Friday, February 12, 2010

Scum of the Earth!

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I decided to do a little sight-seeing today and take some pictures. I took the metro to Coptic Cairo and had a great time. Afterward, I headed to Islamic Cairo to check it out too. I took the metro to Attaba and then took an un-metered black cab to El Hussein Mosque at the entrance of the Islamic Cairo area. The cab driver told me over and over it would be 10 pounds in English and in Arabic. Less than 2 blocks away, he picked up 2 women who were going to pray at the mosque. The ladies, mother and daughter, were quite friendly. The mother, Sari, told me they were Somalians visiting from Australia. We chit-chatted and I liked them both very much. As an afterthought, I asked her how much he was charging them. She said 3 pounds! I told her he was trying to charge me more than 3X more and she said that that was ridiculous!

When we arrived at El-Hussein, she handed him 3 pounds for herself and her daughter. I hand him 5 pounds for my ride since he'd picked me up a few blocks before them. We all exit the cab. The cab driver hops out of the car and gets in my face screaming, "10 pounds, 10 pounds!!" Not one to be intimidated, I told him 5 bas, I wasn't going to pay him anymore than that. Sari even shoos him away. He shoves the 5 pound bill back at me and goes back to the car. I'm crossing the street w/ the The Somalian ladies, going towards the mosque, when suddenly the cab driver comes running after me and grabs my arm in the middle of traffic! I am momentarily shocked! No this dirty peasant didn't just touch me!!!!

I try to shove him and walk off. Instead, he grabs on tightly to my shirt and starts screaming at me for money. (Here is a picture of the stain his dirty hands left on my shirt). An American guy, seeing the altercation, comes running across the street and pulls me away from him. I don't think I've ever been happier to see an American in my life! The Somalian ladies had run off to get the police and came back minutes later with 3 Egyptian cops. In a fit of English and Arabic, we explain to the cops what happened while the cab driver yells about me ripping him off! To my surprise, the cops actually side with me and tell the cab driver to take the 5 pounds or nothing. Although, I'd much rather kick him in the balls, I hand the peasant scum the 5 pounds and he had the audacity to snatch it from me and stomp off!

When I got home and told my roommates about the experience, they listened sympathetically. They said they'd had similar experiences with cabbies in Cairo- being chased, hit, grabbed,and spit on. Roommate 1, who speaks Arabic and has lived here for 2 years, advised me to learn to just outrun the cabbies.

Update: Regarding being ripped off, a lot of people have asked me how common this is and if other foreigners have experienced similar things in Cairo. The answer is yes. While most people would just pay a higher fare or get scammed, others have had experiences where people got belligerent and physical b/c they refused to be ripped-off. Some here assume you don't know any better and foreigners have more so they should pay more.

Regarding sexual harassment, it's a problem for all women here. Some Egyptian men automatically assume that Westerners are promiscuous and react to white girls based on this premise.

5 comments:

Matt said...

Sorry that you had to put up with that. It is always hard in a place that you don't know the price of things. What I always do in that kind of situation is hail one cab and ask how much, then I offter to pay about a third to half of that. If they accept that then you know they were trying to screw you, if they drive off then you hail the next cab and see how much they want. Repeat the process and if two or three cabs are all asking for about the same amount and won't take your lower offer than you know that that is the real going rate.

I had a similar experience in China that involved a beligerent taxi driver, police and the guy ultimately walking away with half the price I was willing to pay and he had to personally apologize to me for trying to take advantage of me (big deal in honor happy China). Best advice I can give you is become a 6'4" 280 lb male, you get messed with much less.

Harvey said...

Geeeeez. That's intense.

Wow. I haven't been ripped off by a cab yet in China. Then again I'm in Kunming and not a place with tons of tourists, so maybe it's easier here.

Concept said...

Just when I thought the man living above you was horrible... :-/
I'm glad the cop intervened and supported you

Frenchie said...

Sigh, me too! I was surprised that they even came over! I'm so thankful to those Somalian ladies!!!

Anonymous said...

Why are you riding a black cab when there are white ones around?

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