Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy President's Day

Today is President's Day in the US. When I was a kid, we had separate holidays for Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday. But that was too much, so they put them together and called the new holiday "President's Day."

Here it's just another work day, though I've been totally slacking off this morning, instead googling container ships for Babs to get out of Australia. Around the world without planes? Hey, good idea! Oh waitaminute...

The last (and current) presidents of Egypt are to me, metro stations. Major metro stations. Current and future interchanges between lines. They are Mubarak, Nasser, and Sadat.

But I get confused. Do I need to change at Sadat, or was that Mubarak? Or is it Nasser? Damn, which president is which stop?

Here's a little trick I've been using to remember which metro station is where.

Mubarak Station: Farthest north of the three Egyptian presidents. Because he's top dog.

Nasser Station: Middle. Some people like him, some don't.

Sadat Station: Controversial in the Middle East. Southernmost.

Regardless of which president I am near, I always board the women's cars, which become mixed in the evenings but are segregated during the day. And something funny happens when the train pulls in.

You know how on all metros, people run to catch the train? Cairo has this too. Hordes of people running down stairs and escalators as trains pull into the stations.

But it's complicated, because men and women are criss-crossing and bumping into each other as they desperately aim to be on their gender's part of the train. I've been on a few where men leap on the women's car out of desperation. They look horribly uncomfortable, which is probably how I look when I end up racing through the doors to the men's car just as they slide shut.

Anyway, every day is President's Day when you take the metro in Egypt. Happy President's Day!


Emma said...

As I read your post I remembered a article I read in the NYC Times Magazine some time ago about the women's Metro cars in Cairo. It's called "The Comfort of Strangers", I thought you might enjoy it.

Marie said...

Nice story. And I have to report that in this society, so different from my own, I too am relieved to be allowed to travel in the women's car.