Christmas Day, 2006, Day 1in Egypt
I like the dude in the flight safety videos.
He is so cool in the face of calamity. He manages to find the life vest under the seat (my furtive gropes have perpetually failed to locate this life saving device), and gets the clasps in the right hoops as the airplane is crashing into the water. He then jumps on to the raft confident that the vest will self-inflate once it comes in contact with water. In case it does not, he is confident that he will find the tiny rubber tube on the shoulder and blow enough air effortlessly, while navigating choppy seas, to displace his own weight.
The GPS tracker embedded in the back of the headrests is a fantastic invention especially with kids around. The "Are we there yet?" can be met with "Sweets, when this little airplane goes across all this blue and then over that green and brown and meets this triangle, we will be there."
Rhea gawks at the LCD goggle-eyed. I guess not being able to say AWTY takes away half her pleasure of travelling. The other half depends on how many surprises Gayatri and I have managed to secret away in her little carry-on.
Tracking the plane on the LCD over Europe is exhilarating as exotic sounding places - Dusseldorf, Cologne, Hague, Naples, Geneva, Luxemburg, Dortmund - all seem just a (parachute) drop away.
Rhea travels well. Comfortable, self assured, goes with the blow, does not resist, takes as it comes, sleeps easily. Good for her.
We change from United to Lufthansa at Frankfurt and the difference in the flying experience is immediately apparent. The German Lufthansa airplanes are so ergonomic designed. A little hook to hang (the wife’s) purse, A little glass holder that allows you to nurse a drink without having to put the tray down.
We landed in Cairo after 15 hours of flying. Rhea's first words as she walks out are, "Papi, I am pretending this is India...". She stole my thought. The air was thick and warm air. A thousand odors simultaneously invaded the nostrils. Multilingual no-holds-barred loud hubbub met the ears. An explosion of smiling brown faces, it does feel like India.
The hotel is situated on the Giza plateau. There is a a high profile garish wedding happening in it foyer, attended by local glitterati and a loud singing band. The hotel has 5 restaurants and not one of them, to our disappointment, authentic Egyptian. So we stepped out to find some food. and inadvertently notice the limestone clad Khafre on the horizon. Khufu's silhouette soon became apparent and excited Rhea.
We stumbled upon a Egyptian hole-in-the-wall where we had our first cups of bitter and muddy Turkish coffee.
We also ran into our first Egyptian smooth-talking salesman who tried to sell us perfumes made using recipes allegedly found in king Tut's tomb. Frankly we all liked the perfume though the thought of shelling out Egyptian pounds without looking around did not appeal to our senses. We promised to return later and suddenly Ashref was no longer smooth talking.