A regular reader of this irregular stream of missives (and my previous incarnation of Big Chimping), may have noticed that a fairly common theme of my writing is transport, and the issues I have faced therein. Recently, however, I have been fairly quiet on the subject, not as you no doubt imagine, because the issues have disappeared. But instead because my baseline for what constitutes an uneventful journey is now so warped, that nothing short of being hit by a meteor or mobbed by a family of mutated super-intelligent giant mongooses is really worth a mention. So in order to address this I shall try to summarise my last 6 months or so of incredibly routine hair-raising journeys.
I now have a car, of sorts. Usually this would be cause for celebration, however the vehicle is so old and decrepit, it now has more in common with a donkey cart than a modern motor vehicle. Nonetheless, it does have 4 wheels (most of the time) and is good for driving to town and back. So long is the list of mechanical issues with the car, the only part which has not failed on me, during my short time of driving it, is the passenger side door. Rather cunningly, this has been achieved by the removal of all moving, and hence breakable, parts from the door, reducing the chance of failure to 0. The upshot of this being it will only open from the inside through the careful, and highly skilled, manipulation of a bent coat hanger, which protrudes over the top of the sorry remnants of upholstery.
Needless to say I have had some eventful journeys in the old thing, that have included a wheel falling off (I wasn’t driving), a complete failure of the brakes while approaching a junction in town (luckily traffic in rural Uganda is quite forgiving of this kind of thing) and most recently a total failure of the clutch. Thankfully the last of these failures occurred when I was going down the hill in second gear. So barring a few complaints from the engine I arrived at the mechanics unscathed to be greeted by the kind of warm reception reserved by mechanics for only their best customers.
The last tale comes, no surprisingly from the font of danger that is Ugandan buses. On a particularly uneventful journey and about 30 minutes from our destination, the bus suddenly pulled over. This was swiftly followed by the cabin filling up with steam and smoke. Cue a whole bus panic as the passengers near the font started running for the back and those at the back reached for the windows. As people began to use these designated emergency exits with the expected vim and vigour, it suddenly dawn on me that I was sitting next to the only window on the bus that did not open. Not wanted to miss out on an opportunity to commit some justified vandalism against the vehicles which have been the bane of my life/die, I leapt up and kicked the window out, and proceeded swiftly after it. In reality the old Ugandan guy who was sitting in the window seat did most (all) of the kicking, I merely followed him out. Strangely enough, all the other passengers assumed I was the one responsible and started to thank me for saving them. I did not feel the need to correct them. And, of course, when recounting the story within earshot of an attractive lady, I struggle to recall the old Ugandan and I am fairly sure I carried a couple of babies out the window with me, saving them from the approaching flames.