Posts Tagged ‘motorbike’

Show – In this case, The Nairobi International Trade Fair. It used to be called the Nairobi Show.
Bodaboda – motorbikes that carry passengers usually short distances – up to maybe 6 kilometres

The chaos started just as the matatu (public service van) slowed down at the stop, even before it actually stopped. The motorbike guys, upon seeing me with a child, immediately started offering to take us to “Show ndani.” (into the Show) There were also some guys selling balloons.
No, No, I said making my way past them, but encountering many more motorbike guys.
“Do you have a helmet?” I asked.
“Yes. ”
“How many?”
“No thanks.”
I looked at the many motorbikes there and did not see any with two helmets.
Just the same morning, my wife had told me how a colleague of hers encountered an accident. There was a motorbike rider and his passenger. The motorbike rider had been wearing a helmet, while his passenger had not. The motorbike was nursing a leg injury. The passenger was not nursing anything, chiefly because his head had split open.

One rider followed us and made his offer as well.
“Do you have a helmet?”
“How many?”
Moja aje na tuko watatu?” (How do you have one and there’s three of us?)
“Helmet ni wewe ndio utavaa mtoi hatavaa na ni hapa tu.
(It’s you who will wear the helmet, not the child and we are going just here.)
Later, I wondered if that guy has a child.
I told him to bring his bike, since it seemed no one had more than one helmet.
When he arrived, I gave the helmet to Amor, told the rider to go slowly and off we went. We arrived without incident and the rider set us down at a place near a sign saying ‘No Bodabodas beyond this point.’

There were VERY MANY people around, a good number of whom were pupils in school uniform. It turned out we still had a bit of a walk to reach the gates.
Again, predictably, there were guys selling things for children – mainly balloons and shades.
“Buy this one that matches what she is wearing”
The balloons were those long ones that had been blown and twisted and had a loop. A number of the sellers placed the balloons on Amor’s head. I firmly refused to buy. I asked Amor if she wanted any of those things and she said no.
I bought two bottles of water, though.
At various points, we passed groups of the uniformed pupils forming lines and holding hands. I remembered what my wife had told me, that when they were young and used to go to the show, they would be told to hold hands or they would get lost.
I told Amor, “If you get lost, or if I get lost,” (I added this because it’s a matter of perspective, isn’t it?), “don’t start looking for me. Just stay where you are until I come find you. Do you hear?”
“What did I say?”
“If I get lost and you get lost, I don’t start looking for you. I just stay where I am until you come find me.”
“Good. Because if you start looking for me and I start looking for you, you may be going like this,” (I moved one hand in a semi-circle) “and I am going like that,” (I moved my other hand in a semi-circle away from the first hand) “and we don’t find each other.
I will go back to the places we have been until I find you.”

We queued for a security check and queued again for tickets, but both queues moved pretty quickly. Ticket prices were 300/- for adult and 250/- for a child. Then we were in.

Almost immediately, Amor asked me “Wapi pahali pa kucheza?” (Where are the places for playing?)
I decided that since we were late (it was maybe a few minutes to 2:00 p.m.) we should start with the fun fair, so that if we run out of time, at least we will have done that.
So off we went to try and locate the places for playing.

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Riding Blind

This story is based on actual events.
Here in Kenya, we drive on the left side of the road. My cousin Donald (is that his real name? Ask yourself) rides a motorcycle. Being a relatively young man, he sometimes goes rather fast. He wears a helmet, as indeed he should.

One fine afternoon, Donald was going about his business, riding from place to place. He put on a cheap dust mask over his mouth and nose, so that even when riding fast, the wind coming in under his helmet’s visor would not make breathing a problem. He then donned his helmet, got onto his bike and rode off. He joined Karen Road and kept to the leftmost side of the road, to allow the cars that were behind him to pass him easily if they so wished.

He increased his speed to 50 km/h, enjoying the sound and feel of the relatively new bike. 61 km/h. A BMW X6 passed him. “Who’s got the keys to my Biemer?” he sang to himself.
In his side mirror, Donald could see at least two other cars behind him. He rode on.
77 km/h.
Suddenly, the wind that had been blowing under the helmet’s visor blew the dust mask that was covering Donald’s mouth and nose, and moved the mask over Donald’s eyes. Donald could now only see the white of the mask. The speed of the bike was no longer something pleasant.
This is how people die! Donald thought.

Many hours of riding kicked in. Donald slowed the motorbike down somewhat, as he heard a probably annoyed driver hooting as he drove past. He imagined that if he let go with one hand, the bike would veer to the side still holding.
Donald slowed down further and felt a vicious bump as the motorbike hit a pothole. He was momentarily lifted off his seat, but he maintained his grip on the handlebars and tried to keep the bike straight. Gravity put him back on his seat.
There should be a ditch to my left, he thought, further slowing down.
But maybe there is a pedestrian!
What speed was he doing now? 60 km/h? No need to waste brain power calculating. There were serious things at stake.
Another car passed him, this time only sounding a warning horn, implying that he was keeping the bike on a relatively straight path. Good.
Another bump. This time not as bad as the first.
Donald turned the bike gently off the road, hoping not to feel and hear the bike ploughing into some hapless pedestrian.
Fortunately, there were no screams and no feel of soft flesh under the bike. Instead, Donald was thrown forwards as the bike’s front wheel sank into the ditch. He fell and heard the bike’s engine go silent.
He quickly removed his helmet and pulled down the offending dust mask. He had fallen about a metre ahead of the bike, which was lying safely off the road.
Donald took a  few moments to perform a quick check of his body. All seemed okay, save for a slight ache on his arm and what felt like minor bruises. The only pedestrian nearby was a young man on the other side of the road, who looked at him with mild curiosity as he walked on.

Donald got up, went to his bike, found it still functional and started wheeling it along the road, vowing to never use such a dust mask again.

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