‘The tram of Cairo’
Every time I see or hear the name Egypt an utterly chaos appears in mind, chaos in the sense of imperfectness on an African continent or different way of organization. The sheer joy in the Orient compared with the more stringently Occident. This not only despite the recent revolt against Muhammed Hosni El Sayed Mubarak, the 4th and long time president (1981-2011) of a furthermore proud nation with an overwhelming past and superior culture, far before the Greek one or even Roman Empire, all history and what remained; a faint memory.
In terms of running a tramway system Cairo deserves a special remark. A meter gauge structure with a lot of lines and before continuing I never was there only once a landing in between on my way to Southeast Asia. Tramcars worn with age and maybe still young but battered by heavy use or recklessness of the drivers especially the ones not running on rail. Nevertheless I presume that also the motormen do not have a lot of compassion with their employer and in the last the tram itself.
How different from Europe, it resembles the ones of Calcutta in India, another destination for desperation albeit the people who live with it will give you a different enlightenment if you would ask them. Anyway, the postcards at the beginning of the last century give another impression, less chaotic and more structured though with an Oriental touch. It’s a lovely series published by Lichtenstein & Harari in what seems to be a fruitful cooperation between two continents. The card on top (Cairo Nº 2) shows trolley number 75 admits a vivid street life, well dressed men stand together and talking about the latest events or gossip, like the men on card Nº 7 (bottom second) did on what seems to be a central point for tramlines.
The black and white card is from a different origin; Union Postale Universelle with the remark ‘carte postale’ and translated in many languages. The well-to-do were able to travel and so they did in the age before the Net and the only connection with their beloved ones home was sending a postcard. O those days I am still longing…
However, the cards mentioned remained pristine; it would have been a joy to read about a stranger’s adventure abroad. This card shows another street life with trolley Nº 31 in the distance. On the left side a mosque with minaret the realm of another belief and on the picture peacefully something that should wane through times. The last picture (Cairo Nº 10) and the best of all in terms how complete different technologies meet, a tram to the pyramids, travelling from one century to another far before any comparable civilization elsewhere on earth could match. Isn’t it lovely, isn’t it what mankind in the end achieved? The tram unfortunately is just a frail aspect but nonetheless a kind on itself. Without any postcards the world was bleak, only now and today, how rich we would be?
Who wants to know what I mean with lovely chaos and battered tramcars, watch the Utube film: Cairo trams in 1991 and there’re others.