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responsible position, because Copts make good clerks ; they have wonderful heads for figures, and most Egyptians are very neat in matters like keeping books and doing maps.o * is not possible to economise in Egypt by going without, because the essentials are among the costly items, except a few things like tea—you can get good tea for a shilling a pound. The young man thinks Egypt a cheap place, because he saves on liquors and cigarettes; White Seal Buchanan whisky only costs 2s. 6d. a bottle in a bar, and only Io piastres (2s. 1d.) in a shop; and the cigarettes for which you pay 3s. a hundred in Egypt would cost twice or three times the amount in England, You can buy cigarettes in Cairo as low as ten a penny. *. living is cheaper than it was Houses which had a rent of £750 two years ago have a rent of £500 now. And the rent of the small flats in the Hinsurance Buildings has gone down from £250 to £100. The trams to Heliopolis—that is, to the Skeleton City—have also made a difference, for they have added a cheap suburb there to the suburbs like Zeitoun on the Pont Limoun Railway. ) Residents always say that no white people can use a tram except to Heliopolis or the Pyramids. But tourists fond of sightseeing do not stand upon this kind of ceremony; they find them very useful when once they have learned where there is likely to be a block. It is prudent to board the tram on the far side of the sticky point, or you may have a quarter of an hour's free use of the tram as a waiting-room. Residents, however little they may be able to afford it, certainly do use cabs for everything; and this soon mounts up, though cabs, before the recent rise in fares, were cheap, three piastres (74d.) for a two-horse cab, if the distance was less than a kilometre, and five piastres (Is.) for any longer distance in the city. For short distances the cabman would often bargain for two piastres with a foreign, i.e. nonBritish resident; and the Egyptians certainly pay lower rates, for Ali, my humble dragoman, always used to say to me, when I came out of the bazars and wanted a cab, “Let me get cab for you, then you no pay more than three
piastres"—that meant three piastres from the bazars to the Continental Hotel. The arabeah-driver, the Cairo cabby, is not discontented with his fares for driving by the course in the town, but if you have him by the hour it is wise to make your bargain. He dislikes driving by the hour unless he is going to be standing still all the time, while you are shopping or paying a call ; and you most decidedly need to bargain if you are driving outside the town, because there is no fixed tariff for that. Generally, however, if you employ the same man often, he is equitable without your having to make a bargain every o: the poor Egyptian is a pleasant man to deal with; he likes to be obliging and popular. These qualities are so usual that they are almost hereditary in him. ) If you know that a cabby is overcharging you/badly, or he is impudent, you jump in again, and tell him to drive you to the nearest police-station. He is compelled to do this by law, and afraid to defy the law. Ramidge did this after driving about half the morning; he was astonished at the result. He was told not to pay the cabman anything, and the licence was taken away. The police are severe with cabmen, and it is necessary, as the cabbies drive at a gallop and don't mind running over anybody or anything. They call out “Ouah riglak 1"—mind your legs—and that is enough. As the Egyptian policeman said: “Your legs are on your own head if you fail to get out of the way.” But the police are not so stern with dogs. For the impounding of stray dogs, they are provided with a combination of the pitchfork and the lasso. They never appear to see large unmuzzled dogs, that look as bad as wolves: they go for the ladies' pet dogs—an operation without danger, with a thirty-piastre ransom (six shillings) at the end of it. When I first went to Egypt, a pessimistic person, who had been many years in the country, and whom I was pumping for information, said: “You have spoken about society, and rent, and Sir Ernest Cassel—is there anything else in Egypt?” “I don't know,” I said; “I have only been in the country twenty-four hours.” He had been terse in his esti
mate of society in Egypt. “Society is backbiting. Everybody talks about everybody else, and says the worst things she can. Society consists of bugs and minions. If a big bug appears on the verandah of the K.S.C. and bows to any one, all the minions do the same; they never see any one with their own eyes.”
The unexclusive class who are always asking you to dinner at a restaurant, and, when the time comes to pay, borrow the price of the dinner and fifty piastres from you, are also to be found in Cairo; fifty piastres make half a sovereign.
I could have seen more of the residents than many tourists if I had been willing to give up my afternoons to tea; but I much prefered seeing the men at their offices instead of their homes, because they were generally able to give up as much time as I wanted for arriving at any particular piece of information; and that is the reason why I took out introductions to them. But here and there the official was an old friend, and one could not get out of accepting hospitalities. It was just as it had been in Japan, and other far-off places. The English people spent as much time as they could with each other, and tried to forget the surroundings of what, to them, was exile. I seldom met other tourists at their houses, except at the General's and the Consul-General's, who entertained a good deal.