HUNTING A MINI-BUS (I)

Part of a series of articles on transportation in Addis Ababa

Get down, no space, only one person

Then let me in

No, aychalem

I find a seat in the front-left; next to the window, right behind the driver. Close to the door too. Almost perfect. Some days, the taxi gets full so I am forced to sit in the far back-seat and have to push out around five people just to have enough space to get out the door.

Eshe, gabina

Money is passed from the two individuals in the passenger’s seat and the one uncomfortably close to the driver (I hate that seat!).

Eh?

Total.

Then it was my turn. I give him one birr, fifty santim. Very short trip. Walking distance, really. But not a distance I can easily cover; especially not carrying my cousin’s laptop in a backpack. People always blame my lack of stamina on the fact that I came from Saudi (where, women are-er-quite discouraged to walk). I blame my lack of stamina on dehydration, the scorching sunlight and-well- the fact that I came from Saudi.

I tell the man where I am going. We keep going. Radio’s muttering something about the government. Coins cling. Locations are told. Most of us will have very short trips and the bus guy ain’t happy about that. Apparently, he prefers having more passengers who will go all the way to the final destination.

Waraj Ale. WARAJ!

A woman’s voice. The driver hears the command. Mini-bus stops. Bus guy slides the door open. There’s some shifting and shuffling and a woman gets out.

The bus keeps going. People’s minds drift away. It’s funny coming to think of it, the contrast people show in a matter of moments. Just like actors on set. I mean how on earth are these calm, dignified individuals sitting next to me, the same wild animals that were pushing each other hard (myself included!) to find a spot on this ride? Once one finds a spot, one will just snobbishly gaze upon the rude folk still trying to barge into the taxi even though seats are full. When the traffic police are out around, there is no such gazing, no such dignity. The bus guy can keep squeezing in more and more people until-well, we rarely know until when. He (no, this ain’t sexist language, bus co-ordinator is always a he) would force three people into a seat for two. Four into a seat made for three. Thank God fat Ethiopians are rare.

KFC will open here soon and ruin that too.

Waraj Aleh?

Aow

Bus guys slides the door open, calling in more passengers, before they continue to go down to their main destination.

This is where I get off.