Postal museums: people are stamp-eding to get in

View from the couch. Also, the only picture I took before my camera died. The only man who knew what this is has gone insane.

Today, just as the Egyptian army began activist clean up and put away time in Tahrir square, three happy go lucky American students arrived safely though thirstily at their apartments after a riveting day of museum hopping and fame snatching. If all goes well, I will be leaving my program shortly to begin my career as a full-time documentary interviewee specializing in Egyptian museums. Allow me to explain through the medium of story telling:

After the spiritual revelation that was the Egyptian Agricultural Museum, our group formed an unspoken consensus that we must taste the dust of every museum in Cairo that lies off the beaten path. Little did we know that our destinies and the destiny of one founder of pastpreservers.com would soon collide.

The next stop on our list was the promising Egyptian Postal Museum, a mecca for mail enthusiasts from all over Egypt and the world that attracts up to ten visitors a year. Incredibly, we almost missed the museum itself even though it was unlabeled and tucked away on the second floor of the national post office. When we arrived, the museum/postal worker found the key and opened the door for us to a one-room world of postal wonders. Dusty glass cases contained everything from international postal uniforms, stamps, miniatures of famous postal offices in Egypt, and figurines of postal workers from different time periods. It was more than I had ever wanted to know about Egyptian and worldwide mail delivery. Luckily, I avoided learning too much.

Personally, my favorite part of the museum was the couch and nearby fan whose blade was left unguarded, an element that added a thrilling level of excitement to what could have been a boring place. My heart raced as I gingerly stepped by the fan when I reluctantly got off the couch, nervous it would catch my chinos and begin boring into my flesh. I made it by safely, though I never made it back there after my short rest at the start of our visit, my one regret. I also regretted the fact the museum did not have air conditioning, a complaint I plan to tweet at the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces.

The museum was mustical, but the real magic happened as we were leaving. Turning to go down the stairs, I was shocked when I spotted another white guy on the ground floor peering up at us with equal puzzlement. We both thought to ourselves, “No way these people came all the way out here like us freaks to see the postal museum.”  It turns out we were both wrong. Our groups gave each other the up and down as we descended the spiral staircase and as we were about to walk by him and out the door forever, he confronts us.

Tension reached its peak for a brief moment but then he tells us that he works for an Egyptian television station and that he and his television crew are doing a piece on lesser known museums in Egypt.  He is surprised anyone else knows about this place and asks if we would like to be interviewed. Obviously, fame grubbers and blabber mouths that we are, we eagerly agree. The film crew sets up and the host of the show asks us hard hitting questions in passable English like “Is this your first time in Egypt” and “What was your favorite part of the museum?” Unfortunately for my friend, right before we began filming, I had  jokingly said “So will we be singing? We know a song in Arabic!”

So he had a surprise question as well, “Do you know any songs?” It was a cheap shot, to be sure, but I can’t say we (I) didn’t ask for it. If all goes well, you will see a short interview and song by us on Egyptian television (channel 25) after Ramadan.

SNEAK PREVIEW: Emily loves the couch!  Lack of English labels might be a problem for some tourists!

It’s pretty riveting stuff so I can understand why the people of Egypt are anxious to see it before the end of Ramadan. There will probably be another Tahrir sit in because of this…so much for life back to normal. #revolutionmyway

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