First Night, First Car Ride through Cairo
Thank God for Ustadha Mona and her rescue! This was also another first, the first time I was solicited by a taxi driver masri style; in the span of 15 minutes, it became my 23rd time. They were aggressive, yes, but there was something else underneath that “Taxi!” “Taxi!” “Taxi!” “Taxi!” “Taxi!” walking beside me, behind me, calling from all sides (or maybe my American sensibilities are just extra-sensitive). And then there was the sneaky one, in his pink dress shirt, dark slacks, and dress shoes, who cast himself as rescuer because what turned-around young woman wasn’t just waiting for him to set her aright. “Do you have the number of the one coming to pick you up?… You don’t have it! What?! How do you know they will come?! Just let me help you. Your hands are speaking; that is what we say here. (Damn my shaky hands!) I’ll give you a ride wherever you want to go…. No one will come for you! What will you do?”
Thank God for Ustadha Mona who said, “Rasheeda?” right when I stepped out of the airport doors. I would have followed her anywhere. I did follow her to the minivan she’d borrowed to pick me up and into the streets of Cairo at night. The street names were just that, names like Yusuf Nahhas and Mustafa Abbas. The streets, though, were a jockey for place but with cars and horns. A whole language sounded out on the roadways, some horns honking to say “I’m behind you,” others to say “MOVE” or “This is my spot!” or “You’re going too slow!” And always the revving. I could see lines on the roads in some places, but those were unobserved formalities. The lights, horns honking, people all over crossing through rushing cars; this was Cairo.