Tonight I was going down to meet some friends in Jabal Amman, a part of town about 20 minutes away from our house in Deheit al Rasheed. I had told them to meet at about 7:15 p.m. because iftar would have started and the roads would be clear. I didn't take into account the fact that taxi drivers would also be off the roads and eating at this time.
I stood on the road for about five minutes desperately trying to flag down a taxi. I saw lots of full ones and was ignored by several empty ones. Just as I was about to theatrically give up, one pulled over to the side, and two guys got out. But the guy in the front seat remained in the taxi, so I turned my attention back to other taxis. To my surprise, the occupied taxi pulled up next to me, and the driver asked where I wanted to go.
I was caught so unaware that I forgot to speak in Arabic. No matter. He understood Jabal Amman and motioned me into the cab while babbling rapidly and gesturing to the other fellow. From his miming, I understood that he wanted to drop off the man and then take me to Jabal Amman. Hm. Strange. I looked at the other guy (who stared at me blankly), shrugged and got in. We drove for about five minutes, then the other guy got out. I heard the call to prayer that marks the beginning of iftar. The last notes died away, and my driver was already two puffs into his breaking-the-fast cigarette.
After a couple blocks and a couple questions asked in Arabic (which I am proud to say I understood, even if I didn't know how to answer), such as "Is this your first time in Jordan?" "What do you do here?" and the ever popular "Are you married?," he asked if I minded if he stopped and got a coffee. I had heard of cab drivers doing this, and I wasn't really in a hurry, so I said I didn't mind. He offered me a coffee, which I declined, then hurried off. I waited a couple minutes in the cab, and he was back, this time dividing his attention between his third cigarette, his coffee and occasionally the road.
As we drove toward Jabal Amman, I saw one of the few car accidents I have ever seen in Jordan despite the crazy driving. "Tsk," my driver said. They have accidents because they are all rushing home to eat, he said distainfully in Arabic, which I understood because of the fabulous miming he performed. He took a drag of his cigarette and sucked down a gulp of coffee as he sped through one of the many optional red lights in Amman, barely missing a silver car as he rushed past.