Another sortie into Whineland

Posted on October 8, 2006


One more thing that bugs me about Ramadan: taxi drivers thinking they are owed more money than usual, especially around fitar time. I don’t jump into their taxis and hold a knife to their heads: I hail them, state my destination, and upon approval enter the taxi. And then when we get there I’m told I should pay more because the taxi driver picked me up around fitar! It’s not like there’s a dearth of cabs around then; there are plenty. I should not have to pay the price for his desire to postpone fitar in favour of a pound or two. Should taxi drivers decline to pick me up because they have to hasten to fitar, that would be fine; but to charge me more as a result of their own choice is ludicrous.
As you can see, I have entered the inevitable phase of constant irritation with Egypt. My friends say it will pass and develop into apathy with occasional fits of rage. Or else I will up sticks and find somewhere less infested with ignorance and hatefulness, and where people like and respect women as humans. My irritation came to a height yesterday with that flurry of asinine commentary on my last post. I appreciate people’s sensibilities towards Ramadan, but defending misogyny is sickening. However, far more advanced and enlightened societies (yes, I feel comfortable designating such absolutes, because I’m not going to deny the evidence of my senses in favour of a political correctness Egyptians don’t give a shit about) are still passing legislation stating that violence and harassment are NOT the fault of women, and if that’s still happening I cannot expect it to happen here, what with the crippling influence of patriarchal culture and poverty and ignorance and religion and corruption…or whatever it is. You tell me. I don’t know how to explain why, exactly, things are just wrong here.
Luckily last night, after I had read that explosion of assholism, I went to a Salah Jaheen and Fouad Haddad poetry recital/musical performance, and not only were the performers fantastic, right in the beginning I heard a couple of poems that spoke to my concerns about the prevalence of hatred and ignorance in Egypt. There was actually a song about sexual harassment, and another about religious intolerance, and of course many about Egypt, and what it is to love and hate it. I cheered up, and went to speak with Samia Jaheen afterwards to obtain a copy of the script. Will post the aforementioned poems when I get the script. In addition, a kind reader linked me to this forum, where people apparently gather to bitch about Egypt and let off steam, although they appear to be considerably more steamed than I am.
I do have one more bitch for today though, cheered up though I might be: the inappropriate use of the word insha’allah. People do not seem to realize that it cannot apply to matters of fact, or things that have taken place in the past. I am constantly entering into conflicts over this with taxi drivers. When asked if they KNOW a certain street, the answer should be either yes, or no. God will not impart knowledge of the location of that street on the way there. One time I asked a taxi driver whether the 6th of October bridge had been crowded on his way downtown, and he replied “insha’allah”. I flipped out said stridently, “Ana bas2alak KAN el kobri za7ma WALA LA2?” and after numerous attempts persuaded him of the facility of the affirmative and negative responses. God is not going to suddenly turn back time and change things; he can, but I have yet to hear of Him doing so, especially to accommodate idiots. Today I informed a taxi driver that I lived on Nozha St., only to be asked if I lived on Nozha St.
I haven’t even started on the usual bullshit moronic conversations I have every day with handymen and the like. I am becoming more like my father every day – he left Egypt 30 years ago because he could not handle people’s illogical responses, and when he visits he is often to be heard shouting “Ana sa2altak eh _______? Rod 3ala el so2al elly sa2alto!” and his favourite “El mokh yeshterooh menein!” I always thought he was too aggressive with people, but I’m fast catching up to him. He’s an engineer so his synapses start fizzing and suchlike earlier than other people’s when confronted with morons. Perhaps all this outrage is what caused him to go so prematurely bald?
On a more positive note, tomorrow is my official sellout into corporate whoredom. First day at the Large Corporate Law Firm. I have “orientation”, believe it or not, at 11 a.m.