This morning I dropped off my car to be serviced and I wasn’t surprised when I was told I could only collect my car tomorrow evening. Due to the shortened Ramadan working hours the usual 4-5 hour services was going to take double to time. There is not much that you can do about it. Keeping in mind that the Holy Month of Ramadan during the Muslim calendar is the most important time of the year and we expats are generally very respectful of that. We adhere to the strict no eating and drinking in public before the break of the fast in the evenings and try to ensure that we dress rather modestly (more modestly than usual) but to my surprise this morning a expat gentleman walks into the service area munching on a breakfast bar and alternatively taking a sip of his coke. 80% of the staff in the areas where Muslims and none of them where impressed with this fellow but didn’t say anything to him. A young Pilipino lady casually walked up to the guy and politely asked him to please out away his food and drink and be respectful…. bad idea. The response to her very kind request was utterly revolting and he rattled on about he doesn’t understand why we is being forced to abide by a religion other than his own, it was rather embarrassing. Thankfully he calmed down and rumbling stuck his half eaten bar in his bag.
At that point I was thankfully on my way out the door and off to find a taxi. During the month of fasting taxi drivers are known to rather erratic drives (actually they are known to be like this during the normal months of the year but Ramadan is just 10 times worse) but I thought because the month was less than 4 hours old Im sure that I will have a chilled ride to work and I could work on replying to a couple of emails I received during the weekend. Wrong again, I got into a taxi that smelt of fish rot and before I could turn to get out to find another he had shot off down the street and I think we got about 100 meters before he turned to ask me where I was actually going. Fighting the urge not to gag, I told him where to go and he shot off again like a bullet, nearly side swiping a couple of SUVs on the way. I basically held on for dear life! Eventually enough was enough and I asked him to slow down, you could have sworn I had asked him to sacrifice his first born to R’hllor (http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/R’hllor) and muttering he slowed down to a roar.
Two kilometers down Sheik Zayed Road we sped up again and once again he nearly side swiped another car or six. I put my head down and decided just to not say anything. Eventually (actually sooner than I imagined) I got to work and released myself from the stench of the taxi and escaped into the blistering heat. I paid the guy and let him keep the change. It wasn’t much but it was 10% of the taxi fair. It should be enough right…. Wrong ! (please say this in Rafiki’s accent from the Lion King http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71_p8P_PVXo) I got yelled at because I didn’t leave him a big enough tip.
I was in no mood to be yelled at so I looked straight at him and said that the tip I had left was because I had, thanks to God’s graces, made it to work in one peace and if he didn’t get back into his vehicle I would call the police. Man, I was fuming!
I stomped off to my office rather upset that my morning had started so badly but as I sat down I decided to take into account the current religious atmosphere in the Middle East and just let it go. Maybe it was just up to me to change my attitude or out look in life but Im not one for rose tinted glasses and I really hope that the Muslim community and well as the Expat community remember that Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and improvement and encourages people to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity. Im sure that a little bit more of these things will go along way all around to making the world a better place.