A TRAVELOGUE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST EDUCATIONAL TOUR SPRING 2010
It all started with my friend who insisted on me joining her in her prayer in the third Haram. She reminded me that since we had done Hajj and Itikaaf together and spent time side by side growing spiritually close to Allah Subhanawataala we needed to be side by side when standing in front of our Lord in the Far away mosque of Al Aqsa……….and thus begins my journey in the path of the Prophets.
I find myself at the Cairo airport and as soon as I alight and enter the lounge a man with my name placard is standing in the lounge and I am whisked through immigration and as I reach the luggage area another man in a three piece suit is waiting to take me to my Hotel.
I am impressed at the travel agency and my friend’s friend in Cairo who have made this transition of arriving alone and preceding the group a pleasant interchange.
It is seldom that one looks at Cairo from a spiritual point of view and yet here I am to walk in the path of the Prophets. As I merge into the evening rush hour, which in Cairo means Maghrib, I notice a change in the women at the wheel of most of the cars I pass. Contrary to thirty years ago when I visited Cairo, 99% of the cars I pass with women in it at the wheel or passengers are wearing full hijab.
The second surprise is the new lavish buildings complete with manicured gardens at the entrance, on the way to the hotel are all Military installations.
I alight at the Hotel Shepeard, where Shireen tells me all the archaeologists stay in the novels she reads, before they go in search of treasure and mystery in the sands of time.
I get a bellman who travels an hour to come work at the hotel. His two sons have bruxism at night and discovering that I am a doctor for kids asks for a treatment, which I suggest. His extreme gratitude makes me feel that I should travel to his house and see the children personally and then I might be worthy of a miniscule of the gratitude that is lighting up his face.
The Shepeard has the grace of the 20’s with all the amenities of the modern age. I walk into the room and step out of the balcony and the Nile with all its dark secrets harkens to me. The modern buildings around it twinkle with lights which say:
I am just a transient like you in this ancient land where Pharaohs were defeated by Philistines and beautiful women enchanted men from the Roman lands. The Nile silent with its secrets ripples serenely knowing that everything changes …………sooner or later.
Reluctantly I return to the room, my voyage on the path of the Prophets has begun, I am at the shores of the Nile where it all began.
THE MIDDLE EAST EDUCATIONAL TOUR TRAVELOGUE: IN CAIRO AT AL AZHAR