My daughter goes to a very interesting school. For one thing, her teacher – lovely woman – routinely says things like “Chudren, A B C…follow me back.”

It took me quite a while to correctly decipher ‘follow me back.’

For another, the school has four separate campuses, and since the primary campus is overloaded, my daughter, a Grade 1 student, has her lessons at ——- Girls Secondary School. The huge campus is pink from head to toes, literally, and contains Grade 1A, 1B, 2A, and a bunch of teenage girls. Teenage girls who, btw, have their boarding facilities in the nursery campus after the baby-class has gone home…

But best of all is the schoolbus. Apparently, there are two schoolbuses on our route, and they’re not quite sure which bus picks which student. So some days, she’s picked by bus A, some days by bus B, some days by both…and some days by none! I had a minor stroke the other day when fifteen minutes after putting her on Bus B, I got a call at work asking where my daughter was.
“Si you guys came and took her?”
“Which guys?”
“You guys, with the bus.”
Shocked voice “Which bus?”
My heart froze for a second – my daughter had been kidnapped, and I didn’t even know the number plate!
“Si the brown bus…with the skinny guy.” As opposed to the blue bus with the unskinny lady. Sigh. Thank God that ended well.

Anyway, today was one of those days when neither bus came. I got tired of waiting and called Bus A, who told me Bus B had picked her. Then I called Bus B, who claimed Bus A had picked her!! Then they both suggested I take her to school myself.

Now my house is about ten minutes from the bus stop [five if you walk briskly] and the bust stop is ten, fifteen minutes from the school – by car – bila jam. On foot, well, it’s a lot further, and dustier. But at 8.00 a.m, there’s a very bad jam, and I don’t have a car. PLUS, while I know the primary and the nursery, I have NO IDEA where the Girls’ Secondary Campus is!!

I grabbed my baby’s hand and we started the ten-minute walk to the bus stop. There’s a bunch of cabs that hangs out there. I tried calling my on-call cab driver, but he was deep asleep. I called another cab driver who claimed to be in Mwenge [though I suspect he was asleep too.] Muttering curses at the schoolbus, we got to the taxi-stand to find…nothing! Not a vehicle in sight. Well, there was one car, but it had yellow plates.

Let me explain. In Dar, there’s a terribly complex number-plate system. The usual plates are T 123 ABC on a yellow background. Diplomatic plates are CD, on green. NGO plates are DP, on red. Zanzibari plates are ZNZ 123456 on white. Government plates are anything from SU, ST, W, WJ and goodness knows what else. CID have no plates at all.

PSVs and rentals have white plates. That includes dala-dalas (matatus) and cabs. I was pissed, PMSing, and half high on coldrex [or rather it’s local equivalent] so I was in no mood to get into a strange car with a strange man with no white plates.

A few dala-dalas zoomed by, packed solid even by Dar standards. Dar is strictly pre-Michuki, and dala-dalas look like sardine cans on wheels. Besides, the Daughter had made it quite clear that the school was veeeeeeery faaaaaar from the stage.

In the end, we hailed a red bajaji to get us where we wanted to go. When I say hailed, I mean we stood in the traffic jam, scrutinized the drivers for an empty car, and waved frantically till it stopped. A bajaji, btw, is Kenyanly known as a tuktuk.

The trip to school was quite eventful, almost like a field trip. All flying skirts and wind-in-the-dreads and flying over bumps and following my six-year-old’s directions. She, fortunately, is a far better ‘director’ than her mother. We found the school in five minutes flat, deposited her in class, ignored the curious teenage stares, bonded with her teacher, and went back to my ride. Now to get to work.

The bajaji, apparently, is more stable with babies in it. Either that, or my baby girl is heavier than I thought. Because all of a sudden, I was being thrown six ways south of north in the name of driving. And no safety belts. I was clinging to anything I could, which generally meant the driver’s seat, and possibly the driver, if he hadn’t been leaning so far forward. The thing was tilting at insane[ingly] angles, and I half thought I’d fly out the …doors? More like entry spaces.

And the driver suddenly decided to make conversation (why, now?! He was stone silent when my baby was here), his topic of choice being why a classy lady like me, in fancy hair like mine, with my kid in a fancy school like that, living in fancy uzunguni neighbourhood like this, would be riding to work in a bajaji. I half expected him to double the fares!

I made it, in one piece, at 8.30 sharp, just as the register was marking me punishably ‘late’. And since I usually report between 7 and 7.30, they just had to know where I’d been…!

In other news, the sound on my laptop is dead. I fear I may have burst its eardrums. Everyone I ask goes on and on about soundcards and drivers hardware and software and things that cache and things that run…kwani ni hide-and-seek? When it comes to technology, me blonde, and not in the ‘have all the fun’ kinda way. Just call me BC for Blonde-and-Clueless in all matters [finance and] IT. A dear friend tried to walk me through computer parts, online, and after ten minutes of ‘software = MS Word, hardware = C drive’ on my part, the poor dear pulled his hair out, gave up, and sought comfort food.

But one boy did help me out. He couldn’t fix the problem, but he did explain patiently till I got it. I can now say that a sound card is the green, chippy thingamajig with grey pointy dots that converts electrical signals into sound. Kind of like a translator. There’s one for video too. Yay! Now, why can’t everyone talk like that? How I love this boy. He couldn’t fix my fried card, but he sure did make my day. Thank you dear! **Hugs**

For more information on 3CB, click here.

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