“Taxi!!” I waved my hands to stop a taxi, this one didn’t stop too, just like a couple of taxis before, the driver simply ignored me and went by.
Taxis in Cairo are like this, the driver works however they want and according to their mood. The drivers don’t work for companies, because there weren’t any until around 2006-2007. So they just paint their cars in black and white colors, make a driving license for taxi drivers, then the driver’s ready to go!
It was another hot day in summer, around 42°C.
“Taxi!” I tried to stop another unoccupied taxi passing by, fortunately it stopped,
“Where are you going?” the driver asked me before I even get in, don’t be surprised, you aren’t a boss when it comes to taxis in Egypt,
“Dokki,” it’s pronounced Do’i, a place where the “Indonesian School of Cairo” is located, and the majority of it’s students are the children of the Home-staff employees of the Indonesian Embassy (KBRI: Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia).
“’Eshrin geneh?”(Twenty pounds?) he offered 20 pounds for the fare, that’s how it goes with Cairo “private” taxis, once again I say, YOU ARE NOT A BOSS!
“No, 15 pounds?” I said.
“Not, not enough, Dokki is far.”
“I know, but 20 is too expensive. 15, OK?”
“Mahsy! Khosh.”(Okay! Get in.)
I got in, we were silent for about quarter an hour, I looked at him, he was sullen, he had big round eyes, thick mustache, curly short hair, and hairy hands, besides all that, he had a dark complexion. a typical Egyptian.
His sweat dropping out of his pores are like a flowing river, I don’t deny sweating too, but he sweated more, perhaps because he’s been in the car almost all day, with no fan or air conditioner, just the four windows wide opened.
“La’, Indoneesy.” (No, Indonesian.) I replied.
“Ah… Ahsan nas!”
“Hmm..? Shokran”I simply said.
“Ana batkallem begad!” (I’m talking seriously)
“Le olt keda?”(Why did you say like that?) I asked curiously.
“Aktar nas feeha moslemeen, sah?” (The country which has the most many Muslims in in, right?)
“I heard that 98% of the population are Muslims?”
“I don’t know exactly.”
“Ezzay mush ‘aref?” (How come you don’t know?)
“I’m born here.” I explained.
“oh, I see….”
Indonesia in Egypt is known as a very religious country, and the people are known to be having high religious moral. Ironic.
So I just responded by a simple smile.
The driver chose to pass through the “6th of October” bridge, it’s a long bridge which passes above the streets of Cairo and the name was dedicated to the day Egypt gained freedom for being victorious against a war with Israel, the Egyptian army won it while fasting on the 10th of Ramadan, in 1973 AD.
My favorite part is when the bridge passes above the Nile River. The view is so stunning in spite of the hot weather; there are huge restaurant- ships and also the Cairo tower. Beside the river there are a couple of 5 stars hotels which has suites facing to the river-view, so that it’s guests can enjoy the Nile river at night. The lights of the buildings, the lamps along the bridge and lights of the ships are all reflected on the water. Magnificent.
Then he began to discuss something I thought we were done with.
“20 pounds, mashy? 20 kowayes? (good?)” He bargained the fare again
“No, we agreed with 15.” I reminded him.
“18! Ok? 18 is the last offer.”
“No, 17! I won’t pay more. If you don’t want, let me down here.”
“Ok, ok! Don’t get angry.”
“You started it!” I couldn’t understand what he wanted exactly, but surely, he was troublesome.
We were close to SIC. Only a couple of minutes away to get there. I couldn’t wait to get out of this taxi. I can’t stand him.
Once we arrived, I paid a twenty pounds note and he gave me three pounds for the change. I was so relieved to get out of the car.
Weird Egyptian Driver!!
Humam Maulana, class V of TMI Al-Amien Prenduan from Sumenep