Destinations: Dar es Salam (1992)

We took off from Nairobi and after sometime were flying by the snows of Kilimanjaro. We could see the peak from the plane – it was largely flat and at places green with some snow around. After around an hour the plane landed at Dar es Salaam airport. I was put up at Ambassador Hotel that was just about better than ordinary but nowhere near the Panafric Hotel of Nairobi.

Tanzania is made up of the former Republic of Tanganyika and the former Republic of Zanzibar. The two joined together to make a viable country. As I was taken to the Postal Headquarters I could see lack of development though the roads had been asphalted by Japan about three years back.

The Postal Headquarters was I think a fourteen storied building that presumably was a gift from a friendly country. I had to go to my counterpart on the 12th floor. Out of two only one lift was functioning. I waited for the one that was working. I saw on the panel above the lift doors the lift coming down stopping at every floor. As it hit the ground floor and the door opened a mass of humanity seemed to have been expelled from it. Taking into account the number people waiting for the lift I refrained from joining the pull and push to get into the lift. I decided to climb the 12 floors taking breathers on every other floor. I am normally scared of lifts and if these are crowded they are all the more inconvenient as they give me claustrophobia.

At the age of 50 climbing 12 floors is quite a job though I once climbed 13 floors after having escaped a severe injury in a stalled lift in Sanchar Bhawan in New Delhi. But that was when I was a few years younger. Huffing and puffing I made it to the 12th floor. My counterpart offered me coffee that was very welcome. He introduced to me a gentleman who would take care of me and help me in my work.

We started with a visit to the main office of exchange in Dar es Salam, Dar for short. Getting the hang of what needed to be done I later moved from office to office. Thankfully they had placed at my disposal a Suzuki Vitara.

It was a small postal organization and its traffic with foreign postal organizations was limited. There was another office of exchange of mails at Arusha and a third one in Zanzibar. Arusha is somewhat close to Serengeti National Park. For Zanzibar one had to take a hovercraft from Dar but frequent breakdowns reportedly did not allow it to come back to its base in Dar. I, therefore, chose to go to Arusha. Though there is a flight from Dar to Kilimanjaro Airport only 50 kilometres away from Arusha the Administration booked my travel on a bus along with an officer. The bus trip turned out to be of more than 12 hours and we reached Arusha close to midnight.

Next morning Director Moshi arrived at the hotel. He was in-charge of the operation in the region including Arusha and Moshi. As it was a Saturday the office was not open. I had, therefore, to extend my stay by one day. I lost another day as they did not get tickets by air for Dar. I had refused to travel back by bus. The extra day I spent in working with Director Moshi. I did as detailed a survey as possible of the routes that are being used. The officials complained that their mails for Europe were being held over at Nairobi and hence being delayed in transmission. I flew back to Dar and spent another day with my counterpart for discussions. Their chief also told me that they were not happy with the way and the tardiness their dispatches were being treated by Kenya Post. He wanted me to intervene to rectify the situation.

After a fourteen day halt I was ready to leave for home via Kenya. Despite being so near Masai Mara and Serengeti I could not visit any of the famed game parks. Somehow my counterparts slipped in the matter. They should have planned for it. When any UPU dignitary visits Delhi for short length of time he is always taken around Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – the Golden Triangle. These administrations obviously had no such tradition.



More by :  Proloy Bagchi

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