This Thursday morning, I spent from 9:00 until 10:30 going from Al-Haram to Maadi. On a normal day, the trip across the Nile would take 45 minutes at the most. Yesterday? An hour and a half. Even a normal person would get a case of claustrophobia from such an experience. There are no off-ramps. You are stuck. I truly relied on remembrance of Allah to get me through the ordeal.
I have spent a lot of time here sitting in traffic---we all do in Egypt! When I stare out my window I notice things. I love to see the decorations on the cars and truck.
Do you see the carved back to the truck's cab? It's maybe a little confusing to your depth perception with the truck behind it overloaded with cauliflower. It's cauliflower season now.
This has the decoration in the vehicle. Micro bus drivers live many hours behind the wheel and create a home away from home for themselves.
Many have small LCD screens playing a video right next to them as they drive (which is not the most comforting thing to see as a passenger).
I enjoy seeing the artistic choices an ordinary person makes which turns the mundane into something extraordinary. No one forces the driver to personalize his or her vehicle but they do. They want to stand out in the crowd.
Every truck driver wants the proclaim they've got a Mercedes or a Chevrolet. They all want to label their truck as, "JUMBO" but many mislabel it as "JUMPO". One truck yesterday was writing a Swahili greeting with "JAMBA"
If the driver is a dad, you'll see ABU or ABO and then their child's name. This is their honorary title. I can imagine how proud they are the day they tell the detailer to paint it across the front of their truck.
I love the name of Allah on vehicles. I love that I live in a country where that is respected; not hated or feared. No matter how long I've been waiting in traffic, I smile when I see Allah's name.
I also smile when I see the Quran on the dashboards.
If I see Arabic then I spend time trying to read it. This says, "Bismallah".
Mr. Boo and I have a game of spotting English. It helps us pass the time and hopefully improves his reading abilities.
I'm forever seeing an outline of a cool dude with the word xmen on his T-shirt. I can't find an image for it on the 'net. I don't think it has anything to do with Wolverine.
There's Bushee '01 which is all over the place but I can't find an example of that either. I might have to go take some more pictures. I don't even know what or who Bushee is. I can't figure it out!
"Cowboy Up!" is one of the most popular decals you'll see. It's slang which means to toughen up. What's kind of amazing is that it's appropriate for anyone trying to brave the streets.
Many of the decals are not appropriate.
You'll see many variations of Calvin peeing. I always hate getting into a taxi with a man who thought this was a great image for his business car.
Fido Dido is another favorite.
For some reason, the Apple Computers logo is considered cool. It's all over Egypt as if someone created an app called "the car".
There's also a hand imprint, with the pointer finger a dot of red, I don't have the exact graphic. It actually says in English, "Hurt Hand" underneath. To place a bloody hand print from the blood of a slaughter is considered a blessing on the object. Not sure if that has anything to do with it.
There are pictures of a thumbs up. No blood on this hand!
There are footprints.
All of those are plentiful.
Every now and then I'll see a logo I recognize from my life before. It always makes me chuckle to see some old friends.
I've sat in taxis with "Mrs. Fields"
and with "Lysol".
Really, a lot of the reason for a logo appearing doesn't have to do with meaning. It has to do with the look of the writing. Actually, the fonts are cool.
For those of you who want to laugh at those stupid Egyptians, let me remind you of all the Chinese and Japanese lettering we Americans find fascinating---yet we can't read it or make sense of it. There is a way to appreciate lettering for the artistic value alone. Islam teaches us to value the written word and to honor those who write. Subhanallah, I never thought I'd look at American logos with this appreciation.
One of the amazing parts of traffic in Egypt is the variety. It isn't just trucks laden down with produce (and a man sitting down next to it to guard it).
It's live animals zooming past you like these sheep...
or these cows.
When Mr. Boo and I would exit our former school's gates, sometimes we'd see these animals heading down the road. I'd tell him it was a, "sheep taxi," or a, "cow taxi," and that we could catch a ride if we were able to baah or moo. He didn't believe me (smart kid).
I need to get a picture of camels in a truck. That's an amazing sight. They are all sitting down and the only thing you see are their long necks rising out of the trucks as they look about with their inquisitive eyes.
Close your ears if you don't want to hear me but those camels are not going to be a tourist's ride at the Pyramids. Just like the sheep and the cows, the camels are going to get slaughtered. We eat camel meat at our house on average once a week. It's a real mild flavor.
As an aside, the Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) told the Sahabi to make wudu again after eating camel meat.
In addition to animals, there are earth movers...
and tour buses.
When I see those tourists looking out their windows at the place I live, I feel sorry for them. They don't seem to be enjoying their experience. I rarely see anyone smile. Mostly, they look scared or tired. I tell Mr. Boo to wave to them. I told my husband not to wave to them as I knew that would only worry them more. When they snap pictures of me I have to laugh since I'm not a good example of an Egyptian.
This is what I wish the tourists could see.
I wish they could see the smiling children of Egypt riding their horses. It would be unheard of in America to allow these young boys to ride in the middle of traffic, yet somehow it's fine here. It's carefree and fun. It's a huge amount of independence. Honestly? Just for a moment, wouldn't you love to be one of these happy kids?
The roads are filled with these carts too.
Here's a picture which needs some explaining.
Do you see the donkey? It's pulling a cart with two huge bags but they aren't heavy. Those bags are filled with plastic bottles. The boy on the cart is recycling and he will dig through the trash to find what he needs to help his family survive. It's dirty work for sure yet I really respect him for saving Egypt from itself. Without recyclers, I believe that our landfills would be double or triple in size.
There's another story in the picture as well. Do you see the trucks waiting by the side of the road? They are waiting in a wedding caravan. The trucks are piled high with the goods that the fiance has been slowly stockpiling for months and even years. It isn't easy to get married in Egypt. The man must have purchased an apartment, the furniture, the appliances, and all the household goods. This shows the women and children sitting amongst the goods ready to go.
Right after this picture, yelling erupted. There was one woman who was very mad about something. I think it was about which truck back she had to commandeer. She wouldn't listen to anyone no matter how much they shouted at her. Someone in the group called over the family elder and he quietly reasoned with her. She got out of the truck and the caravan then started on its way to the new apartment.
Egypt! Really, I find Egypt fascinating. If people utter a sentiment like that, usually they mean Ancient Egypt. For me, I find modern Egypt just as worthy of study.
Many visitors to Egypt lament the traffic. It's a problem to be sure. Yesterday, I had to deal with the traffic up close and personal. However, I also found a way to find the beauty in the moment and to remember and praise Allah.
There's a kind of Divine choreographing going on with so many people and plans coverging. Thousands of people want to be in the same place at the same time. To someone else it is a chaos. To me, I see the artistry in the moment. Cairo traffic is ballet for cars. Everyone finds a way to make it work and to keep flowing through the crowded streets. There's a kindness towards each other and an acceptance of fate because we're all in this together.