Thursday, February 18, 2010

Drinks for driving.

It's Thursday night again, and as per the usual way of Cairo, the list of potential parties and places to go is being debated. Ma'adi itself is fairly limited when it comes to night spots to hang out in, it's essentially just boss bar, red onion and pub 55 that boast decent crowds throughout the week. For those who are more in the mood to relax with a beer, there are a number of sheisha places, but to really get out and about, you have to get out of Ma'adi.

Of course Ma'adi'ites make up for this by throwing copious numbers of house parties. It's almost inevitable that on the night you hear about one party, you'll hear about two or three more. These can be a great time depending on the crowd, sometimes the blend of people you will meet is fascinating. Ranging from teachers who live here, to ex-pat pampered women, to local Egyptians, it can all be found at the house parties around here.

But for those nights that you really want to let loose and get out on the town, you have no choice but to leave Ma'adi and head towards Zamalek, Mohandessin, or Down Town. This of course raises the problem of transportation, generally speaking I don't mind taking a taxi. It's cheap, and you don't have to worry about finding parking. But for those with cars, it's unlikely they will agree to take a taxi. Now, in the West there are very strict rules about drink driving, rules which many of us find a hindrance, but that are there for our own safety. Were you all going out in a friend's car, there would generally be a designated driver.

In Egypt however, this rule never seems to apply. It never ceases to amaze me how many times I have heard "don't worry, I drive better when drunk," in this country. God forbid you suggest taking a taxi home, people see this as a grievous insult of their driving skills and themselves. Regardless of the fact that they have filled themselves to the brim with beer, whiskey, and often times hash, they will swear up and down to be better drivers when under the influence. (I'm not quite sure where this mentality comes from, as I really have never encountered such arrogance about drunk driving anywhere else that I have been.)

Even if this were true, driving on the roads in Egypt is a precarious decision at the most sober of times. Unpredictable microbus drivers, pedestrians popping up at every corner deciding to hurtle themselves across the road, bmw's flying past you at over 140 km an hour weaving through traffic, anybody who has been driving in Egypt can tell you what a harrowing experience it is. It is a laughable thing to imagine that when your reflexes are grossly slowed down you will somehow magically handle this traffic better, and be able to see into the future and predict what all the other crazy drivers on the roads are doing.

The number of cars on the roads here is increasing at an exponential rate. It is only going to lead to more accidents on the road, and more arrogant idiots swearing they are better drivers while intoxicated. It's an issue that needs to be addressed, and for the rest of us, it's one we can avoid. Consider your life the blessing that it really is, and don't risk it by getting into the car with a drunk driver, or yourself attempting to drive after one too many beers.