DIASPOMAN : When we used to rely on a neighbour’s lift

I understand that taxi fares will soon be increased! Oh, God forbid – we have been trying hard to find those coins to enable us climb into those taxis! What shall we do now? I guess we have to rely on lifts from nice neighbours! This reminds me of the mid 90s, when Aggrey and I used to rely on a lift from a certain neighbour of ours.

I understand that taxi fares will soon be increased! Oh, God forbid – we have been trying hard to find those coins to enable us climb into those taxis!

What shall we do now? I guess we have to rely on lifts from nice neighbours! This reminds me of the mid 90s, when Aggrey and I used to rely on a lift from a certain neighbour of ours.

Those are the days when Aggrey and I happened to share a nice house at the heart of Kiyovu. Whenever one is told about a place called Kiyovu, the mind immediately races towards the posh area that harbors the likes of Mille Collines and the defunct Hotel Kiyovu.

No way. Not for Aggrey and I. For us, the Kiyovu that we were residing in was the poor division which is across the payage. It this payage that used to separate the rich Kiyovu from the poor one. However, things have since changed – what we used to call the “Poor Kiyovu” will soon become a home to mighty skyscrapers! 

Anyways, here we were fresh from college and trying to make ends meet. Eventually, we managed to secure jobs at a certain NGO situated in Gikondo where we were accountable to this tall bearded expatriate.

He was always puffing away at his cigars and he also had a tendency of chewing Orbit chewing gum. I guess this chewing gum is the one that used to help our boss stay awake throughout the night.

I say this because he was usually the last person to leave office late at night and yet manage to reach his office very early the following day. Naturally, he always became irritated when he found himself at the offices all by himself.  
This was because his main employees always showed up a few minutes late as a result of hard hangovers accruing to the previous long nights out at Cosmos or at Bea’s joint.

To make matters worse, it was very difficult to catch a taxi at the payage which would deposit us at Gikondo. The few taxis available would be heading towards town to pick passengers.

So Aggrey and I would board the taxis going to the taxi park in town from where we would wait for Gikondo bound taxis to fill up. This would take ages. By the time we arrived at our workplace, we would find our boss in tantrums!  

Although I was in charge of the drivers plus the vehicles, I was never accorded a car. I was like a Fleet Manager who hooves daily from home to work and vice versa, leaving the free vehicles idle at the parking yard. I guess the only fleet that I had control over was the countless crates of empty bottles of beers that were stashed away at home.

I could line them up in our kitchen and start to admire them in a manner to suggest that I could do with several filled up bottles. I could summon Aggrey over so that we say a little prayer in search of a miracle. We would kneel down and lay our hands on the fleet of empty crates of Amstels.

We would then pray hard begging our creator to fill up a few bottles of Amstels since our throats were on the verge of getting hoarse as a result of real thirst.  

Now in order to avoid the sack from our expatriate boss, Aggrey and I had to devise strategies. We quickly realized that the solution to our problem was just next door. I am talking about our good old neighbour whose name resembled that one of Uganda Waragi.

We later on realized that Mr. Waraje had been unofficially baptized with that name due to his ever lasting love for that crude drink which resembles mineral water. We used to visit Mr. Waraje next door and find him seated out in his compound with a glass of mineral water.

He would swallow glass after glass and that kept us wondering whether this water drinking mammal was really normal. It later on dawned upon us that the glass of mineral water was actually a glass of Uganda Waragi.  

It was this neighbour whose junk 504 Peugeot saved our jobs. Our simple job was that of pushing the 504 so that the engine could start.

It was a tough exercise pushing that car all the way to the payage so that Waraje could roll it downhill in a bid to resurrect the car. Once the car came to life, Aggrey and I would sprint behind it trying to force open the doors.

As Waraje rolled down, Aggrey and I would display our martial arts skills by flinging open the car doors and diving in the hind seat.

Full of sweat, we would give Waraje a hearty handshake to congratulate him in having successfully started the car.  

Then there was another task that we had to bear if we were to successfully climb up the then bumpy and dusty Gikondo road. One of us had to stretch his hand forward to hold tight the ignition key. Whenever the 504 hit a pothole, the ignition key would pop out and this of course meant that the car would jerk to a stop.

That also would mean more puffing, huffing and pushing. We had to be extra careful while holding on to the key as Waraje accelerated uphill.

This was such a lousy and boring task but one that we could not avoid. In our typical team spirit atmosphere, Aggrey and I decided to draw up a timetable to indicate who would hold the key of that gracious 504! Talk about hard earned lifts!!!  

diaspoman@yahoo.com