Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Taxis, Sweden, and radios in Jordan

Yesterday, I took a taxi. The driver asked at first, "are you Pakistani?" I thought I'd go with that, said yes, and the driver said, "ahlen we sehlen!" Welcome!

Then I don't remember what he said, but eventually I had to tell him that I live in Sweden. I am supposed to tell all the taxi drivers that I am Swedish rather than American, just in case - not because anyone would do anything, but some might start ranting. So then he said again, "ahlen we sehlen!" Welcome!

Today's taxi driver had the news on for a while. It was like a call-in show. The host was the same man with the nice, calm voice who I've heard before. The caller was a man who from his tone was clearly talking about something deplorable, but the only word I caught was "niqaba." I didn't know what that meant and had to ask someone later. It means "workers union". So apparently they are trying to unionize here. That's nice! I thought that all such discussions about any discontent would be forbidden on the radios here.

Then we drove under a bridge and there was a big yellow sign that stretched across it: "No to laws that limit the freedom of journalists." It was an official-looking sign, too. It was not a flimsy banner someone had strung up on the sly, but an approved advertisement neatly fastened to the bridge.

The taxi driver asked me where I was from, and I said Sweden; he was very happy about that! "I see your soccer/football teams," and "you all are the Vikings, right? I see your mascots with the horns, haha!" and "your capital is Stockholm, right? Ah, Stockholm! I would like to travel there." So finally I had to say, "you sound like you like Sweden a lot!" and he said, "yes, indeed!"

Update: the call-in show about the unions also kept mentioning 'Turkey', the country. I think they must have been talking about the mining disaster that happened there last Thursday.

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