Being Bold

If it had happened a month ago, it may have ended quite differently. I would’ve probably been clenching my jaws with a huge frown scrawled on my forehead and breathing a little heavily.

But it didn’t end like that today – instead, I had a slight smile curled up on my lips and a light spring in my step. Yes, another taxi story!

I had exited the metro station and stood on the side of the road to hail a taxi to work only about 7-10 mins. drive away (not walkable distance, in my opinion). The first taxi I waved down shook his head when I told him where I wanted to get to. It might not have been in the direction he was heading. I shrugged. Whatever.

The next one I hailed – a black and white non-metered one – nodded when I called out my destination and I jumped into the back. Well, not literally jumped, but you know what I mean.

We had an all-Arabic conversation which began with him asking whether I’m from Sudan (I get that a lot!), to which I replied that I’m from England. He smiled, nodded and asked if I speak English, and I said yes in Arabic.

I find it quite odd that I get asked whether I’m a Muslim, as I thought my headscarf at least gave that indication, but when he asked I just politely replied, “Yes, thank God” (which sounds silly translated into English).

When we reached my workplace I handed him a 20 pound note – I had no change. He asked how much I was paying and I said 5LE; that’s always been the normal rate. The guy played it cool and said, “No. 10.”

My eyes nearly popped out of my head from shock. 10LE?! From just there to here? No. Way.

I told him I wouldn’t pay 10LE and insisted on 5LE. He attempted to seem as shocked as I was, but I could see right through his mask – Egyptians can be good actors, you see. He quoted 7LE as though it was a fair compromise, and I told him , ‘haraam alayk’ (which translates as it’s forbidden for you) and that it was too expensive.

He gave a short chuckle as he nodded his head in approval. I’d won and he was impressed! I’m not the naive British girl who can be pushed over easily… and he knew it!

He handed me my change and wished me well. I nodded to acknowledge the respect, said goodbye and felt all warm with pride inside.

Why could this story have ended differently a month ago? Because I didn’t have enough confidence to express myself in my weak Arabic. But I’m slowly coming out of my shell.

Watch out for this bold mama, everyone!

– The Londoner


Posted on November 29, 2010, in Snippet of Moi. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Way 2 go R… I am proud of you šŸ™‚

  2. WOOP WOOP!! Go sis! Your arabic is coming along quite nicely then. =) x

  3. Good on you! That’s why I prefer to use white taxis, as they have a meter that starts at 2.50, so I know where I stand and don’t have to get into arguments, which I absolutely hate.

    • Yeah, I prefer the white taxis too, but only for journeys to places I am unsure of the fare. I’ve had a bad white and black taxi experience before (here) and know that you can be ripped off by either. šŸ˜¦

  4. OMG that could so have been me. 100% identify with the whole experience. I get asked if I’m Aswaani. When I say no, it becomes a guessing game..”’t tell me!……Sudan!……I got it!…..Uganda!” People here are obsessed with Nationality – they can not talk to you until they know where you are from – “no…not where you live, or lived….where you are FROM” – not having the correct change is sooooooo annoying because they want to make you feel guilty for asking for it. It’s like “you are foreign – therefore you are rich…me I’m just a poor taxi driver trying to feed 21 children…and you want your change?” “Yeah too right I want my change buddy! If I wanna tip you I will but don’t force it out of me by inflating the price!!!!!” Arrrrrrrgh – they drive me crazy! Ok calm down Sam. Sorry šŸ™‚

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