Car Games – Cairo Version

As anyone who’s been subjected to this blog will know, driving in Cairo is as close as you’ll get to a live-action video game. And in keeping with the “fun” aspect of it, we have come up with some games. For those of you who know Ron well, or have spent any time with him, you’ll know that he loves games, particularly ones he can win. And since he’s the creator of most of them, the rules tend to be rather fluid and oddly enough often fluctuate in his favor (he will deny this vehemently, but I’m still right).

So we have been discussing the possibility of creating a new version of Car Bingo – Cairo style. When I was kid, I had these bingo boards with little sliding windows. At the beginning of a car trip I’d open all the windows on the board, then when I saw a “red car” or a “flag pole,” or whatever was listed, I’d close the specific window until I got a row or a column complete. Now, as an only child, the concept of actually “winning” wasn’t really of issue, since I was playing merely against myself. However, I do feel that despite my depressing lack of aggressive competitiveness, I did gain a keen sense of observation. Who knew it would come in handy 30 years later while driving around Cairo?

The main obstacle to our idea is the size of the board, essentially because there are just too many variables. You’d think that putting a drawing of a one-legged man on crutches trying to cross an 8-10 lane highway would be ridiculous as you’d never see one – wrong, saw him last weekend. Or maybe an old woman crouching in the middle of traffic selling packs of tissues would seem unlikely – wrong again, they’re all over! How about eight cows crowded head to tail into a pick-up truck – sadly, we see them all too often. Or double-decker bread bicycles, or trucks overflowing with used cardboard (pic), or trucks carrying loose watermelons with two kids propped on top, propane carts, men lifting their gallibayas to urinate on the wall, someone getting an unconventional lift on a shuttle bus (pic - I have no idea why he did this, or whether he had to pay the full fare)? See what we mean? The board would have to be impossibly large. We might have to go digital with this – something small, hand-held, but with a lot of memory! Plans are in motion.

The one game that can be played sans board or electronics is our aptly named, “Why Would They…?” game. This we play automatically every time we’re in a vehicle. The rules are simple and the purpose is to foster greater understanding, acceptance and political-correctness. It’s also a game of repression skills. Whoever is able to make it through the entire ride without exclaiming, “Why would they/he/she…?” wins a round. Believe me, it’s not easy. The other day I lost with a simple noted observation of a metal barricade placed in the middle of a lane on a 10-lane road, adding to the already-chaotic traffic. I mean, it’s a perfectly justifiable observation (damnit)!

The end result of someone being caught with a “Why Would They…” is they have to give Chuckles a zerbert (a.k.a., raspberry). This may not sound like much to some, but Chuckles is a big cat, with consistently sharp claws, a vise-like grip, and who loves to bite – so there’s definitely risk of injury (though we have found that he tends to merely look bemused when receiving a zerbert, so we may have to up the ante).

We were in the car with a friend the other day who knows of the “Why Would They…?” game and its rules. Throughout the drive Ben would make comments such as “I find it interesting that they would…”, or “I love when you see someone…”, and other such phrases until Ron called him on his attempted verbal deception and gave him two zerbert points. There’s no way not to play. Welcome to cultural exposure.