Friday, January 13, 2012

Travelogue: Mummies and the Nile

Mummies do Miracles
She Used to be a Queen

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo houses thousands of years old  human bodies in addition to a huge collection of historical artifacts. Twenty seven in number, these corpses does not only speak volumes about the timeless human intelligence but are also evident of the human desire to become immortal. 

Should any of them be given a chance to see themselves mummified, completely dehydrated, and wrapped up in the worn out yellowish and brownish yarn they would only curse their longing. The poor elite! They used to be wealthy, charismatic, powerful, royal, inevitable, earth-shattering, and worshiped in the old wooden days!

Now they do miracles, only to the department of tourism, which charges an extra EGP 100 to visit the mortuary, in addition to the EGP 60 for the museum entrance ticket!

لا فضّل عربي علي عجمي و لاعجمي علي عربيُّ إلا بتقوي الله
At the ticket counter, I could read the sign mentioning that the Arabic speaking people only need to pay a meager EGP 4 for the entrance. The difference was tempting enough to give our luck a try! Alas, the skill could not withstand the further inquiry and we were directed to where we belonged to, i.e. to the foreigners’ queue! 

Later on, I realized that the staff was only asking for our IDs which are actually written in the Arabic script, Nastaleeq, نستعلیق! Two times Alas!

Some Anatomy
Those carcasses - mostly dilapidated - were more meaningful for Urooba, an-about-to-be-a-doctor. Observing them as case studies, she was so elaborating at times that I started feeling vomiting, especially when she peeked deep inside them through the rapturous skin and arthritis hit bones!
This is not a Toothpaste Ad!
In the Eternal Life
Or Somewhere in Between
Rest in Peace?
Once Upon a Time
The Burial Chamber
A Mummified Fish along with a Crocodile Tail
Egyptian Museum
Writings on the Wall
Elucidations on the wall posters hanging around the mummy room about the incidental excavation and the discovered communiqués show how powerless those all-powerful become when their time comes! I wish Hosni Mubarak could have taken a note of that!
Writings on the Wall
The Mummified Buidling
The burned out government building adjacent to museum’s wall looked more helpless than the charcoal mummies, signifying the reduced influence of every passing tyrant!
Mobarak's Building
Back to Tahrir
After having this profound impression we walked back towards Tahrir, not to join the protestors out there, but only to meet a local Couchsurfer, Ramy, who kindly committed to take us to the traditional Nile cruise, Felucca, فلوکه. 

The square was relatively calm then; however, tension was still present in the air with half mounted camps and angry youngsters managing the barricades. They did not want to give the military a single moment of respite and were demanding the junta to quit immediately instead of following the slow transition schedule.

Paradoxically, a couple of hundred meters from the battlefield, life was as usual as it can be! Cramped up streets, jam packed bazaars, busy eateries, shouting salesmen, the ever flowing Nile, and whatever it needs to make it one of the largest cities in the World.
In the Middle of Tahrir
Tahrir Camps
The Revolution
Later in the felucca, I discussed the situation in Egypt with Ramy in detail. No matter what views an Egyptian youngster has and no matter which school of thought they belong to; I found all of them with an amazing ownership of the revolution. 

They all know that they have turned the course of the history! They are young, energetic, flamboyant, and hot blooded with a sense of victory from a deep trenched rival! All they need now is the direction and a leadership that can steer them through the difficult times, like our Captain Gamal who was busy in playing with the sail to move the noiseless boat with the help of sweet Nile breeze.

Felucca: Cruising Through Nile فلوکہ
It cannot be more soothing than cruising in the Nile! Even though it was right in the middle of the chaotic and polluted conurbation, the calm blue stream of the river was too refreshing. For a moment, I got free from all the worldly hassles. 

In the meantime, Misha made it to the deck somehow and started running in the excitement. Suddenly she fumbled as the boat took a jerk, and Urooba screamed looking helplessly at me as Misha was out of reach! That brought me in the real world again. Fortunately the boat tilted back giving me enough opportunity to grab the naughty little traveler!

Ramy also offered us to show around Mukattam Hills overlooking the Cairo city, however, we had to abandon the journey midway, after stranded up in the packed traffic for half an hour, and that too with the running taxi meter!
Another Felucca
Smooth as Nile
The Whole Boat is Mine!
Naughty Girl
Hiding from Abbu
The Cairo Skyline
The journey back to the downtown, through Metro, was the toughest of all our journeys in this trip because of the rush hour. On the other hand, that was the most revealing experience; watching the Egyptian lifestyle closely! A good trade-off, but not to be repeated again!

Before calling it a day at a downtown eatery, we discussed whether to go to Alexandria the next day, our last one in Egypt, or to explore the local markets. And you can guess yourself the result of the conversation! 
Some Local Food

In the Making
Tip of the Day: Students can avail discount on the entrance ticket to the historical sights. For Citadel, it was marked down by EGP 25 from EGP 50 and by EGP 30 and 60 for the Egyptian Museum and its Royal Mummy Room, respectively. 

In order to avail the discount, one needs to have a valid student card from their respective educational institute. We generally found ticket offices skeptical when Urooba showed her ID but managed to avail that except for the Sounds & Lights show where they claim to have only one class of ticket.

Today's Expense Sheet
EGP 30 Taxi and Metro
EGP 40 Food etc
EGP 10 Mobile Credit
EGP 90 Egyptian Museum Entry (60+30)
EGP 160 Royal Mummy Room Entry (100+60)
EGP 65 Felucca

1 USD = 6 EGP
1 EGP = 15 PKR

1 comment:

  1. Great pics and a wonderful pictortial journey. Hope am able to visit this wonderful land soon.