Bajaj, madam?

The other morning was quiet and although humid, it was not very hot.

According to the local weather forecast, a 40 percent chance of rain was predicted toward noon so I assumed I could walk to my early morning appointment.

Almost halfway to my appointment the clouds darkened, thunder rumbled in the distance and heavy rains suddenly started to pour down.

Within minutes I was soaked to the bone and dripping so much I could not even manage to get my phone to cancel the meeting.

Standing under a tree gave no relief whatsoever and I decided to turn around and get back home.

A bajaj drives along UN Road. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Unfazed by the storm the driver calmly navigated around and through the puddles and streams.

Easier said than done because the partial dirt roads I had crossed only 15 minutes ago had already flooded in many places.

My route had filled up with streams of dirty water and deep puddles — hardly passable for a pedestrian.

The cooking ladies I had passed earlier had shifted slightly further under their corrugated iron cover and continued business undeterred.

They laughed at me, as I was obviously looking as a drowned cat.

Of course they expressed their ‘pole‘ for my bad luck and suggested I better not work today but go home and rest.

Standing under a shelter outside a small shop I managed to text my apologies and then wondered what to do.

Getting home on foot had become almost impossible unless I waded through unknown gullies full of stones, slippy mud and dirty water.

Then out of nowhere this bajaj — unfazed by the storm — appeared and asked me the usual, ‘bajaj madam?’

I could not have been more grateful and I happily climbed in and headed home, safe and soaked.

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About the Author

Josie van den Hoek
Josie first visited Dar es Salaam in 2000 and is still here. She writes about encounters on her daily walks and Tanzanian life.