All in a day in Moshi!
This past week found me hot and sticky as I walked to town to do some errands. There was a smile on my lips as I thought about all my friends back home settling in for the rites of winter be it rain, snow, cold or just damned grey! I am peculiar and there is something unique about experiencing Christmas in the height of summer. I love it.
CHRISTMAS 2014 – FUN IN THE SUN
Moshi Town (she has dreams of being a city but I personally don’t get it) is dissected into parallel blocks and connected by the grandly named Double Road and its lesser ally the Single Road. You can’t get lost. The thrum of the busses, hoots of the cars, roar of the motorbike taxi’s and the chugging of the trundling tuk tuks makes for a busy double road, well busy by Moshi standards (never at a standstill and always possible to cross on foot). The Double Road gains it name and status due to its being a double lane highway. Yep – two whole cars running along in the same direction side by side, pretty amazing stuff for us Moshi’ites.
Back on subject! There I was crossing said Double Road and wham, it hit me and stopped me in my tracks. Out came the camera, which in the old days used to be called a mobile phone and in the not so distant past simply didn’t exist, and click click
White lines to separate the usually errant two lanes of traffic. White lines being painted by hand, no rolling paint machine for this job. Progress hits Moshi – the headline in my brain registered and I continued on my way with a stupid dumb grin plastered across my face! You see I have always cited Moshi as the town with no traffic lights but after my recent excursions to Dar es Salaam and Morogoro I realise I would be better citing a town as being the one with traffic lights! Indeed even in the hectic cauldron of the craziest driving in the world (yes even beats Rome on New Year’s Eve) Id Est: Nairobi, I realise traffic lights are nowhere near as prolific in East Africa as they are in good old Europe.
Next stop Moshi’s answer to a hypermarket, something akin to a good old fashioned Woolworth’s of England in days gone by but a veritable hypermarket in this cozy little town which dreams of being a city. I have arranged to meet my favourite of the street sellers, Eddie (we’ve spoken of him before) to order some envelope size goodies for Christmas gifts. Not another word shall pass my lips you must wait for the sacred parcel to drop down the chimney. Knowing he will be the perfunctory five minutes late I settle into the familiar territory of the café outside said hypermarket and order up a fresh lemonade with liquid sugar on the side. Eddie arrives just three minutes past time, he’s a smart kid and has got the hang of how to please me. Usual greeting and how is the dog, cat and canary’s health all sought and proffered I got down to business only to told in hushed and highly respectful tones to please wait until we had finished our drinks and could move off somewhere more fitting for the trade of an O level certificated street seller that volunteers his time to teach street kids.
Hmmm, my mood is darkening at the memory but we finished our drinks and moved on to sit on the dusty steps outside the PO Boxes for Eddie to take my order. Presumably a place where the sight of his doing so would not cause offence.
GENERAL EARLY MORNING SCENE
Progress comes to Moshi…
As Eddie breezes off into the sunshine with a courteous wish me well that would be more fitting in a Jane Austin novel, I sit a while to ponder.
MY IMAGE OF EDDIE IN DAYS GONE BY
Georgie, a new member of the Moshi cast of players within these hallowed halls, enters my mind. Georgie is known to all the ex-pats as the cheeky, ever so slightly pushy but always polite purveyor of newspapers, magazines and the true currency of the modern world – phone credit. Always to be found either perched on his seat at the very same café that I have just graced with my presence or across the road selling his wares in the more upmarket coffee lounge. Never more than two minutes away and with eagle eyes that hone in on a regular customer from an uncanny and immeasurable distance, Georgie is a tradition, a given, one of those “been in this spot for ever” institutions that you can rely on. Except that is not the case anymore, having been told (not by the café I hasten to add) he is no longer welcome to sit and provide one and all with their daily newspaper to read with their coffee. This decree has been issued, so Georgie told me in the same hushed tones as used by Eddie, by the lofty and hugely important Man-A–Ger of said small supermarket that fancies itself a hypermarket.
Progress comes to Moshi…
I have always believed that life is colourful if you open your eyes to see it, which so often we don’t as we rush about our lives, but for me the street sellers are the colour on the canvas of Moshi. A vital ingredient to this town’s vibrancy and friendliness.
So for me the fact that one such young man (who is O level and college educated and does volunteer his time to street children) feels more comfortable plying his honest trade on the dusty steps and the other (background unknown) is relegated to leaning up against a tree vying with the branches for a glimmer of shade in the mid-day heat because…
Progress comes to Moshi and with it, small mindedness.
All in a day in Moshi my friends.