Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Egyptian cabs
A matter of great legends, much fear and confusion seems to be the taxis in Cairo. I recently read a text about it at what seems to be something like a bbc version of the wikipedia. It's a very well written text, in that it's funny, but it has a few exaggerations - and might make people hesitate about travelling to Cairo.

There is no reason to do that. As long as you know the arabic name of a central landmark by the place you're going (like a square (Cairo's full of squares) or a university) - you're pretty much guaranteed to get where you want to go without problems. The meter is decoration, though, so you should settle the amount you're to pay before getting in the cab (the day we paid LE20 to go nowhere was the last day we made that mistake), you might end up paying too much, but you won't litterally get robbed (what would be the fun in that?).

The driving norms in Cairo are actually quite interesting. Getting where you want to go seems to be a matter of strategy and great driving skill - driving in to the right openings in the traffic, while using the right combinations of light and sound signals. I've heard that there are an increasing number of traffic lights and traffic policemen to ruin the fun for everyone, but the art of egyptian driving lives on for now. I've heard that it's quite similar to how they drive in Beijing(sp?), by the way.

Oh, yeah, and I think I've found myself a nice appartment. As I write there are two options, and which I'll end up with depends on factors that are currently out of my control. Both places are nice and cheap, though (around LE 1000/month) - there are cheaper places, but I really want to get settled before the trip to Alexandria the day after tomorrow.


Blogger Claudia said...

Since this is an english blog I`ll right to you in english as well. hehe.
Have you tried crossing the street by foot in Cairo? That`s a breath taking experience too. Don´t worry, you´ll get used to that.
But the most fascinating thing about the whole traffic situation over there, looking at it with norwegian glasses, is the "silent communication", or should I say; the visual communication in the Cairo traffic. The drivers manage to lead their cars in carcrammed streets along with donkeys, wagons and pedestrians, without the intervention of such things as white lines or traffic lights (generally speaking), while escaping collisions or even misunderstadings. The main principle of communication is the eye contact. The openness of the moment, the same cultural language.
Talking about public transport. Here in Bergen, me and my fellow-students will carry out a mini field-exercise, on intermission and traffic in the public space. We are going to look at sitting patterns on public buses.
One of the guys wondered if people sitting alone, wanted to talk with other passengers but don´t dare to, and rather chose to pick a two-seater by herself.
The scenario in so many buses, driving peacefully along the windy coasts and mountains of Norway; you step into the bus and search for an empty two-seater. You want to sit by yourself. No matter if you have to walk to the end of the bus. As long as "avoiding" the physical contact of the person next to you, or even eye contact. At least, most people must figure, they avoid talking to anybody. Or looking at anybody. Dont even think about saying hello or goodbye to the driver like they do in Ireland.
Yeah, in Egypt there´s another story. People say assalamualeikum, and it don`t even hurt. Does it?

6:48 PM  

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