The First of Many Infinities

The landing in Cairo had been a rather rocky one. I had literally bounced off of my seat as the plane shuddered and shook when the wheels touched Egyptian ground. I prefer landings to take-offs any day due to my (slight) claustrophobia. Being on the ground rather than confined in the limits of a plane’s structure was much more appealing. Another reason being that landings are fun, for me that is.

My parents disagreed on that thought, and so did apparently most of the other passengers. A man seated to my right clutched his arm rests tightly, muttering words of self-comfort (much like the rest)
while I on the other hand loved it.

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Any thoughts on our descent were soon tossed aside as the next half hour went by in a blur. From hurrying out the plane, through immigration and collecting our bags at the luggage ring – we kept ourselves occupied.

All through out, my gaze was fixed on the view outside the glass. I could hear the honking of cars in the distance, and the bustle of city life that awaited in the heart of the city. Visually, I could make out thick layers of what I mistook to be condensation but it wasn’t until we stepped out did I realize it was something entirely different. What I had initially perceived to be mist was toxic air. The city was polluted and the thick odour of smoke and dust that begun to cloud my sense of smell was proof of that.

Now, I know what you guys are thinking. Upon reading my lovely description, you must have been like this:

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But come on – what city isn’t polluted nowadays? Not that I want to turn this post into an environmental analysis of what our Earth has come to but let’s face it: the air ain’t 100% oxygen anywhere. Cairo just displays that in a more obvious fashion (and as a writer, I also tend to add a bit of dramatic flair to everything).

All the way to the hotel, I was very aware of what I was inhaling (and also very aware of how fast the driver was going). Living in England had spoiled me, even if it was for just a year and a half. It was a relief when we arrived at the hotel in one piece, and when I fell asleep that night the moment my head hit the pillow.

The interesting part comes next.

An observation on my part: everyone here is wearing sweaters. The sun is up, and yes, it does get a bit windy at night but it’s above 20-flipping-degrees. And yet…everyone is donning themselves with winter clothing. I would be too if I had never moved to England and bore witness to the colder, harsher and more dreadful winter that Europe has to offer. It’s December and the locals here find it quite chilly but me? I’ve got the A/C cranked up in my room, and one step out into the balcony has me perspiring. Exposure to colder climates has made me somewhat immune to the winter that Egypt has to offer.

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My sentiments exactly – I can’t seem to make up my mind what type of weather I actually enjoy.

The next morning, I’d opened up the curtains and this was the view I’d been greeted with:

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Disappointed? A little bit, yes. I’d been hoping for clearer skies and less smog-action. Cairo made up for it this weekend.

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With less pollution clouding up the skies, we were finally given the beautiful view we’d been promised by the hotel receptionist. Firstly, of the Nile.

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Secondly, the Saqqara pyramids on the left.

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The pyramids of Giza on the right.

I don’t have the world’s best camera to do the view justice but it was a good sight to wake up to and one I won’t be quick to forget.

Something about looking over this great, vast city strengthened me. It changed my perspective; or more accurately, gave me perspective. Not knowing how to feel about life doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It could just be a cooling-off period, before embarking upon something magnificent. After all, isn’t that what life is about?

It’s about discovering yourself and what you want to make of what you’re given…what you can make of it. Every second is a second worth living. I shouldn’t think of my stay in Egypt as a pointless pit-stop. I could but that’s not what I want to do anymore. It’s another opportunity given to me. To accomplish what exactly? I don’t know. But as my eyes settled on the skyline, I knew I didn’t want to limit my answer to just one thing.

I could do anything and everything. I’ve got the time and energy, I’ve got the support from two loving parents that I need, and I’m in an awe-inspiring country. I’m my only obstacle.

The infinite possibilities that stared back at me caused excitement to ripple through. Which infinity will I choose?

Turning A Page

When you’ve traveled around the world as much as I have, you eventually reach this point of indifference where the idea of migrating yet again leaves you feeling like this:

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(Only Ryan Gosling can make such a non-committal gesture and look so dang attractive in the process but that’s besides the point)

Some may say that this is unhealthy, and by some, I mean my very significant inner voice. To quote: 

‘How could you be so horrible? You owe it to your friends, and to yourself to feel the least bit sad! What about all the memories you’ve made here? Don’t you feel something; as small as that ‘something’ may be?’

But I didn’t listen. I didn’t even feel numb; just empty all through out the chilly (and may I add miserable) morning of the 9th of December as we “heave-hoed” our luggage out of the cramped Travelodge room and into the taxi. I could see it written on my parents’ faces too without having to ask; there’s not much they would miss about England either. The emotions they revealed were of weariness and dread at the thought of the stressful months that awaited us. I, on the other hand, had zero capacity left of my “feels” compartment to spare. This was simply going to be one among many pit-stops in my journey through life.

Fast-forward a couple hours

I’m seated in a plane moving along the runway, ear phones popped in, eyes fixed on the seat in front of me. At this point, I did start to feel human again but for a reason I wasn’t too happy about. The woman seated in front of me had already put her seat on push-back position – and may I inform you that this is not allowed. Airplane regulations are there for a reason, people!

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And for a person with long legs such as myself, it’s also additional torture. The urge to knee the backside of her seat was undeniable. Forgive me for I digress.

The point is that I didn’t have the least bit of interest to look out the window, and over England for the last time as we took off into the air. Amidst Ed Sheeran’s lovely voice singing and the music pumping through the ear phones, the irony of the situation sunk into me. I’d face-planted myself against the window a year and a half ago as we’d moved into England, excitement overflowing. Now? Nada.
Majority of the time on the flight was spent contemplating what lay ahead.

Cairo, Egypt was my destination. The land of the pharaohs, home to one of the greatest wonders of the world, and setting of possibly my favourite animated movie ever (that’s right, I’m talking ’bout ‘The Prince of Egypt’)

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That’s a more morbid picture than I was going for but still…WITNESS THE GLORY OF THIS MAGICAL CITY!

It won’t be my first time. I was returning to this country after nearly a decade. Most, if not all, of my memories of life in Cairo were obscure (granted I’d been nothing more than a child last I’d lived there). Yet, shouldn’t the thought of returning have sparked excitement? Cairo was where it all began.

And yet, throughout the five hour journey, the only thing that really grew was my irritation towards the (literally) laid-back passenger in front of me. I was aware of the foolishness of holding such feelings and with every second that ticked by, it begun to dawn upon me more clearly that I was directing my annoyance towards a complete stranger, as irrational a reason as I could find.

I was turning over a page to a new chapter in my life and I felt nothing. Perhaps, the source of my negativity was my blankness towards everything that was going on.

I was really just angry with the laid-back version of myself.