Taxi Tales: In an Oven
By David Tumusiime, Uganda:
I finally bought my first pair of shoes in three years. What? These things happen in Africa. In Africa we wear our shoes so long, Ali Baba would not recognise his slippers if he saw them on our feet. In fact, we wear our shoes so long, instead of the designer’s name you're more likely to find a shoe mender's signature. But that's a story for another day.
Anyhow, I had on my new shoes and I was going everywhere in taxis. I wanted to spare my shoe soles’ murrum dimples for as long as I could, which is where the trouble started for me.
It had been a while since I’d travelled in a taxi that had engine issues. Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a taxi belching smoke from its exhaust like it were a tuberculosis patient? There are much fewer taxis of that nature on our roads. So naturally, I did not think I’d slide into such a rarity on our roads. But I had.
Let me tell you one thing. If you're going to use Ugandan taxis, either ensure you only use the least DMC taxi on the road or don't buy shoes Made in China. Not even when the shoe seller on Wandegeya road has repeatedly sworn on the honour of his mother that he only sells genuine leather shoes.
It was a very uncomfortable ride, seated at the back of the taxi, with my feet warming up as the taxi went along. But even as I continuously shifted my feet because of the heat from the taxi floor, I couldn’t help admiring the new shoes from different angles. I did not ask myself why the floor of the taxi became hotter as we drove on.
Only when I was getting out did I realise my new pair of shoes had become junk! Thanks to that taxi and its heat! The heat had melted the gum holding the sole to the rest of the shoe and as I walked the cracked pavements, my shoes clapped loudly.
I clapped dispiritedly to the first shoe mender I could find, for a signature.