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Gayyash Al 'Aatifa

Monday, November 13, 2006

Footprint Taxi

On Saturday I was downtown with a friend and took a taxi to Ramsis to catch a train to Alex, and shortly after getting into the back seat I noticed what you see in the picture above. My first response was disapproval. We are of the foot-phobic cultures and it is deeply ingrained in our minds, beyond the reach of our intellect, that the soles of feet should neither be on things nor face them. Even if I personally am not so bothered by the forays of feet beyond their common uses or spaces, I am still prone to expecting that others should be, or at least that they acknowledge the general public’s (which might as well be no one) position on the matter. My feelings then shifted to appreciation, within the same framework nonetheless. The perceived valuing of comfort over notions of propriety (traditional not bourgeois) indicated the sort of freedom of spirit that always leaves a pleasant feeling when detected in the trace of another person. What’s more, this wasn’t just someone who put his, or her (better still), feet up in the back of taxi, relaxing care-free, but someone with extremely dusty feet to begin with. Feet dusty to the point of resisting the moisture typically produced by foot-slipper contact. I remembered the classic Disney cartoon Snow White, the scene where she prepares a pie and friendly birds hop in and decorate the pie’s surface with choreographed little footprints. Flour was involved, and the white powder surface of the prints before me on the back of the chair reminisced of that. I though it might be plaster—a construction worker. Look at the prints and see if you can tell by their form how the person was sitting. Notice how there’s no smudging or indication of movement.

The taxi driver told the story of a money-loving old ahwa owner who was scammed into paying 100,000 pounds for a wolf. It was an elaborate scheme, involving several people and actual exchanges of several thousands of pounds, all designed to trick the ahwa owner into seeking to buy the wolf himself to sell to khawagas . He had been tricked into believing they come and pay big money for local wolves to sell back in Europe for up to 150,000 Euros. In the end the man lost his money and is said to have wailed loudly. People told him “Eh ya 3am el 7ag? Deeb ya 7am el 7ag, deeb?! Da mafeesh aktar mel deyaba 3andena fel gabal ya 3am el 7ag!” (Come on, old man*, a wolf? They’re all over the hills back home, old man.)

*'3am el 7ag' is a little bit more reverent and affectionate than 'old man' but is just as informal.


  • Lol, this is great. you look shocked and enclosed between the two footprints, trapped in their power...it relates excellently to the feelings you expressed in writing. Thanks for this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 13, 11:37:00 PM GMT+2  

  • 2a

    By Blogger oyzz, at Wed Nov 15, 11:29:00 AM GMT+2  

  • thanks anon. nice to think i look shocked.

    dayman baleegh ya oyzz.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 15, 02:33:00 PM GMT+2  

  • merci la 2ellak

    By Blogger oyzz, at Mon Nov 20, 01:51:00 PM GMT+2  

  • i bet those prints are yours...

    By Anonymous lulie, at Sun Nov 26, 11:39:00 PM GMT+2  

  • hi lulie. or ciao bella, rather, no? i say character assasination is the refuge of the small. you just jealous i go to alex so often. come to think of it, i'd pretty damn cool if those prints were actually mine.

    By Anonymous gayyash, at Mon Nov 27, 12:04:00 AM GMT+2  

  • Ya mister gayyash...It must have been the tone in which i typed those six words that led you to think that i was attempting to “assassinate your character” ...let me try again, this time with a different tone: i bet those prints are yours! (i must admit though i’ve always wanted to be small enough to travel in people’s pockets...)

    By Anonymous bella, at Wed Nov 29, 02:14:00 PM GMT+2  

  • thanks bella/lulie. nice of you to think the prints are mine. inshallah some day you will be small enough.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 29, 02:23:00 PM GMT+2  

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