Gender & Identity, Life

Driving in Egypt isn’t as bad as you think it is – just kidding

If you’ve never been to the land of the Pharaohs, I’m telling you now: Pharaohs are the worst drivers.

If you’ve never been to the land of the Pharaohs, I’m telling you now: Pharaohs are the worst drivers. They’ve erected magnificent architectural structures that have supernaturally defied the test of time, but they just can’t seem to follow a bunch of driving rules, ahem…me included.

Driving among Cairenes in the streets of Cairo is a rigorous emotional, psychological and mental exercise that brings out sides of me I didn’t even know existed. I’m not sure whether driving caused me to acquire these traits or if driving has only helped reveal my dark side. Here’s to searching for an opportunity of self-change in this inevitable, otherwise damaging daily occurrence.

Trying to curb my aggressive tendencies

That piece of iron I drive is revealing some serious aggressive tendencies in me.

Driving down the road, minding my own business, I get cut off by some mindless dude in a car making a diagonal (almost horizontal) shortcut across the street. I hit the horn, maintaining one steady loud bellow while staring the poor guy down with eyes like daggers and an emphatically raised hand like, “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!”

When I calm down, I feel taken aback by my own hostility. Full of guilt, I think to myself, “Well, he doesn’t know any better, and you’re just wasting energy on something you have no control over.” Seems mature, huh? 5 minutes later, a pedestrian breaks into a sprint, dashing right across the front of my car, the hem of his shirt just missing my left mirror by two nanoseconds.  My recent brief moment of clarity and consciousness goes out the window.

I bring myself together. Then, a car moving at 5 km/hr aimlessly drifts into my lane. This time I try to practice self-restraint by finding this person excuses. I quietly reason to myself:

“Maybe it’s a really old person.”

Or

“Maybe his car couldn’t go any faster.”

Then

”Nonsense. He’s just an *%@ ###@!!”

My ego gets the best of me again.

Sometimes I hold it, sometimes I don’t. But, knowing your points of weakness is half the battle, and driving in this country has pointed many of them out to me. And For that, I’m grateful.

[bctt tweet=”Knowing your points of weakness is half the battle.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Attempting to count my blessings, because there are always people in your life you can rely on

With the extra sense of independence owning a car gives you, especially in a country like mine where having a car is an absolute necessity, you generally tend to feel that you don’t need anybody’s help and you can do it all by yourself. I am all for independence, but thinking you’re invincible and not allowing others to help you is not cool.  This, among other things, is what I learned when my car broke down two days ago on the highway.

[bctt tweet=”Stranded in my car on that high-speed road, I started counting my blessings.” username=”wearethetempest”]

For the 2 and a half hours I spent stranded in my car on that high-speed road  waiting for my brother to come to the rescue, I kept counting my blessings:

“At least I have a car!” “If it breaks down every little once in a while, I can live with that.”

“It could have been worse. I could have been in the middle of nowhere!” “At least I’m in the middle of somewhere. A highway!”

“Thank God, it’s just because I ran out of gas.” “It could have been a more complicated cause.”

I was not humoring myself, I was totally genuine and strangely at peace with the situation, knowing that I was blessed with a brother who is always on the lookout for me and a couple of friends who had called me earlier, prepared to give me a hand. Maybe I had forgotten these blessings, and needed a kind reminder.

Trying to up my skills, because there is always time in a traffic jam

Traffic jams have been an everyday golden opportunity to work on my self-development. With traffic, I get that extra bit of time to get to the end of that audio book I never had the time to read, finish that interesting podcast or work out the tune and lyrics of a song I’ve been trying to compose forever.

Remembering death every other day, quite literally

On a daily basis, I have to get to work via a certain highway where reckless truck and microbus drivers reign. Like the majority of roads in Cairo, it has no such thing as designated lanes or even lanes to begin with. And of course, it’s not just me and the trucks alone.

There’s an assortment of slow moving ancient cars (which I also like to call moving road blocks), motorcycles, sometimes with entire families on them, plus the occasional pedestrian (remember the sprinter?). And then there’s the rest of us regular cars, trying to work out our way amidst the death jungle of steel and rubber.  Add to all that, a badly asphalted road, with impossibly curved turns by the laws of physics. In short, a real recipe for disaster – a disaster whose tragic consequences I witness at least once every other week.

[bctt tweet=”Death is a constant that always brings me back to how I ought to be living my life.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Death is a constant that always brings me back to how I ought to be living my life – being fully present and conscious about any occurrence, negative or positive, in a way that helps me either fix it or enjoy it to the fullest. Working out a problem as soon as it appears spares a lot of pain and confusion, and for me, driving in Cairo has definitely been helping me with that.