Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bongo Series: On My Way Home

Going back home is always nerve wrecking. It could be because it breaks ones daily routine. For me, I was probably anxious because of all the things I had to do and places to go. But above all, I think the main reason for my anxiety was that I was equally excited.

The flight to Tanzania, from New York to Dubai was uneventful. Obviously, just boarding the plane - particularly the Emirates flight that I took, brings the reality of stepping into a different place. That is due to the fact that the majority of the passengers weren’t Caucasian, but mainly of Asian descent.

It was refreshing to see a few (I mean a few) of my fellow Bongolanders and Kenyans on the same flight. Nonetheless, I was turned off by the fact that some of them were acting as if they are 110% African-Americans. That really gets to me. It amazes me how a fellow Tanzania can meet you in the USA and look at you as if you aren’t here.

I mean, aren’t we have access to the same JC Penney, Macy’s, Marshalls and Wal-Mart? So why would one think that wearing buggy jeans and Nike sneakers make them any better or special? Could it be that the reason I don’t dress hip-hop is because of a personal choice and not otherwise?

In a nutshell, I saw a couple of those Tanzanian “kids” in the plane.

So let’s get to Dubai…

Nothing special happened there, except for plenty of airport workers who actually speak fluent Swahili.

Landing in Dar….

Nothing brings the reality of being home like landing at JNIA. For one, the whole idea of an international airport disappears. Though JNIA is all we have, it certainly feels like landing at an air field, especially if you have been through some true international airports.

It is not like this was my first trip home, but as I was checking out through immigration; I couldn’t help but notice a heavy stench coming from the toilets nearby. I know the answer already, but let me just ask this rhetoric question, why would one place stinking toilets close the immigration checkpoint?

After grabbing my bags, I headed to the customs area. I was actually impressed that no one asked me for a bribe! Honestly, one the things I expected were for someone to actually give me stupid runarounds for my few things. I was prepared to be patient though.

As I was about to hit the heat wave outside to meet my relatives after smoothly going through customs, a TRA guy stopped me. Amazingly, the guy asked for my passport. I had already gone through immigration and customs, so I was eagerly waiting to hear the reason for a tax guy to ask for my passport. Guess what the guy asked me? He wanted to know where my old passport was (as I used the new Tanzanian passports) and where I renewed my passport. I almost laughed.

Instead of being dramatic (as my relatives where eagerly looking and waiting for me), I calmly told the guy that I renewed my passport at the Tanzanian embassy in Washington, DC. As to where my old passport was, I kindly told him that it was somewhere in my luggage. But then I smoothly asked the guy to read my current passport carefully, I specifically drew his attention to the part where it reads that my passport was still valid for the next eight years!

If I were the old, unwise me, I could have slapped the guy. For one, I had already gone through immigration and customs, which means as a tax guy he had nothing to ask. Secondly, I had no time for senseless questions.

I didn’t ask the guy what he wanted, but I presumed he was looking for a loophole to pierce a hole in my wallet. I stepped out on the warm Dar-es-Salaam air to kiss and hug my loved ones; I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these senseless incidences my fellow Tanzanians go through on a daily basis.

And can you believe that the driver actually drove on the “wrong” side of the road going home?


ned said...

Bongo... Bongo... Bongo I love this place! As for the Tax guy... Yes you could literally told him to take a hike and keep walking! May be he wanted to appear working, may me as you say... was looking for "chochote". One thing... they dare NOT ask you for anything... I mean they do not know you! and "asking is too much of a risky proposition now a days. Never the less.. the place is still crawling with those kinds. Next time... do all of us a favor... ASK for his id first (I mean.. he would have to take it off his shirt and giv it to you) As e reads your P/p you are reading his Id!... YEah.. that is Bongo my friend!

Jaduong Metty said...

The funniest thing is this: the tax guy actually had his ID badge tucked on his shirt. However, his assigned work station, per the ID, was the harbor! As I was reading his ID, I couldn’t help but wonder: why in the world would a tax guy assigned to work “bandarini” be asking immigration questions at the airport?

In a nutshell, I thought the guy was ridiculously stupid. And for that very reason, I was just calculating his moves and ready to shred him into pieces.

Ned, how do you guys do it in Bongoland? I mean, for me, these are sort of things that just discourage me from thinking of moving back home. Granted, life has little nuances everywhere you go, but I think in Bongoland some of the nuances are unnecessary. Maybe they are created for the benefits of a few, but I fail to comprehend it all.

ned said...

Man! it has been 14 months since my "home-coming". I must confess... At first it was sooooo hard!!! and I dare say... that could as well be the single MOST annoying thing here... the way the system works! BUT, I met a few of my fellow returning "sitizeni" and ALL of them encouraged me by saying it is the best decision they made. 14 months later... I am like... may be (almost believing) - LOL. may be e should blog on this topic - I am sure it will be facinating (LOL)

Jaduong Metty said...

Since I don't have not been in Bongoland for more than a month, why don't I let you do the reflection? I mean, we all could benefit from your "journal", particularly on the adjustment process.

I, personally, would benefit from that.

Jeff Msangi said...

As I was just taking my seat properly to continue reading this recollection of your trip back home,you suddenly ended it.

I would like to hear more.Not just the "kids" on the plane and airport hustles.I believe you experienced a lot more.The rushwa in the city,banks.The heat,the drinks,the music..all of that.Please write more about this.We are reading.

Jaduong Metty said...

I am getting there...:)