Thursday, 8 January 2009

It's a jungle out there!

Aside from hob nobbing with magazine editors and directors and chatting with world class grapplers, there was, believe it or not, a whole city in Amman to be explored if the fancy decided to take you and what better way than the local taxi. Or so I thought.

Limited in places to visit on such a short trip, but none the less keen to see at least some of the city I ordered a yellow cab at the concierge and in under a minute a taxi was there, driven by an effervescently friendly Mohammad. Complete with heavy leather jacket and bristling moustache a la Freddy Mercury, the ensemble was completed with aviator shades and, in customary style, hugs and kisses in the most manly of ways.

I had about an hour to kill before I went training and my host spoke good English which was helpful and I spoke of my wish just to be driven around and see some of the city in the day time, something I have done on many foregin trips in the past. Driving around a strange city taking in the sights and sounds and smells of the day is a real stress buster, just sit back and let the driver lead the way. The big yellow taxi cruised off and we were off downtown, windows down, with the local radio station on pumping out a mix of Western and Arabic music and all was well with the world until we hit the roundabouts.

If you ever think that the UK roads are wild oh how very very wrong you are - the most hair raising roundabout I have experienced was in Piraeus, Athens, when I was working the cruise ships and we had to get round to the other side of the docks, five of us in a Mr Bean style Mini, complete with luggage and an insane and psychotic driver - these roundabouts and driving styles come a oh so close second.

Rules of the roundabouts

1 - there are no rules!
2 - any code book previously read, throw out at once!
3 - hesitancy on entering a roundabout equates an early appointment with your Maker!
4 - a minimum of 12 horn blasts, 10 curses and much squealing of tyres is de rigeur at every roundabout!
5 - for full terror experience, make sure driver is texting on mobile phone at the same time!

Amman is littered with roundabouts and what promised to be a throw away lazy hour tuned into a ride with hands over the eyes every five minutes and constant checking of undergarments for any unannounced deliveries. Suffice to say I ended my taxi ride with flying honours in the under carriage department and as close to a nervous breakdown as was possible, much to the amusement of my taxi driver.

From that buttock clenching hour of mayhem and traffic lunacy, I made my way to the academy and continued another evening of jiu jitsu magic in the company of world class black belts and a damn fine job I was all clean below as I was wearing white gi pants!

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