A 22-wheeler truck in a tuk tuk feels like a 44 wheeler. Trust me that is the worst experience ever. I rode a tuk tuk in the city. Most exciting experience (Worst, I am trying to be positive here).
I rarely ‘need’ the CBD on a Friday – So messy, but this one was different. An impromptu errand arose, and I had to rush through my diary and try bringing forward several errands into my schedule. I do not like going into town to carry out one errand unless it was an emergency. I was not prepared for this until my partner told me I needed to go supervise some thing being worked on at Kamukunji. My diary was quickly reorganized, bringing forward the following week’s errands. I could not just waste a whole day in town running one errand. Kamukunji, then River Road, then Wilson Airport, then Biashara Street then River Road again and then back home. I hoped everything would turn out fine. I still tried fixing some other appointments. Had those people been in town, I would have met them as well. This was a trying day.
Living at the end of Jogoo Road has its disadvantages. On the day I needed the area around Landhies road and Citi Stadium, that is when the UmoinnerI was traveling in decided to detour via Shauri Moyo. That is Moyale road. I am not used to these streets and panya routes on foot – it is a scary hood. So after meandering all over Shauri trying to evade traffic, I alighted without a sense of direction. I looked around and started in the direction that ‘seemed’ like Landhies. I needed the Juakai artisans there. I needed to supervise some work being done on those big blue plastic drums you see on your way to Citi Stadium. It is a filtrate collection system for a distilling plant we are working on. So far, it is legal. Chill. So I managed to find my way, and I got to the artisan we had contracted for the job. And guess what? He was nowhere close to finishing the job. This was the third week. The problem with most artisans. They work on 10% of every client’s job and then forget it. I don’t know what happens. Either they forget or they just assume that since you have given them the job, they can take all the time they need.
This guy knew too well I would not go through the entire process of explaining what we wanted to another guy. Therefore, after he listened to me with a wicked smile on his face, he was like “Sawa boss wacha nimalizie huyu nikumalizie, kuwa mpole” (Its okay sir, let me finish with this guy’s product then I finish yours, relax) some other guy was supervising his work. This is the way to do it these sides of town. Wait until your product is made, since leaving it will mean that will be the last time they touch it. I was so pissed knowing too well that I had missed another end month. We wanted to launch our product at the end of the month, and this was the remaining piece. I told him I was not leaving, and I would wait for him to finish. I had enough of his stories. I always tell myself that it would be the last time I am paying an artisan in advance for services.
At the least expected time, dad called and told me he was in town, and if I was not that busy, I make a point to see him. This would be the first time I am meeting with my dad in town. Nairobi that is. So I said yes. I forgot the schedule I had in the very diary I was holding in my hands. He asked me where I was, and I told him my exact location. He had errands to run and so he told me to carry on with my errands as he finished his. After hanging up, he called again saying he needed something from where I was. I said okay.
|My view as I waited for the Drum guy.|
The poultry project was expanding, and we needed feeders. The cone feeders that are made in the same location are quite expensive, inferior quality and they have less capacity compared to customized ones. They cost Ksh 450/- a piece. The guy would not have it that I was buying at wholesale – I needed 20. You can customize your own by purchasing those 20L or 20kg metallic, containers – picture those large paint buckets. They can be modified at a cheaper price; you get a higher quality that holds more food quantity. This is what he needed. It was one way to buy time with my artisan, and so I set in search for the containers. It did not take long to find them. Just what I needed. You find containers that are ex-food content carriers, otherwise paint would be a messy affair, and you risk killing your birds once their feed encounters residue from these containers. I got 18 containers for Ksh 230/-. He was selling the paint ones for Ksh 200/-. I did not have the time to go burn off that paint.
I then went to the artisan who was to be modifying our drum. Apparently he had gone for lunch. In the 15 minutes that I had stepped away. Crazy!!!… A few moments later my dad called and asked if I had found what he wanted. He was done with his errands, and if it was okay, we could meet then. Objectives have changed and I would scrap the drum supervision – only for now. To carry those buckets would be a hustle :- by mkokoteni – too slow, a bus – cumbersome to the core and I risked getting insulted by the crew + charging extra, not forgetting they would not take me to where my dad was, a cab (Probox, of course) would have been too expensive, so the only option I had was a tuk tuk. As an after sales service, my new friend Macharia (seller) helped me ferry the cargo to the Tuk Tuks at the old Muthurwa exit/ entry on Landhies.
I am that guy who always sneered at tuk tuks and wondered who rides these things in the age of buses. It’s not that it can maneuver through traffic like a motorcycle, so I never saw the reason. My first time in a tuk tuk was in 2006 from Thika – Market to Mang’u my friends and I had hired – we had bought supplies for a party our club had organized. Fast forward to the second time in Mombasa from Moi Avenue to Ferry then from Mama Ngina Drive to Fort Jesus. Then again countless times in the months of January to March 2014 at my coast assignment.
|A Tuk Tuk|
I will not go through the agonizing bargaining that I underwent. I was paying Ksh 200/- for the jalopy to cover five or less Kms to River road. It took too long to bargain, that the afternoon traffic changed on Landhies changed from flowing to sticky. Friday fever had struck. I was already frustrated by the artisan, and the tuk tuk driver overcharged me – as I felt (It is 30/- from that point to town) I did not wait for other passengers. Somehow my tuk tuk ride felt so embarrassing or thereabout. Not because it is a bad thing because when I am in buses, and we are in traffic and the car besides is three-wheeled, I always looked inside and wondered “What are you doing in that thing?” now here I was. I was as calm as sheep awaiting the butcher. First attempting to butter the experience by sitting back left, before it hit me I was in a toppling machine. 10 minutes into traffic, the mixture of sweat, dust and exhaust from all the buses and trailers overtaking us had formed an extra layer on my skin and my hair which had a generous load of gel on it (I had not intended my day to turn this way). The vibration from the little devil’s engine would lead an expectant woman to her miscarriage. Every passing trailer was another earthquake in our own little world not forgetting the smoke that would blow the torn canvas like a single ply of toilet paper. I had shifted to the middle. The past week has seen over five tuk tuk accidents/ toppledents* on Ma3route. I tried to balance the weight as much as I could to avoid an incident. Sweat, dust, smoke, sweat, dust smoke…, I looked like a character straight from Machang’i. Brown eyebrows, brown hair, skunk pale skin, brown beard. It was such a pathetic moment. The Meru on the ‘yoke’ was getting irritated every passing minute. He thought this would be a quick ride and he realized his day was over chasing Ksh 200/-. The lorries and buses made me feel like a trapped mouse inside some forbidden space. At some point, I even imagined myself on the tarmac at Machakos bus with my buckets all around me.
Friday is always a mess in the CBD. Square that during end month and schools being on mid-term. I spent an hour and a half to get from Landhies to River Road. Two city council police influenced U-turns later and harassment over what was in the ‘mikebe’ by an emaciated officer in blue later, I had to alight and walk since the traffic was too thick to wait longer. 18 empty metallic buckets on my shoulder, (Had to throw my diary in the top bucket and to hell with that decent look I had consulted my sister over.) I started meandering through the traffic towards my dad’s location who had now moved to the Kirinyaga Road – Race Course Road junction for an easy exit from town. He was almost giving up. I was so relieved to arrive at my destination that I even forgot the frustration I had been through.
After pleasantries and confirmation that I had calmed down, I was offered a soda. With all the greed and thirst, I only took three gulps from the 500ml bottle and got satisfied, then like a kid on the last hours of visiting day, I proceeded to sip the rest of it with droopy & teary eyes as we talked with dad.
My frustrations were not yet over.