An Egyptian living in Europe but her heart stayed back home. Having some random thoughts about the before and after pictures. Ghawayesh means bracelets. In my context it symbolizes the cuffs of my culture. I don't know if I like them or hate them. Thanks for passing by.

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I started this blog in 2006 as a joke. Now that I look back, I have decided to take it seriously!

26 June 2007

Driving in Cairo for Mommies

My husband says that he thinks I'm one of the best drivers ever because I managed to get him alive out of Cairo.

I drive in Cairo without problems. You just need to know the unwritten rules.

Let me brainstorm some for you:

1- There's no such thing as road signs. I mean there *are* road signs, but they are so dusty and muddy that you can't decipher them, besides, why should you when everyone else doesn't even know they exist, let alone read them and follow them.

2- There's no such thing as giving or having priority. Priority is for the fastest, biggest, or most aggressive. So in order to be always on the safe side, ALWAYS give priority, but watch the idiot behind you as you do.

3- If you keep a 2-second distance between you and the car ahead of you, the space will be immediately taken by someone who swiftly overtakes you, so better keep a distance that won't allow another car to fit in-between. Do however, expect the car in front of you to stop for absolutely no reason and at any time or place. So always be ready to step on the brakes with your maximum force.

4- People don't stick to the lanes (there are no lanes anyway), so the best way to drive is to imagine a lane in the middle and drive in it. Since the cars in the right lanes will suddenly park without giving signals, and those on the left side will suddenly take U-turns without giving signals. Signals mostly don't work anyway.

5- Beware of 4 types of vehicles/drivers: 1-Micro-buses and the minors driving them, since they are mostly drugged, 2- Taxis; they stop suddenly anywhere in the street at the view of someone waving, 3- Big red buses, their drivers don't see anything because the buses are so jammed with people that they move based on their view ahead of them only, and 4- Women; unfortunately, since they are treated so badly on the road by the male dickheads, they haven't got enough self-confidence and often screw up due to having to drive under the influence of too much stress hormones.

If you see a vehicle with one of the above descriptions approaching, keep your distance, or even better, run for your life.

6- If you want to turn or change lanes, giving a signal is NOT the way to go, you have to stick your left arm out at half an arm to a whole arm-length for turning left, and you might need to wave with it 180 degrees up and down to be noticed. Having a white arm will make things a bit more complicated since people will start honking and following you around, and may even try to block your way for some attention. If you want to change to the right lane or turn right, you better have an assistant sitting on your right side to do the arm signal for you. If you don't, you have to stick your left arm with a bent elbow on top of the car and point with one finger to the right, or wave frantically with your right arm inside the car high enough to be seen by those behind you.

7- People coming out form the side streets do not look your direction as you approach them. It's a trick so you would be careful and stop so they can just pass through.

8- People swear and give obscene signs. But if you use the "sorry/thank you" hand sign, it does miracles to their attitude.

9- Keep an eye on the asphalt. It often has titanic holes in which you and your car can disappear without a trace. You can even fall through a bridge in the Nile if you're not careful. Keep away from potential holes. And they will ALWAY be there. So make a mind map for those holes in your daily routes.

10- Guys will always honk for you. TOTALLY ignore them. If you look at them they will either tell you: "hey, you have a flat tire" (for example), and as you stop to check the car they will be laughing at you, or will follow you and stick like glue.

11- Avoid rush hours. Rush hours are from 8:30 am to 2:30 am. So you have from 2:30 am to 8:30 am to drive safely.

12- Pedestrians cross from any direction any time they want. So don't think they will mind them approaching maximum speed. They only think of one thing: Catching that bus they are fixated at.

13- Keep your window up and your doors locked as often as possible. Do not put your bag on the seat next to you or on the back seat. The traffic lights are the best place for those who open the door and pick the bag and run.

14- You gotta have AC in the car. Going hot and sweaty makes you more volatile and stressed out.

15- Have a bottle of water in the car for the radiator. And always add water on regular basis as soon as you start your car.

16- Buy wheels only at a certified dealer, even if they are 10 times more expensive than elsewhere.

17- One way streets are often used in the opposite direction, so don't get angry at those who drive the wrong way. It's a waste of collagen if you did. Just wait for them to pass and think of the sea and the singing birds and some soft music.

18- Don't panic when people honk like there's no tomorrow, it's a tick.

19- If you stop to let someone cross the road, people behind you will get angry and honk. Ignore them if you can.

20- People don't stop for red lights. If you do, people behind you will start shouting at you and wonder why you're not moving. This is a tricky one. You need to learn to go with the flow, and this takes time and lots of observation to be able to master.

21- If you have an appointment, reserve 30 minutes for finding a parking space, 30 minutes for losing the way, and an hour for traffic jams.

22- Wear sunglasses and suncream.

23- Have a garbage can, food, water, tissues, disinfectant gel, an extra pair of comfy shoes always with you in the car.

24- Always have a mobile phone with you. If something goes wrong, I call a mechanic who knows me personally to come and save me.

25- Try to relax but be 1000% aware of what's happening around you. Males will try to intimidate you or insult you for being a "stupid woman". Don't let them get on your nerves or put you down. They are dumber than sin and of course do not realize it. Consider them mental patients.

26- Learn the codes of honking, giving light signs, and hand signs. All need a long explanation but I'm a bit tired now..


What else?!


BoB said...

Hey, I meant to do such post for ever, I have to relay it to my bloog! Keep it up!

Mumbo Jumbo said...

Brilliant and hilarious!

QueenAlyaa said...

Thanks guys.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Great post. I had to teach my kids to drive here and I told them to assume that every other driver on the road was a homocidal/suicidal maniac who intended to kill him/herself and to take as many people as possible with him/her. That assumption should give you the appropriate adrenalin level to cope.

QueenAlyaa said...

So true and LOL@Maryanne!

aNarki-13 said...

great post!

17-...waste of Collagen..

a friend of mine, Melantrys, wanted to comment but refuses to get a Google account. Melantrys says: "Sounds just like Damascus. Ok, except for the potholes.
I'd like to defend the pedestrians though. Given the likeness to Damascus I dare venture that their behaviour is the only possible way to cross the streets in Cairo as well. Just walk or wait at the roadside until you die of old age."

:) that's that! take care!

QueenAlyaa said...

LOL @ die of old age! So true! Thanks for dropping a line.

Raouf said...

@queenalyaa "What else ?!"

There is no end to this topic.

How about riding with bad drivers who swear and insult everyone and cut people off and do all sort of crazy things while at the same time complaining that "the world has lost its decency" or "the lack of religion"

How about the dangers of riding at night where Egyptian drivers for some unexplained reason do not turn their headlights on, and if you do they will flash their brights and honk at you for breaching "the protocol".

How about those with cars that are barely able to get to 20 km/h who are driving in the far right and try to block you if you pass them?

The worst of course is the combinations of all these, imagine yourself driving on the luxurious circular highway around Cairo at 2:00 AM at the reasonable speed of 80 km/h and finding in front of you someone with no lights driving at 20 km/h and straddling two lanes.

Adrian said...

Funny post! I stole your picture for my own post on traffic in Cairo.

Look Who's Here :D