Saturday, September 11, 2004

View down a market street in Luxor. The driver of our caleche was hitting us up for "baksheesh" the whole time. Baksheesh, or tips, is the grease of every wheel in Egypt. EVERYONE asks you for it, whether they did you a service or not. They always use the excuse of having four children and some sort of family trouble to make you feel sorry for them and give them more. The strange thing is, once you give them baksheesh, they don't seem very happy or satisfied, but commence asking for more. I quit giving it except for extraordinary service rendered. They rarely say thank you when you do give it, just seem disappointed.

My favorite baksheesh-giving-opportunity has got to be the the ubiquitous bathroom man. Public toilet managers in Egypt apparently think that toilet paper is worth more than actual money-paper. When you walk up to the toilet door, the bathroom man gives you a meagre 3-5 sheets of toilet paper with a flourish, then shows you into an odiferous stall that does not flush and that glows with the green noxious vapors of thousands of previous patrons, all affected with King Tut's Revenge stomach aches. After you gingerly hover over god only knows what and exit the stall, Toilet Man then uses a bucket of water to flush as the levers on the toilets NEVER work. For this you get to tip him, after washing your hands with water from a bottle next to what I think is generally referred to as a sink, but I think "bucket" would be a better term. We carried handy wipes every where we went, and eventually started carrying a roll of TP too.

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