There is something magic about any taxi ride.
A short meeting with a complete stranger. Thousands in a lifetime.
sinking back seats, thousands of repetitive words.
For the traveller, a taxi driver is often the first port of call. If you are lucky, they are a source of helpful information and fascinating insight into the culture you are visiting. You end up quoting their wisdom in conversations about what unemployment in country X is at.
If you are not, they may scar you for life. I know of a delightful older gentleman who was put off foreign travel for life after meeting a taxi driver in Cairo.
I met a taxi driver in India who ripped me off so thoroughly I spent the first few days of an otherwise fascinating trip screaming at my own stupidity in the mirror.
Here I have been very lucky. I take taxis often and meet an array of interesting, generous, world wise gentlemen.
Very often they are accomplished multi-taskers. They drive and text and eat and smoke simultaneously, throwing you into shock and awe.
They turn around to envelop you in a huge warm smile just as you pass a mad junction, millimeters away from somebody’s plunging car. Your heart skips a beat. They offer you a cigarette, a nut, a crisp, a sip of their coffee.
I have been offered a range of snacks that would make a street market stall pale with envy. Raisins, walnuts, peanuts, grapes, pastries, zatar bread, small slices of apple.
At first I hesitated, then I was told they are good for me and I must. So now I gratefully nib on their snacks while trying hard to interest them in the subject of weather (I am inordinately proud of my ability to describe 4 key weather conditions in Arabic, an ability I seem to inflict mainly on taxi drivers)
The taxi like a small living room.