Tuesday, May 18, 2010
First ride on the Cairo metro
The Cairo metro was hot and crowded, and now I know why my friend Nancy (who we're staying with) said that she could get just as sweaty and flustered taking the metro somewhere as walking there. Oh, the humanity. Maybe it was a mistake taking our first metro ride during the afternoon rush hour, but on the other hand, I hope it can only get less hot and crowded than it was today.
On the way to our destination, Jeremy and I and the girls sat in the mixed car. Well, we didn't really sit, not at first, because there weren't any seats. Then, of all the men to give up his place, it was an elderly, semi-infirm man instead of one of the dozens of young able-bodied ones. So I got a seat and each of the girls took turns sitting on my lap.
On the way home, I decided to take the girls to sit in the ladies-only car. I was thinking maybe we'd get stared at less, but I was wrong. We got stared at way more, or at least way more openly. But there was the consolation that it was more staring than leering. The seats were all full again and before a nice lady gave hers up to me, many of the young women were trying to get Miriam or Magdalena to sit with them. When we stopped at each station, people from outside the car were reaching their hands in through the open windows to tousle the girls' hair.
In the end, I think I preferred the ladies-only car even though it was (marginally) more crowded and more cutthroat as far as seating went. Think about it - if it's all women and children in the car, who is supposed to give up her seat to whom? I think I ranked pretty high in the seat priority hierarchy because I had two young children with me. I don't think anyone would have been so quick to give up her seat to me if I had had only one.
Such is the pecking order, I suppose.