The hope of good sales

chapati-cooking-ladyOften I’m amazed at the seemingly relaxed attitude of people doing business on the roads, all hoping for a good sale.

To me it looks like a real tough and risky daily struggle.

Ladies cooking at many corners in and around the city are often exposed to harsh sun, usually sitting on a freshly swept spot in the sand or an upturned stone.

Also the many ‘mobile vendors,’ walking between traffic along major roads and at larger junctions with two or four lines of cars, trucks, dala dala’s, bodaboda’s and such, more or less stuck in traffic jams.

Apart from the risk of getting hit, the vendors are constantly exposed to exhaust fumes, dust and heat.

It’s impressive how they can manage to balance a board full of sales ware with one hand and move around briskly checking out any interested driver.

Or if I buy three chapati from a cooking lady and carry only notes of 1,000 or 5,000 she will take only the 1,000 shillings note. For the 200 she says 'kesho'...

Or if I buy three chapati from a cooking lady and carry only notes of 1,000 or 5,000 she will take only the 1,000 shillings note. For the 200 she says ‘kesho’…

Sometimes in the middle of negotiations the queue starts to move again and a potential customer is lost.

Close to the Azam factory one always finds plenty of ice cream tricycles who seem to manage to squeeze in between lines of traffic — almost like a social gathering with a chance to chat.

Every now and again one guy gets lucky when a car close by hoots for ice creams.

There are ladies with large plastic bowls full of raw cassava and a knife partially sticking out; one cleaned root is held in the hand to show the merchandise on offer.

Even in the quieter dirt road areas vendors will be sitting at strategic junctions to catch the attention of passers by, pedestrians and cars alike.

It usually means long days of wind and dust and  — always — the hope of good sales.

The seller at my regular fruit stall sometimes has no change, say of 400 TSH.

Then I’m allowed an extra chenza worth 500!

Or if I buy three chapati from a cooking lady and carry only notes of 1,000 or 5,000 she will take only the 1,000 shillings note. For the 200 she says ‘kesho‘…

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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.