Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Ride on the Cairo Metro

"Mar Girgis", I said to the ticket seller at Sadat Metro station. He indicated how to get to the correct platform. Between my basic Arabic, the ticket sellers' basic English, and many gestures, I'm always able to find my way around the Metro. The signs are excellent, but Sadat station is a hub and is a bit disorienting. The ticket sellers should get a raise!
On the Metro platform, look for a clump of women and go and stand with them. If you're a woman, that is. Because the women know where the women-only cars will pull up. I never had any problem on mixed cars; but you cannot make eye contact with men, since they think you're flirting. On the women-only car, you can look around you happily, without worrying about what signal you might be sending. Sometimes you might even get in a little conversation.

Crossing the bridge over the tracks at Mar Girgis station, this is what you see:
The foreground wall is the wall of the Metro station. The background wall is across the street. It is the wall of a Roman (yes Roman) fort or pretorium.
As you can see, the outer wall of the fort is curved (yes curved.) I can't remember a curved wall on any other Roman fort. But perhaps my bloggees know of one...?
This curved wall, to me, shows that the fort was built by Nubians, who never build a straight line when they can build a curve. Domes, barrel vaults, groined vaults. Nubians from Esna or beyond (upriver from Luxor) build these challenging curves without any blueprint or any measuring or angle-fixing device of any kind.

Mar Girgis is a predominantly-Christian neighborhood, named for the church of St. George (Mar Girgis). St. George was an Egyptian saint long before the English adopted him as their own. In Mar Girgis neighborhood there are several delightful churches and a synagogue, all of them historic.

This time, however, I'd come to visit the Coptic Museum, which is next to the Roman fort. There was no-one in the ticket office, so I went away to get lunch (overpriced, though quite good--some sort of kofta.) And during the whole meal I had that guilty feeling you have during Ramadan, when you're eating and drinking publicly and so many others aren't. On the TV was a service of noonday prayers--this was Friday--with President Mursi in attendance. I felt bad for him, devoutly saying his prayers with the cameras on him. I suppose he'll get used to it, though.

After lunch, I went back to the Coptic Museum and was able to buy a ticket. But my visit to the museum will have to wait until the next post.