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Egpyt --an affair to remember



The dust from Cairo has still not been washed off my shoes. Or my mind. The warmth of the people still lingers in my heart. I can close my eyes and still feel the pulse of Egypt and hear the gentle sound of the ship on the waters of the Nile.

The experience can only be described , to use a cliché, as a dream come true.

Where do I begin? How can a journey of a 5000 years be contained in a single blog post? How can I describe something that was so awe inspiring, moving, and so completely humbling? As I walked into the great monuments at Luxor, Karnak,Kom-ombo and Edfu, I could imagine the grandeur of those imposing, towering, massive structures, where pharaohs and high-priests, Queens and princes once walked, conferred and worshipped. How they would have taken the same path that I was now walking on, and how they would have sailed on the waters of the Nile.

We took a flight from Mumbai to Cairo.My mom too came with us. After a day in Cairo, we flew to Aswan. Then we were on a cruise. We sailed on the Nile for four days and three nights, stopping at komombo, Edfu and finally at Luxor. Each place had monuments, each one better than the other. The carvings on the walls of the temples and the hieroglyphics were detailed, intricate and so beautiful. Each one told a story or depicted a scene. I learnt about Upper and Lower Egypt, (being so designated not due to its altitude but because of the origin of Nile river.The place where in originates is called Upper Egypt which is basically in the south) the Cartouches with the names of the royalty inscribed in them, the pantheon of powerful Gods and Goddesses—Horus, Hathor, Isis, Amon-ra and many more. They reminded me a lot of our own Indian Hindu Gods—especially Hathor who is a Goddess with the head of a cow.

Egypt is an Islamic nation and there are more than a 1000 mosques in Cairo alone. The language spoken is Arabic. English is hardly spoken or understood. We had to learn basic Arabic to manage on our own. The people are so charming, friendly and warm. The women are gorgeous. They have to wear clothes that fully cover every part of their body. Yet, women being women, have found a way around this. They wear figure hugging body suits which emphasizes each and every curve of their body. Over this, they wear a stylish T-shirt and jeans or trousers. Some wear long skirts and others wear long dresses. They also wear a head scarf that covers their hair and dark sunglasses. Almost all of them look super sexy with perfectly manicured hands and stylish high heels. It is only the women who are tourists show some skin in Egypt—never the Egyptian women. Just two days there and I was beginning to feel very under dressed in my T-shirts and jeans (That too, I had not worn any sleeveless ones, respecting the culture there), and so mostly I wore a cotton jacket too.

Some of the Arab men wear ‘galabia’—But most of the stylish ones wear designer t-shirts, jeans, trousers, shirts. Almost all of them look really handsome. Egyptians pride themselves on being more open minded than the other Islamic nations as the women are allowed to work, drive and even to not wear the head scarf if they choose not to. (I found very few women without it.(98 percent of the women I saw had covered their hair)

The young people in Egypt were like the youth everywhere. There were lovers in Malls, meeting secretly, young guys hanging out together and staring at attractive women who passed by and making comments and lusting after them.


Sex before marriage is absolutely taboo and for a man to get married, he has to pay a ‘bride-price’ to the girl’s father.(A dowry system that we have in our country but in reverse) The minimum I was told is 2,00,000 Egyptian pounds, which is a large sum of money. Earning such a large sum of money is beyond the means of many young men, and so they get married at later and later ages, maybe even in their late thirties and forties. Maybe it is all this high sexual energy in the air, I found the atmosphere highly charged. I was also told that the Arabic language is full of sexual innuendos and it richness lends a naughty bawdiness to daily talk.


I loved the Egyptian food too. I don’t eat meat and there were a variety of choices for me. I loved almost all of it.

Egypt mesmerizes. It charms, it enthralls and spins a web over you. It is hard to not get caught. It seems to cast a spell on you, and I was telling Satish that you can waste your entire life in Egypt, sipping bitter sweet tea, smoking a Hookah (The place is strewn with Cafes and women too frequent them. Some are only for men. I loved them.) , watching the world go by, and be very content about it. There is something about this place that seems to make time stand still.


I wanted to remember every moment of it.Ended up taking LOTS of pictures and I am sharing a few here. Satish and I are great fans of Wilbur Smith, and for us, it was the very scenes described in his well researched books coming to life. We could almost see the great Magus and Queen Lostiris as we imagined Ancient Egypt in all its splendour and glory as we visited each monument in reverence and awe ,apart from all the touristy things we did.


They say there are some things that you have in your mind that you just have to do in your lifetime. For us, visiting Egypt was one such.

It really seems to have a sprinkle of the magic of memories now and the dust still lingers.

Comments

  1. Experiencing Egypt is a landmark of life. It's one of the most enigmatic places on the earth. Good to hear that you had lots of fun!

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  2. oh sanam.. in yaadon ki kasammm...
    I can feel how much u still have left to say, but cant describe :)

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  3. Welcome Back

    Mummy blogger is back after meeting mummies ;)

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  4. Wow! Makes me yearn for a visit! Well, thats not possible now.....may be later.

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  5. I've had couple of friends who had been to Egypt telling me in awe about the place, and your description justifies it. But it was with a bit of surprise that I read about the women in Egypt. I say surprised because reading your post I just realised I had been misinformed by those guys on the subject of Egyptian women.
    Reverse dowry system, I had never heard of it before. How are women treated in that part of the country? The bride-price system indicates, very rightly, that they are accorded much respect. But when you say men bounce around passing comments, lusting after women,it is more or less like here in our country,I'm guessing!!

    Infact, I had been misinformed that in almost everywhere in Egypt one can find women scantily dressed trying to attract men--tossing an ungainly curtain of hair,jabbing around with a crooked forefinger,and sweeping the airspace with their hands!! I just wonder why they cooked up this story! An attempt to persuade me to book a ticket to Egypt I guess! Ha, I shall ask them !!

    Nice to know you had a great tour, and welcome back to India :)

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  6. Hey, what a coincidence. I'm currently reading "Map of Love" by Egyptian author Ahdaf Souief. It's a love story set in 2 different eras in Egypt. Loving reading your input on Egypt here..

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  7. Joy:Thanks :)

    Shru:Yeah! i love that song too!

    Rohit: She is a mummy herself! :)Thks!

    Arvind: Somehow I loved the place.Dont know if for others it will have the same significance it did for me.

    Balu: Men are men everywhere.Egyptian attitude towards women is shaped a lot by Islamic traditions--but in Egypt they are allowed to work and drive.The women are very modest--but naughty too.It is a charming combination.

    Rajk:Thanks! The book sounds really interesting.I am reading 'The Quest' by Wilbur Smith right now.

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  8. That was the first time I've heard of a journey described so refreshingly. Walked through the dust and splendour, and of course, loved every moment of it.
    Maybe its allowed for you to still hold onto those lingering special moments

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  9. Hi Preeti,

    I've been reading your blog posts regularly over the past few weeks and I've really enjoyed it.

    Egypt has been my dream destination since I was in the sixth grade - I am glad you had a great time there!

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  10. For some strange reason, Egypt is the only foreign country I really feel like visiting. So feeling a bit jealous after reading this post. Nice one :-)

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  11. I'LL GET KICKED BY MY HUSBAND IF I TELL HIM ,I WANT TO GO TO EGYPT NOW !!!!

    glad to know that you had a marvellous time....it's like reliving a history textbook...isn't it??

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  12. What a great trip. I'm so timid, I'm sure I would be at a loss for something so exotic, but it is a very tempting idea for a vacation!

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  13. How wonderful! Since I can't go to Egypt right now at least I got a little glimpse of it from you, thanks.
    I can tell how excited you are about it by the way you switched the letters on the post title ;)

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  14. Nice post, Preeti; Egypt is a place I've always wanted to visit and one day I hope I can - sounds great.

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  15. Hey Preethi...sounds like you all had a wonderful time

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  16. This happens to be the third post about Egypt that i've read in blogsville.

    Hmmm.. should put this in my to-visit list. Buuutt.. how was the weather, must've been really hot??

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  17. Hey, I just tagged you. Please do it!

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  18. Egypt...
    Ancient civilizations have always caught my attention and thus you can make sound guess as to where Egypt features on my list.
    A land which holds a million secrets and more stories than you can probably count, borne of the Nile, Egypt is mermerizing to say the least.
    I saw a similar reaction from my mother, when he called up from Egypt. Sadly, I couldn't tag along as it my parents 25th anniversary.. and Dad's gift to mom... Egypt and Greece!!
    I do wish to visit and spend some time over there before I'm through!!
    Let's hope for the best!!

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  19. Hiiii....coming to your blog after what seems ages and I seem to have missed a lot too :-(

    Anyways, nice to see the pics of ur trip, saw them on FB too...but could not leave a comment... wanted to say that S seems to have lost weight!!!!

    Anyways, the kids look happy and super excited too...and tht makes the trip a success in itself !!!

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  20. Hi!

    Just saw your comment...My husband was there for 6 weeks for his MBA internship - I just tagged along :) Istanbul is a lovely city - it was a great experience being there.

    Turkish coffee was a bit too strong for me - their tea was something I could take in.

    Will keep my eyes open for your next post!

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  21. Hi! I loved your write-up on Egypt! And that picture with you and your daughter - pyramids in the distance, windblown hair, sunshine - absolutely stunning!

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  22. salam 'allekum...welcome back...u have inspired me to finally make the trip to Egypt...

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  23. Tys: Sabah Al Khair! I hope you do.

    Shades of grey:Thanks:) One of my fav pics too.

    Vijaya:Yes--initially even i was shocked by how strong it was but when i finished it i loved it and wanted more!:)

    Ritu: Told S what you said and he was beaming :)

    Sam:What a lovely gift your dad gave your mom! Glad u didnt tag along ;)

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  24. RajK:I saw the tag..Thanks! But I dont have that many fav people in fiction!!

    J:Aswan and Luxor were very hot..rest were very okay.Anyways if you are used to the Indian summer it is really not as big a deal as people make it out to be.

    SMM:we did--thanks!

    Scotty:Thks--I hope you do.

    DM: a little detail that i hadn't noitced :) Thanks for pointing it out.

    Sue:It was great--and by the way there were bus loads of Americans there.

    Gazal: heh heh--i know!

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  25. Bindhu: I read your malayalam blog (Yes i have taught myself mallu) --the one about the trek--and shared it with my mom too.I hope you too get to go to egypt.

    Vijaya:Thanks for de-lurking and welcome!:)

    Prats:Thanks!

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  26. Preeti:)
    So glad you enjoyed your holiday, what a fantastic place to journey to.
    If you like Wilbur Smith, you would enjoy Pauline Gedge, OH! She writes about ancient Egypt like no other. I adore her books.
    I am happy for you and now you've inspired me, I must go and see!!!!
    Welcome home...xox

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  27. You completely transported me to Egypt with your blog. How did the kids enjoy?

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  28. A lovely description. I did have Egypt on my list of places to visit, but now afer reading this, have to push it up the list. :)

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  29. Egypt...the one place that's intrigued me since a long, long time. And after reading ur amazing description of the ppl, the places n the culture...now i'm seriously contemplating giving it a nudge up on my "places to visit" list!!

    Have been reading the blog for a while now...didn't get around leaving a comment earlier though..just wanna say that u write some excellent stuff. Will be back for more!! ;)
    Keep writing...

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  30. Egypt is enchanting - it gets right into your soul. Your description here spot on, and I suddenly feel the urge to return there.Thank you.

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  31. Sounds absolutely great. My mum went there and loved it. There are many egyptian eating places in Holland and very popular.
    I talked to some people in Turkey when we went there on holiday. They are pretty progressive too. The man had the same problem there that they couldn't afford a bride and all wanted to come to Holland.

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  32. Hi , I am an avid reader of your blog, but never left the comment. Its so good to know that you enjoyed the Egypt tour. We have been planning it for some time , never worked out. I think, your article will give us the final push.
    cheers,teju

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  33. That seems like such a wonderful experience, for the mind, body and the soul :) When I read the first line of your post I was reminded of the song 'Sand in my shoes' by Dido.

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  34. Hey Preeti,Have been reading your blogs for the past few weeks now!!!Really love all your articles ....this one is very refreshing and the snaps are good too :)))

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  35. They say there are some things that you have in your mind that you just have to do in your lifetime. For us, visiting Egypt was one such!!!

    Dis is one thing i have in my mind too P!! the ONE & ONLY place i wud luv to visit!!!

    Im glad u cud fulfill ur wish. n im happy u had a super time.

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  36. Pai:Thanks! I hope you get to go soon.

    Chandan.Thanks for letting me know--I really appreciate it.I tried accessing your profile--but it says "not available"--so presuming that you are not a blogger.In case you are pls do send me the link to your blog.

    Inolongeram:Haven't heard that song.Will look out for it.Thanks for stopping by.

    Teju:I am so glad you left a comment :) I hope you plan a trip soon.Decemeber I am told is a great time to visit.

    Marja: Yes.Not affording a bride is sommon there.Glad your mom enjoyed.

    Keith: So you've been there--then you know exactly what i am talking about!

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  37. Kenny:Glad you decided to comment! Thank u! Yes--Egypt is definitely worth visiting.

    Pg:Thanks!

    Monika:Atul LOVED it.Purvi, not so much.But Purvi did like the modern pleasures like the pool at the otel and on the cruise she enjoyed.

    Gillian:Will keep my eyes open for Paulene Gedge.Hadn't heard of her--thanks!

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  38. hey welcome Back.....glad to see u back. Beautiful writeup of ur experiences.
    p.s - I never cease to be amazed at good u look:-P

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  39. great..ur post makes me want to go there soon...Egypt and Norway are two countries which i want to visit I get a chance!...:-)

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  40. Looks like you had a lot of fun.. You are looking very pretty too in the snaps :)

    Loved this para "Egypt mesmerizes. It charms, it enthralls and spins a web over you. It is hard to not get caught. It seems to cast a spell on you, and I was telling Satish that you can waste your entire life in Egypt, sipping bitter sweet tea, smoking a Hookah , watching the world go by, and be very content about it. There is something about this place that seems to make time stand still."

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  41. hope you noticed..i was surprised to see how much hindi movies were popular with Cd, DVDs sold in most markets. one security guard in the museum saw me asked..'india?' i said yes.. he smiled and replied 'amitabh bachan' ;) 2word conversation symbolizing common cultural interest.;)

    sex n marriage-- its just like india. young people are young people althou its taboo sex before is not uncommon. apart from touring the place- i had opportunity to meet n socialize with folks from work. one female colleague took me places and she was local, young.
    she was saying young people are following new form of marriage - 'urfi' signing documents declaring themselves man and wife without telling their families. thus not feeling guilty to have sex with boy/gal frnds. (/i always try to find someone local to have non-touristic experience.;)

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  42. Hi Preeti,

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience. Egypt is my son's favorite travel destination, he's fascinated by it's history and pharaohs and sphinx.

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  43. Lovely pictures

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  44. Aathira: Thanks!

    Diamond & pearl: Thanks!My son too loved it.

    Yuva: yes it was the same with me too. Everywhere it was "sholay' and 'Amitabh' and even'Amjad Khan'.I told them they will score better with Indians if they say Salman and Aamir Khan. We too had some lovely local egyptians who told us a lot of things (censored as my friends kids read my blog! So cannot menton many things here)

    Veena:Thaaaaank you! :-)

    Mathew: I hope you do soon!

    Reflections: *Blush Blush*--Thanks :-)

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  45. Wow!!
    You have had a well researched trip!! What with info about Sex before marriage and all!

    Egypt is on my list of places to go before i die...

    Sigh..wish it happens sooon!

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  46. work a little more, earn more money and go holiday! i am telling myself!!

    till then thanx for taking me there! :)

    cheers!

    abha

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  47. i love reading the kind of stuff that you write. You are motivating me to start my own blog. Thanks. Continue the good work

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  48. wow..i'd love to travel to egypt one day too...really want to find out up-close wht's with those mummies???

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