"I don't know where that is. Can I take the metro?"
"Yes, take the metro." The Apple tech guy laughed. What was so funny?
It isn't expensive to take a taxi. It's just that I had no idea where I was going, and one surefire way to end up in a battle of wits and bluster with a taxi driver is to let on that you're fresh off the farm. So if a driver asked me where on El Qasr Al Aini Street, and I said I didn't know, I'd be asking for trouble. I'd rather stumble down the street trying to figure out which number is which. (Today I learned 7, which is a V. Confusing because 8 is the same, but upside-down. So I now remember that 7 has a V in s-e-v-e-n, and 8 is the other one.)
I went to the metro, bought my ticket, slid it through the turnstile, and took the escalator to the platform. I walked up to the front of the train, identified by a sign that said "Front of Train."
Why is there a sign that says "Front of Train?"
Because the front two cars are women-only cars. And having encountered my share of gropers in past trips to Cairo, I'm keen to avoid any potential groping situation.
I had just missed a train, so I stood, staring blankly towards the tunnel the train would come out of. The platform filled up with women. Women in headscarves. Women in long skirts, jeans, calf-length full skirts with boots, and full-on black cloaks with hoods. A few women showed their hair as I did, but we all dressed the same--frumpy modest. Layers and long sleeves, pants to the ankles. I wish I could say I was thinking ahead, dressing this way specifically for Cairo, but it's more my de facto way of dressing these days than any nod to the culture.
All the other women, about 20 of them by now, were staring blankly down the platform too. It's what you do on subways.
Then... a stunningly beautiful women sauntered by. She wore a tight horizontal-striped sweater, a dangling gold belt around a tiny waist, and tight black pants the flared out to bell bottoms, over stiletto heels. Her long, curly hair was black with frosted blond stripes, and Jackie-O sunglasses covered her eyes.
She walked all the way down the
And twenty pairs of eyes, twenty heads, turned as one.