For a lower to middle class daily commuter in a fast growing city like Dar Es Salaam you wouldn’t picture a life without Daladala.
But also you may relate to many struggles of this mode of transport. Which of course you have already experienced.
From lack of them when you really need them faster, to near suffocation experiences that happens time to time.
Sometimes being in the middle of a huge bunch of people connected by the direction of their movement towards a certain part of the city may be a really nice experience.
In the Daladala you do not exactly go people watching but you have to watch and listen to the people and sometimes learn a thing or two about them. And as usual if you pay attention you will learn some truths about yourself.
It usually doesn’t matter who you meet in the Daladala as you cannot really predict the future which is the fact no 1 of life that we take for granted. You will always meet people, for the most part strangers living in a kilometer radius of your dwellings. You will also meet Familiar strangers, because if everything is okay with you, you will remember them from time to time. Then you will be met by smiles, frowns and somewhat awe and excitement of faces of your kinsmen, long lost friends, colleagues, acquaintances and sometimes as luck would have it your landlord or your robber from last night.
It is literally impossible to mind your own business when you are in a public transport.
It is public!
From the tip of your ear you will hear things that are none of your business and from the corner of your eye you will see things you shouldn’t. Some will piss you off because you can relate. But some will just leave you in total awe and make you forget your troubles.
The joy of Daladala.
Do you ever wonder how angry people are and try to relate to why people get angry at petty things in there? (A noisy conductor for instance, telling you constantly to move backwards when you know you getting off on the next stop, Man! that is his job, he isn’t being annoying on purpose you know!).
That’s fact no 2, you cannot really control people’s reactions in daily life but you can at least train your reactions.
Have you ever been lonely in public, where you can talk, look and laugh with anybody but unfortunately you for some reason you feel like you shouldn’t. That’s definitely a Daladala experience.
That’s fact no 3, you do have comfort zones.
Ever happened that you boarded a late night Daladala with attendants with good taste in music. That’s a gem right there. I usually find good and of course ugly pieces of music art in Daladala. And sometimes my choices on which is bad or good song has changed gradually.
That’s fact no 4, your environment can influence or change you at least gradually.
If you were awake or didn’t get a seat you will see a lot of people falling asleep in the Daladala. In the afternoon heat, in the evening stillness or even in the early morning breeze. Yeah we are all humans, and we can’t resist such humanly acts. That to me sounds like a fact.
Oh, I almost forgot one thought on minding your conscious business, I have learnt to look away from the screens of their phones!
And lastly which surely isn’t the least, every daily commuter has a favorite Daladala and a favorite seat. I for one prefer the back row window seat where I can be really absentmindedly minding my own voice in my heard. And that’s what tells me I am a creature of habits. And the last fact is we like repeating what we love, not necessarily it should be good. That’s just nature.
And as always thanks for reading this piece, but do not forget to smile and greet people in Daladala even if they are total strangers.