November 2014; from home to work ; about 40 minutes
Driver from Ethiopia, about 45 y.o.
This time, it was a very good-looking middle aged man. He had that Calvin Klein chiseled face with a goatee. Really attractive. The usual guessing game about his place of origin. I was wrong, he was wrong – we were even. Apparently I could be from France or Italy (?), and I thought he was from Pakistan.
When he mentioned that he was from Ethiopia, I expressed my doubts since his skin was very light. He went back to his family history and, apparently, there was a trickle of Portuguese and Italian blood. Despite our joined mathematical attempts to calculate the ratio of European blood cells in his veins, we could not figure it out and gave up. But at least I knew where his good looks came from.
He asked me if I knew about Abyssinian influence on Ethiopia in the past. I was very embarrassed with my lack of knowledge in this area (you can imagine how often I think about this in my spare time), but I said that I like Abyssinian cats, if that counts. Unfortunately, it did not, and I got a brief refresher course in Ethiopian history and geography. To redeem myself, I reminded him that the former USSR and Ethiopia had very good and strong political relationship, and we even tried to introduce communism there, but luckily for them it did not stick.
After our thorough background checks and some nostalgic memories about our respective past, we moved forward.
My driver was born Christian, because it’s the main religious group in his country, but during his four year stay in refugee camp in Kenya, he converted to Islam. He said that it came to him while he was studying Koran to fill his time somehow. He found there were some very good points, which touched his heart and he decided to change his religion. Later, he got married to a Muslim girl here, and it was a love marriage. They have been married for 18 years and have four kids – 2 girls and 2 boys.
Since we started a more personal talk and were quite at ease with each other, I decided to ask a few questions which were on my mind. What do Muslim women wear under the black long coat – burqa, and whether it’s their own wish or heavily encouraged by men/husbands.
The answer surprised me a lot. First of all, he insisted that men don’t force any decisions on women in general. This is due to their upbringing and extreme modesty. My new friend said that he would not care if his wife walked out without a headscarf, but she feels the need to cover her hair. At home, however, she does not cover herself. Ok, one down, one to go.
Traditional Muslim women wear modern stylish dresses and pyjamas under their burqa. Tailor-made, expensive silk outfits, long, bright colours, could even be low cut. Wow, this is quite a revelation.
The theory behind wearing burqas is that men are very weak by nature. If they see good looking woman in the figure-hugging outfit men get “very excited down there” (he looked down to his crotch). Since it’s a sin to have out-of-marriage relationship or even look at other women, men feel challenged and sexually frustrated. So, guess who they blame? Women, of course. Works something like this – if men can’t see any temptation, then they don’t need to struggle with their desires and overcome temptation by restraining themselves. Great theory!
(However, according to the Koran, men also have to exercise a certain level of modesty and cover their chests and lower body up to the knees. Tight clothes, especially pants, are not allowed. Probably so women can’t see their “excited” state).
What about ladies underwear? He does not know about ladies underwear much, because he is a good man.
– OK, what about your wife? Does she wear nice laced lingerie or plain restraining garments?
– Oh, my wife loves silky, smooth underwear. She buys her stuff at the Bras & Things boutique in Chadstone (the best shopping centre in Melbourne). Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s so pretty.
My jaw dropped to my knee and I could not believe my ears. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine myself discussing ladies lingerie with a Muslim taxi driver, but it was great fun.
– We go shopping together, but I get tired very quickly, so I sit down somewhere with a cup of coffee. She goes on her own and buys some beautiful pieces – sometimes even naughty.
– She does not show me her buys and does not tell the price.
I nodded my head, because she does it right – never take a man with you for any serious shopping.
– But when we come home, she secretly puts new stuff on. And later at night in the bedroom as soon as takes off her robe – that’s it –I don’t need any more encouragement.
Lesson No 1. – Don’t take men for lingerie shopping, because the price for some pieces will kill all the excitement.
Lesson No 2. – Don’t put too much on show beforehand, save something for later.
Lesson No 3. – Don’t talk to the taxi drivers about underwear.