Boda Boda Boda Boda

Some days I think I’m becoming my mother. There was a time when I thought riding a motorcycle or vespa-like scooter to and from work into oncoming traffic would be the coolest thing EVER.

But as soon as I got to the office and started trying to work this morning, I noticed that my arms were shaking from holding on too tightly. That’s right, I started having mother-like tendencies on fearing for my safety. For good reason – there’s an entire boda-boda wing in the hospital.

Here’s the story of how I got to work this morning:

Boda-boda are basically motorcycle taxis. They’re the easiest way to get around Kampala. You see them all over, weaving between cars, trucks, and “taxis” (which are actually minibuses). They congregate around certain areas too. Dada (the grandfather in the family I’m staying with), knows many of the boda-boda drivers around this area, so he called one of them up to pick me up this morning, gave him my office location, the boda driver said yes, he knew where that was. I hopped aboard my very first boda-boda and we zoomed away!

That part was fun. That part was exciting! Boda-boda don’t obey traffic rules! Boda-boda are so badass, the motorists basically don’t see even SEE them. Boda-boda can go between lanes, through traffic , in between cars the way sand manages to trickle through just about everything. And two minutes then we pulled over and the driver asked me for directions to my office. Um. Well, sir, I JUST ARRIVED IN THE COUNTRY. I was kind of hoping you’d know your way around here. With a bit of direction-asking, I finally ended up in roughly the right place, but not without some detours. Lovely. Late on my second day too.

The ride back was a little smoother. Except as soon as I hopped aboard the boda, we turned RIGHT into a van driving STRAIGHT AT US. And then there was some swerving action right into ANOTHER BODA trying to avoid the same van.

Anyways, luckily, my boda-boda driver, Mr. Johari, drives reasonably slowly (if he’s safe enough for Dadi-Grandmother—he’s safe enough for me!)

But I think I should invest in a helmet. Yes.



  1. Mother was a 22 year old, once upon a time, now you know why she became who she is 🙂

  2. haha I love that the taxis are called boda-bodas. But totally agreed that I am paranoid when I’m in a car or motorcycle in India now. When I was little it was the shit but now I’m in constant fear that we are going to end up crashing into someone or something.

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