Taxis in Cairo

To visit my daughter in hospital I had to go by taxi. The hotel always phoned for one going, but coming back it was up to me to obtain one. Sometimes when one was dropping off visitors I was able to get that. On other occasions I walked down the short hill to a car park which lay between the hospital and the dual carriageway. A man who seemed to be in charge there would get me a taxi.One night the driver didn’t know the way back to the hotel and he must have asked at least twenty times for directions. When we eventually arrived at the hotel I handed him a twenty pound Egyptian note and he said, “Have you no money?” I thought he meant I hadn’t given him enough. He strode off and when he came back he was trying to give me five Egyptian pounds. I presumehe had meant to ask if I had any change. Since the twenty pound note I gave him was worth about £2 I didn’t want any change and with getting lost he had driven for miles. I felt sorry for him, but he thought I’d be annoyed. I had been getting worried when we couldn’t find the hotel in the dark.

Another afternoon, when my youngest daughter, Valerie had joined me, the man in the car park hailed an ancient taxi, driven by a young man. All the other taxis I had been in had driven out onto the corniche. Since it is a dual carriageway one had to go a few miles in the wrong direction before a turn. This time the driver drove round the back of the hospital and I thought he knew a short cut, but very soon we were stuck in an almighty traffic jam. Eventually the driver got out and strode off presumably to try to find out what was going on. All the time the meter was ticking and Valerie suggested we got out and walked back. We waited a few more minutes, but there was no sign of the driver or of the traffic moving, so we got out. We had to clamber through the building site next to the hospital in the midday heat, round the back of the hospital and down the hill to the car park. The man who had procured the taxi for us looked at us in amazement, but since neither of us could speak the other’s language we couldn’t explain.

The third incident occurred when Valerie and I got in a taxi which had just dropped other people off outside the hospital. This driver drove us quickly to the hotel, then he turned round in his seat and demanded to know if I was married. I told him I was a widow. “Are you married?” he repeated. “My husband is dead.” He repeated his question to which I replied, “No.”

“I would like to marry a wealthy English woman like you.”

  I laughed and got out of the taxi. He was wrong on two counts. I am not English, but Scottish or British and I am definitely not wealthy! I may seem so to poorly paid Egyptians, of course!

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