May 23, 2010

The city that doesn’t sleep


I know it has been a while since I have provided you with a new post to read, and I sure do know that May has not been an active month for me when it comes to writing on my blog. Anyways, what matters right now is the reason I have not written anything the past week! Guess what, I was outside the country, and guess where I was? I was in Egypt! Yes yes, I finally visited ‘Om El Donia’ as they call it; Mother of Life, that is how almost everybody refers to it. 

Before setting foot there, I have always thought of Egypt as the country I can strongly relate to, but only through the Egyptian movies that I just love to watch and never tire of watching. I have to say that being there, in the heart of Egypt; specifically in Cairo, has opened my eyes to the true beauty of this wonderfully rich and alive country. I was taken aback by the power and magic floating in its very air. I felt emotionally attached to something I could not put my finger on; I just let myself be! Something magical was there in the streets, in the air, in the buildings, and even in the smiles and looks of the people roaming the streets; whether aimlessly or purposefully. The least thing I could say to describe my state of mind and heart at the time is to simply say that I was utterly mesmerized.

I never dreamed that I would have this strong a reaction towards Egypt in specific. To be honest, I have always been told that the first thing to strike you about Cairo is the noise and horrible traffic and human congestion and crowdedness! Well, I did notice that and saw the poor state of so many buildings and houses and streets, and I also saw what extreme poverty has done to so many people there, but that did nothing to discourage me or take away my enjoyment and the strong attraction I felt for that amazing city! I looked at everything around me in awe and wonder.

I have to tell you that despite the fact that I am quite a traveler who has been to so many wonderful countries before and fell madly in love with them, Egypt has proved to be quite something else; something different and unique in its own sense. It is true that I only stayed there for five days, but that was enough to make me know for sure that I would definitely go back there, only I would stay much longer. Now that I am home, it feels strange and I have this strong and overwhelming sense of nostalgia. I just have not had enough of all the magic I found there; in the Nile, Hay El Hussein, Khan al Khalil and many other wonderful places. 

We stayed at the Ramses Hilton, and my room was on the 22nd floor. Believe me, the view was simply breathtaking! I found myself able to stand there for as long as I could, just staring out the window at the vast and grandeur city stretching endlessly in front of me; granting my eyes a sight not to ever be forgotten.

This, above, is a picture I took from my room. Even now as I look at it again, I can feel myself standing there once again; taking in the scene that I know by heart now that I have been there.  

Now I know that the places I have been to during my 5 day stay there is nothing compared to the many places I have heard about and wanted so much to see, but I still enjoyed my trip and has so much fun! I went to the Pyramids, and I have to say that being there and seeing everything I have only known through books and documentary films has made Egypt look the more majestic to me. When I stood there staring at the Sphinx, transfixed, I realized that Egypt’s historical heritage is way greater than any other treasure. Apart from my unforgettable trip to the Pyramids, I went to Hay El Hussein and Khan Al Khalil, where I roamed its ancient alleys and had memorable moments that I still remember with a smile of true pleasure.


                         That is me with my parents (Right to left: Me, dad and mum)

One of the things I won’t forget is going on board of the Scarabee Nile Dinner Cruiser, where they had a belly dancing show and another interesting show which I don’t really know what they call. I had the time of my life there because I had the chance of sitting on the roof of the cruiser and watching the Nile giving life to everything around it, including us people. The weather was amazing and the breeze so cold that I had the feeling it was the beginning of winter! I did not want that trip to ever end, and I wished I could stare at the Nile and hear its soft roar forever!

Amongst the other things I did, I ate at the fish market, had ‘Kushari’ at Abu Tareq, drank mango juice at the famous place ‘Farghali’ and of course tried the pigeons at that place called ‘Farahat’, which is by the way the most famous place for serving pigeons, and oh my they were more delicious than Any food I have ever eaten!  

As simple as strolling along the Nile may sound, it is the one thing that will always remain engraved in my memory; reminding me of how happy I was to simply take that walk and see the glow on the faces of the people taking in the scene of the Nile and enjoying the feeling of being part of it and its magic. I can still hear the songs they played there in my head, and remember how I felt just being in the taxi and looking at all the things we passed by, no matter how ordinary they seemed to some people.

Now that I am back here, I have this strangest feeling that a huge  part of me stayed there, alongside the  Nile; enjoying a life that is so much different from my life here. Even the Egyptian songs sound different to my ears here; they sound as though they belong to a different life and a different place.

Should you think that it is magic that Egypt possesses, you are absolutely right in your thinking, for it is pure magic that you will find there, in the streets and alleys and certainly in the ringing of the laughs you will hear everywhere you go.

I cannot say what it is exactly that has drawn me this much to this country, but what I know for sure is the fact  that I will go back there and enjoy it all once again. All I can tell you now is that Egypt has a life of its own, a life that will take you under its spell and bind you to it so strong that you will never know how to break free from its hold on your mind and heart and soul. 

The Nile is still calling out to me; that I know, and I know that I will answer its call sooner than I think. It is amazing how, in the blink of an eye, I have become one with a country buzzing with life every second of the day, and how I do not seem to be able to close my eyes without seeing the glow of a city that does not sleep!

Cairo; it is certainly the city that does not fall asleep, and the place that will always give you something to think about and hold on to.    


Here is a collection of photos I took in my trip, enjoy!

May 09, 2010

How am I supposed to live without you?

9 May 2010

Dear NO Face,

The wisest way to start this letter would be to admit that it has been a decade since I have written anything to you. It feels all new to me, for  I know that writing these somewhat absurd letters to you is an essential part of my life, without which I always feel as though something huge was missing.

Well, this long abstain from writing is something I cannot fully explain or find excuses for; to myself so to speak. What I know is that I have been trying not to do this; not to write anything, not to give you life, not to make you real when you are not. It frustrates me sometimes to think of you as a vivid someone, a ‘face’ I can easily relate to and paint in my everyday dreams without finding any difficulty in belonging to; emotionally and mentally and spiritually. At times, it makes me feel stupid and on the brink of insanity, but the only thing that keeps me clinging to you is my knowledge that what I am doing is brilliant one way or another. Giving you life provides me with a rare kind of emotional peace that life has deprived me of. You know that when such a thing happens, some of us opt for the fantasy, don’t you? I know I have, and you are my fantasy.

Sometimes, I do fight the urge to write to you, and I succeed in keeping you in the shade for a while, but I always end up missing you, and thinking of all the things I could and would tell you. People-oh- I mean things like you usually prove to be better listeners than some real people. You have the heart I crave for in reality; the heart of a true angel. I miss that, and I miss you, but above all I miss the part where you become a reality, and a face I could see and recognize and recall every time I close my eyes. I cannot say I do not do that now, but the only difference is that I do not see you, I cannot fully see you.

For all the past weeks, I have been waiting for the inspiration I needed to write this letter, and feel this connection with you again. I was lost for that inspiration, and it did not come to me even though I did feel it deep in my heart. I knew that this moment would eventually arrive, and that I would-once again- sit here and type these words for you, and feel the peace of heart you give me whenever I miss you and need you like I do now. 

You  want to know in what form the inspiration came? It was there in Michael Bolton’s song ‘How am I supposed to live without you’. When I heard it by coincidence today, I instantly thought of you and found myself wanting so bad to write this letter; if only to tell you that I have indeed missed you, and that I cannot do without you. When I sat and typed these words, I realized that I do not need a song to inspire me, because it is you who do that. You inspire me to hope, and dream of the real version of you, and when that happens; when I do that, I know that I can always welcome tomorrow with open arms and pray for better and brighter days to come, days that hold the promise of you, and your face; the face I do not really know by sight, but know very well by heart.

Don’t you agree with me that this is a blessing? That having this much intense feeling for something I believe in is a victory you and I should acknowledge? I know I do, and I know that I will always ask myself this same question: How am I supposed to live without you?

Until I unravel your mystery, my No Face, and get to finally thank God for the gift of you in my life, I shall always wonder, and ask you questions, and enjoy this rapport I share with you; a rapport that holds hope and love within, and fills my life with just as much love in return.

Until then, sweet No Face, I want you to know that I love you dearly, and miss you like I always do.