Saturday, 3 March 2007

Le Microbus

Let me tell you a story...

When I was in school, my parents lovingly did the mistake of never letting me get involved in public transportation. They would always strive to drop me off and pick me up whenever I needed them to. Then university started and with it started the lovely and colourful world of public transportation. In the beginning, I was actually too embarassed to stick my hand out in the street and stop a bus. I mean moi ? Stick my hand out? In the street? In front of all those people!!??
I got over it though and started sticking out all my limbs if it meant that the damn bus would actually see me and stop...
First for me, was the CTA ; nice seats, air conditioned and generally nice people. Problem was , I had to wait for it for a long long time. So my brother told me what I had dreaded to hear; I had to start riding the minibuses and microbuses. The ones that used to scare me with their men (who must all have peices of little children stuck in their throats from that day's breakfast) calling out their destinations in rather unique pronunciations (No two are really alike. Sort of like snowflakes but not quite as pretty) and with the people riding sticking out the windows and doors like they all got compressed into a humongous sardine can. I first tried riding the minibuses because they looked bigger and didn't look like they were about to fly off the ground when they moved but they were so crowded. Getting in and out was like walking through a swamp of various odours I really don't wanna know the cause of. So I decided I would take the plunge and take the tiny ones. At least everybody's always sitting down, right?
The thing is, in one of those Speedy-Gonzalez type vehicles, you get people from all walks of life and social strata. That's why it's always so amusing. You never know what you're gonna hear , see or smell. I always go out wondering what assault on my senses will I experience , today?
I could hear an expletive , the meaning of which I will never know because I can never ask lest it be something so profane it'll ruin my innocence forever . Fights of every kind; over 25 piasters, over the driver driving too fast, or intentionally hitting all those road bumps because he hates us all and seeks our destruction. I've had a little kid I don't know sleep on my arm all the way home just because her parents are relieved they only have one kid on their lap to deal with now and I'm too embarrassed to wake a sleeping child even if she keeps sneezing on me in her sleep. I've had people offer me food if they're eating. Just last week a lady started taking a tangerine out peeling it then promptly saying "etfadaly ya 7abebtchy!" to which I reply "merci ketcheer walahy".

Today though the strangest incident of them all.

I get in the car, say hello and a nice little old lady with a big navy blue bag on her lap smiles and says hello back. I like nice little old people, probably because I never got to know my grandparents. Anyway, I sit next to her, pull out my book begin to read, then collect money from the "clients" when the car moves (yes, I actually collect the fare quite often..) and I give the lady her change. Moments later she says "No, no!" in a low voice. I wonder if I could've given her the wrong change or something. Then I look down at her hands on top of the bag and lo and behold, a pair of yellow eyes are staring at me. It was a cat, a kitty, a feline. Yes, God help me but a cat was taking a ride next to me on the microbus !!!The lady tells it to "behave, we're in the street!" and kinda bangs it softly on the head. Then she pushes it in the bag and zips it when it doesn't behave. Good God, what else does she have in there? A puppy, 2 hamsters and a little kid!??
I try to get back to my book and actually see her smiling at me through the corner of my eye but I refuse, yes , REFUSE to look her in the eye for fear of bursting into flames or turning into stone. She's not a cute little old lady anymore, she's a creepy old cat lady and I'm stuck with her in a confined space for about 30 mins more.
See, I'm not afraid of cats. On the contrary,I think they're quite lovely. It's just that seeing a cat peering out of a bag on some old lady's lap, a bag which then begins squirming next to my leg is just Pretty.Freakin'.Creepy, OK!?
The thing is, she would actually bang the bag wherever her hand landed when it moves. I was stuck between wanting to laugh, wanting to cry for having to see this shit and wanting to scream because this was just too effin' weird even for my taste.

This is now officially considered the strangest thing ever to happen to me in public transportation( this year). Unless I sit next to a guy who says he's from the planet Xenon and is carrying his boss with him in a jar in his bag , it shall remain so.

P.S: I haven't learned how to drive yet and the streets don't make me very enthusiastic about it besides the fact that driving to Ain Shams med school ( and all it's private lessons) is quite a hassle. So I shall remain in contact with MB's a little while longer.


sayed said...

Haha! Great post, merci ketcheer bgad.

Reminded me of when I was in Cairo and I had to take a microbus with a couple of friends and the driver got in a verbal exchange with another microbus driver, while driving. That was interesting enough, but the fun really started when they decided to turn it into a physical fight and pulled over their tiny vehicles. To me and my friends' surprisesal the driver actually expected us to join in, commanding us "enzelo, yalla han[expeltive]..."

Ahh...the joys of Egyptian public transportation.

spellz said...

you and your horror novels

I have the same problem you know that!
But I try not to take the MB whenever I can.
actually it took me 5 years to give up my arrogance and take the microbus instead of the Taxi "due to some bad incidences happened to me in the taxis"
It's really haard for me , 3arfani ad ih ensana sa7ya w 3omry mat5abat fi 7arf l shie2 da wana nazla 5ales wala 3omri fatetny m7atta lol zman i was even shy to raise my voice 3shan a2ul ana nazla fein
ya sater I'm considering driving lessons wallahy "although i hate driving & I'm a coward" but i cant take it anymore

Bad memories with transportations Lol "but the cat lady story made me laugh"

Asraralbanat said...

You made me laugh while reading this..& myt work colleuges think i'm nuts!
actually i never tried the cairo minis & micros..but i tried once "el mashro3" of the north coast! it was hysterical!
i remember there was a worker who had a big bottle of gaaz with him & a little girl asked her mother what it was. the mother said "da gazz ya bett..elly bent 7'altek sherbeto mara"!!!!!!!!!!!!
ps: in your shoes i would've pet the cat in the bag! lol

Juka said...

LOL. OK, I vow never to complain about driving, traffic and the delightful pranks my car pulls on me. That was soooo adorable. I agree with AAB I would have sooo pet that cat. Cool adventures though, keep recording them, perhaps they can be compiled in a book and you can compete with Khaled Elkhomeisy.

shafee2a said...

Hey,public transportations..they're like hell in here.It's totally inhumane.And besides what u mentioned above,there's the "usual"sexual harassments starting from the fingers that u suddenly find trying to find thier way to ANY part of ur body from the chair behind you,till those who stick thier bodies to you,coz ya 7aram he can't stand coz the bus is crowded...sick F**ks

Ravine85 said...

"the fingers that u suddenly find trying to find thier way to ANY part of ur body from the chair behind you"

Holy shit, that's real right? I always thought it was my paranoid imagination and it was their knees against the back of my chair or something. No wonder the movement would always stop when I looked at them. Gross :S

Mak said...

waaaahahahah... very kool. I totally relate. I've been on every form of transportation available. Well except for the toktok. Very funny post. :D

Mo'men said...

"yelling out their destinations in rather unique pronunciations (No two are really alike. Sort of like snowflakes but not quite as pretty)"

Nice observation :)

" "etfadaly ya 7abebtchy!" to which I reply "merci ketcheer walahy""

Cheer Class !