Thursday, 11 October 2007

It's the soul that matters the most

One of the worst nightmares you can ever have is having to take a cab from Mohandessin to downtown at around 2 p.m. in Ramadan. I got on a cab with the usual intention of:
- not talking to the driver and avoiding eye contact in the mirror
- giving him whatever he asks for
- not answering the phone unless it's a family member (& making it clear that the one on the phone is my brother and not my boyfriend)
- rejecting phone calls when I had to talk in English (not to be charged the double-no sunglasses for the same reason)

The driver kept cursing the car and for about 5 minutes he kept asking her why she stopped every time he hit the brake or the clutch. The traffic wouldn't move and, of course, he had to brake and the car stopped. He got off the cab and hid behind the hood for less than a minute.
He got into his seat and once he managed to start the engine, he changed into a different creature.

He was a bulky guy in his early thirties. I don't remember anything about his facial features other than they being big ,and getting bigger when he speaks louder.

Five minutes later I decided to have one good cab ride.

Driver - Finally it worked. I knew what to do, it's just my damn wife who is driving me crazy.
Me - Why? What did she do to you?
- We're having our apartment redecorated. The damn mentally disturbed painter she hired got paint all over the place although I had asked him to cover the furniture. He even got paint on shoes, mademoiselle!
- Ma'lesh. You'll forget all this when all is done.
- What can I do. When a woman wants something, her head becomes zay el gazma el 2adeema(an old pair of shoes = she's adamant)

We reached 6th of October and cars remained motionless as if they were part of a noisy photograph.

Me - What's all this heavy traffic ?
- It's up to the government to fix this.
- By the way, who are you going to vote for in the next elections.
- If he's still alive I won't go.
- Why not? Don't you want things to get better?
- Elections are nothing but a silly show. I'll tell you a joke
"A man decided to vote in the last elections. He voted 'No'. He later met his friends at the cafe and told them what he did. They told him off and insisted that he should go back and vote 'Yes' if he wanted to live safely any more. The scared guy went back to the voting center and asked to talk to the judge in charge.
I want to change my vote to 'Yes.' I am really sorry about that.
No problem. We knew that it was a mistake and we changed it for you. Don't ever do that again. OK?"

The driver laughed out loud and caused an 8 richter scale earthquake. He kept talking about many other things and of course he took the conversation into What do you do? Where are you from? etc.

We were a couple of minutes away from Tahrir square. By that time I was already calling him by his first name (a thing that I'm sure he appreciated)

- You know, Miss. Beauty isn't everything (= you're not pretty) It's the soul of a person that attracts you. You have a beautiful soul that makes people feel comfortable talking to you.
- Thanks for the compliment.
- It's not a compliment. My wife, for example, is sooo pretty. But ... she's choking me.
- C'mon. I'm sure you love her.
- If I got you your own apartment on Faisal street, would you accept to marry me?
- Really? That would be convenient. I'll of course own it after your wife has killed you on our wedding day.
- (laughing) Wallahi. I'm serious!
- No, ya sidi thanks. I'm fine like this.
- Insha'llah you'll meet a good man 'coz you're really a good human being.
- (Leaving the cab)Thank you, Mohamed. Say hi to your wife :)

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Leffi keda!!

• Where are you off to?
- Having iftar with colleagues. Do you think this blouse goes well with these pants?
• Yes, they do? Leffi keda! (turn around)
She smiles & makes a full turn of the kind made by a young girl wearing a new dress for the first time.
• Don’t you think that the pants are too tight?
- Well, I think they’re fine.
• Hmmm, but they make you look (--------)
- No, they don’t. There’s nothing wrong with them.
• I’m a man and I know what I’m talking about. Beige linen pants are not always a good idea ;)
Smile is still there. She goes to her room and changes.
- What do you think now?
• Black is better.
- Ok then. Mashy. What about this scarf?
• You know what? The problem is not the pants. It’s the silk blouse.
- Oh, c’mon. (smile is fading away)
• Really! Believe me it’s too attention attracting (literal translation from Arabic) plus it’s short.
- Apparently you don’t see what girls wear these days. What I’m wearing now is nothing but modest. (putting on her veil and avoiding eye-contact while getting ready to leave)
• I don’t care about who wears worse.
- But I really want to wear this outfit today. (smile is back to avoid a fuss)
She grabs car keys and opens the door.
- ‘Salam!’
• Yes, a quick salam is better. (winks ;)