My second post of 2012. Sort of shameful, right? You probably think I’ve forgotten all about Cairo, right? Wrong!

I could never forget about Cairo’s charms, especially when I have so many who are near and dear who live there. Tonight I was reminded of the madness of Ramses station – the part of Cairo where many flock for their departure to other parts of Egypt or even destinations within Cairo itself.

Ramses was NEVER empty nor quiet in the 12 months I lived in Egypt, and being the little traveller that I tried to be, I was there quite a lot, whether it was to get to Medinat Nasr, or El-Rehab, or 6th October, or Sharm el Sheikh, or other parts of Egypt.


I loved the buzz of Ramses – the people crammed near the metro exits selling anything from men’s underwear (yeah, of all places!) to cheap dancing dolls that emitted the most nasal sound I’d ever heard. Then there were the people waiting for a bus, or a taxi, and those waiting for their shawerma to be dished up, and of course, it wouldn’t be Cairo without the beggars too. But what I loved the most were the long drawn-out calls the bus conductors performed to let waiting passengers know where the bus was going.

Yes, many buses had the destinations written on the side or the front of them, but with so many people unable to actually read those signs, the conductors’ job was amazingly useful. Although I could read Awwal el Makram on the side of the bus I needed to get on to get to City Stars, I just LOVED hearing the conductors call it out with so much drama. “Awwal el Makraaaam! Sala7 Saaaalem!”

And then, on the way back home I waited with girly excitement to hear, “Ramseeeeyes, Ramseeeeyes!” and I’d know that that was my cheap ride home.

Back in London, we just look for the numbers on the front of the bus and gloomily get on the one we need. I wonder what London would be like if we had the dramatic call of a conductor. “Paddington Station, Paddington Staaaaation!”

Somehow, I don’t see it working.

– LaYinka S. (The Londoner)

Posted on May 15, 2012, in Ruminations about Cairo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Oh my days so it’s not just me! I bought loads of useful junk there today, the kids were so happy with their 3LE football socks and 5 LE sunglasses, it’s all cheap and cheerful, keeping them happy with a 1LE packet of crisps. Did you ever go to Attaba? Now that is a madness…..I love the calling of the buses too, the novelty hasn’t worn off and when I’m in the market I still feel like I’m within a movie, everything is so crazy and surreal. I also love the way people sit around on the floor and drink tea, taking life at their own pace. I think this is why they are more passive and not aggressive like the Londoners, everyone moves at a good pace rather than running around like headless chickens. London is more straight forward and functional but it really is like ground hog day, same old, same old. I’m really glad that you have seen the charms of this too, as I do often contemplate what my family would say if they could see were I was…..”so dirty, chaotic” and I had a bad day at work today and really questioned why I’m putting myself through all this, coming from somewhere so “civilised” to a poverty ridden unstable country. However there is something about this place that keeps my heart alive, constantly feeling grateful for how many opportunities I have been given,subhanAllah, London really does make my heart cold, lifeless and ungrateful. Different strokes for different folks eh! JazakAllah for the reminder xxx

  2. 3ataba was my PLACE. How could it not be with the amazing Akbakeya book market that’s just spilling from all sides with books. The dustier the better, and I found some gems hidden within the bounded rubble. That place deserves it’s own post. In fact, I will write one!

    I think civilisation is overrated! We have so many rules and laws here in London, but people are just downright miserable. When I smile at someone, give them a seat on the bus, let them pass before I go in the direction they’re coming from, they seem happy – shouldn’t it be the norm? And we’re ALWAYS rushing to NOWHERE! I won’t get started.

    Keep your chin up and see the beauty that Egyptians often fail to see. ❤

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