Monday, May 2, 2011

April 28, 2011

Class went very well and the ride back to Cairo was uneventful, just another 120+kph zip down the road. The evening took on a whole new meaning when I joined Maysaa Barakat’s friends for dinner.

Usually someone picks me up and I can engage in a thought free journey to wherever. This time it was suggested that I take a cab and join them. No problem. Grabbing my Egyptian phrase book, I ran into the street and secured the first available car. I was really lucky. It was a Lada. Now the Lada is a Fiat made in Russia during the cold war. Mine was an original. It looked like it had been retrieved from a scrap yard within the past day or two. After identifying the destination and negotiating a price (since this was my first Cairo car I had nothing with which to compare prices, but negotiation seemed important at the time) anyway, I jumped in and off we went. The cab driver was very naturally resource conscientious. As we sped off into the night, he turned the head lights off. I am sure this saved a lot of electricity and made us safer. The other cars would not hit what they could not see and there we were cloaked in darkness, in 5 lanes of traffic on a 3 lane street. I will spare you the part about only going 30kph (it was either to save gas or because of the violent shaking [both me and the car] at speeds above 30.

About a half hour later, Amr called and he talked to the cab driver. Half hour after that there we were at the La Pasha, a world class restaurant on the Nile. Me and the Lada among all those chauffeured Mercedes Benz(s). I learned at dinner that the cab driver did not know where the La Pasha was so he was taking me to his favorite fish restaurant. While dining one of the people at our table pointed out that the Egyptian VP was seated at a table across the room. I was so impressed that I planned to stop by and see if he arrived by Lada. It is always good to establish something in common with new friends. Anyway, dessert came and I forgot to say “Hi”. Trip back was by a new metered cab (I dreaded the thought of a high end expensive taxi). When I got back to the hotel, I discovered that the trip was 4 times less than the Lada. I tore out the “Taxi” pages from my Egyptian phrase book and threw them away. Meal was great, company extraordinary, and life goes on.

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