Maria (a.k.a. Julie Andrews) had obviously never been to Cairo when she was spouting on about “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.” Had she ever visited Cairo, “My Favorite Things” might have gone something like, “Bread bikes in traffic and physics-free zoning. Fur-covered dashboards and donkeys with propane.” Well, maybe.
Bread bikes still remain at the top of my always-amused-by list, but they are quickly followed by, what I have termed, “taxis with fur.” Now, admittedly this is not miya-miya (100%) correct, as there are a lot of personal vehicles that fall under this as well. But I first noticed the habit of decorating one’s dashboard with fake fur in the taxis. The fluffier and thicker the better.
Decorating doesn’t just stop there either, stick-on mirrors lining the windshield are popular (you could claim that they’re used for safety, but I think they’re used more for watching one’s passenger); beads and the big glass evil eye (said to protect one against harm) are commonly swinging from the factory-installed rear-view mirror; inevitably there’s at least one, if not 15, pinetree-shaped air fresheners attempting to mask the body odor of 40-years of sweating Egyptians (one driver had them hanging from all the handles above the doors, so I was constantly being smacked by it during my ride); some, typically the younger 20-something drivers, install neon lighting inside, which adds to the carnival-feel of a taxi ride at night in Cairo.
The reasoning behind these latter add-ons I believe falls under the “Egyptians love bright sparkley things. The more color and lights, the better.” However, while the fake fur might merely be decorative, I have seen one actual use – one driver stashed his cash under it. Otherwise, it could also be a way to cover up or protect the plastic dashboards from cracking and deteriorating under the intense sun. But ironically, for all of the Egyptians I have asked about it (although none were taxi drivers), no one could tell me why or what the fascination with fake fur was. So the mystery remains.
To marry my love of photography and delight at the “taxis with fur,” I have been attempting to amass photographic documentation. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds, because I’m often riding in a car next to them (not wanting to appear that I’m obviously taking a picture), or I’m in the cab and again, don’t want to appear obvious. So, to spread the joy of the “taxis with fur” (always fake) I share these with you: