Even after almost a year in Lebanon, I still get a pang of anxiety every time I take a taxi. It’s not so much the act itself, as it is dealing with the taxi drivers trying to rip me off when they realize that I’m a foreigner. I usually combat this by paying them their 2,000LL as soon as I get in the taxi, and trying my best to act like I’m mute.. but as you can probably imagine, this gets quite difficult when they start rambling about anything and everything from the weather, to politics, to the price of fuel, and expect you to respond..
But this morning, something very strange happened. I got in the taxi, paid my 2,000LL, and then got to a point in my ride when I had to say to the driver “I need to go left is that ok? Or do you have to go right?” He slowed down the car, and answered me not in Arabic, but in a language I had never heard before. We were in the middle of oncoming traffic, and I didn’t know what this man was saying!!..but I assumed that he told me that he needed to drop me off right where we were.. So I made to open the door, and he says in perfect English, “You don’t speak Farsi?”
He thought I was Persian!
I sure as hell wasn’t about to explain that my family was from Trinidad, but I grew up in Miami, and now I’m sitting in his taxi in Beirut.
So, I looked back at him with a very perplexed look and said, “No, I’m sorry I don’t speak Farsi.”
Interesting way to start the day!