Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Taxi experience

So, you are one of the car-less unfortunate bastards who live in Cairo. Hi, I am one too. Like me you are likely to find the majority of the public-transportation facilities to be, ehh, lacking in them terms of treating its users as fellow human-beings. So you opt for the slightly more appealing experience: Taking a Taxi. But soon after you take one, you will discover to your horror that you just went from the Fire to the frying pan. Too harsh? Stop me when this sounds familiar…

First of all, the majority of taxis in Egypt are cars that are at least 15 years old, which means that they were purchased at a time when seatbelts were considered to be a luxury item in your car, you know, along with power-steering, and air-conditioning. If you can get one of them to stop for you and get you where you want to go (most of them won't), you will experience the ride of a lifetime: The seats are uncomfortable, the space is small, prayers and CD’s hanging next to each other from the rearview mirror, the windows have no handles. Ohh, and the decoration, we can’t forget the decoration. Nothing like a blue strobe light on top of your head, alongside the ice-cream truck tune that the driver set up so it starts every time he hits on the breaks to make your ride fun. And the ride is fun, you know, in an adrenaline-rush-oh-my-god-I-am gonna-die kind of way. The driving is – of course- horrible, and the driver will almost always choose the longest, most traffic packed route he could possibly take. It’s as if he wants you to suffer the discomfort of sitting in his car for the longest time possible.

But see, he doesn’t stop there. He starts to talk to you about the most useless topics (“The Mossad is financing Ruby. She is part of a Zionist conspiracy to make our youth horny and not pray!”), and you feel rude if you don’t converse back or at least nod your head. And if you just keep your mouth shut, the driver will start to punish you by turning the music/the Koran/the latest Amr Khaled tape louder. And if the Koran is playing you don’t dare to tell him to mute it or lower the volume, even if you have a headache, cause how is it possible that recitation of the Koran by some girly-voiced guy that is magnified and distorted horribly at the same time through the driver’s 1970’s speaker system contribute to your headache? Nonsense. But then the driver will start cursing the other drivers with the filthiest insults, while the Koran is playing, and you wonder why the guy has it on if he has such low respect to it. But alas, you just shake your head and let it slide, hoping the ride to be over soon.

And you think when the ride is finally over and you get where you wanted that your troubles are over, but they are not. It’s time to pay him, and there is nothing to end this fun experience like playing Taxi-driver mind-games. They go a little something like this: you will ask him how much he wants (cause the meter is naturally broken) and he will tell you with all sincerity that he will take whatever fare you give him. You will then proceed to give him an amount of money which he will of course deem to be insufficient and ask for at least an extra 5 pounds. And when you ask him why he didn’t just ask for that when you asked him how much the ride was, his response will be "Well, I didn’t want to say it just in case you were going to pay more"! Ohh, so you wanted to rob me? And if robbing is too harsh of a word, well, you wanted to con me? Ok, no problem. But explain to me this you immoral asshole: What the hell is that Koran/ Islamic teaching Tape playing all about then? Do you even listen to it? I am not sure, but I think it's pretty negative on robbing or conning people. I could be wrong, but I doubt it!

I hate Taxis in Egypt.


Blogger Ramy said...

sandmonkey, i'm an american in cairo, and that post was awesome! i sent links to my sister, friends, etc from home... perfectly describes the taxi experience. my favorite taxi memory was when i was going to city stars with some friends... we got in and there was cardboard on the seats. we didn't understand until a minute later when the WET SEAT soaked thru the cardboard. 30 minutes later we were walking around the mall with wet pants. real fun.

10:17 AM  
Blogger egyptiansally said...

dude, you totally talked about everything that i think about when riding taxis.
at least you don't get marriage proposal and your legs don't get felt up even when you're in the backseat.shudder.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Mia said...

Sounds like all of my cab rides out in Egypt and some of the ones here at home too. It would have been nice if someone had warned me about the prayer tapes when I got out there. I was sitting in a cab on my way to a Sidi Gabeer and my driver starts praying… I was like wtf is this nigga’ doing singing? Stop singin' dude concentrate on the road you almost clipped that lady!" The man was way off key he was tone deaf,he was making my ear drums vibrate in an ulgy way. I was about to ask him to lower the volume ( I was nursing a wicked hang over) but just then the voice of reason slapped me across my head “Mia she said this ain’t your country find out what the deal is before you put your foot in your mouth” I turned to my companion and asked “Yo Said waddup with this dude he’s mad off key” and then my friend told me he was actually praying… opps my bad.

11:22 AM  
Blogger . said...

When I was little and driving through Cairo with both my parents i was forbidden to lean on the doors- they feared they didn't close properly and i would fall out and die..but the taxis were so small that i would undoubtedly end up in somone's lap- face pressed up to the window, drinking in my city. I love Cairo. I love almost everything about that city- including our awesomely Arab cab drivers. I might be going back this summer for the first time in 8+ years....I'm psyched...and excited to get lost in one our infamous cabs.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Shamoussa said...

I hate taxis in Egypt
I hate driving in Egypt
and I hate my car too..
If I could, I'll never leave my place in order not to be subjected to the means of transportation or otherwise I have use my feet or try to grow wings.. too bad, I can't always move on feet and I failed to grow wings :((
But come on, the blue light is fun, it keeps me wondering everytime where is it coming from, it's mystical in the first 5 minutes!

3:12 AM  
Blogger Sand-E Sez said...

I've gotta tell you sandmonkey i'm a little heart broken by you comments about the taxi experience in egypt. Coming from a place where riding a taxi is somewhat a luxury I look forward to being able to ride them in cairo. The lights and oh so whacky conversations are the best! They make for amazing stories! The flashing lights the music the disco ball only a token of the guys attempt to make the taxi more cool. so his idea of cool is a little ari but all in all I love egyptian taxis! and even though I can see how inconvenient they may be when u actually have to get somewhere on time.. they are a key part of egypt!
i love them!

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Ham said...

Taxi rides in Egypt are a classic. They're very fun if you can strike a conversation with the driver.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the Growth of the new taxi/cab projects in Cairo witch is the same like in Europe, calling the number and u have the Taxi, and its replacement to the older Classic Taxi experince, by waiting at the head of the street to find the Taxi, i guess it will be boring, kinda boring. that Conversations the taxi guys try to open sometimes are the best thing that can happen its a way to forget about the distance u r travelling thro, anyways, i hope they wont eleminate'em all, okay for modernization, but leave some classic stuff

4:44 AM  
Blogger Fair_Enough said...

Oops, sorry for the no Identification above there, its me the above Anonymouse, sorry folks its my first time to write down in a blog

4:52 AM  

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