I heard about it ofter and thought it was a myth, but it was real and not only was it real… it was FANTASTIC! What am I talking about? The Cairo Metro.

The Cairo metro gets you to most places in the city for One Egyptian Pound. Yes you read right, 1 Egyptian pound. But that is not the beauty of this metro system. Nor is the cleanliness of the stations of the cars, since they were clean. Not a piece of rubbish in sight! The best thing about this metro system was the two women only cars! The thought of being in mass transit and not be harassed, jostled, touched or grabbed by a man was such a relief. I was so happy about this that I took pictures of this amazing idea. What was even more surprising was that I learned today that there are other places in the world where this is implemented.

Now this makes me both happy and sad. Happy that I can ride the metro in peace. Sad that it is necessary. I dream of a day when we wont need to segregate men and women for fear of violence. Until then, I will ride the women’s car when I can and complete my journey with one less thing to worry about.

Women's Section

Section of the Platform where the women cars stop.

Women's Section

Section of the Platform where the women cars stop.

Women's Car

The Car- text on top reads "Women only until 9 pm"

So I’ve opted to be in Cairo for the holidays. A number of people, especially Caironians asked “Why, you live in Beirut and you choose to come here?” Well, why not? I love Cairo. I love the history, and the neighbourhoods and the vastness of the city. I love how you can keep coming back and have a wildly different experience of this city each time. I love how familiar it is and how negotiable. And most of all, I like having some favorite places and memories to revisit. It is a city I have a fond history with and I like to keep coming back to time and time again.

 

I especially love that every time I have been here it has been to do something different and to meet different people, and so my experiences have been so varied. This city is massive with a lot to offer. I know a number of people complain about it’s traffic, its harassment, its dirtiness, its air quality, among other things. For me, this is part of what I love about here. Its part of navigating through the time and space that is Cairo.

 

I also recognize that I am a voyeur, a visitor, an intruder and I come with my privileges as a tourist, even if I am not doing touristy things. And it is my friends and the people that I see and meet, build relationships with, and talk to that allow me into their lives and their worlds. They do so with authenticity and genuineness  that helps me balance my privilege  and live, even for a few days, a Caironian life away from museums and Khan El Khalili.  And that is the difference that makes me want to spend my New Year’s here.

 

So, I’ve been dreaming of writing in beautiful Arabic calligraphy.  I’ve had this dream for quite some time, I even have two beautiful big encyclopedia’s of Arabic “Line’s” bought for me as a gift by a wonderful friend. Yet I want to take this to the next step and actually learn from someone… and so I am asking for your help.

Please let me know if you know of a good Calligraphy teacher to study with for a month or two, preferably in Cairo or Damascus.