August 7, 2008

Taxi Blues...


I don't know about you, but whenever I get into a cab, I almost always fall on some driver who will go through a litany of woes. It is either an expose of his financial problems, his family problems due to lack, his fights with his nagging wife on money, his sister in hospital, his great grandmother suffering from some incurable disease, his rheumatoid arthritis and how difficult it is for him to continue driving, cost of living and not making ends meet, what horrible drivers others are and how he can't repair his own car - of course, he will invariably fail to include himself as one of the main contributors to reckless driving.

I don't exactly look like Mother Teresa nor like Dr.Ruth nor like some diamond covered Gulf princessa, so I simply don't understand why these cab drivers feel the need to get close and personal. I suspect 9 times out of 10 there is a always a ploy to extract more money. In the past, I used to fall for it, but not anymore. I decided that I was not a social worker, that I had my own financial issues and realized I needed someone to listen to me and "save" me for a change...

Just the other day, it happened again. I got into a cab and he started with the usual -- where are you from ? your accent is foreign, etc...

Believing that he had sussed me out, (and I always mislead cocky ones), he changed the subject to money and inflation...I thought to myself OK this is a classic, he wants to squeeze more money out of me. And it will not work.

He kept staring through his back mirror, and seeing no reaction whatsoever from me, he changed the subject again, this time to religion and charity. Again I did not budge. Another classic.

Then he went into a monologue about Arab history, Amr Ibn Al A'as - a historical figure (not to be confused with Amr Diab, the baby faced Egyptian singer -- for those who are historically challenged, that is) the Islamic Empire, Hadiths from the Prophet, Arab Disunity, Amerikka...

And whenever any Arab talks about Amerikkka, the topic of Iraq has to re-surface like some vomited froth, like a floating amputated limb, like a prickly thorn, like a stone, a rock that refuses to sink into the depths of the water...

So he continued...

" You know ya Set (Madam), The Holy Koran is in ARABIC, the Prophet, Peace and Blessings upon him was an ARAB, surely this is a sign for us.
Look what they did to Saddam Hussein, the ARAB, they presented him to us as a present for the Eid, and we stood there watching. They all stood there watching...
And surely this is a sign for us. He was a TRUE ARAB and a TRUE MUSLIM. He stood fearless, facing death, reciting the Shahada -- there is no God but God and Mohamed is his prophet...And we stood and watched. And do you know why they did what they did ? It is not because of the oil, oil can be acquired through deals, it is because he was the only true Arab leader who stood firmly against Israel and Zionism. Whether I personally like him or not does not matter, what am telling you is the Truth...."


Upon these last words, we reached our destination and I continued " And we are still standing watching, aren't we ? "

I gave him his fare, what we had agreed upon, and he looked at me as if to tell me-- give me more, after all I did say some truths during this ride...And I looked back at him, as if saying -- these kinds of truths are a given, they are not to be remunerated in money.

He left with a frown of disappointment and so did I...

P.S: Forgot this bit - He also said, " We need another Salah El-Deen Al-Ayubi to unite the Muslims and fight the Crusaders " and he added " Remember Salah El-Deen came from Iraq. Surely this must be a sign too."

Painting : Iraqi artist, Waleed.Al-Qaisi.