I went to visit a friend in Maadi yesterday and decided to ride the metro home. I have been on the Cairo metro many times, and love the fact that there is a female only carriage and that, wherever you go, it only costs 1le. However, I haven’t ridden the metro on my own, only with others, always opting for the more expensive, but more comfortable taxi ride home instead. I decided I should stop being lazy, and face my fears. It’s very easy, I have found, to slip into the ‘easier things’ but by doing so I often miss out on more interesting events and observations to be found in Cairo.
So, in the women only carriage yesterday we were just about to leave Maadi when 3 young boys (about 12 years old) all jumped in through the doors. My initial reaction was oops, they made a mistake, they’ll jump out straight away.
How naive of me.
As soon as the train pulled away from the station it became apparent that they wanted to break the rules, and started clapping and singing about the ‘hareem’. I was very interested to see how the women would react, because my biggest urge was to physically push them out the door at the next stop. I waited to see what the rest of the passengers would ‘punish’ these boys. Instead, to my disdain, the young girls all giggled at the boy’s jokes, and even made comments back. Even though the train was full to bursting these boys had space around them since none of us wanted to be brushing up against them. In the mixed carriage they would be squished along with everyone else. I guess that is what added to the attraction for them. That and the girls giggles.
Only at the end of their journey, after maybe 5 stops, did the boys leave, but the problem was the platform was now at the other side of the carriage, so although so far they had been up against the door the alighted by so far, now they had to cross through the middle of the sardine can of ‘sittet’ (Arabic for women) to get off the train. Finally, at this point, one girl made protest. Her argument was that they got on, so they could wait until there was space to get off, even if that meant missing their stop. I admired her spunk. Her voice though was strange, very rural with a strange squeak which the boys used to make fun of her rather than listen to her. Unfortunately the giggling girls stood up for the boys and helped them push through. One of the boys did get a slap round the head by the complaining girl’s mother though... and I really thought he was going to hit her back.... he stood in the doorway for a long time with a look of hatred on his face staring at her, but i guess he decided the odds were against him and finally left!
So the moral of the story is... boys will be boys... but only it seems because the women let them and actually in many cases, actively encourage them!
Oh for the day where my Arabic is good enough to chastise them myself without being afraid that my poor grammar would be used as a way of ridiculing me in return!