Saturday, October 16, 2004

I'm no chicken but...

The taxi rides here are frying my nerves. I'm not a newbie either, so when I complain about a bad taxi ride, you'd better believe it.

Today's taxi driver ranked as the rudest, second most risky driver we've ever had. Abez and I are on our way to her MRI in 'Pindi. We don't know 'Pindi very well so we have opted to take a taxi. Right away we knew we had a particularlly bad driver. He had stuck his taxi into "hit me if you dare" situations within just a few blocks from home. I advised Abez to roll down her window so we won't get hit by shattered glass if we get side-swiped or broadsided. Her window had no handle. We contented ourselves to huddle together as far from the doors as possible. Not only is he a risky, dangerous driver, but he's rude too.

He pulls into the gas station without asking if we have the time. He ignores Abez twice as she tells him that she has a medical appointment in 20 minutes. The line for CNG (compressed natural gas) is 12 cars deep, clearly a 15-20 minute wait. He finally listens to her and pulls out of the line, back into traffic. A few minutes later, after such glaringly bad driving that other Pakistani drivers are cursing him and asking if he's crazy he proves that he is.... He overtakes a taxi over taking another car, going uphill in his old hunk of junk car with NO power or pickup. A bus is kareening madly downhill at us. We're playing chicken with a bus. Other drivers squeeze over to let us in at the last minute.

Abez kindly tells him we're not late, you're scaring us, please drive slower. His response was, "This is my car and I'm not your servant." Again we're passing and playing chicken, but after playing chicken with a bus, I not so scarred this time, it's only a Suzuki coming at us head on. Again, other drivers have to let us in with horns honking and brakes squalling. I'm thinking to jump out at his next stop (Provided he doesn't run through the red light like he did the last one.) I realize that my hubby has prepaid the driver. (Note to self: NEVER pre-pay the driver.) I'm mentally wishing I had some kind of time-delay device like in the James Bond movies that would catch the back seat of his cab on fire about 5 minutes after I got out. That would teach him, I think. We survived a few more near misses till we arrived safe and sound (but definately shaken AND stired) at the clinic.

Abez gets her MRI and two hours later, we catch another taxi to head home. Just 50 yards from the clinic the taxi is gently rear-ended. NO problem- no injuries, no damage. I was surprised the driver got out to even look at his car. Fortunatly, no yelling or fighting ensued and we were soon on our way. Twenty feet later, we almost crash into two men on a motorcycle who jerk into our path to avoid the car that was backing out that they should have stopped for but didn't. I jump and gasp as the men nearly fall into my opened window. The cabbie is unconcerned. I think these men have no nerve endings left; they must be totally fired for constant firing off.

20 minutes later, Abez and I arrive home with a heartfelt "Thank you, God, that we are alive and safe." If you were never a praying person before, a ride with a Pakistani taxi driver will turn you into one.


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