Nanda in Cairo, Egypt – To the Pyramids in Gizza on Horseback

Monday, November 13, 2000

On the way to pyramids in Gizza by a taxi. Bernard is bargaining with the driver. “40 pounds sir, no problem,” says the driver. “Yes problem. 30 rupees,” Bernard answers. My friend never can get used to Egyptian currency. Dear friend, we are not in Sri Lanka!

I see a large number of election campaigning posters everywhere in the city. Just like in Sri Lanka. People make the cities ugly with their election campaigns.

Reaching to Gizza. Our tour guide, Moses, is an elderly looking man. His helper Mohammed is a young boy. We have two options to reach the pyramids. Either by horseback or on a camel. We unanimously decide to go on horseback. I don’t see the camel as a friendly animal either.

Horses are well tamed and well trained. “To look more Arabic, let’s buy a Muslim turban,” I propose and Bernard nods. Another trouble, we are getting too much of attention after wearing turbans. Young Egyptians shout at us, “Maharajah! India.” They think we are Indians. Haven’t they ever heard of Sri Lanka.

We are heading for the pyramids in Gizza. Moses tells us that we are in the eastern corner of the Great Sahara Desert!!!!!!!!!! The very thought of Sahara makes us thirsty. Let’s buy two bottles of water? and Bernard agrees. Though the sun is shining we don’t feel the heat due to the freezing cold. My village kids in Sri Lanka will never believe that a desert can be this much cold.

At last we are in front of a great pyramid. Moses says there are nine of them. We pass them one by one. I agree that they are great creations made by human hands. Still I haven’t seen anything that comes close to the unbelievable creativity of the sculptor who carved two statues at Gal Vihara in Polonnaruwa. The serenity of the Buddha’s face in that statue is beyond comparison.

Time to go back to our hotel. The same car and the same driver are there. Bernard who bargained earlier is very happy and he has decided to give some extra money to the driver. Again he mixes up Egyptian Pounds with Sri Lankan Rupees.

Back in the hotel. Have to go to the American Embassy for an audio conference. I’m the last to come to the Embassy. Still I’m on time. Mr. Barry, Ms. Radha, Mr. Rashmikanth. Ms. Farah and Mr. Richard A. Boyum of the US Embassy are here. But most likely we are not going to make it. Telephone lines are not clear. I hear sounds like the messages they got from Neil Armstrong on the Moon. “Let’s give up” is the unanimous decision and Farah says that everything went wrong because of my necktie. I am the only one wearing a necktie. Others have come attired in casual dresses.

I am having dinner at “TAKE 5” supermarket with Bernard, Sister Jennifer and Rashmikanth. This is a nice evening. We feel the sorrow of departing. When the friendship was growing the time comes us to depart. Both Sister Jennifer and Lakshmikanth became very good friends throughout our stay in Cairo. After tonight we’ll be scattered in different parts of the USA. Jennifer to New Mexico, Rashmikanth to New Jersey, Bernard to the Wild West (Seattle) and I to the Recounting County (Florida) Another lady teacher from Lebanon will also join me in Miami Country Day School.

Back in the hotel. Turn on to CNN at any time, and there is no end to the recounting of ballots in Florida

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