Body LanguageBus route gestures: Hadda Street [Archives:2006/1010/Culture]
Driving a Yemeni bus and calling riders to get on is slightly problematic because buses have numerous routes, but often use the same departure point.
In order for riders to communicate with bus drivers, Yemenis created gestures and signs that easily refer to where buses are going. In the past, illiterate men dominated as bus drivers, so both drivers and riders needed a way to communicate with each other. Once citizens became more educated, the bus's direction was written on its front, as well as coloring certain routes red, yellow or green.
This week's issue will discuss hand gestures for the two types of buses operating on Hadda Street, the first of which are buses for Hadda-Tahrir, whose route is colored red, and end at Hadda Square.
Bus drivers and passengers going to Tahrir move their forefinger forward. However, if a bus intends to stop on Zubairi Street rather than continuing on to Tahrir, drivers will shake their forefinger downward, meaning, “We'll stop at the end of the street on which we're driving,” clarified Taha Al-Udaini, a representative of the bus drivers union.
Those going to Bab Al-Yemen use buses for Hadda-Bab Al-Yemen, whose route is green. To indicate such, they stick out their thumb and point to the right (a sideways thumbs-up sign) “Because we don't continue to the end of Hadda Street. To go to Bab Al-Yemen, we turn right off of Hadda Street, so we point to the right,” bus driver Noor Al-Deen Al-Refaee explained.
When buses return to the Hadda last point, they either go to Al-Sakaniyya or the funduq (Ramada Hotel). The last point for Hadda-Bab Al-Yemen buses is Fiftieth Street (Beit Baws).
The gesture indicating going to Al-Sakaniyya is to stick out the thumb and point to the left, whereas when they go to the funduq, they stick out the thumb and point to the right. “Because bus drivers turn left when going to Al-Sakaniyya, they point to the left,” Al-Udaini noted.
“These gestures depend on the direction of the most distinctive places we're going to or passing from,” bus driver Fawaz Sharib added.