Saturday, April 12, 2008

Traffic and Driving

Eeeeeeeee-oh! What the donkey did to the porn industry, the internal combustion engine did to the streets of Cairo: filled in all those little spaces, took up the margins left by the purely human-powered branch of the industry, and made a great rip-snorting thigh-shaking confusion out of what seemed so simple and so pure back in high school.

Crossing the street
Best thing to do is wait for a really big gallebeya to be heading out into the traffic and cross downstream of him or her. This is a time honored technique that you will see deployed on the streets of Rome: little old ladies scurrying through the traffic in the wake of some pasta-bloated Gino. In Egypt, it’s best to get downstream of a really bulky brute of a gallebeya—the kind of monstrous peasant that eats his weight in fuul in the morning. How far you should be from him / her depends on the speed of the traffic. Think of a rock in fast moving water—there’s a hollow there on the downstream side. That’s where you want to park the boat. Careful though, you don’t want to be so close that if s/he gets nailed, the flying body takes you out as well. NB: this only works on urban traffic: the urban car-driving Egyptian, brought up with intimidating stories of the virility and brutality of the peasant, is frightened of gallebeyas. Donkey-cart driving gallebeyas, conversely, are frightened of urban car-driving suits. Know your traffic type, judge its speed, and may the gods take care of you.

Excerpted from Fuck Off Guide to Egypt (NOP Publications, forthcoming).