No, I want to sit on MY seat, or I’ll call my brothers, cousins, and Hosni himself!

Egypt is a funny place sometimes, the country of malesh and bukra inshallah (it does not matter and tomorrow, God willing), where everything seems so relaxed and laid back… sometimes a little too laid back for my taste when no one seems to care about anything. But apparently there is ONE thing that does matter, and this is the little number written on the bus ticket: the seat number!


 I don’t know if you have ever been in an Egyptian post office or in a bank, where you have to draw numbers and no one cares anyway? Have you ever faced a problem and an Egyptian who does not even know what your problem is told you don’t worry, somehow it will be arranged? Did you ever have a meeting at a certain time and an Egyptian came 3 hours late, “Malesh”? …

By these experiences you would think that everything is quiet easy going here, rules are reorganized according to personal preferences and beliefs.


Well you can imagine how surprised I was when I sat in the bus back from Dahab to Cairo. The seat number being written in Arabic, most of the tourists sit down randomly, thinking malesh, there are enough seats for everyone, whoever is supposed to sit in this seat will sit down somewhere else. BIG mistake!


One thing that seems to be taken seriously are those seat numbers. Now, don’t ask me why and actually if someone has the answer, please let me know…


So what happened this time: a couple being able to read their seat number realized that another couple had taken their seats, culturally well adapted, as they thought, they took randomly 2 other seats, the people supposed to sit on these sat somewhere else, etc etc., the bus filled up, so far so good, only one seat stayed empty and the last passenger got onto the bus, checking his ticket, checking the numbers on the seats, frowning, checking again….. then, realizing he would have troubles communicating with the tourists on “his seat”, he started waving with his hand, signaling they should get up, because I wanted to sit there.

The couple signaled back that their seats were taken by the couple 3 rows in front. The man did not care, insisting, waving his hand to an extend it almost looked painful and yelling in Arabic.


This intercultural dialog lasted for about 5 minutes until the bus driver, who was waiting for everyone to be seated in order to start driving (another surprising fact in Egyptian rule following), came up to the unhappy still waving and shouting customer. “What is wrong?” “They are on my seat.” “There is another seat free over there. No, THIS is my seat. Why can’t I sit here, if this is my seat?” The bus driver shrugs and asks to see the tickets of the couple, they explain that they know that these are not their seats but that the other couple is on their seats, so if they move, the other couple has first to find out where they are supposed to sit and then make the people who settled there move again, who then will make the next people move, etc etc…. Too much information for the bus driver. He simply walks off and sits down on his driver’s seat again (At least he is sure to be properly seated) leaving the screaming and waving guy in the isle screaming and waving.


The couple attempts to explain again the situation unsuccessfully. Now, in good Egyptian manners the other passengers get involved, some seat number loving ones take the side of the man, others would prefer to leave soon and tell him to just sit down on the one empty seat that is left, some even offer him their own seat…. The man is unimpressed, still standing in the isle, repeating “why can I not sit on MY seat?”


Aaaaaarggggggghhhhh!!!! After full 15 minutes, he finally gives in and sits down on the empty seat, el Hamdullilah!


What do we learn from this story? For some Egyptians it is more important to insist on their right to sit on the seat indicated on their ticket than holding up a whole bus with 50 people and cause a delay of 15 minutes…. And I thought these kind of things could only happen in so accurate and order loving Germany, Malesh!

13:36 Écrit par Natalie :) | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Facebook |

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