Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Does Ramadan mean crazy?

“Are you Ramadash?” asks the taxi driver. He says ‘Ramadash’ as though it’s a swear word, pronouncing it really fast, with a mad look in his eye, as he jerks his head in a pseudo epileptic motion.

By this time I am really scared. It took about 20 minutes for the driver to understand where it is that I want him to take me. All this time he has been driving aimlessly around Dubai while clocking up the metre and phoning his friends to translate what I say. I have no idea where I am going to end up and consider jumping out of the car in a Hollywood stunt kind of way.

I feel frazzled and skittish: “Yes I am Ramadash,” I say without thinking, assuming that ‘Ramadash’ means ‘crazy’ and using my index finger to draw two small air circles around my ear.

“Really? You are Muslim? Ramadan?” he says, suddenly able to speak and understand English fully. His eyes light up. Oh dear, what am doing? I’d better set this straight before I end up in his harem.

“No I am not Muslim,” I say and promptly pretend to phone someone on my cell, just to end this conversation. I have been warned about talking to taxi drivers before. Too much conversation can easily be interpreted as showing some kind of personal interest.

So what he really meant to do was find out if I am participating in Ramadan; if I am fasting, i.e. Muslim - and available. Ramadan is the Holy Month of fasting for Muslims. It started about a week ago. Judging by the taxi drivers, not eating or drinking anything in this heat can make one utterly loony and reckless.

As though my long and frightening journey from Al Qusais to Shekh Zayed Road was not enough, the journey back almost got me killed. I met up with a friend from my apartment block in Sheikh Zayed Road and thought having some company in the taxi back would make it better. But no. We ended up holding our necks tightly so that they don’t break during the driver’s speeding and breaking routine.

It was almost sunset and time for the Muslims to break their fast. So he was keen to get this last job over and done with so that he can go home and get something to eat, but mostly, I think, to drink. The temperature here can vary from between 40 and 50 degrees at the moment. With humidity. With the kind of dehydration you can expect under these circumstances, it’s no wonder these drivers are not really coping.

Perhaps I was not too far off then in misunderstanding the first taxi driver’s question this morning. ‘Ramadan’ can indeed mean ‘crazy’.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm skimming through your logs,you seem to really have a chip on your shoulder about all other nationalities in general- Its kinda pathetic really.

Well guess what, When you are in the U.A.E, you may meet some arabs this being the United ARAB Emirates after all.

As for the driver not understanding you, S.African is not an accent that is very pleasant nor very easy to understand, take it from me an Australian who has to put up with arrogant South Africans all the time.

Mona Lize said...

Hmmm, do I detect a chip on your shoulder about South Africans? I think questioning and criticism are healthy and I welcome your critique. But please, it's too easy to criticise anonymously. I take full ownership of my words and so should you.

Anonymous said...

Liewe aarde Lize...ek het so bietjie ingegaan en inskrywings gelees wat ek nog nie het nie...kon my bloed voel kook toe ek die comments lees!!
Geniet jou blog baie!!