Rosetta Stone

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Foul Language, Religious Harmony and Negotiation Skills

Yesterday, on my way to home after work I learned a very valuable lesson… driving your manual transmission car with your left hand in a cast, while speaking on your mobile phone and smoking a cigarette at the same time is the stupidest thing a man can do (I insist on saying a “man” because no matter how we whine about women drivers they will never sink to that level). Add to this scenario the chaotic Cairo traffic, it was an accident waiting to happen... and it did happen. If you’re familiar with Zamalek street plan their is this crossroad after you pass AUC dorm... it has no traffic lights or anything just a silly worn out speed bump... that I usually jump over without speeding down. Well, another car with no lights on came rushing from the left side of the crossroad... and I crashed into it. Luckily, my car Bumpers are higher than his so nothing happened to my car except few scratches... but his left side headlights were smashed and his entire front-left sided bent inside like a beer can (Korean fragile cars). Quickly revising the incident inside my head I realized that it was my mistake although the guy was coming from left and it’s the wrong way since it’s a one way street but it doesn’t matter according to Cairo traffic rules. So I jumped from my car heading towards the other driver to offer my apologies and my willingness to repair his damages!

Me: Are you Okay in there?

A guy in his forties opened his car door furiously and got out.

Guy: (shouting) What are you insane?
Me: No need to get angry… I’m just…
Guy: Angry? I’m still paying for this car installments… you faggot.
Me: (ok I’m still calm) Behave yourself and speak politely.
Guy: Are you going to teach me how to behave you son of a dog??

SLAP! The son of bitch actually slapped me. You know this moment in the Hulk show or movie where do Dr. Banner starts to turn into the Hulk... it was almost like that but minus the green eyes, growing muscles and the torn shirt sleeves. Couple of minutes later, I don’t recall what really happened but the guy was on the ground and his nose was bleeding. And we were surrounded by bystanders and some cops.

The next thing I know, we were taken to the police station. I wasn’t scared or anything as its... ahem not my first time. But like any other Egyptian in this kinda situation you start calling everyone you know who could get you out of this mess. Which I did, I called my uncles, my elder brother and of course my dad who hung up on me as soon as I told him I was in the police station! The officer took my testimony and the next thing I know and in less than 20 minutes my elder brother showed up with my dad’s lawyer. My brother was like “What did you screw up this time?”... I told him the story. The guy was taken to a nearby hospital to check if his injury requires more than 21 days medical care... and which if it does I was liable to go to jail and sued. Meanwhile, my dad’s lawyer was reading the Guy’s testimonial! The guy said that I attacked him first after cursing his religion. I was shocked! I went to the Officer in charge to talk to him.

Me: What do you mean by “Cursing his religion”?
Officer: It means that you have cursed his religion. And public cursing is a felony and the guy has a witness who say he heard you cursing him!
Me: Well, he cursed me first... he called me a faggot and a son of a dog... and above all he slapped me it was normal reaction to reply back!
Officer: By breaking his nose? And telling him “God damn your mother’s religion” (it’s a silly but an offending Egyptian curse).
Me: So?? I didn’t mean to break his nose... I’m wearing a cast it accidentally hit his nose (I'm lying here). As for the curse it’s normal... everyone says it, you probably use it on a daily basis to call your soldiers, I’ve been to the army and I know how it works in military and police stuff.
The lawyer: (whispering in my ears) Shut the hell up! You indicting yourself! Just deny everything!
Officer: He’s Christian...
Me: So?
Officer: The other guy is a Christian and you’re a Muslim... so you cursing his religion equals a religious tension case!
Me: Oh my God, you’re not serious?
Officer: Do you think I’m here to amuse you or something?
Me: But how did I know that he was a Christian? Did I stop in the middle of the fight to ask for his name or his ID before I curse him?
Officer: He’s got a cross tattooed on his wrist.
Me: And do you think in a middle of a fight... I looked up for his cross and decided that he was a Christian so I cursed him? Do you actually buy this?
Officer: We have a witness and his testimony against yours.
Me: I don't believe this shit. You turn the other way for all the religious intolerance made by the government against Copts and you pick on me!
Officer: (furiously) WALA... are you stupid or what? Are you acting as human's right activist? Wake up or we will wake you up.
Lawyer & Brother: (screaming) Magdy Shut up!
Me: (in a soft kaskasa tone) Ya basha I didn't mean to but do you actually believe his story?
Officer: It's not my job to believe. Try reconciling with him directly that’s all I can tell you. Now go away before I throw you in custody... I’m busy.

I looked at my lawyer and he said not to worry and let’s wait for the guy’s medical result. I was thinking, why the hell this guy reached to this low levels of accusing me (of all people) of religious intolerance. Then I found this other guy standing 2 feets away from me who was giving me the looks. I asked who’s the hell is this guy and they told me it was the witness. I move forward to talk to him although everyone tried to stop me.

Me: So you witnessed the entire incident?
Witness: Yes, I did.
Me: Did you hear me cursing the guy?
Witness: Yes, you cursed his religion! I’m a fellow Muslim but it hurts me to see this kind of bigotry... shame on you!
Me: Really? How did you know that I’m even a Muslim?
Witness: I heard the officer reading your ID card. It doesn’t matter, do you deny cursing the guy?
Me: I don’t know it was a fight I probably cursed and spouted out all the dirty words I know. But you think that when I cursed him it was deliberately because I knew he was a Christian?
Witness: Deliberately or not... I don’t care. Spoiled brats like you driving their daddy’s cars while stepping on poor people like us need to learn a lesson.
Me: (laughing) so this it? You’re selling your conscious in order to see spoiled brats like me behind bars.
My brother shoved me away from him.
Brother: (to the witness) 300 pounds right now for you change to your testimony and say that you misheard him and just saw both of them fight.
Witness: 500 pounds.
Brother: Deal... now here’s 250 and you get the rest after you change your testimony. Go.
Me: (to my brother) Hold on...keep your money... don’t pay him just yet.

I saw the guy who I crashed into returning to the Police station... and the medical report came and he doesn’t need 21 days of medical care. So, I approached the guy to have a small talk!

Me: Do you swear on your children lives that I cursed your religion on intentionaly?
Guy: No. You didn’t! But you punched me.
Me: After you called me names and slapped me. Ok, right now, your injury is not severe, so you won’t get a case for that, as for your witness he will change his testimony about the cursing for 500 pounds... What’s left is the car crash incident, in which my testimony says the you’re were coming from the left lane which is the wrong lane by the way... so you and I will spend the night in custody until tomorrow when we show up at neyaba (D.A) who will decide who is right and who is wrong! How about reconciling now, I’ll pay for you car damages... and you’ll go home to your children? Meanwhile, remember that I have no problem in spending the night in custody.
Guy: You’ll pay for the entire damages?
Me: Yes, that’s what I wanted to do before you went crazy on me. How much do you think it will cost to be fixed?
Guy: 2000 pounds?
Me: Be real! The headlight won’t cost more than 600 pounds and I know a guy who could fix your left side for less than 300 pounds... I’ll give you his address and 900 pounds that all I have to offer.
Guy: (thinking for a while) All right, let’s reconcile!

And we did reconcile after a couple of hours and the best part is that witness got nothing. (khad saboona ya3ni). And what lesson did I learn from this story... nothing except the stuff I said about driving with one hand. But I just wanted to share it with you all because it’s just another episode in the Egyptian culture of fights.

P.S.: My wrist was fractured last Friday while playing soccer… that’s why I’m not contributing a lot these days to the blog as it’s not fun to type with one hand!

Posted by MG :: 10:34 AM ::