Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Funkengroovin - Passport Trip 2

Over the course of the last week, VB has drafted five Funkengroovin posts, and remained undecided, until this morning, regarding which one she wanted to publish. Rather than go back into that long weekend, which did not have any VWs, she decided to hop over to last Thursday morning. That's when VB decided to return to the American Embassy to pick up her new passport. The embassy closes the last Tuesday of each month. But, in February, they decided to close "for administrative duties" on Thursday, as well. VB forgot to take note of this, when she visited their website. So, of course, her whole trip was a waste of time. The driver exclaimed, "A three day weekend!" VB said, "Yeah, and believe me when I tell you, that things in the USA are just as messed up as they are in Egypt." That's when VB decided to go into the story of Number One Son's passport experience two years ago, as expressed here, here, and here. The driver, well, of course he thought it was hysterical.

So, for the record, the only Funkengroovin photo VB could capture was one along the Nile Corniche (below.)

When VB got home, she immediately scheduled a driver for a Monday morning return to the Embassy. Before getting out of Maadi, at the KIMO grocery store roundabout, an officer pulled us over. It was the same thing we experienced two weeks earlier. The driver said, the police are checking all duty free cars. Most duty free autos are owned by western companies, and provided to the employees, and / or are a part of the pool of cars available to visitors. This time, VB was not in her own car, but one from the pool.

How does one tell if he / she has a duty free car? Apparently, it's written on the license plate.

From last year:
Plates of orange and sky blue

"The Ministry of Interior is putting an end to the existing incongruent car plates of varying colours and sizes and instead will regulate them throughout the country starting in August."

"Various colours have been assigned to differentiate between cars. Orange car plates are for taxis, sky blue for private cars, dark blue for police cars, brown for rentals, red for trucks and pickups and green for diplomats."
A sampling of Egyptian License Plates

Below): Is that cauliflower?

(Below): Yes, indeedy!

(Below 2 photos): The Mokkatam connection ramp.

(Below): VB has never taken this route before. This is a tunnel that goes underneath The Khan.

(Below): Finally! Downtown Cairo.

Egyptian Driving Related Posts / News:

Interesting video:
Dangerous driving in Cairo

From dr. cam's cairo commentary:
"Driving in the USA, even in crazy busy traffic, is still tame by Buenos Aires standards. After spending 6 months in Buenos Aires, a city that has crazy busy traffic with mere traffic suggestions as opposed to traffic laws, I thought I was ready for anything... and then I saw Cairo traffic."
from Arab Media Shack:
"Word is that Blackstar has a long rantpost about traffic deficiencies in Lebanon on the way so let me take this occasion to announce “Traffic Week” at MediaShack. Each day I will be tell a different story about life behind the wheels in Egypt."
More here:
"In most Western cities for example, you would never see a taxi driver passing a cigarette to another taxi driver while they’re both rolling next to each other at 50 km/hour on a busy motorway. And until I had witnessed that from the backseat of the cigarette-soliciting taxi in Cairo, I had never even wondered whether this was legal or not."
Cairo Taxis

From Konradprojectsblog: Walk like an Egyptian:
"It really seems as if there is no law enforcement here with regards to traffic regulation. You can drive at night with no headlights, pedestrians routinely walk in the street instead of the sidewalk, EVERYONE honks their horns ALL THE TIME, and it's not completely uncommon to see a car going the wrong way down a one way street."
A conference where the new traffic laws will be discussed is coming to Cairo soon.
The Euromoney Egypt Insurance Conference 2009
Under the auspices of
HE Dr Ahmed Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt
“Mobilising Egypt’s Insurance Market”
31 March 2009, The FourSeasons Nile Plaza, Cairo

"Keynote Address: HE Mr Mohamed Mansour, Minister of Transport *
Panel IV: Roads, Transportation & the New Traffic Law
• How have roads and transportation developed in the past few years?
• Have these developments reduced the claims related to insurance?
• Pooling arrangements
• The development of the traffic law
• The importance of law no. 72 and the new government fund
• How to reduce accidents and manage risks
• Development of a database linked with the Ministry of Interior and the insurance companies
• What is the feasibility of establishing the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety?"
Traffic Culture and Corruption: A Few More Thoughts:
"Why does traffic behave differently in different places? Why does driving in Cairo set the nerves on edge, while in Munich people stoically wait for crossing signals, even at minor intersections?"


My First Car: '58 Volkswagen Beetle, John Gregg, 70, Largo

Libya diary: day four - Brother Gaddafi's Beetle
"The minders took us to Tripoli's museum, a mix of fantastic Roman art and Brother Gaddafi memorabilia. Pride of place was the Volkswagen Beetle that the Leader had driven in the early days of the revolution. Upstairs were walls covered with photos guessed it, Brother Gaddafi. In his day he really was the coolest-looking young rebel in the Arab world. "
(No photo, but you can view Gaddafi's Beetle here.)

An auto fix so simple even a caveman could do it

OSU fanatic seeks same to buy a van
"Wanted: Buckeye fanatic to carry on tailgating tradition in 1970 VW pop-top camper van. Only scarlet-and-gray nuts need apply.
Buckeye Bob Bulen is one such nut. From 1975 until early last fall, the former Franklin County Municipal Court chief bailiff went to every Ohio State University football game, home and away, including the day he got married.

But Bulen's now retired, from his court job and his 401-game streak, and he's looking to pass the torch -- his tailgating van -- to a similarly passionate fan.

He's reluctant to part with the van and its memories, Bulen said in a telephone interview from Arizona. "But if I can find a really good Buckeye fan who'll take care of it, I won't have any problem.""

We Hail Hybrids' Hundredth Birthday, But Were They Really Born in Belgium ?!?!?

"History tells us differently, though. The first hybrid in the world is widely acknowledged to be the Lohner-Porsche of 1902, created by none other than 27-year-old Ferndinand Porsche, who would go on to be celebrated as the namesake of today's undeniably successful Porsche AG, not to mention the creator of the German "People's Car" later known as the Volkswagen Beetle."
Wheels: The Ford Capri as an Artist’s Muse
"The German artist Martin Kippenberger was obsessed with the Ford Capri and turned the car into art. He is the subject of a show that opened at the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday, and the exhibition includes two of his Capri pieces."

"Built in Cologne, Germany, the Capri was even imported into the United States and sold at Mercury dealers, first simply under the Capri name and later as the Mercury Capri. It was a market counterpart to the Ford Mustang. (Later, Mercury called another small, sporty car the Capri; that one was imported from Australia.)"
(Video available at the link)
Wheels: Work Halted on Dubai Formula One Park
"Dubai continues to suffer from the global economic crisis. The latest casualty is a Formula One theme park, which halted construction on Thursday."

VB was pretty disappointed in her passport trip. Not only did she not get to ride in the family car (which always has extremely clean windows for picture taking), the car she was in smelled weird, and the windows were full of schmutz. Plus, she then had to wait over an hour just to do something that took less than five minutes. Oh, and her new passport sucks, too. At least the old one said it was issued in Abu Dhabi. The new one looks like a standard State Department issued passport, with no notation of where it was released. It's all stiff, just like a new pair of shoes.

On the return trip from Garden City, where the embassy is located, we drove along the Nile Corniche. As we were just getting ready to cross the bridge over the Metro tracks, we were stopped once again, by the traffic police. Same thing. They were checking all duty free cars. They jot down some information on a form, and then wave us off. If they would just issue a window sticker, after the car had been checked once, they wouldn't have duplicate car checks, nor would they have drivers and passengers that were fed up after going through multiple check-points, in what seems to be an exercise in futility.

No music today. This is VB's favorite video right now. If you like this, you will like the Vanity Fair interview:
Louis C.K.: “Starvation Can Be Character Building”, where he is asked: "When the time comes to trade in our gas-guzzling cars for donkeys and clanking cans, will you be the first to volunteer?" As someone who constantly sees donkeys and carts, where cars and trucks usually drive, it's a bit hard to imagine Americans riding along on an ass, just because they can't afford a car anymore. It's also what's so damned frustrating about the new traffic laws. As well intentioned as they are, they do not account for the dichotomy of life in Egypt: the rural vs. the metropolitan, and how entwined they are. And, in order to put a sticker on a car, to verify that it has been through a traffic check, you don't need no stinking technology either.

Everything is amazing, nobody is happy...

BTW, Vanity Fair has a Gay Car blog, called Stick Shift. You might want to check it out.

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