Surviving a Cairo taxi ride

Cultural Insights — By on July 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm

As someone who has survived taxi rides in Cairo, I found this recent Matador Travel article by Nick Rowlands to be hilariously accurate.

Taking a taxi in Cairo is the Egyptian equivalent of Russian Roulette. You’re going to need nerves of steel, plus a little bit of luck, if you want to arrive at your destination with life, limb and wallet all intact…

To survive the journey with only minimal psychological damage, you will need both the patience and the fatalism of a saint.

You’ll spend most of the ride spluttering and wheezing your way through the inevitably gridlocked Cairo traffic, but when a gap does open up, you’ll career through it like a kamikaze rally driver on crank. Lane markings and traffic lights are treated as irrelevant urban art installations, and rules of the road as nothing more than a quaint rumour. Most drivers think indicating direction is a sign of weakness, and only use their brakes as a last resort. They use their horns, however, with passion and commitment: like a cacophony of bats that avoid bumping into things by constantly squeaking.

Your driver will smoke, and he will talk on his mobile phone. He’ll lean out of the car to abuse other drivers, yet he’ll manage to look you in the eye whilst asking the most intrusive personal questions. He’ll also thoroughly examine you using his multiple interior mirrors. Ladies, watch your angles!

To cope with all this, you need to adopt the insha’Allah (“God willing”) approach to life. The insha’Allah world view says that everything that happens on Earth is God’s will. Even if you are hurtling the wrong way down a one way street, while your taxi driver simultaneously texts his wife and grills you about yours, there is nothing you can do about it. Your story has already been written, so just relax.

Check out the rest of Nick’s humorous story about Cairo taxi rides.

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