The temp in Cairo is ramping, up with 40 degrees and sunny blue skies the norm. It’s the time when the city fills up with gulf Arabs coming to the cooler climes for summer, escaping their countries’ 50+ degree heat.

Yesterday, I made the mistake of travelling on the metro in morning peak hour. It was the MOST intensely crowded train I’ve ever been in – breasts, waists, heads, handbags, children – all enmeshed to create a jigsaw of human flesh, with not even a puff of air between. And the fans overhead in the carriages were broken. Just lucky this was the women’s carriage. Otherwise, it would have been a frotteur’s paradise.

When I got to my destination, I washed the sweat of other women from my skin.

Sometimes, there’s a funny camaraderie on the metro. Those fortunate enough to get a seat will take a standing woman’s heavy handbag and put it on their laps or, which I saw yesterday, even take their children, covering them with kisses.

On the way home, two girls sitting in front of me stood up to leave, and another woman and I took their place. Except the other woman was the size of the two skinny girls, and we just squeezed in on the bench seat.

Finally, she was replaced by another woman holding an infant. She hauled up her robes and, the baby’s head hitting my arm, she fed the child, all the while squished up against me. Mind you, opposite was another woman with a child maybe a month old, much admired in the carriage, when another woman sat carelessly beside her and rested her large handbag on the baby’s head. She felt something under the bag and casually moved it off his tiny head. No prams in Cairo.