Taking the bus
When safety allows I love to inhale the culture and environment that I live in. So, at such moments, I take the city bus.
Figuring out what line to take to a certain area can be a bit of a hassle, however I like the adventure. To figure it out I ask local- and foreign friends for guidance. Most time their advice is reliable. If they don’t know, i add a little extra to the journey; I go to a bus-station. At the bus-station I’ll try to spot someone who works there and who looks a bit like a father figure; about my dad’s age or older and who looks neat and friendly.
Always starting with showing respect, I greet and ask him how he is doing. After this little ritual I tell him that I would like to go to a certain area and that I am not sure yet how to get there. This gives him the opportunity to tell me which bus to take or to take me to someone who knows. Asking the people here for help, brings out the best of them and is really fun to do.
There are no official bus stops, this means you can get off and on wherever you want. To flag down a bus, I put out my right hand (always right). When they pull over, I’ll ask and check if they are going where I need to go.
Once entering a bus I have to select a seat. I will always look for a spot next to a lady. If I don’t find a spot, I’ll stand there with an “I am a bit lost” expression on my face. Usually, an older man (the father figure) will stand up and rearrange the bus until there is a place for me to sit. Under my breath, but making sure I don’t look him in the eye, I thank him kindly and enjoy my seat.
For the payment it is essential that I have coins with me. I’ll grab them with my thumb and index finger of my right hand and let them fall into his hand. If he needs to give me change I’ll put out right hand, palm up, for him to drop the change in my hand. This always has to be done without touching one another.
The last challenge is to stop the bus in an appropriate manor.
When I want to get off and if am close to the driver, I’ll say in Arabic: “may God give you strength”. That is a sign to him that I would like to get off. When I am sitting further away I take a coin (never leave home without) and tap it against the window. Other people will alert the driver to stop, because a decent, respectful woman is never to raise her voice in public.