But it is worth visiting.
airo, the dream city, the land of pyramids, is one of the hot destinations of many tourists around the world. With the sole intention of visiting Pyramids, we planned our trip to Cairo. We boarded our flight from Kuwait to Cairo, with plenty of excitement and expectations. As soon as we boarded the flight, we realised that Egyptians are more like us in many ways. The flight was full of Egyptians and the way they boarded the flight was more like our people getting into the unreserved compartment of a train leaving Delhi. There was total mayhem with baggage everywhere. They were carrying everything from frypans to CD players and tons of duty-free alcohol and cigarettes. Straightaway we realised that our trip to Cairo will be anything but ordinary.
As soon as we landed at the Cairo international airport our adventure started. The airport looked more like a central market with people in all kinds of uniforms walking around. Even before passing through immigration, there were people trying to take us to hotels, book taxis, and even selling visas. I have never seen an airport more disorderly like this one. After wading through all this confusion we finally exited from the airport. As soon as we came out there were million taxi drivers ready to take us to wherever we wanted to go. Finally, we managed to get hold of one taxi driver who looked somewhat honest. We had a booking in a hotel called “Rehab” hotel. We asked the driver whether he knew the Rehab Hotel. The taxi driver said “Oh yes, madam. I know that place very well”. “What is the taxi fare to the Rehab hotel” I asked. The man just scratched his head and after few minutes said, “100 pounds, madam”. Mind you, this is Egyptian pounds. One pound is about 4 or 5 Rupees or so. That sounded reasonable and we agreed and we were on our way to the hotel. The time was about 10 pm. Driving through Cairo at that time was just hair raising. Cairo traffic makes Delhi traffic looks like Sunday driving. Roads were just packed with cars and all of them doing at least 100 km/hr. We drove for about one hour and suddenly the taxi driver turned back and asked us, “What was the name of the hotel you wanted to go to?” At this point I got really scared. This fellow was driving for about an hour without knowing where he was going? The time was almost 10 pm. At that stage I was helpless. Then I told him the name of the hotel. The driver stopped the car and put his head out of the car window calling someone in the street and then asked where Rehab hotel is. The man in the street said something in Arabic, and then the driver drove off. Hope of reaching Rehab hotel
The hotel was mostly vacant and it almost looked as if we were the only people staying there. The hotel tariff included continental breakfast. So, the following morning we went to the dining hall for breakfast. There was nobody and no sign of any breakfast. I just sat there waiting for someone to show. After sometime one man just showed. I asked him about the breakfast. He threw up his hands in air and exclaimed “Ah. Breakfast. Yes. Just a minute please. I will fix it.” He just ran across the street to a bakery opposite and bought couple of buns and placed it on my table saying, “Here is the breakfast”. Well. Something is better than nothing and I ate my continental breakfast consisting of two buns.
After the hearty breakfast, we went out on our trip to the Pyramids. We hired a taxi and we were on our way to the pyramids. At that moment my heart was racing as I was about to see one of the greatest wonders of ancient world. The pyramids were built 5000 years ago and until now no one exactly knows how they were built. There are lot of theories existing but nothing is definite. As I was seriously thinking about pyramids, the taxi stopped and a man jumped
REACHING HOTEL AT THIS POINT I GOT REALLY SCARED. THIS FELLOW WAS DRIVING FOR ABOUT AN HOUR WITHOUT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING? THE TIME WAS ALMOST 10.00 PM AT THAT STAGE I WAS HELPLESS.
Anyway I was determined not to oblige the taxi driver and the man and I kept shouting, “Get out of the car”. As I was shouting suddenly in front of the car the pyramids appeared. What a sight! It was massive and there it was right in front of me. By now we reached the entrance to the pyramid. I jumped out of the car and there was a policeman nearby. I ran to him and complained about the driver and the man. The policeman just looked at me and ignored me completely. It appeared that everyone was part of a gang and was in for extracting tourist money. Well, there is nothing anyone can do and I accepted that this is Cairo and simply went along with it.
Well, at last we reached the pyramid and in that area there were three pyramids. The biggest one is about 150 m tall and was the one I was about to enter. Until that time I never knew that one could actually enter a pyramid. The passage way into the pyramid was about a metre high and the only way one could walk inside was by bending. We walked and walked and it felt as if the passage way was never ending. It was literally a back breaking walk and all along not knowing what was at the end of the passage way. Finally, we reached the end and it was a plain room with a stone bench and nothing else. It was a bit of disappointment as we were expecting something outstanding. Later I was told that there are three chambers within the pyramid at three different levels. The highest one is king’s chamber and the next one below it is the Queen’s chamber and the bottom one is the common chamber. The one that we went in was the common one and its level was below the ground level. This pyramid was built by a king called Khufu. Khufu’s son Khafre built the sphinx. The Sphinx’s head is human and the body is that of lion (or some animal). The head is supposed to be the head of Khafre. The Sphinx’s height is mere 20 m. The Sphinx looks tiny in comparison to the pyramid.
As we were walking around the pyramid we met a group of college students. As soon as they saw us they started giggling and I wondered what was happening. One of the girls in the group came to me and asked if we were from India. I said yes. Then she asked “do you know Amitabh Bhachhan. Of course, I know him, I said. “Did you ever talk to him” she asked. I didn’t want to her disappoint and said “yes”. At this moment all the girls started screaming and everyone gathered around me and started asking questions about Amitabh Bhachhan. Apart from watching movies I know very little about Amitabh Bhachhan of course the usual gossip one reads in filmfare etc, one of the girls said that Mr Bhachan visited Cairo some years ago and at that time the entire Cairo stopped and froze. It is really hard to imagine Cairo stopping for anyone but it did happen for Mr Bhachhan. Great Mr Bhachhanji you are bigger than the pyramid itself!
As we came out of the pyramid area, there was Pizza Hut and of course we were hungry and walked in. The Pizza Hut man as soon as he saw us he started grinning. We ordered a Pizza and sat there with pyramid in the background. This must be the best Pizza Hut in the world dining with a view of the pyramid! The Pizza Hut man came to us and asked ”do you know Zeenat Aman”. Oh my God. That goes long time back and I said yes. The man looked distressed and said I am sad because Zeenat got married and has got children. What’s wrong with that I said. How can she get married and we all adore her even today, he lamented. Not bad Zeenat you are still attracting people. And that’s great.
The following day we visited few more attractions in Cairo like the museum, old market place and several souks. These fade into insignificance in comparison to the pyramids.
It’s time for us to leave. The trip to Cairo was very enjoyable, in spite of scary taxi drivers, strange continental breakfast, etc. Egyptians love Indians and that we could feel all over the place. Whether it is because of Amitabh Bhachhan or Zeenat Aman, I do not know. Cairo is worth visiting, absolutely yes.
THE PYRAMID BY NOW WE REACHED THE ENTRANCE TO THE PYRAMID. I JUMPED OUT OF THE CAR AND THERE WAS A POLICEMAN NEARBY. I RAN TO HIM AND COMPLAINED ABOUT THE DRIVER AND THE MAN. THE POLICEMAN JUST LOOKED AT ME AND IGNORED ME COMPLETELY.