driving ramadan style..

Posted: October 30, 2006 in Uncategorized

This one goes out to all the mr.cab drivers out there.. You truly are unsung heroes with the patience of angels..


Here in Egypt we have what is known as a harmonio-chaotic traffic system, usually in best display during the holy month of Ramadan.. where pitch and originality in cuss words and the game of “dodge the holy garbage collectors” . .reach unprecedented highs.

Of course this is all due to the Nic-fits suffered by the poor resolved-smokers that are fasting as well as hungry resolved-eaters that are not eating, not to mention those resisting to call names or cuss to their hearts delight in maintaining with the rituals of fasting the holy month.

Yet it is not surprising for a person who falls under all three categories to go out driving so they can be provoked by one of the following models, and following cuss till they turn blue, light up a cigarette and enjoy that tiramisu they’ve been craving since daybreak.. This totally misses the essence of the ritual that is supposed to be an annual exercise in the discipline of one’s self.


What happens when you cross both bands “the bangles” and “the cars?”. A song called “drive like an Egyptian” ..


The animal kingdom..


First of all most of the time we are closer to not moving than moving in terms of speed. Just ask anyone trying to make it home for iftar over the 6th of October bridge. Yet even though you are almost stationary, the car ahead needs to move only a few inches forward for you and the driver next to you to try and jump into that recently-vacated space. This closely resembles what a neck to neck race between two turtles would appear to be.. Slow, boring but highly competitive..


Then there is a spin off that which is the ‘dog-in-heat’ driver who follows that rule to heart no matter what the circumstances.. To him driving is conceptualized by one rule of thumb that may at times defy the laws of physics. “if any car ahead were to vacate a puny space, then driver is compelled to make use and /or occupy that space. This is required even if that advancing car is 1. several cars down your lane- by honking your horn till the cars between you register the space and make use of it, or 2. even if the space created happens to be in another lane completely, you can fly out of one lane and squeeze into the next to save on wasted space.


Horns bring me to the third example, our everyday ‘Egyptian roadrunner’ , who unlike his looney tooney predecessor, does a lot more beep beeping and a lot less running- thank god.. But honestly don’t some of those honk-with-every-breath drivers want to make you stalk them till you find out where they live, wait till they sleep and then honk the funk out of them..?


Following, we have ‘the eagles’, who will swoop from the lane furthest-left to the exit on the far-right in search of that prey that will feed the baby eagles squeaking, waiting hungrily at home. Of course this sweep motion could be done in a much more predictable fashion and a milder speed and shift of bearings, but that would totally defy the hunters instincts and betray the element of surprise.


Then we have the ‘elephants’, those cute and cumbersome creatures. The likeness is demonstrated by the massive trucks that sway their behinds ahead of you in an almost teasing fashion. They will usually use their gigantic ears to flap you the direction in which they intend to move. Therefore a flap of the right ear would symbolize a clockwise shift in lanes, a left ear flap would usually indicate an anti-clockwise shift in lanes- then again as with their Asian and African savannah counterparts.. It may all be just flapping.


Of course one cannot dream of forgetting the people that add the most distinguished flavor to our time on Egypt’s roads: the mikhro bustards and the dhellivery boys.


The dhellivery boys are the mighty Lord’s punishment to us for having invented delivery in the first place. It’s like placing a group of people playing twisters in a glass box then adding a few killer bees to spice up the action.


The bubble like microbuses, on the other hand, resemble the pregnant hyenas on African plains. But rather ones that have to park on the side of the river at the most unexpected of times to deliver one of its babies on the river bank.


This happens many times on our daily pilgrimage to and from work, but amazingly seems to creep up on us like it was still our first time. Every time.


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