Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Missing the Simple Things..

I sometimes look at images like the one provided here (photo by M.I. Michuzi) and reminisce on the good old days, when was life was "good" and simple in the skies of Bongoland.

It would be a typical hot day in Dar-es-Salaam. Assuming it is a Saturday, you would wake up, grab your two ndoos or karais to do your laundry (not with a Kenmore or Whirlpool in your basement, but your good old God-given two hands. If your family had a housegirl or houseboy, then just ignore the rest of the story). If you are lucky enough to be living in a neighborhood with an abundance of water flow, you will manage to thoroughly rinse your clothes before hanging them on a string for them to dry.

If no water is abundantly flowing in your neighborhood, you would carefully use your scarce resource through "recycling" of your water. I mean, the water you use for your final rinse of will not be wasted. Instead it would be used for pre-rinsing of another load, or initial soaking of a whole new load. White clothes would definitely get a special treat from a "blue" magic, remember that? Depending on the neighborhood where you live, you would not dare leave your clothes without a security guard, because in doing so, you would end up buying your own clothes in Kariakoo, if you know what I mean. If you had a few shillings in your pocket, you would drop your clothes at a "laundrymat" or at the dobi's.

I know some of y'all folks stayed at home with dad and mom, but I am giving you my own version as a person who had my own "ghetto", if you know what I mean. After doing your laundry, would definitely want to catch breakfast before you head to Kariakoo for some serious mitumba shopping. The easiest way, for a single man in Dar-es-Salaam, was to have a jiko la mchina, a sufuria, a half kilogram of sugar, and Green Lebel. Of course, if you couldn't run to Mangi's shop around the corner for a loaf of bread and Blue Band, there were always Mama Masumbuko and them selling vitumbua and maandazi on the roadside, just outside your baba mwenye nyumba's property.

After getting your breakfast, you would take a quick shower after sweeping the yard (if it was your ratiba for the day). You will head to the daladala station to catch your ride to Kariakoo. Assuming your "ghetto" is half a mile from the official station, you will definitely ask for "msaada" somewhere. Who wants their Kiwi to be covered by dust before the end of the day anyway? On your way to Kariakoo, if you are coming from the Kinondoni area, you will not stop but wonder, why are jeans being sold at Magomeni Mapipa are always shining and looking brand new? These fellas must be dying these things man, haiwezekani bwana.

In Kariakoo, you will make your normal rounds through Congo street, trying to avoid being duped into buying empty boxes instead of raba mtoni and such. You will allow your ears to be hammered by constant voices calling "ya reo! ya reo! ya reo! bei poa!", not to mention machingas trying to sell you shoe strings you don't need and ashikilimu sellers who want to quench your thirst. What about the abuse your nose will take from the mixture of pure body ordor and strong cologne from your fellow shoppers? After getting the type of clothes you want, you will make your rounds through electronic shops to drool over new stereo systems and TVs that you can't afford for now given your Bongoland salary. Through the experience, you will have your "naangalia tu" answer ready to be dropped when needed.

By this time you will be sweating and hungry. If you were "prepared" you will have your lunch mjini from one of the "hotels". We don't have restaurants in Tanzania, even if you don't have bed and breakfast or sell only ugali and samaki, according to our standard in Bongoland any establishment (given they are not mama ntilies) that sells food is a hotel. The term restaurant is rare, it is a foreign notion to us. If you can't afford to have lunch, you will have to drop by at your aunt's in Magomeni on your way back. Who calls in Dar-es-Salaam to announce that they are stopping by for lunch? On your way to the daladala station, you will either stop by one of the kiosks to buy soda or get a fresh madafu or miwa juice. Kipindupindu is for other people, not you.

Oh did I mention that during your shopping you met this high school classmate of yours who just got back from London for summer break? If not that, you will meet this fast-talking ordinary level classmate of yours talking about South African mipangos. Those "success" stories used to sting, knowing that you couldn't even pick up that tiny TV from that shop owned by this fella of an Asian origin. Deep down, you will always console yourself that "wan dei yesi".

Please look at the picture man! Who cares about sanitizing their hands before they hand you an organic pumpkin in Tanzania? Who cares that the pumpkin seller could have utilized a mobile selling stand instead of putting the pumpkins on the ground? I can guarantee you that the dude does not have even a tax identification number. TRA does not even recognize him. But who cares? Who cares that the sugarcane juice you just had in Kariakoo does not meet FDA (err..do we have such a thing in Tanzania? may be..) standards? Who cares that the daladala driver on your way home would probably violate five traffic regulations? I know for sure your response to a "mambo vipi?" question from any mshikaji who would board a daladala with you would be "poa" . That is because for some part, life is really poa in Dar-es-Salaam.

Don't you miss those simple things in the Dar-es-Salaam's? I know I do.

1 comment:

j-view said...

Wow! this was a good reminiscence, while I was reding I felt like I was in bongo land. You know what! 'wan dei yes'