RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Monday, August 15, 2011

The joys and pains of travelling at night

Thankfully, night travel shields you from the sight of saliva dribbling from neighbours’ mouths and when the snoring begins, you plug your earphones in the right place to block that unpleasant noise, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

I love night travel. It’s dark inside the bus and the road is not as busy as daytime. I love sitting by the window and opening it a little so the fresh air outside can gush in and blow tender kisses all over my face.
There’s no beauty like the heavenly firmament so I get to peep at the sky and watch the radiant stars break-dance to the rhythm of accelerating tyres on the tarmac.
There's no place like home!
The signals are strong so you facebook and chat up some lonesome girl at the end of the world. When she’s the slow type, you sign out without warning and call home to say you are seconds away. You visualise your little sister warming up your meal of yams and beans with a loving heart, because big brother is arriving any minute.

There’s a way the sexual impulse usually gets travellers ogling the beautiful girl next seat, but during night travel, all that is forgotten. The only thing you can see is a silhouette of her face, distorted by the phone light while she’s busy texting her boyfriend, probably.

And have you noticed how passengers love to sleep on long journeys? Thankfully, night travel shields you from the sight of saliva dribbling from the corners of their mouths and when the snoring begins, you plug the earphones in the right place to block that unpleasant noise!

During a recent trip to western Uganda, I sat next to a girl who, for the first part of the journey, was so lost in her own thoughts that I could hardly hear her breath. A lover of my space and peace, I couldn’t help thanking God for this quiet neighbour.

But the moment the bus made a stopover in Lukaya and the lights flipped on, she started stealing oblique glances at me. That’s when I noticed something uncanny about her. She slid one of her fingers in one of the ravines of her nose and returned it with a clot that she wiped on her polka dot blouse! When she was not sliding said finger in her nostrils, she would shove it in one of her ears and jiggle it there vigorously while producing some weird muffled noise.

My name’s Peninah,” is how she introduced herself and kept her eyes on me in a way I found shameless. It’s here that this muhiima, all the way from Rushere (Sevo’s villa) bought herself two chicken legs and gave me a piece. She refused to buy the explanation that I don’t eat while travelling: “Look at how long and thin those legs are,” I said, pointing at her chicken, “That’s not chicken thigh or leg! You’ve been ripped off my, lady, you’ve been sold kaloli meat!”

She broke into such loud hilarious laughter that everything in her being shook. Amid tears, she said it was surprisingly funny that any person out there could believe this old story. She made a big show of digging into her meat and smacked her lips, enjoying every delicious bit of it. Soon, her mouth was shining and dripping with grease from the chicken. She licked her fingers dry, leaned over to throw her kaveera through the window and burped the rest of the journey!

In Mbarara, she bought me two pieces of maize (she was certainly in a splurging mood) which I again politely declined. I was frankly hungry, and I love roasted maize, but when I saw her oily hands - the very hands on which were the very fingers she had earlier kept busy in her nostrils and ears, my stomach churned. I sighed with relief when she accepted the explanation that maize reminded me of the yellowish, half-cooked been-weevil-infested posho we had endured in high school, and that my stomach was too sensitive for the heavy dose of starch in maize.

She “understood” and with a hint of sexual innuendo, offered to get me something “irresistible” when she got back to Kampala, if I didn’t mind giving her my phone number. I gave her a wrong one and watched her bring the maize to her mouth, munching away while the bus started again on to my destination.

I sighed and let peace reign again, glad that the chubby girl had not succeeded in messing up my love affair with night travel. My mind wandered back to boyhood escapades many years ago, when the game of hide-and-seek still held innocent secrets and good, happy life was all about trapping wild rodents in their deep enclaves!

It was midnight when the coloured lights of the model town beckoned in their fullness in the near distance. The driver hit the horn hard, producing effervescent rhythms that reverberated through Bushenyi town, chastising its natives for going to bed this early. There’s no place like home!

--Sunday Monitor,  July 10, 2011