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The Eritrean and the shit of eleven dogs

One of the small magics of my life is probably my ability to attract interesting taxi drivers. There was the Ghanaian with his tales of the British coming to his village to ask for fighters (http://smokingboot.livejournal.com/698249.html). There was the one who saw the Egyptian otherworld when he was a child (http://smokingboot.livejournal.com/351395.html). Just a day back I had a less arcane but interesting conversation with the guy who drove me and Ralik back from the vets (puss had his check-up, he was fine, hasn't had an outbreak of chronic cystitis in years. The very next day, he came down with it,and we had to take him back for injections) Anyway, this guy had that extremely fine chiselled cheek-boned look one often associates with the Eastern side of Africa. Turned out I was in the right direction; he was Eritrean. We talked about cats and dogs, transpired he likes the former but not the latter, because he got bit by a dog when he was young. The conversation turned to my sister-in-law and her pack,which often extends by dint of dog-sitting and rescue to anywhere between 9 and 11.

'Eleven dogs!' He looked at me in the windscreen mirror, astonished. 'What does she do with all the shit in the house?'

I was surprised at his directness. I don't think it had occurred to him that 'shit' isn't a polite word to use with a stranger to whom you are providing a service, even when (god alone knows why) it is the topic under discussion. On the other hand, 'waste' is a bit vague, there is no real reason to believe he would have ever heard the euphemism 'poo' and no-one is going to talk about dog dung/droppings.

'They don't...do their business...in the house,' I said. 'She lives on a farm.'

'Dogshit is no good for anything,' he told me. 'Ox, horse, you can use the shit. Some kinds of shit you can put on the fields, you can build with, you can burn. On your farm you need one dog, for warning. But eleven dogs is a lot of shit you cannot use. Same with cats.'

'They give good warning, but I think she enjoys their company.'

'It must cost her a lot of money to feed eleven dogs. There are many poor people in this world who need feeding.'

Looking at his face, I thought it might be a good time to move the subject on.

'Eritrea. I have heard of the problems with Ethiopia...'

'Ah, that,' he waved it away, 'Politics is always bad everywhere. But we have signed a treaty with Ethiopia, and it's OK. You should come to Eritrea.' He chuckled. 'Politics! It's just no good for anything.'

'Like shit?' I smiled at him, because his mood had seemed so serious and now it was lighter.

The taxi driver burst out laughing. ' Like the shit of eleven dogs!' He said.



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