Egypt. A country of contrasts and history

Egypt is a country of contrasts.

I suggest that those who have been in this country more than once do not read my notes. Flying, swimming, sunbathing. Many Russians now can rightfully say: “Chicken is not a bird, Egypt is not abroad”. And yet I am writing these notes. I am writing for those, who haven’t been there, and also for myself, to understand, what was it: a fairy tale, a mirage, or a hard objective reality?

The purpose of my trip was not banal: type of change dull St. Petersburg December, on the sunny coast of the Red Sea. Not at all, I went to a scientific conference, which by the plan of the organizers was held in a luxurious five-star hotel in a resort town with the amazing name of Sharm el-Sheikh. The town was named not after a “posh sheikh” (as the French and Russians would translate the name), but after the sheik bays formed by the Sinai Peninsula wedged into the Red Sea. The city is new. It emerged in the seventies of the last century, after Egypt wrested its rightful land in Sinai from Israel. To avoid returning to this topic, I will say that this two-week war is remembered by the Egyptians with no less piety than we remember our three Fatherland wars, when we were at war with almost all of Europe for years.

Sharm el-Sheikh is the crowning glory of the long and dreary road from Cairo to the resort of Sinai through the Sahara desert. The road runs at some distance from the Red Sea coast, about which, to paraphrase the words of a famous Soviet song, we can say the same paradoxical phrase as about our Black Sea: “The bluest Red Sea in the world is mine…”. The blue of the sea only sometimes peeks out from behind sand hills of the desert, very much reminiscent of the sand slides that our little compatriots love to pound on the beaches. In recent years, these slides are actively being leveled and built up with white two- and three-story houses – new recreation centers, the presence of which is evidenced by the picturesque gates standing by the road, topped with the name of the hotel. And sometimes there are mosques right by the road. They are graceful, white and blend seamlessly into the yellow sands. In my opinion, mosques are the most beautiful modern structures in Egypt.

That’s something, but Egypt is actively being built. Especially in the resort area. And no wonder – the investors are good. They are mostly citizens of freezing Russia. There are also Ukrainians and Belarusians. Why not go, get warmed up, if a trip to Egypt is often cheaper than a visit to a neighbor, to the same snow-covered expanses? Our people are everywhere: in the hotels, on excursions and at the airport. If only to visit and then go back, but no. They buy wholesale and retail Egyptian real estate, apparently wishing to change the 12 months of winter to 12 months of summer. They say that on the shores of Sinai permanently resides about 28 thousand Russians. Apparently, this is not the limit. It is not only warm, but also cheap. Having sold a modest one bedroom in our northern latitudes, here you can buy two new double with a pool and parking in the yard and the sea around the corner. What’s wrong with basking in the Egyptian sun from time to time, and then spending your days on a huge, by local standards, Russian pension?

They say that the contrasting transition from our northern winter to their southern one, more reminiscent of our fortunate summer, is not good for the human body. I liked this transition, and I think I’m not the only one. Just now it was raining gray boredom outside the window, turning into snow, just now you thought with melancholy that this nonsense before the summer is at least six months. A few hours of flight and there’s sunshine outside the window, which you haven’t seen for months, and palm trees, which many have never seen.

Outwardly the desert looks less attractive than its northern cousins, the steppe and the tundra. The northern ones are green, but the desert, where only here and there one can see dirty green mounds of unknown vegetation on hot sands, and occasionally stunted palms (more like wiped broomsticks stuck in the ground with a stem down), is hopelessly yellow. It is not clear why the predominantly desert-dwelling peoples of Islam chose a green banner rather than a yellow one. Could it be because a green oasis in the desert is a Muslim paradise? At any rate, from the very first steps through the hotel grounds I was overcome with ecstasy: “Am I not in paradise? Green grass, blossoming trees, luxurious palm bouquets and blue saucers of pools were all around. Looking at this, you can’t understand why Arabs are considered a lazy nation? Couldn’t lazy people grow and maintain such beauty on the hot sands of the Sahara. Surely it is not a simple love of beauty that drives them, but rather pragmatic objectives. At the end of the twentieth century, the Arab world, lost in a vast expanse of sand, realized how to use it wisely. Today, one-third of Egypt’s gross domestic product comes from the tourism business, surpassing the revenues the country receives from the passage of foreign ships through the Suez Canal and the income from oil and gas exports. One is imbued with pride in his country, from the understanding that our people, who once built the Aswan Dam, which provides Egypt with its own electricity, and are now actively investing in the tourism business, made a great contribution to the foundation of Egypt’s national wealth.

The Egyptians remember this and, on the whole, treat Russians well. The only people who are not happy are the Russian tourists, who have paid for the “all-inclusive” and try to explain to the Arabs the features of the Russian soul, and they urge them not to abuse the free alcohol (it is poured at every step), so as not to “varnyaka” afterwards. Hearing this, you realize that the Russian language here has already been mastered quite well. It is, after Arabic, the most common on the Red Sea. It is not just spoken, but dashingly chattered by most of the resort staff. The staff is all male. They are young and beautiful, like the resorts themselves. Grim, rude and boorish among them did not meet. All smiling at you, trying to please and please, though, not unselfishly. You mustn’t forget that for any service, even the most insignificant one, they ask for a “bakshish” or hint in Russian, “you must pay. It is for us, former Soviet, tip something unusual, but for the West it is the norm. On cruise vessels the tips are included in the cost of the voyage and make up to ten percents of its nominal value. But what is really un-Western is the undisguised interest of these good-looking children of the sun in Russian women of all ages. They make dates here as soon as they can say hello. What is it more of a young man’s hunger for sex or a desire to do them an extra favor, so that the vouchers, as they say in all post-Soviet resorts, “do not burn out”? Perhaps this preoccupation of Russian women is the secret of increased sexuality of the Arabs.

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Getting married to a Russian here has become very prestigious and profitable – you do not have to pay a bride price. Among the vacationers, the rich ladies enjoy special attention. So the Arabs flirt with our women more often for mercenary reasons. Well-knowing local girls-slavs among the attendants say that if you want a non-drinking and non-smoking husband – marry an Arab, but the consequences of such a marriage are unpredictable. There were several elderly couples at our conference: an Egyptian husband and a Russian wife. This is a consequence of the Union’s program of assistance to friendly Egypt. They seemed happy. True, the husbands in these couples differ little from Europeans, not only in behavior, but also in appearance. It is amazing how enlightenment smoothes out national differences.

A former Moscow graduate student, now a Cairo retiree, was nostalgic about his unforgettable Moscow years and lamented that the kind of secular Egypt that was under Gamal Abdel Nasser, the country’s first president – a great friend of the USSR – no longer exists. That the country, despite the influx of tourists, is sinking more and more into Islam. This is evident, above all, in Egyptian women. The vast majority of them are wearing hijabs or headscarves. There are also faithful Muslim women in black robes that reveal only a slit for the eyes. Only the rare Christian Egyptian women are open. There is a noticeable minority of them (Egyptians who are Christian in Egypt are not more than five percent).

The hijab-like headscarves were worn by the entire family of my graduate student friend, Fathi, who invited me to the conference. Twenty years ago, he had come to the Union with his beautiful wife, who did not wear a hijab and smoked a dainty weed cigarette. Now I was met by a stern old woman with her scarf pulled down over her eyes, her lips pressed together, dressed in some shapeless clothes. Fathi said she was forced to wear the hijab by her adult daughters, who, like all Egyptian youth, are experiencing a rise in interest in Islam His daughters also wear hijabs, but in tight jeans and sweaters, which the Koran forbids. – I don’t like it,” Fatma, the former beauty, whispered to me, pointing to the scarf. – Take it off,” I said. – He,” she nodded expressively at her husband. – It’s the kids, not me” he says, though I know his friend, and I’m guessing that it’s him. He needs his wife to reckon with Muslim traditions in order to succeed.

I am glad that by the time I left, Fatma had taken liberties at home: she washed her tangled hair under her shawl, dyed the gray hair that had grown in the hiding place, twisted her curlers, and, having styled her hair, became again, though not as beautiful as before, but a very interesting lady. I, and all our women, felt sorry for their Egyptian girlfriends. It is very important for a woman to be beautiful, not only at home, but for the whole world, but Islam makes her hide her beauty so as not to tempt men. Surprisingly, they, the lustful ones, are considered less sinners than women. These poor souls, who live in the heat on one of the most beautiful seas, rarely go in for a swim, and only in a Muslim bathing suit, a long-sleeved, knee-length dress, from under which slacks up to the ankles peep out. The bathers wear the same headscarf or, at best, a rubber cap. Fathi told how this summer the Egyptian trainee girls he brought to Ukraine, drowsy in the steppe sun, swam into the Azov Sea in their long dresses and hijabs. Half of the male beachgoers rushed to save them, thinking they were suicidal women. The Egyptian women fought back like tigresses against their pesky rescuers, and escaped from their firm hands and ran away from the beach under the shelter of the dormitory walls in their wet clothes. Laughing, but these Egyptian “Gyulchatai”, was not easy in the streets of cheerful city of Mariupol, where only a lazy man did not offer, “open your face. At the same time, no one was touching their barely covered girls.

Maybe those Muslim men are right, who think that a covered woman is sexier than an open one? According to Fathi’s stories, hijabs and “tents”, as the local mischievous men in Egypt call the black robes of faithful Muslim women, as well as Islam’s prohibition on coquetry and jokingly talking to other men do not save from sin. Recently, Egypt was shaken by the story of a married orthodox woman’s tent-dressing girlfriend. One day, snaking from her bedroom into the hallway through the living room where the master of the house was sitting, she snagged her hem on a chair, revealing her luxurious black mustache to the astonished owner. The adulteress was not stoned according to Moslem law. Women are not killed for their sins in Egypt. And who would have the hand to kill these hairy beauties with beautiful round booties, whom even their big noses do not spoil? Especially the Egyptian artists are good. Bare-headed and languid, they fill the TV screens and look very erotic. Nefertiti, Cleopatra, the fairy who told tales to the Shah for a thousand and one nights. Whose beauty are there more legends about than those famous Egyptian women?

The heiresses of their fame now dance the “belly dance” in the entertainment complex “One Thousand and One Nights” recently opened in Sharm el-Sheikh. There are oriental interiors, birds of paradise songs, and a show about Egypt’s past against the background of models of pyramids and sphinxes built from the sand. All this fabulous world is drowned in the smell of hookah, which is smoked everywhere. When, with difficulty you get away from the warm sea, where in the transparent blue water the paradise fish (they are only in our oceanariums), from the colored paved streets of the resort town, you get to Cairo, the phrase comes sublimating in your head without any hints: “Egypt is a country of contrasts”, the way wealth and poverty, pyramids and modern new buildings are so strangely combined here. My friend has a large two-storey house. Not every rich Russian has one. Five years ago, he built it in the desert on the outskirts of Cairo, shielded from its hot breath by a hard-grown garden. Today, new high-rise buildings, not a single tree beside them, surround his green oasis on all sides. Most of them are ghost houses. They are not finished and not inhabited. Immediately behind them is completely unfamiliar to the European eye residential neighborhoods, which can be called a populated or inhabited underconstruction. In the ugly two- or three-story boxes built of dark red bricks, with rebar and pieces of unfinished upper floors sticking out on their roofs, with dull walls and various windows built into them, lives the Egyptian middle class and the population approaching it. The fact that the lower floors of these buildings are inhabited is evidenced by the laundry drying on all the windows and the satellite dishes sticking out in the ruins of the unfinished roofs. It is not profitable for residents to complete their homes, since they have to pay a hefty property tax on completed homes, while residents can live for free in an unfinished building. Residents cheat and comfort themselves and the tax inspectorate with tales that their sons will finish the house when they grow up.

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The Egyptian poor huddle nearby. I can’t describe their dwellings. They are somewhere in between the hut and the den that our homeless people build in garbage dumps. All this squalid unauthorized growth in recent decades of Cairo is built on arable land that once surrounded the city with a green carpet. The government does not intervene in the building process. It is quite possible that soon the famous ancient pyramids will drown in these, so to speak, “sleeping areas” of the capital, if they do not collapse as a result of erosion of the bases of the hills on which they were built. Already now on the walls of the tomb of the pharaohs appeared large cracks as a consequence of subsidence of structures in the ground scouring, formed as a result of exploitation of the unpretentious system of utilities of these spontaneous areas.

Enlightened citizens berate the hapless government of eighty-year-old Mubarek, who occupied the Egyptian throne immediately after the assassination of the previous president, Anwar Sadat. Egyptian intellectuals blame Mubarek for the country’s rejection of secularism and its transformation into an Islamic state. Most of all, however, they criticize him for the weakness of his power, which has lasted for almost thirty years and is withering before their eyes, along with the president.

Yes, it is very difficult to imagine in our time a state where there would be only a dozen traffic lights and a half dozen stupid traffic controllers for the entire vast capital city. Even harder to imagine the motorists and pedestrians who do not follow even the most basic rules of the road. It is not surprising that our tourists in Egypt constantly get into accidents. It seems that Egyptian drivers are guided solely by their emotions and drive as they please. I sadly watched the cab driver who drove us from Sharm el-Sheikh to Cairo, at high speed walking on the oncoming traffic and trying to get into any gap formed between the cars. Then his “exploits,” but already in Cairo, was repeated by Fathi. It is especially unpleasant to drive on the poor streets of Cairo, where the poor have built up the sidewalks with market stalls and who-knows-what else. People walk along the sidewalks, totally oblivious to the cars honking at them. -Fathi, are you allowed to honk? – I wondered. -You can’t, you have to,” he answered as he pressed the horn. – Otherwise you can’t force these sheep to let the car pass.

Men in long, originally white chitons, women in dark long skirts and with a bunch of kids slowly float down the channels of the streets. Not only do they ignore the car signals, they ignore the government’s calls to reduce the birthrate, too. Despite the distribution of free birth control pills, poor families have seven to ten children each. The richer ones get by with two or three. With an overcrowding of people, there is no one to clean up the garbage on the streets. Only the center is fairly clean, built up with houses with signs of architectural excesses. But the center is not large, and the rest of Cairo, the residents do not indulge in architectural diversity and finished forms, hopelessly full of trash and devoid of even a sign of any vegetation. Only the main streets are green, but the palm and sycamore trees, fragrant bushes and grass, like the rest of Cairo, bear the gray-yellow patina of the desert, which surrounds the Egyptian capital from all sides. It hardly ever rains here, and the liquid two or three drops that fall from the sky to the ground in early spring and fall do not wash away this plaque.

Only in Cairo do you begin to understand that the hijab is not so much a religious but rather a sanitary necessity, designed to protect women’s hair from the sandy smog hanging over the city. True, the headdresses of the Bedouins, the inhabitants of the deserts, are simply astonishing. While men wear the familiar checkered arafatkas, the women wear inconceivable layered constructions. Very humbled by the two girls curiously looked at my European attire from his rag pit, which frankly interfered with their heads.

The end of my visit. Fathi and his wife and young daughter took me to the airport, lamenting that I hadn’t been in Cairo long enough. We drive down Egypt’s most beautiful street leading to the airport. This street has all the ministries, all the palaces of the Egyptian nobility. It is the only street where the facades of houses are not decorated with garlands of drying laundry. But I catch myself thinking that I would love to go back there, to the shores of the Red Sea, to the beautiful colorful fish and bright colors of the hotels, but the yellow-gray Cairo crushes me and drives me away from its streets. Cairo is better viewed from on high: the huge, light-drenched city is no different from Europe. Except that the moon, as it should be in these latitudes, is directly overhead, and you can’t see it from the plane.

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A noisy group of Russians is flying home in the neighboring seats. As it turns out, they, too, were flying to Egypt on business. They are the remnants of the curious Russian intelligentsia – physics engineers from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Instead of swimming in the sea and sunbathing in the bright winter sun, they were looking for the remains of ancient civilizations in Egypt, digging the sands with sapper spades. I decided to ask them how it happened that the Egyptians – one of the founders of Earth’s civilization – over the past three millennia have not built anything better than pyramids and sphinxes? -Nobody knows, – the cheerful young lover of archeology answered for everybody, turning away, so that I didn’t smell the strong smell of overheating coming from him. – Well, and you have got it? – I don’t want to stop. – You’ll get to the bottom of it with them,” he nods at his equally stale companions. – Next year we’ll go again… I’ll come back here too. It’s eternal summer here, and my friends live here. Besides, though I didn’t break the Muslim dry law, I haven’t figured out the main mystery of this country either.

Egypt – a country of contrasts, which is worth seeing in any case……

“Everything is learned by comparison,” as my father says. And if we have something to compare our lives with, it’s great luck, because we can already make the right choice.

After Turkey, I can make a frank comparison of two Muslim countries that are definitely not like each other, I mean Egypt. I would definitely be lying if I said that the Egyptian land made a pleasant impression on me – rather the opposite. I was shocked by their real life. But let’s still not take this trip as something wild and terrible…. as they say appearances can be deceptive. From my early childhood I have read fiction about the rich past of this country, as well as watched many documentaries about the majestic pyramids and open-air museums, or rather under the scorching sun, where it rains only in spring and then “sometimes”, as I was told, but circumstances allowed me to get there only at age 35 and then for the Easter holidays…………. My discovery was Hurghada and one of the good quality all inclusive hotels, given full comfort and 24 hour order in all areas, put to guests…………

However, the part of my trip was not the hotel, although it is also important in what conditions you spend 7 or 10 days, as the places I visited, so I discovered visiting Safari and went to Luxor.

There is a saying, “Better a week abroad than 10 years at home.” No matter where we go, we will discover something special or something unlike our lives.

As my father always says, “You’ll see poverty or a rich life. No matter, you will be able to compare your existence today and say to yourself, yes, I am completely happy because I saw the worst manifestations of life and for today I should thank God that I was born in a more civilized country, or, I want to live the way they live and I now have an inner need to change something to reach the level I saw.”

Some people discover simply new countries, opportunities of trade, acquiring new partners and doing business together, some will discover a new direction in business, having taken ideas from another country……… me new lands inspired once and for all to write new literary works……. that is what allowed me to discover new horizons…… everyone definitely has his own way in this huge world……………

We often encounter the bias of people who judge what they have not experienced in their own lives.

It would seem that what can we experience in a barren land that cannot grow a single living sprout, what can it do to fascinate you, and how do people live in these inhuman conditions?

Try to get in touch with this life: immense desert and hot air……

Here there is no usual green color, soft grass under your feet and trees under the shade of which you can hide from the heat……… You compare the world so different from ours and understand all the charm coming from the simple scalding sand…… Stay alone around the endless desert spaces and then you feel the invisible magic, which attracts and gives an understanding of complete peace…… what is it? Where does this incomprehensible intimacy come from that draws you in so you can’t let go . I felt unimaginable delight from the sudden wind and the clouds of sand soared high up the mountain, but the locals immediately stirred up…… the calm and steadfast desert can be deceptive and can rise up and sweep away everything in its path, as well as revive the most beautiful flowers in their hot soil, when the heavens give such rare in these parts rain, which you can not see anywhere else………

I owe this fascination to a visit to Safari: a place in the middle of the desert for tourists like a small village, though not a real one, where a special attribute of every, even the smallest settlement must be a mosque lined up. From here began my journey across the endless sands in a jeep, on a quadracycle, visiting a Bedouin village and riding camels. ****************** – Bedouins. They came here about ten years ago because this is where thirsty camels found water……… – How so? – Margaret wondered – Before a nomadic people can settle anywhere, they have to know if there’s water in the place. They give salt to the camels and let them go wherever they want. This makes the camels’ stay a torture and they start looking for a place where there is a supply of water. The animals are never wrong. In the place where they stop they start to dig a well…… as a result…… there is water, even to this day…… (Red color of Egyptian sunsets) ******************* A covered head in these places is rather inevitable than a prejudice to tradition, otherwise the merciless rays of the sun will touch your skin and it can end with a real burn, but all this is nothing compared to visiting the Bedouin village, where a young girl, about 12, is baking bread in front of you. If she knows how to bake bread – she is ready for marriage…… poor and miserable child is covered in a black robe completely only her extraordinary beautiful eyes can be seen, this is what I always describe in my books when it comes to the East and the role of women there…………………

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I’m ready to even shout about it: “The covered head of a woman is the humiliation of a woman” And no matter who tells me what – I will never accept the fact that a woman must be hidden from everyone. Stupid rules and prohibitions! Prohibitions are created first, and then they hide women so that no one will bother her. At that moment I thought how good it is that this child has not seen another life and she has nothing to compare it to. Maybe it’s better that she’s happy in her own world, and not experiencing the storm of emotions that always overwhelms my soul.

Have you seen women in black on the beach, even with gloves on? Even in 45 degree heat? When you go out on the balcony and in the full sense of the word get, like inside a microwave oven, and they can never get it off. And how many of them were sitting in our hotel, in June (the time of weddings in their country) newlyweds, in the same outfit, sometimes hiding even their eyes I can only be indignant about it.

That evening the storm was relentless, it comes in April and May, such a spectacle consumes the whole city and makes for the inevitable abandonment of comfortable outdoor spaces and immediate shelter indoors, but I was already in anticipation, as the next day I had an equally exciting trip to Luxor………

Luxor is a visit to the Valley of the Kings where you’re not allowed to take a single photo, and it’s carefully monitored, and that’s a shame. You go under the scorching sun and go inside the tombs as an escape from the heat and you can’t understand how it was built with only primitive tools, and don’t discount the terrible heat, Each tomb adds more and more questions than answers. Here was the curse of being a slave and building this for the only man in the country. But I no longer believed it was created by human hands, it was something else. ****************************** – You have to see the whole thing. You see, it captures for centuries what ordinary people have done. They created even simple things, yet they remain forever in history…….Many live their lives without leaving anything behind, and some have left a tremendous legacy and will always be remembered by people. (Not a made up story about the prince of Egypt) ******************************* Just outside of visiting the Valley of the Kings, we could photograph from afar the house on a high hill among the same ubiquitous sands where Howard Carter lived and worked, who made the most important find of his life, the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The tour itself gave me only 20% of 100% information as I knew a lot even by heart and even managed to give some tips to our guide Mohamed, but it was interesting to sail even in an old boat through the world-famous Nile, without exaggeration so muddy that the guides joked that insurance was needed in case anyone wanted to swim.

However, I will return again to the importance of women not in our time, but in the ancient world…. one of the monuments of which was visiting the temple of Queen Hatshepsut in the valley of the dead…

She was extraordinary, and one of not many in the history of antiquity. It was not easy to hold power in her hands in a world of men. This structure alone shows the influence of this powerful queen in the world, who in her lifetime called herself PHARAON, where she lived…. Her story is fascinating from the many sources that I have had the opportunity to re-read, even if the authors do a lot of fantasy and attribution, but here one can only judge by the actions of a person frozen in stone…. she was a great person of her time and only the significance of her rule can be understood after her death, when her stepson Thutmose 3 tried to erase her mention from most monuments…… what does this say? She was not a blank spot in history, but a good bone in the throat even for the future king, who was no less famous in history for not losing a single military campaign in his entire life.

And you know what else surprised me? It is the tomb, very close to the world-famous temple, though already long ago looted, of the architect of the queen herself, who was also her favorite man……

I was surprised by the very presence of the tomb, until this moment I thought that in fact it was destroyed by the will of either Thutmose the Third or the beloved queen herself. As it turned out – the writers greatly exaggerated…. he died his own death, having made no attempt on the future king from the sources of one book, nor having depicted on the ceiling of his own tomb the same starry sky as in the bedroom of Hatshepsut herself…. In short, he was honored to rest without the existence of dishonor, and, however, it is necessary to assume so, because the history of ancient Egypt again is built on the comparison and assumption, it is an incomplete mosaic, which will never be possible to restore – too many thousands of years ago it all happened. Therefore, there is great ground for the flight of fancy, but not built on the exact facts……

Another visited wonder and source of flight of fancy for me was the Karnak Temple – a complex that makes the blood freeze in your veins when you stand under the giant statues, the construction of which you can’t find a clear explanation to this day!

Obelisks, which even modern technology is not able to lift, in a word, each object of such mind-boggling size, which once again deprive you of the understanding that a simple man did it, holding primitive tools in his hand **************************** In Luxor on the territory of the Karnak Temple sits the statue of a scarab. There is a belief that if you go around him several times – his wish will come true…… I made a wish, the scarab listened to it carefully, but fulfilled it with his own adjustments, understanding that it will be much better……. what can I say – Egyptian deities are mysterious beings and their power is impossible to prove or deny…… but I say for sure – they did not disappoint me…… (Red color of Egyptian sunsets) ***************************** And here I again found another evidence of the influence of another woman in the temple, which is the same as the one I made. She is depicted with her husband, being one of the 48 wives, surrounded by this king. What do we know of his other wives – as you understand only their number, and her tomb is one of the most beautiful to this day. One is not allowed in there as easily as one is allowed in other tombs, where only faded paints are on the walls. The paints in the tomb of the beautiful Nefertari, even today, are so beautiful and fresh, as if they were applied only yesterday, another testimony to how important this woman was in the life of the king……

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But I would make a mistake if I did not mention the temple of Abu Simbel at Aswan, which the king built for the same woman, and which was moved, later on, to another place through the construction of the Aswan Dam. And then the engineers were astonished at the size of the blocks they had to cut in order to move them, while they were laid out in their entirety……that’s the mystery…. The temple deviated from its original location by only one degree, but that is an insignificant detail.

“A temple in honor of Nefertari, for whom the sun shines,” said Ramses…… What was so extraordinary about this woman? Just passion? I don’t think so. There are no exact facts about her, as well as about her origins, but her name and the fact of her existence clearly demonstrates about her extraordinary life on this earth…… She did not survive her husband and left the world considerably early, but this life was worth to be frozen on many monuments and become in history as the great Nefertari, not one of the 48 wives who have sunk into oblivion…….

Times have changed in this country…. and leaving the majestic architectural structures we plunged into the real world of everyday life here: horrible dirty streets full of garbage, unfinished houses, with sticking fixtures, people walking on the road, who ignore the sidewalks, and it is because of the sidewalks you can easily tell where tourists are, and this despite the fact that crazy cab drivers try to drive on the same road with mad speed, which does not care about the local population…… and this endless pestering men, from which there is no escape…….

I would have remained with an outside opinion on this world had I not encountered this people from the other side: one man said to me: “If an Egyptian loves you, he loves you with all his heart, just as he can hate you.”…… They are very friendly and close to each other. They are willing to do a lot for you and help you when you’re in trouble and yet say they didn’t do anything special…… This is the trait I undeniably like about them, but I will make a huge difference between Turkey and Egypt…it’s the attitude towards religion……

Everything in life should have its measure, but here there is no measure: the reminder of prayers and your purpose in this world is too great and it just overwhelms the people, who since childhood listen to the Koran all day long, teach obedience and blind obedience…. and this is not right…. Unfortunately, there is no golden mean between strict canons and complete freedom, in which also there is nothing good…….

It is worth noting that 50 years ago Egypt was not such a radical country and the behavior of people was more free and even resembled more the European model, whether it is necessary to mention the fact that in more remote cities the spouses do not even have the right to hold hands, and about kissing in public can go up to the proceedings with the police………

So, I’ll say it again, everyone finds something new for themselves, I took up pen and paper again……

“The unfictional story of the prince of Egypt”, “The red color of Egyptian sunsets”, and soon it will not be long before “I love you my moon” – in a word – can not compare 10 years at home with the real life lived in one week, spent in a different world surrounded by desert for us…………… Not everything is complete in my country: Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan, the temples of Abydos (the temple of Seti)and of course Cairo-the majestic pyramids, the sphinx whose nose is still in France and the undeniable museum of antiquities……inevitable fascination with places worth seeing and never forgetting…………………

And as for comparing their world to ours. Despite all the shortcomings in our own land – we have the spirit of freedom, which we would be hard to exchange for a golden cage, and in fact in Egypt, only in Hurghada live thousands of Russian and Ukrainian women……

I have no right to say that every single one of them is miserable there. That’s not true, there are many positive things about Muslims that deserve respect and love, and that’s for real. It all depends on how you embrace their world and whether you can limit your freedom and live within the confines of your home and family only, behave discreetly on the street dress more modestly and closed, in most cases……

But here let’s put the emphasis on the feelings of two people who love each other, and again, everything is learned by comparison: A loving and caring husband who understands the need to take care of family and children, who doesn’t understand how you can use alcohol, and if you also had a failed marriage behind you, you compare your current life and your current life, which is so easy to do, then the cage in most cases can not be treated as such, but simply accept what not your lovers, alas, was created, but to observe will have to… … ************************** (All the way, the driver was playing Russian songs, but when the song about Lisa came on, I couldn’t resist asking him: “Do you like Russian songs or is it just for tourists?” “I do,” Khaled’s voice said behind me. – He loves this song. He has a wife named Lisa). (Not a made-up story about the prince of Egypt) ************************ But I’m not one of them, I rather welcome the free life, because I was born in another country and their mentality is not the same as our mentality, and that means a lot. In a word, everything is learned by comparison………………………

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