10 Jun 2011

Nawarti Misr

This is the scene that was waiting for me in the morning. It is the Nile ! I suddenly realised I had spent a night by the Nile .. my first Cairo night.

An absolutely beautiful scene ! I could just spend the day sitting on the balcony, watching Cairo and the Nile.

I think I got used to the perfect temperatures of the mild Tropics. It is very hot. The sun is so strong although it is not officially summertime yet in Cairo. I am indeed in Africa. 

I heard the noon call to prayer. It gave me such nostalgia. I am indeed in a muslim Arab country.

It is Friday. But there is no million-march today. My bad luck. I thought of the heat they would have to bear standing there as a crowd! On the Square there are always small gatherings though, as well as families, people just hanging around. 

I was hoping to attend an event on Tahrir Square at night, in the memory of Sheikh Emam, a very famous Egyptian singer whose songs lived on after his death, inspiring the youth of the revolution.  I was even hoping to do a story for Al Jazeera about the topic. But the event did not take place on Tahrir Square unfortunately. Instead it was held on the sidewalk of a street !  It was a very strange event. The musicians were practically invisible to the people attending, who stayed standing literally on the street as cars struggled to pass by.

The singing was great. There was a Tunisian too who was cheered by the small audience as he told a story from the Tunisian revolution. There is such a beautiful new sense of unity and harmony between people from different Arab countries.

I was surprised to learn that Sheikh Emam's revolutionary patriotic songs which were sung in the 60's and 70's are still alive among young Egyptians who were not even born back then. They would actually sing them on the square during the revolution.

"Nawarti Misr" is definitely the phrase I heard the most in my first 24 hours in Egypt. It may sound a bit strange in English. It translates as: "You illuminate Egypt". It is the generous Egyptian way of saying: welcome to Egypt. But just imagine the feeling when someone tells you that you illuminate a country 1-million-Km2 big inhabited by 85 million people! Arab expressions exaggerate a bit, I know, but aren't they beautiful?

On the corniche at night people were everywhere. Eating, chatting, laughing, walking.  So many of them. They looked like they were having a blast ! The Nile seems like good company.

I was happy thinking I was sleeping by the Nile again.. 

Read my previous post from Egypt ---> Hello Egypt ! 
Read my previous post on my way to Egypt.. from the plane ---> موعد مع ثورة