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