A steady stream of visitors since the end of Feb, and before that the flurry of activity associated with a new school term has kept me from writing in for nearly two months. And even when I am writing, the post is a second-hand account about one of those aforementioned visitors’ experiences. But the incident is too funny to bypass commemoration so here goes…

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, the taxi-cab can be one of Egypt’s main life hazards, right up there with a) crossing the street, and b) riding the elevators. Both cabs and lifts are rickety as can be, the former often with doors that may not open properly or at all, or worse still some that that have the door tied in place to ensure that it remains shut.¬† We needn’t even mention such accessories as seat belts and headlights. Optional only. Nevertheless all of us ride them, because we don’t have much of a choice, especially at short notice. This is the story of what Namrita, one of my friends who thought otherwise, got for her efforts.

Namrita is one of my current trio of guests, visiting from India. Emerging from the City Stars Mall (Cairo’s very own Mall of the Americas-sized shopping monstrosity) laden with her spoils of victory, she was immediately accosted by a young man inquiring “Taxi?” She made the understandable mistake of thinking he was actually someone who was there to help all customers get taxis, she said yes, realizing her error a few minutes later when the young man (boy actually) led her and the others (there were two more) to a rather decrepit contraption. Now, Namrita who likes her niceties, didn’t care for the look of the car at all, spotted¬† a nice clean taxi just a short distance away and hailed it down, dismissing the first young man on the grounds that his vehicle was not up to her standards.

Your taxi no good,” she said to the first driver. “I’ll take that nice clean one over there,” she said to him, before turning to the new cab to ask “Four Seasons? Garden City?” loudly enough for the first young man to overhear.

Obviously he couldn’t let that injury-insult combination¬† just slide by without retaliation – after all, he had just lost a fare AND had his vehicle insulted. So he poked his head into the cab as Namrita and others were climbing in and disdainfully informed her,

Your face, no Four Seasons face.”

What is one to do with a put down like that? Get out of the car and deck the guy? Or as disdainfully as he, icily turn said face away and instruct present driver to leave. She would’ve liked to do the first, was tempted to, she confessed. But prudently she decided to take the high(tail) road. After all sticks and stones etc., etc.