politely thanked him and then he dropped the clinger, he turned to me and flirtatiously said, “Can you imagine many other women think I am too old for them?” Shocked by the turn of events I said “mu maaso awo,” and got off the taxi as fast as I could and boarded another.
Another day, I shared the back seat with a young woman, her white husband and their young son. This couple was the total opposite of what I expected. Growing up, I thought when someone married a white person they have hit the jackpot on all fronts. The white people I had met up to this point seemed to be economically, emotionally and intellectually liberated. Consequently, I thought marrying one would liberate the partner too.
But not this poor woman. From her faded ill-fitting blue dress and a weave that looked like an abandoned bird’s nest, she had clearly got the wrong kind of white man. The husband was no better in his black sandals and clothes that had seen better days. He looked like a porter or a fisherman fresh from Kalangala. He sat as if in a trance; actively ignoring his family. As I got off the taxi, I wondered whether the young woman was as disappointed in the relationship as I was.