Not the best of places for people who aren’t well off.
“When my daughter tried to buy some clothes some time back, she came back home with a shocked expression” , exclaimed the cab driver in a low, but angry, tone of voice. “I asked her about what was wrong. She said she couldn’t afford to buy clothes with the current prices and the amount of money she had.”
Strangely enough, what sparked off this topic was my excuses to the man for having to sit in the back seat of the cab (it was a small vehicle and I was wearing a suit and already running late for a morning meeting). I do not remember how it developed into a discussion of the man’s, and the average Egyptian’s, life… but that it became until he dropped me off in Manial, where I work.
His complaints were many… but he was not whining. He was merely indignant.
He told me that beta’at el ta’min are slowly being stopped. Even though they only mean half-a-kilo of oil and sugar… and bad sugar at that. He told me that the price of a kilogram of meat is now pushing 40 L.E. A chicken… is for 20-25.
He said that he isn’t a rich man. That he cannot afford to buy chicken anymore.
We discussed the Malek el Saleh bridge that had been under maintenance for about a week. The cabbie commented on the fact that they were hammering and placing whatever substance they were using to “fix” the road… using manual equipment. (From my own personal experience, I can say that many of them looked like the kind of equipment that street sweepers use here… except they had more, and tougher, bristles).
I remember that before the bridge, at the bit where the Corniche joins the Helwan Agricultral Road “Helwan el Zeraee“, a two-door, dull blue-grey Suzuki Swift was speeding and he swerved heard in front of us, in the process of going from the right-most lane to its partner on the other side of the road.
The Taxi driver said: “Mesh Kol sawa2 ma3a rokhsa… we mesh kol wa7ed ma3a rokhsa sawa2. Aho el 7omar da mabye3rafsh yesoo2“. [Translation: Not every driver has a license and not every person who has a license knows how to drive.] When the cabbie noticed that the car had the blue “Government” Registration plates (secretly, I was sure that was bound to bring forth some form of comment from him), he immediately said: “Mahee mesh beta3tak… mesh 7atkhaf 3aleiha“. [It is not yours (the car)… you’re not worried about it.]
And he was right.
He asked me, rhetorically, why there still remain people who are either affiliated to the government or are government employees, whilst their pasts are “black with infamous deals, actions and crimes”. He asked me whether this was fair, or just, or even humane.
I saw him go through many emotions; indignation, anger, exasperation, sadness and trepidation during a twenty-minute ride.
They all deserve to be tried for their crimes against the Egyptian people.