Series, Taxi Tales

Taxi Tales: Raining in the Taxi

By David Tumusiime, Uganda:

There are certain things that surely must be distinctly Ugandan. Like the rolex and I do not mean the watch: it is that egg and chapatti roll delicacy. And, I don't know if there is anywhere else in the world where when it starts raining, car owners run outside to check on their cars, instead of seeking shelter for themselves. Car owners do that in Uganda, Kampala especially, because if they don't, they might have a hard time finding their cars after the roads have flooded following a tepid downpour that wouldn't fill an English cup of tea.

But it is not only car owners who develop frown lines deeper than Rift Valley escarpments when it starts pouring in Kampala. It is during or after the rain that you will find not too many passengers rushing for the window seats of any taxi. When it's raining, a taxi can be the second worst place to be. The very pit of misery being the veranda of a grocery shop where the wind and the hail blow furiously and sway you like OAU flags.

The sheltered safety of a taxi is illusory, in most cases. Most passengers often find out too late that their nook is not as safe as they had assumed. Most taxis leak, when it's raining, spattering the shirts, coats, and blouses of those who are seated next to windows. Unwelcome polka dots for that prized shirt Woolworth assured you would be in service for next two years – at the very least.

Oh, but how could I forget that the only place slightly worse to be when it's raining is a taxi with cruel kisses. Cruel kisses, you ask? That's a taxi with protruding nails and edges that insist on developing a personal relationship with your clothes as you enter or try to exit as daintily as possible.

While at the back of the taxi you soak in the rain like swamp reeds, the passengers at the front become human wind screen wipers for the driver. Most taxi wind screen wipers don't work, you see. The ones that do leave more scratches on the wind screen so it's better not to tempt fate.

Driving through the rain in a taxi is a team effort. The only other time I ever saw such intimate bonding was when our taxi was driving through a rioting mob of walk to work protestors. But that's a story for another day.

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