We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?

Around the World in 80 Days

Day 7: 1 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysMidday. To the impressive Misr Station to pick up a train to Cairo. The noise is incredible. This is a horn blower society. Egyptian drivers make New York cabbies sound like librarians. They must specially modify their cars to connect the accelerator to the horn. They never use one without the other. And now the muezzin has started, his raucously distorted call to prayer adding to the cacophony, and causing prayer mats to be laid down in the middle of an already packed ticket office.

A blazing row has erupted as to whether we're allowed to film or not, and about four people are shouting at each other, clutching their heads. You'd think there'd been a death in the family the way they carry on. It all reminds me of a big, slightly out of control boys' public school, everyone issuing different orders, a few people trying to be serious, but everyone else finding it frightfully funny.

Watching the crowds come off the trains it's interesting to note how the traditional garb - jellabas and turbans and fezzes for men, and veils and long dresses for women - is now mixed with Western dress - Levi's, jeans, slacks, shirts, dresses and skirts. The contrast is extraordinary - some look like Old Testament prophets, others like James Dean. Sometimes there's a mixture with the women, of the old Islamic head-dress and a modern slightly blowsy Orlon two-piece. It may be chaotic but life wouldn't be as rich as this at airports, where people are much more conditioned, directed and cowed into submission.
Choose another day from Around the World in 80 Days


  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 7
  • Date: 1 October
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Alexandria
  • Book page no: 37

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.