Foreigners in Egypt have all those weird habits, like, er, taking the BUS to work! Our own resident CairoScene khawaga explains why...
The horror, the horror! Yup, I take the bus to work. Divulging this information in our office was met with a range of responses: laughter, disgust, surprise, and fear.
One Egyptian coworker exclaimed, “I have never even seen a bus stop!” Another said, “It’s so dirty!” True, there are not really defined bus stops and the bus is a tad dirty, but I nevertheless enjoy my commute on the bus. Here are five reasons why I take the bus to work.
1. The bus is dirt cheap, and I am a penny-pinching cheap ass. A taxi will run me about 8 L.E., but the bus offers a perfectly viable alternative for a mere 1 L.E. I am no great mathematician, but I do know that I just saved 87.5% on my transportation costs.
2. The bus is like a ride at a theme park. Buses rarely stop, so commuters have to ask where its headed and then hop on all within a couple of moments. I pay my 1 L.E., get the greasy ticket, and enjoy the ride. When approaching my destination, I get to jump off the moving bus and hope I avoid oncoming traffic and don’t trip and yardsale my shit all over street. It’s a real cheap thrill.
3. I get to build up my immune system. With all of the nasty bugs and viruses floating around Egypt, an agnaby like myself needs a strong immune system if he wants to survive. No pill or vaccine can compare with one hundred coughing, sneezing, and nose-picking passengers. Beats the hell out of my men’s daily multivitamin.
4. The bus offers an ever-changing taste of Egyptian life. I hate when my bubbled life becomes too routine: home, work, home, bar. I never know when the bus will come, where it will be going, nor who will be riding it. Today there was a lady with a huge trash bag of clothes balanced on her head—quite impressive. Beside me, a mother was teaching her toddler how to throw trash out the window. Great people watching.
5. I consider it a rite of passage. Call me crazy, but I feel that mastering the Cairo transit system (metro and bus routes) will somehow make me more Egyptian. If you decide to take the bus one day, we may run into each other. Secretly, though, I hope that you see my jeans, black v-neck, and Tahrir newspaper and peg me for an Egyptian.