A sad state of affairs

The platform is full. People have been waiting a long time for the train. Some are sitting on the floor — it’s been a long day for them.

Then they hear the siren — the train’s finally coming. They start to move. A 60-year-old woman leans on her granddaughter in order to move closer to the platform. A man picks up his luggage.

The train finally arrives one hour and a half late at platform 11 of Cairo’s Central Station. But people don’t seem to mind the holdup — they’re used to it. All they want is an empty seat. A bunch of young men quickly occupy the front row.    

And so the train sets out.

It is the same day as the decisive World Cup playoff match between Egypt and Algeria. The young men onboard keep cheering for the Egyptian team. Everyone’s talking about the game — and how Egypt must win.

The train’s windows are all broken. A passenger, a student, says mischievous kids throw rocks at the train when it passes through their village. That’s why he always takes an aisle seat on his way to university. 

A woman tells her young daughter to wait until they arrive at the next station to use the toilet. The toilets on the train are simply unusable; they stink.

When they finally arrive at Cairo’s Bashtil Station, passengers are welcomed by the sight of a garbage dump right next to the platform. It smells worse than the toilets on the train. They are blinded by the black smoke emanating from burning piles of trash.

Last to disembark are three young women. They had sat in a corner throughout the journey, fearing harassment by the young men onboard.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

Related Articles

Back to top button