My short travelogue on Egypt, which was the winning entry for the travel writing contest organised by Little Black Book (LBB), Delhi and RARE Destinations and Experiences on ‘My Rare Vacation’
“It was a balmy Egyptian afternoon and I was musing over how the country maintains a delicate balance between its obvious Pharaonic past and contemporary Arab influence. On arriving, I’d quickly abandoned notions of Cleopatric promiscuity and realized that Egypt wasn’t yellow and gold (thanks for nothing Hollywood). The country had other stories to tell and I decided to follow the one closest to my heart. I packed up and made my way to the Sinai Peninsula, nine hours from Cairo by road. I would climb Mount Sinai, where the Biblical Moses had received the Ten Commandments!
A thousand others and I were ready to trek up the proverbial mountain when we reached at one a.m. Millions of stars shone over a stark and magnificent landscape! We were soon divided into groups and mine was called “Habibi”. I’ll never forget how the Arabic word for “lover” echoed around the sacred mountain when anyone lost the group. Happy thoughts of Charlton Heston as ‘Moses’ soon took over…
Camels and humans trudged up the dirt road. I walked for the love of a story I’d heard growing up. But when we came to three thousand stone steps that had been laid down by a monk, my soul seemed to jump out of itself.
We met the deliciously cold summit at five a.m., humbled and solemn. In four hours, I’d felt the convergence of the past and present, the sacred and profane. I gathered and released them all into the waiting sunrise!”