Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Talking for a Living.

I got rolled yesterday. I paid 10,000 shillings to buy a business card from the oiliest man I have encountered to date, and Dar is brimming with shifty sorts. I haven't had this much fun since my last live concert*. Dar is a great city for small-time hustlers, it's part of her seedy charm as a port city.

The hustle: Someone knocked down our guava tree while we were all out. Just another day in paradise. My hustler, an enterprising neighborhood do-nothing type who hangs around waiting for opportunity to knock was "lucky" enough to witness the incident. It involved a 'Mzungu Church Lady'... ka-ching! She must have been overwhelmed with Christian guilt- she actually gave her business card to this dubious character just because he promised to follow up the issue for her! He must have played her like an electric keyboard.

Sure enough, my friend turned up at sundown accompanied by a strong silent type, a combination body-guard-slash-intimidator. For the next half-hour we danced: he had to extort money without appearing like the crass and grubby opportunist that he is, I had to play mildly stupid while making all the right sympathetic noises to bring the price down, Non Speaking Part had to glower convincingly. We had a grand time. For the pleasure of his extremely creative and highly entertaining 'Kiswahili kirefu,' I parted with one Msimbazi- on the promise that the kids would get to eat Ugali na Dagaa tonight instead of the whole thing disappearing down the Gongo drain. I think I just made a couple of new friends/parasites. Either way, I believe artists should be paid for their craft and talking money out of a bongolander is a pretty nifty skill. In another life he would have been a superb salesman.

I'm going to miss watching the schoolkids try to harvest fruit off our tree on their way home though. One less bit of green :(


  1. Pole! But I have heard of some crazy scams in Dar, guess thats why they call it Bongo!

    I gave the airport security about $20 on the way back. They didn't hustle me though, they were just begging and making sad eyes. Still not a very rational decision, but there you go! (And I still had to turn down several of them BTW).

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