Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taxi drivers in Jordan talk about Sweden

One time I told a taxi driver in Jordan that I was from Sweden. He said: hej hej hej hej hej hej hej!

Yesterday, the taxi driver said: I went to Sweden once. The people were so nice, I really liked it!

Today's taxi driver asked if I drive in Sweden. I don't even live in Sweden, so of course the answer is no, but I cobbled together a whole recitation: no, I don't drive! I mostly ride a bike or take the buses or trains! In Sweden, they have just as many special roads for bikes as they do for cars! It's great exercise, and it reduces traffic snarls, and it's good for the environment! And, it means there's less health problems linked to air pollution!

I said all this while we were driving through Amman, where there is not a bike lane to be seen. So I felt kind of bad for the driver.

Then he said, you speak Arabic "very well, very well," which I was really happy about. I asked him how well he spoke English. He said, just a little! I said: I also can't speak Arabic very well when I get really nervous or angry. He said: hahaha, of course, when you're angry and you're just about ready to explode, of course you can't concentrate on speaking in your second-best language.

Or, he added, when you're hungry! Then we both laughed again.

Then he said: is there Ramadan in Sweden? I said, yes, of course!

Then he kept taking us onto the street parallel to the main street, so that we would escape from the super-snarled traffic. He kept preceding these forays by saying: now, I don't want you to get scared. Please be at your ease! So I told him that I trusted him and it was okay, and he said, good, good! I want you to be relaxed.

Then I told him that in Swedish, the word for bike is cykel. I thought he'd like that, because in Arabic, we say 'bicycle' (pronounced with an Arabic twist, of course.)

Finally, when I was getting ready to get off, he said: thank you so much for riding with me and thank you for the wonderful conversation, and now you can go back and remember me, I'm Abu Mahmoud. I said I would definitely remember, and thank you for the nice ride and for everything.

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