Leaving town for the airport and why, oh ,why does Rashid choose to drive via the Clock Tower in the centre of town? We sit motionless in solid traffic for half an hour. It’s not the delay I mind, we have plenty of time; it’s sitting in the fumes.
When I first arrived in Kampala and people moaned about the traffic, I didn’t get it; it couldn’t be as bad as London rush hour. London has a lot more cars, but it moves a lot faster too – it’s managed. Here management means a set of traffic lights that change colour pointlessly while traffic police impeccably dressed in white (despite the red dust) offer random and contradictory hand signals to the passing traffic. At the start of the academic year, hand signals become more random and unpredictable, in the quest to pay school fees. Management of the traffic is forgotten, the lights merrily change in the background, the unsuspecting driver doesn’t know which set of rules s/he’s breaking – and does it matter? The traffic policeman or woman will pull you to one side and collect money for their school fees regardless.
Rashid’s car is overrun with cockroaches, again. I spot three through the car window before I (still) get in. They’re small though so I tuck my shirt in my trousers and forget about them. They often find their way into travel bags but they won’t last long in a British winter. Funny how blasé I’ve become about the once Unmentionables! Early blog followers will remember the stories!
I wonder how Kampala will have changed when I get back. Which roads will have been (temporarily) fixed? How many more election posters can you stick on telegraph poles and walls? How well trained will Baldrick be? How will I feel about another 9 months working for UCF?
I saw a dark brown grass snake yesterday at the top of Muyenga Hill. The sky was clear blue, the evening light was beautiful and the evening light reflected off Lake Victoria in such a way I thought I saw a savannah for a second. It was magical.
I felt my love of Ugandan returning. I never tire of the view from atop the hills and I’ve been working so hard I’ve been denying myself these walks.
“There’s nothing in here for you to steal mate.” A’s comment to the attendant doing the security check at the entry to the car park was disappointing. I don’t want to be associated with some ex-pat’s cynicism; I don’t want to become one of them. Is it inevitable? Will I in time become the same?
Kampala has shrunk. Everyone goes to the same places. I didn’t worry about the size of the place when I was having fun and had lots of girlfriends to go out with. I used to enjoy the fact everyone’s connected but now I see the city’s limitations.
Or do I just need a holiday?