Sunday, November 14, 2010

River of life - the Nile

Nile - the longest river of the world. And through it's course, one can see life in different forms. For a land which sees rains barely, it becomes a true giver of life. As you cruise through the river, you get to see not only snippets of life on its bank, but every moment gives you a different hue too! Be it the sunset or the full moon, be it a bustling cruise industry or the serenity of the waters - it offers contrasting reflections through the day. Though tourism has left its polluting scars on the beautiful river, the latter gives quietly to the ecosystem.

While I present below some of the beautiful images that I could capture, the experience itself cannot be expressed. These are memories which I shall treasure in days to come and forever.

The bustling river Nile at Cairo -these boats offer unique dining experience in the city
The gentle Nile - serenity speaks

Early morning - fishermen hoping for dimes while waiting for a catch

The river transforms in the moonlight, making it one of the most breathtaking moments

Bittersweet: as sun sets on river, we look forward to another exhilirating day

Picture perfect - nature at its best



Snapshots of Egypt

Yes, it seems strange to come back to my blog after so long. But the next series of posts are worth this comeback, though I may not even be scratching the surface.
Egypt - it may remind you of your history books, of movies with so called 'treasure hunts' and pots of gold or of Ben Fraser battling the mystical powers of a high priest. But these stereotypical images are just that -stereotypes. They no where represent the rich and heady past of Egypt (still shrouded with mystery in places), and a present, which is a charming mix of what could be symbols of 'modernity' and 'tradition'. I cringe to make such a distinction, but the locals accept and showcase what they call as 'Oriental' culture -one of the first things which had us confused. For Indians, the 'Oriental' would be the Chinese/Japanese culture, but the Egyptians (along with other Middle East countries) know themselves as 'Orientals'. They know that is more than 75% European tourists like to see. The next few series are my impressions of the country and the capital, Cairo, of its local culture, of the past and of its present times.
Strangely, we were warned by people who've been to the country -beware of getting fleeced, beware of hassling, and of scams! And we found some of those reactions were exaggerated. Of course they must have been based on certain experiences. But we found most locals to be simple, warm and friendly. They may seem aggressive initially. But all you need to do is be polite and firm with the hasslers. Refuse help if extended. Smile and say no. Or completely ignore -and you shall be fine. Seek out those who don't pay you much attention -they are the ones who will give you real help, when you need. Tourism is one of the prime industries in this country and locals themselves do not earn much on their own. It is insightful to see the clever ways they find to make money, but you too need to be smart. Of course, it becomes all the more important to regulate a few, but overall it isn't as bad as you will find in most guide books and websites.

El-Souk, Luxor
They are curious people with an innate sense of humour. The language barrier does not matter. One of our cabbie drivers did not know any English. Our frantic signs and attempts to speak in slow and broken English did not evoke any response. The only word we did get out of him was a suprising one: "Kentack" ("Kentucky") -the only word he probably knew in English. One of the ever-smiling waiters proved this again, despite not knowing English. He serves soda and commands the fizz to "Stop!". (And it does!)
We were even rechristened "India!" by many shopkeepers - an adjective which stuck with us till the end of the seven day trip! "India come here" "India, 2 pound for you, not 5". We were from the land of Amitabh Bachhan, Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherji. Though nothing worth buying was ever 2 pound, we quickly learned. Cannily enough, as soon as you entered the shop, they became 2 British pound, not Egyptian!
In their heart, they are non-Cairo people are extremely laidback. A sheesha and hibiscus drink is all they needed to feel happy again. Music - just about anybody can break into one of their folk tunes. You see rich colors everywhere -in the souks or bazaars, the mosques or even the cuisine. And it all grows on you. The more you see, the more you want to stay.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Between you and me
Lies infinite spaces
Of minds, of distance,
And of age, may be.
Yet we bond
As you read this,
My words
To be consumed
By the one who is willing to read?
Spaces there might be
Of mother tongue, of creed,
Of sex, of gender,
Of religion and of beliefs.
And yet, they are important
For they mean
There are bridges.
In those differences,
Lay the points of similarity too.
As we turn to each other
To bridge this space between us
Our intentions have brought us
Within the same circumference
And we may challenge the other,
Either to agree or disagree,
But we’d have to understand
What each is saying?
And in that attempt
We must understand self,
Before the other becomes clear
And that takes time
To stand strong
For what we believe in
Without realizing so,
Unintentionally, unconsciously
We create what we think
And we aren’t exactly
How we think we are
Something less, something more
But never really almost.