I ARRIVED in [AI Qahira, the victorious] in November 1996, very conscious of the history that awaited. I was looking forward to visiting the only surviving member of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Giza.

I reached out to one of the several Egyptians who had attended a three-month course in San Francisco the prior year. He invited me to have dinner at a friend's place who had also attended the same course.

He came to pick me up from my hotel which was located in the middle of the River Nile. The autumnal sun had gone down and the sky  had turned dark. We began walking to a bus stop to board a van. Along the way we passed by the Opera House.

Its presence in a Muslim country surprised me. Years later I would return that Puccini's opera,  Aida, has first been performed there.

In the van, I took the seat next to the driver. There was something unusual about the dashboard. The radio was missing, perhaps snatched away. the door to my right didn't close completely. I had to hold it  the whole time.

Of course, there were no seat belts. It was a circus act.

When we reached our destination, my friend said we would have to cross the divided expressway. There were no crosswalks.  I froze. Without  asking, he dragged me over the other side with the cars going around us. Then we started walking toward the other friend's house.

In the dark alley, a pack of dogs was coming towards us in a triangular  formation. Thankfully, they past us. Behind them was a young boy carrying a stick. Perhaps he was herding them. A very pleasant dinner followed, with reminisces of San Francisco's Golden Gate Brdige.

On Saturday, I visited the grave of the Shah of Iran. It was located in the old part of Cairo at the back of a mosque made of adobe bricks.

King Farouk's grave was nearby. One would have been hard pressed to conclude that the modest graves contained royal remains.

On Sunday I visited the pyramids at Giza. They were much bigger than I had imagined. They even made the sphinx, which was constructed much later, look tiny. Colourfully decorated camels sat near the pyramids, waiting for riders.

I decided to take a picture of the camels. Suddenly, one of the camel drivers picked me up and seated me on his camel.

The camel began to stand, first in the front and then in the back. It brought terrible fears of falling that had been triggered during the first ride on the beaches of Karachi and which would recur on every subsequent ride.

I yelled, ''Put me down.''

He took my camera and shot some pictures of me. Then he asked the camel to sitdown. Payment was expected and made.     

The honor and  serving of the latest operational research on Egypt's past and present  continues. The World Students Society thanks author Ahmad Faruqui.


  1. And here is a memoir from 2009. https://dailytimes.com.pk/113872/in-the-land-of-pyramids/


Grace A Comment!