Sometimes the views can be good from inside the taxi.

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"...And then we pulled away, only to stop a few metres ahead whereby another person had gotten in with us!", I often retell, as if a great punch line is about to be dropped, "in horror I turn to my Dad who's nonchalantly looking at nothing in particular – 'Dad, what's going on, why did they get in our taxi?', I whisper...", and so goes another anecdote of my first Iranian experiences. My sister came to Iran for some of the same, and in my efforts to prepare her for the Iranian oddities I'd deliberately left off the shared taxi part. I'd looked forward to seeing her face with this moment, like a child in wait of some lame prank – I'd set my bucket above the door and now I just needed to wait for her to open it. She did open the door and without a flinch she sat beside another person and just like my father she glanced straight ahead – why didn't the bucket fall!? She later informed me that she'd traveled to Bolivia where share taxis are also usual practice – damn my ignorance.

Shared taxis are now too much of a feature in my daily life yet I still amuse myself when thinking of the tacit rules, the variables and the knack one needs to utilise this national nightmare of a transport system. I thought I'd take it upon myself to add another entry for a possible guide thingy, I've done money and now here is one on taxis.

Being anywhere near a road invites the sound of a car horn as taxi drivers anticipate customers, the more lost you look and the less you move the more the horn will sound. This will continue with car after car until you get in or get away. A single toot will announce the taxis' presence followed by a toot-toot - "where you going?". Then there's the 'approach' as the driver aims for your legs to pull to the side. This can take a few forms – eye contact is made as both parties lean in, the driver won't commit to a stop unless you are going on his route yet the distance and noise leaves a small period where one's lips pucker for a location name. "Straight ahead", I yelp, shuffling my feet back, yet I'll often get the Iranian 'tut' – a slow lift of the head – "where the fuck else is he going", is normally what I mumble to myself as the I gear up for another approach. Occasionally hand gestures can aid the approach but one must know the layout and assume the driver does too. A circular stirring index finger gets you to the next roundabout, four fingers gets you the next cross roads and three gets you the next intersection and I imagine two or one get you run over. Mostly I give the point and wag - 'straight ahead' – but this more often than not needs a stated location.

basically they don't sit in the middle-back, unless there is another female beside or the knight is defending a bishop and the king might slip into check. Ok, basically, if the piece is black do what you can to not touch it

Once the driver gives you a lowered head – "yes" – you must then prepare for a little seating rearrangement, this can take two forms. Firstly there is the location rearrangement whereby by passengers will get out, thus putting you deeper to the left – assuming you get the back three seats – this of course means they will alight sooner. This is a 50/50 may-or-may-not happen scenario whereby other variables will effect the decision: mostly ease-of-arrival-shuffle or predicted ease-of-departure-shuffle, mostly to traffic. The front seat is also subject to seating rearrangement whereby passengers will naturally free the space in the rear when possible – yet not always. The second rearrangement come with the positioning of females – a minority passenger but respected one. If possible women sit beside women and if not, by a door or in front, basically they don't sit in the middle-back, unless there is another female beside or the knight is defending a bishop and the king might slip into check. Ok, basically, if the piece is black do what you can to not touch it.

At this point if you don't know your route then you've made a mistake – know your route and it's corresponding price, or, ask in advance! You will be safe in numbers or on short runs but if you are alone and not certain then don't be surprised if you get into an argument as you pay upon arrival. It should be noted that you are hugely advantaged in an argument if you have smaller denominations of money and also profess to only have on you the money that you think is fair for the journey. As a rule, keep smaller denominations, it does everyone a favor - I once had amounted four unopened packets of chewing gum in my pocket (bought quicker than I can chew) to get change in anticipation of taxi troubles. Now I think about it there was a series of experiments regarding this Iran taxi payment dilemma. OK, ultimately you can walk off without paying but if you've given a large denominator and are sitting waiting for change then your loosing and if you've exited the car to wait for it – you've lost.

A series of computations will be needed for alighting. One must simultaneously judge the speed of the moving taxi, foresee the traffic and times one things by another, divide something else, do a square route thing and then calmly say, "may your hands not be tired", to which you will get, "are you getting out?", from the driver. If you get the computations correct you will stop just where you wanted, which would normally involve cutting up a few cars before a possible reverse seat rearrangement. Excuse mes and thank yous are said and then as you walk away, wait for it – toot, toot toot.

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