Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I have lately taken the conscious decision not to learn driving and therefore never to drive around Cairo for the sake of the barefoot children and the beautiful furry creatures in the streets.

I never really found driving any titillating at all in a city where the average speed has dropped to 20 kph on most roads. I look around and wonder how there are so many cars and too much poverty. And when you look inside cars, there is only a driver and four empty seats, which creates a traffic mess. Of course, this wouldn't have been the case had there been decent public transportation. But public buses are either too crowded, too late, or too full of perverts. These reasons are undeniable, but there's a deeper lurking reason yet. Most middle-class and upper-class Egyptians wouldn't use public transportation as it would seem demeaning and scandalous. It's like descending the social scale, somehow, because you don't get to pay using a Visa card.

Most of my friends and colleagues drive, and they're always going on about how nerve-wrecking, back-breaking and heartbreaking driving is. I am usually easily offended, so I can as well do away with more stress, thank you very much.

Instead, I just like to hop in taxis. I have always hated taxi drivers and viewed them as bloodsucking mosquitoes until I read Khaled El-Khamissi's larger than life book; Taxi. It was a total paradigm shift. The book does not make any attempt to either disparage or glamourise them, it simply chronicles incidents that are real to the point of smacking you in the face. So, following the author's footsteps, I would sometimes engage in a chit chat with drivers, waiting to hear an unembellished truth about any given subject. Of course I also started the conversation once because the driver was a Jason Statham look-alike.

It is annoying to have to beg for ten taxis to take me home though it is ridiculously close to work, but I will be buying my comfort and instead enjoy watching the comic Egyptian streets in every ride. Moreover, I have acquired a hint of fierceness through the years, which should make taxi rides safer.


lemondrops said...

Ah imagine a decent underground network that could actually get you somewhere...
All the blogs one could write from the underground excursions!

Ahetch said...

I am 18 years old and my family don't want to let me drive, while i am spending too much money on taxis ... but driving in egypt is really stressing and boring , it is hard to drive in egypt