Night Train From Cairo


As with everything else in Cairo buying a train ticket can be an both amusing and infuriating at the same time, maybe it’s just me but part of the charm of Cairo is it’s utterly chaotic nature and just maybe a sense of humor is how Egyptians deal with it, I plunge into the pool of humanity swirling around the ticket office, everyone clinging to each other for buoyancy, not a bit like a Tunbridge Wells post office,  by the time I have washed up at the counter I have made a number of friends and most of them straining their necks through the window to see how this transaction turns out, the ticketing official peers over his pince-nez at me with little surprise or interest, I ask for a ticket on the overnight train to Aswan, its fully booked he tells me, I am not sure if I actually told him when I wanted to travel, tomorrow I said, not today, fully booked he said, the faces around me switching back and forth as if at a tennis match, now I dispensed with travelling with a guide book in Egypt some time ago, it does have to be said I am something of an expert on its complexities, he pointed to another window and told me to get the sleeper, now the sleeper is luxury car for wimpish foreigners who travel with guide books, the fare is about a hundred bucks, I have used it before, much like a padded cell with prison food, I wanted a regular ticket costing about $20, I glanced over at the sleeper window, a scene of calm and tranquility, the day after the day after tomorrow then I said sticking to my guns, I sensed a division in the crowd now, half intrigued to see if the foreigner gave in and stumped up for the cushy number and the other half just wanting to buy their tickets, okay then when do you have a ticket available for I asked, my tone resolute but in my mind I knew I was going to the empty window the other side of the room, he gave me a considered look, I knew the look from back when I was at school, that didn’t end well either, he looked back at the 19th dynasty computer that the station was named after, fine he said, the day after tomorrow, I passed him my crumpled notes, collected my ticket, my friends all wishing me a safe journey or something like that.