Photograph copyright © Ben McKechnie 2010
You will take taxis in Tehran. That’s a fact. I learned some lessons so that you don’t have to. This article will ruin the fun of finding things out on your own the ‘hard’ way.
Lesson 2 – Please refrain from calling your taxi driver a donkey!
My friend Iman, the gregarious Tehrani, tells the driver to pull up anywhere in the nearby vicinity. The driver informs Iman that that just won’t be possible. The rush hour traffic is becoming increasingly intense as we approach Vanak square in the North of Tehran. The only problem is that Iman has a class starting in ten minutes. We are exactly an eleven minute jog from the school. Iman is the teacher.
He swings open the Paykan taxi door without looking over his shoulder. A second Paykan taxi screeches to a halt, stopping inches away from smashing our door off its hinges. Our driver turns around and, quite venomously, shouts in Farsi ‘YOU FUCKING DONKEY!’ Iman doesn’t take this insult lying down. We both climb out of the cab. He stares the driver straight in the eye and says ‘You, sir, are the donkey!’
This makes the driver look as though he’s going to cry. As if we’ve just double-team french-kissed his grandmother. ‘Take that back immediately!’ he begs. Iman denies this request, replying instead with ‘Your father is a donkey!’. By this point, we are beginning to jog away from the taxi across lanes of rush hour traffic.
The taxi driver is so insulted that he pulls up the handbrake and abandons his vehicle, following us on foot through the flow of traffic. He is desperate to have the insult withdrawn, as if it were an indelible stain to remain upon his person forever. ‘Take that back!’ he screams as he picks up the pace.
By this point, Iman is committed to non-withdrawal. He takes it to the third and final level, shouting ‘You are, your family is, and every single one of your ancestors were donkeys!’
Now I’m running down Valiasr avenue, away from a livid taxi driver, who is removing his belt from his trousers in order to beat us with it. What a bunch of donkeys we are.