Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Indicator of how far I've come in one year

A year ago, I would get very frustrated by my inability to speak and understand Arabic. Well, to be honest, I was frustrated at other's lack of ability to speak English. My frustration was most evident in conversations at restaurants and with taxi drivers.
I remember once stomping out of a restaurant because they couldn't understand what I wanted to order and I couldn't understand what they had to offer.
(see I didn't tell you everything about my first year!)
Well yesterday I hopped into a cab and told the driver to head to Shaab (a neighborhood nearby) He asked "arabi?",which means I don't speak English, I hope you speak Arabic.
and I said "no English"
and he sighed
But I cheerily replied, No problem I know where I'm going
(like this was going to help!)
BUT it did.
Through hand motions and head shaking and mouth sounds (don't you make a whirly sound when you go around a roundabout?) we made it to my destination. In plenty of time.
I asked how much the cab ride was and he replied
"it's okay, up to you"
Which is a cab driver "trick" for
"You're a white North American who makes more money in one week than I do all month, let's see how sorry you feel for me"
So I had 2 kd (about 8 dollars) and I said
"one and a half"
Now I can afford the 2 kd, but the ride was literally 5 minutes and I don't like it when they play that game.
The amount on the meter showed 400 fills (about $1.75) but no one ever goes by the meter, unless they are caught by the police.
I wasn't mad that he charged me almost four times the rate because it's a part of the game we all play here.
But I wasn't THAT sympathetic where I was going to pay him five times the fair.
Again I can afford it, but it's a matter of principle.

As I got out of the cab, I felt pretty darn smug that I was able to get to a destination and hold my ground in payment for something. It's a sign that either I'm turning into a cold callous person OR I'm figuring out how to survive here.

Let's vote for the second one.

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