03 September, 2013

Traffic Meditation... Serenity Now!!

I love living here.  There are heaps of wonderful reason to enjoy living in Cairo and specifically on our little island of Zamalek; but that is not the subject of this post.  No.  I would like to vent about an issue so deeply, smotheringly, intolerably irritating that there will be little room for positivity.  Maybe by the end of this cathartic entry I will have relocated my sunny disposition and have found some possible upswing... but I doubt it.  The infuriating issue I would like to publicly flog is: CAIRO TRAFFIC.

For starters, I'm pretty sure road-rage was invented here.  Or, is there a word stronger than rage?  Road fury?  Road wrath?  Whatever we want to call it - I am feeling it.

Last night, a 20 km taxi trip home took over two hours and cost about 2.25 years of my life;  or 75 Egyptian Pounds to be more literal. The same trip tonight took 1.25 hours and cost 50 EGP; or 0.75 years of life.  There has to be a better way!  Well, when I find one I'll let you know.  In the meantime, let me paint a picture of why these travels are such a hardship:

  • Issue 1: 75% of the taxi drivers chain smoke.
  • Issue 2: 95% of the cars drive with their windows down.  That means eating my own hair and breathing in the exhaust of all the other idling vehicles.  Might as well join the driver in a cigarette...
  • Issue 3: 97% of the cars don't use air conditioning.  You get to stew in your own little sweat pool on the vinyl seats and question just how liberally deodorant was applied that morning.
  • Issue 4: 100% of the vehicles on the road have been pimped out with the loudest horns you have ever heard in your life.  We are talking shockingly loud.  And they are not afraid to use them either.  Horns, not signal lights, are used as a means of communicating between the drivers.  BEEP YOU giant truck, BEEP YOU.

Add all of that onto my great dislike of lengthy sitting - one definitely can't stand in a car - (Who do I call with that invention?) and you get one ornery, complainy (obviously) Shan.

Okay, silver lining already.  By popular request (well, one friend suggested it): Here are the TOP 5 things to do when stuck in Cairo Traffic:

5. Group scooter sightings.  I once spotted a family of 6 riding on a single scooter!
4. Seeing how many seconds you can hold your breath.  Between the drivers' smoking and the pollution, breath holding competitions not only serve as your entertainment but may also prolong the life of your respiratory system.
3. Goat counting.  Like counting sheep, but less relaxing.  Seriously!  In this urban setting, the side of the major roadways are used as pasture land for the goats.  True story.
2. Take pictures of hilarious 'lost in translation' signage along your travels.  Here is the best one we've seen so far.
1. Donkey racing.  Choose the fittest looking donkey along your route, give it an endearing name to make it more interesting, then see which one of you (your taxi or his wagon) makes it to the next intersection first.  My money is on the donkey.  Always.

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