Of Riding In Combis With Rastas

Practically every trip you take in public transport, will have a story, or maybe that just happens to me… But imagine it, 18 random passengers brought together by circumstance and a similar route, that’s recipe for a comedy or drama maybe even a mixture of both… You can imagine the colourful characters you will run into never mind the conductor who seem to be all the children of one mother regardless of which country you go to….

If you are having a nice quiet trip without incident or memorable characters you might want to look in the mirror perhaps to the other passengers you are the one who is unforgettable… at least I have noticed that people notice me, its probably the hair. I have had fellow passengers ask me if my hair is mine, how long I have grown it and if they can touch it… This one toddler didn’t even ask if she could touch my hair just latched onto a strand and held like their life and very existence depended on it…..

Tiny lil fingers have a vice-like grip

When I walk up to a taxi that’s loading passengers, the tout usually opens the front door for me, if it hasn’t been filled up as yet… “Rasta pindai front” The driver will usually switch their playlist and start jamming some reggae music in deference to my perceived preference and soon the sounds of Bob Marley filll up the combi:

We’re jammin’
I wanna jam it wid you
We’re jammin’, jammin’,
And I hope you like jammin’, too

Sometimes I wonder if its such an honour to sit in the front, its like getting a  front-row seat to destruction derby death race as the combi drivers tend to navigate the highway with blatant disregard to rules of the road, that you give thanks and praise to all the things you hold dear when you disembark safely. You also shake off the cramp in your leg from constantly pressing on an imaginary brake pedal.

Sometimes the front seat is taken or maybe someone requests to sit there because they have an injury or perhaps they have some luggage which would be easier to carry on their laps from the front seat… So you sit with everyone else, packed four to a seat like peas in a pod…

They tried to change that as part of social distancing protocol but, there isnt enough of the designated ZUPCO combis to ferry everyone… So peas in a pod it is and maybe you can hold your breath and hope you don’t catch something…

Of course the music will still be blurring out the speakers and you pray no one decides to call you or else you have to tell the conductor to tell the driver that you are on the phone.. “Phone Shop Driver” The conductor shouts to the driver.. Depending on what sort of mood the driver is in, they can either turn down the volume or make a saucy retort like you can phone shop at your house…

Sometimes they will say “it’s The Rasta’s playlist, ask him if I should lower the volume..” The passenger turns to me and of course, I nod my head as my locs affirm the motion, I can see the driver looking at me in the rearview mirror, who nods back and lowers the volume..,… cause every lil thing gonna be alright…

The lady next to me who tells me that she doesn’t know her stop and asks me to tell her when she’s close to her stop, its amazing how someone will trust a random stranger like that maybe I have kind eyes or so I like to tell myself. But kind eyes won’t explain how this lady falls asleep and her head rests on my shoulder, seems so peaceful and I don’t have the heart to nudge discreetly nudge her to the other side…

To pass time, I make funny faces at the kid on the seat in front me. Oh certainly not the one who had pulled at my hair, that mother and child pair dropped off a few stops back and the kid waved me goodbye, it was kinda sweet so I forgave them for touching my locs without permission.. Anyway, there I am making funny faces at the kid and somewhat surprised at their stone cold, expressionless stare… until I realized they can’t see my from behind the mask… hello new normal…

Oh and my phone decides to ring and its deep in pocket and if you are sitting like peas in pod its difficult to reach the phone. Would have ignored it but the caller was persistent the lady beside wakes up and informs me that my jeans are vibrating… after some elbowing and awkward positioning I manage to get my phone out… The driver lowers the volume without me asking.

It was an international call from someone wishing to quote something from my blog, Man’s International Fam.. So I had to speak in my radio voice, I could feel the stares drilling into me but no matter, the conversation was important.. After I ended the phone call the driver addresses me with a twang “Hey Rasta why didn’t you tell me you have diaspora connections can you write about me on your blog, my guy maybe I can escape this country and this drunk job, we are so unappreciated, you know”

I am saved having to answer immediately because I have reached my stop and as I jump off the combi I tell him that I promise I will write about him…

I did keep my promise even though he may never know about it… Come to think of it I forgot to tell that lady that her stop was the next one after mine, I hope she arrived safely…

~B

15 Comments

  1. Do you laugh at your work because Honestly I laugh so much at how this is real time for me at 1:25am in Kampala.

    Taxi tales are always hilarious a friend who used to write them on her Facebook wall recently passed on and this reminded me of her.
    Fond memories.

    Thanks for getting us laughing…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🤣🤣🤣 I might chuckle a little as I work. And then I laugh a lil more as I reread through the eyes who was laughing at 1:25am as I imagine what people are thinking about this person laughing in the middle of the night..

      Taxi Tales are hilarious they follow closely Hair Tales from a saloon too🤣🤣

      Sorry about your friend and here’s to the fond memories that live on in the stories shared 🌻

      ~B

      Like

  2. Dude……
    You forgot the lost woman?
    This erodes our whole damsel-in-distress gig.
    And, and that means after trusting you enough to sleep on you, she’s still waiting for you to return and point her the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙈🙈 imagine she is out there lost at sea I mean highway road doomed to haunt fellow passengers And all she wants is to find her way home 🤔😅
      ~B

      Like

  3. I think the combis should come back on the road again. I miss the humour, the cat fights and the characters that we got to meet and sit together tightly packed smelling each others armpits full of sweat or Nivea roll ons. I miss too being chaperoned to the front seat and being told mother since you are the landlady you can’t fit at the bedroom seat. Jeesus! Actually being called a landlady was a kind way of saying I was overwight and would take up the whole seat meant for four people. Combis must come back! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rasta man always has a chip on their shoulder. This one time I took an adventure trip from my hometown across international border into neighbouring Mozambique. There was a big police roadblock close to Chimoio CBD… THEY WERE ARRESTING EACH AND EVERY DREADLOCKED GUY they saw on the combi. Apparently, there had been a robbery the previous night, and suspect was a Rastaman😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ……every lil thing gonna be alright…….
    yes I sang along to that as I subsequently laughed after imagining it all using Ugandan taxis in my mind, of course.
    Also, this is so relatable especially from a “rasta” point of view. But yet again, how not nice of you to ditch the lady just like that….. she is prolly fighting with beasts out there 😏

    Plus, why do I feel like recommending cycling?

    Like

  6. In stitches🤣tales from public transport are always the best.

    I miss making funny faces with children😂playing a mini a version of hide and seek.

    Gosh this piece is so accurate ✨

    Like

  7. Tiny little fingers always melt my heart…however they tend touching peoples food and hair..thank God for corona😆😆
    So you enter into the taxi and the driver start playing reggae woooww an influencer of note.
    Come to think of it I once gave some passengers the wrong direction. The girls got off at the wrong stop. We started talking in the taxi about how they’d ask a random passenger about not the driver.😆😆i felt so bad.

    I just hold the lady you forgot to tell her stop was the next one after yours to arrived safely.

    Like

  8. I find it intriguing to know that mini-buses are used in various countries around the globe.
    It’s pretty neat to be treated almost like royalty, as you are.
    And, yes, what’s up with kids having such strong grips???!!! That’s not normal! Are we born with superpowers but then we forget about them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we forget a lot as we grow… Kids might have all sorts of secrets they could tell us but they can’t speak yet and by the time they learn to speak they will have started forgetting everything and instead learning from us the limitations of life….

      It’s like that experiment where elephants are tethered to a certain perimeter with thick chains later a small string will be sufficient to stop from going far even when they can easily break the string and then their offspring won’t even need the string they go no further than the invisible tether…. Don’t remember the point I was making but should save this to my drafts 🤣🤣🤣.
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

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