As it is that we do not own a car here in Cairo, and my commute does not need, nor are there any available, for me to take the metro or a microbus, I must take a taxi to and from work everyday.
Considering I have only just recently grown a pair big enough to venture out in a taxi without Mr MM there to hold my hand, it is nerve-racking every morning to face the idea of flagging down a taxi.
Its not that I am afraid of taxi-drivers anymore (no matter how ugly and coarse they may be) its that the majority of taxi-drivers despise Maadi for its confusing maze of one ways and roundabouts (midans) and many do not know how to get to where I am going.
I, also, don’t really know how to get where I am going. Compounding these two issues is the one where I don’t even speak enough Arabic to try to explain to the taxi-driver where I need to go. I know how to say “Sheraa blah blah” (Street blah blah) and “Ba3d el blah blah” (behind the blah blah), but if the taxi driver is confused, and I’m confused, and neither of us speaks the others language… well it makes me a nervous jittery mess.
Take this morning for example: I walk to the end of the street where the traffic is heavier and there are more taxis and I flag one down. “Sheraa —” I say and the taxi driver asks “feen sheraa —?(where is street —?)” I should have listened to the bad feeling in my stomach; “ba3d midan el — (behind — square)” I answer hoping that would ring a bell to which he asks- and I should have walked away at this point- “inty aarfa? (do you know where it is?)” Instead I answer, “Aywa (yes)” and get in. My reasoning is that I’ve been back and forth a multitude of times and I should be able to get there without messing up too badly. Wrong. On the first midan I sent him down the wrong road and it just got worse from there. I was able to get within the general area of where I wanted to be but lacking the necessary Arabic to tell him what I wanted I just gave up and had him drop me off so I could get a different taxi that wasn’t driven by the missing crew member from Lost. I gave him an extra pound (LE) just for having him drive me in circles and the (insert proper expletive here) turned around and demanded one more. I looked at him like he was out of his mind and climbed out of the taxi. I may be foreign buddy, but I’m not stupid. I should have taken the extra one I gave him away.
I flagged down another taxi which was this time driven by someone who knows where he is going and go to work. Moral of the story? This AM trip cost me almost twice as much as it should have. Oh wait, thats not a moral, what, a life lesson? I don’t know.
I also had the kiosk lady demand two extra pounds when I bought credit for my phone. I don’t think thats legal, at least the last time I bought credit for my phone (last year when I was here- Mr MM has been doing me that favor since I got here this year) I only remember paying the exact change. So I bought 50LE and hand her a 50 pound note to which she asked for two more. Wtf? I asked why and she answered something in Arabic that I just didn’t understand. What-the-f-ever. I paid it and will ask Mr MM when I recharge my phone in a minute.
I should have stayed in bed.
At least I can look forward to meeting Mr MM after work and not having to take a taxi on my own. InshAllah. On the upside, I know how to get home so I’m not as nervous about that one. I hate taking taxis.
Edit: Mr MM said that some stores charge extra because they buy the cards from agents. That just means I need to find a dealer that does not charge extra. Or I continue to hit Mr MM up for recharges. Six, half dozen. You know.