I must say that my trip to Egypt felt extremely different from trips to other places. I seemed to know the land even before I stepped into it. I could not wait to see the Pyramids of Giza, which embedded the dead and embodied a combination of pure and occult sciences.
When I reached the foot of the pyramids I lost sight of its wholesomeness because of its proximity and a strange disappointment enveloped me.
Then the sight of the “nose less sphinx” in the back drop of the Pyramids brought a smile on my face as I remembered how Obelix broke the nose inadvertently by climbing onto the sphinx in “Asterix and Cleopatra” and even looked around for the possible spot in which it could be buried.
When I took the cruise on the Nile, I inadvertently looked out for Cleopatra cruising down the river with Julius Caesar or Mark Anthony. It is said that Cleopatra often fed the ferocious crocodiles with criminals and prisoners who infested her land. I found myself watching out for “sacred crocodiles” of the Nile even as I was feeling protective towards the few water birds that swooped occasionally into the water in search of fish!
The cruise down the Nile was truly rejuvenating despite the heavy traffic of barges, luxury cruises and yachts not to mention the pollution. The sight of lone footwear, coke cans and empty water bottles floating in the waters sometimes almost black in colour made me feel concerned for the primeval sacrosanct river.
The view of the banks of the river unfolded like a canvas bearing different landscapes regularly punctuated with stretches of panoramic sand dunes, rushes, trees, roads, rural settings with long robed, turbaned men astride on donkeys- a la Naseeruddin Hodja, donkey carts, horse carts, camel carts, stray dogs, rail road, quarries, Roman ruins, temples and tombs.
I spent the daylight hours on the cruise in solitude watching miles of beige in several shades, shapes and sizes but my mind was busy comparing notes. Instead of accepting and enjoying what was in front of me, I was trying to traverse familiar grounds that were etched in my mind’s eye.
Perhaps, the reading of reams of history, literature and research papers written on the magic of the land had made me visualise virtual and imaginative information without discretion, across time and space. When I bounced back to reality, I decided to savour the flavour of the land as it was, without sifting the sands of time. It is needless to say that the trip became enjoyable!