15 December 2017

KHARTOUMING: Wheels part 2

It is believed that man is constantly evolving to fit comfortably into the environment fate has provided him with – or for, depending on how you see it. The average Sudanese guy from the average Sudanese neighbourhood is probably the most highly evolved being in a number of ways. When it comes to battling the public transport system, it is a matter of seconds, of luck, of life and death.

Ahmed barely moves; it is crucial to remain calm under the circumstances. That way one almost always gains the upper hand and a reasonable head start. The crowd huddles together, in reality more apart than ever, waiting to make a break for it. The tired sounding chug-chug-chugging gets louder and louder and more and more pronounced as the vehicle approaches. The driver and the Kumsari, with their own highly evolved nervous conduction system on the lookout, were getting ready to be enveloped by the coming crowd. And then, it appears. The bus. Within a fraction of a second from its appearance the crowd springs into action. They run. They run like they have never run before. The driver looks onwards in growing horror, waiting for the impact. The Kumsari quickly detaches himself from the door and jumps to the safety of the still empty ground, calling out, unnecessarily, the bus’s ultimate destination this morning.

Ahmed unleashes the full potential of his legs and gallops towards the prize, which has stopped a few hundred yards away, all doors and windows open and ready. Men and women, of all ages and backgrounds, uniformed and un-uniformed alike, sprint together as one, closing the space between them and their goal like a predator on its prey. They reach it in less than 2 seconds with Ahmed in the lead. Now it is just about mathematics, balance and sheer luck. One must correctly judge the distance needed to be covered between him and the door, the height of the door from the ground and the length of one’s own legs in order to land safely inside.

About a meter and three quarters away, Ahmed leaps high into the air, arms outstretched, legs parallel to the ground and a little fanned out to maintain his balance. He is inches away from the rectangular opening in front of him. Any second now he will land. Unconsciously letting out a war-like cry he never knew he had the vocal cords to support, Ahmed flies through the air, certain of his success. He knows he is not the only air-borne one, and sure enough he can see, out of the corner of his eye, several other people caught in the same action. The door inches closer in painful slow-motion.

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