The Daily Mission
Let it be known that I am a slight bargain hunter, or at least I may have evolved into one courtesy of a friend in London who I declare to be a member of the bargain monarchy. And as a bargain hunter who’s now living in Egypt, I’m consistently on the look-out for deals and will ask locals, “what’s the normal price for that?” just so I know where haggling should take me.
But there are some things that you can’t really haggle over, but simply set a price, and one such thing is the cost of taxi fares (unless you ride in a taxi with a meter in it). I have a few taxi stories to share, a recent one occurred yesterday, but I will allow you to savour them another time. For now, let me say that I rarely hail a taxi unless my destination really is out of walking distance, and thus I tend to walk to and from work on most days, which takes roughly 15-20 mins – saving myself probably 50EGP a week.
Most of the trek to work is quite peaceable, and almost pleasant, but there are two stops on my itenery where I whisper silent prayers before making a move. Yes: when crossing the main roads!
I’ve come to realise that Cairo isn’t pedestrian-friendly. Ya’ni, (oh I’ll be dropping this in now and again – it’s the Arabic equivalent to ‘you know, like’) finding a pedestrian crossing in an area like Mohandiseen is close to impossible, thus people resort to having to step into busy roads to get across. I almost have heart attacks when I see children gaily spring onto the road and weave themselves through the passing cars that honk and swerve so as not to hit them!
I’m learning the hard way, that a lot of the time, stepping onto the road is all one can really do, because there isn’t anyone who’ll hold your hand to get you across safely to the other side. “Bismillah (In the name of God)” is my consistent whisper when I embark on this daily mission. I might have to suggest to the people in-charge that pedestrian traffic lights in the Giza area really is the way forward, and would ease this Londoner’s little heart!
– The Londoner