Obama in Cairo, and Nile Cruise

About three months back, I was in Egypt. Egypt to me has been enigmatic in more ways than I could imagine.
While there, I immersed myself to soak in the culture of the land of the pharaohs. They may have lived 7500 years ago but their memories are still strong in present-day Egypt. They believed and led their subjects to believe that they represented the gods on earth. The Egyptians were precocious and did create one of the earliest civilizations on the earth. From those times, they grew cotton and invented paper, and codified many things about life and death.

Now let’s go to modern day Cairo. While on my way to Giza that morning, I had shot this picture when the Nile River in that area was still encompassed in mist.

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A metropolitan that houses almost 18 million people (like Mumbai approximately), the charm of Cairo is in its location on the banks of River Nile in the northern part of the country. It is Cairo that has been chosen by Obama to address the Islamic countries tomorrow hoping to reach out to the Muslim world and the prospect of a warm ‘Obama-Arab’ embrace for the much needed better understanding between East and West.

In Cairo, tourists are highly recommended to include in their itinerary an evening of ‘Dinner and Dance’ on one of their numerous Nile cruises. Though often I am unlike most tourists, in this case however, I too opted to attend one such event.

I recall noticing a few kiosks right outside on the road at the entrance of a Nile cruise where the program was to be held that evening. As I tried to look into the eyes of one of the vendors, he looked too busy and certainly not the kind interested in diplomatic relations. Surely there must be more pressing concerns on his mind. Like, the need to feed his large family. As known to many of us, that often is the case in a country where half the population struggles to survive on less than $3 a day.

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I digress as this post is meant to be about the dinner cruise, not an analysis on the socio-political scenario around. To gaze at the “City of a Thousand Minarets” through twinkling lights from the cruise was a pleasant experience.

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Dinner was good but there was nothing new and exciting, as I have been used to tasting such dishes having lived in the Middle East the past few years. Dance was, but of course, as expected, belly dancing! I have seen a few sessions of belly dancing the past few years. The first few times initially, when I was curious, I’ve been delighted. When compared, the dancers in the deserts of Dubai that I have seen were moving their bodies and gyrating better than the ones on the cruise that I’ve been on.

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I spent the best part of the cruise on the deck. Cool winds were blowing, blithely caressing those on board. In fact the strong breeze was a bit too cold for my comfort that made me pull out my soft cardigan to cover myself. The twinkling soft lights were charming. It was nice to pick out a corner away from the lights on the deck, and to watch the older part of the city in the eastern part of Cairo. The “City that Never Sleeps” exhibits the sprawling high rise buildings on the western side of the Nile.

The reflection of the lights in the Nile created a magical effect. As the cruise sailed on effortlessly, I stood in a corner of the deck mesmerized. The River seemed to flow on in eternity oblivious to the weight of the numerous cruises drifting quietly in either direction. I felt one in tune with the flowing currents, as if my destiny was bound with the events of the evening. It directed me to have faith in an eternity that transcended my ephemeral existence. It was easy to let go and give in to be lost in the exotic experience on the Nile.

8 Comments

  • Celine says:

    “It is Cairo that has been chosen by Obama to address the Islamic countries tomorrow…….”

    The above words were written on the day I sent this post for publication, i.e., June 3, 2009.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Long time Celine. Glad to find you here again :-)

    I have heard about Nile cruises so many times but didn’t know what it is. In my widest fantasies, I even imagines that they take you on a cruise which lasts many days. happy to know what it is.

    Wishes.

  • Celine says:

    Nandan,

    Thank you for your comment.
    There are the other types of cruises as well on which one can spend days and weeks together moving from one city to another but being the free spirit that I am, it’s not my cup of tea. I prefer being on land with the freedom to go where I want when I wish rather than seeing land from a moving vessel while being taken around place to place…

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Egypt is definitely on my list of enigmatic places, along with Turkey and Jordan.

    Can we expect the free spirit to guide us to places other than Cairo?

    :-)

  • Celine says:

    Patrick,

    Haha…You aren’t allowed to comment on the comments..just the post, okay? Just kidding…

    Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey are very “touristy” places, aren’t they? I’ve been to Jordan too but never got around to writing any post on that.

    This ‘free spirit’ went around quite a bit around Egypt. Hope to share more. In the meantime, are you interested in any particular place: Giza, Luxor, Aswan, Abu-Simbel, St. Catherine, Alexandria? Let me know and thank you for your encouraging comment.:)

    • Patrick Jones says:

      A present day city hardly inspires me but a Pharaoh’s palace sure will. The desire to walk up Mount Sinai (just like Moses did) is burning like that bush. Would like to take a peek into a Giza pyramid and would love to borrow a book from Alexandria’s burnt-down library but the Aswan dam be ‘damed’ :-)

  • Celine says:

    Patrick,
    Hehehe…okay.
    I could climb only a part of the Sinai Mountain because by the time I reached St Catherine’s monastery, the the twilight lights after sunset began to fade and then the monastery guards prohibited me from proceeding further.
    I went to the Giza pyramids twice and admired them from ‘outside’. No worries though as I did have a good peek at another pyramid on the ‘inside’ in Dashour. Will write a post on this and try to accommodate your other requests too. Thanks for showing interest.

  • manish khamesra says:

    It is such a nice feeling to read the “new” post of one of fellow ghumakkar with whom I started my journey to the world of blogging. Needless to say you are missed at Ghumakkar, I am sure that those who are following this blog from the beginning will agree with me :-)

    Good that I am writing this comment at a time when you have again disappeared from the arena of ghumakkar.

    Its a post with beautiful pictures, but reading it generate urge to know more.

    Indeed its a dream to travel to the world of pharaohs and to visit their magnificient gift to the world “the Pyramids”. Will I be able to travel to this part of the world one day?

    Obama:- World looked at him with great expectations, but in the limited way I followed his actions, I think he has not come so true to those expectations, not till now.

    Celine, Will you keep your promise that you have made to Patrick or will I be reminded that I am not expected to comment on comments ;-)

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