Friday, January 19, 2007

Egyptian Trip (part 2)

I dont want to bore any one with history lessons which I got on my travels to Egypt, and thus if you want to see all the pictures you can see them here .

What was something unique was interacting with Kiwis, South Africans and Aussies.
Apart from their accent, (Aye, mayte, and the brash arrogance of the aussies) even the South Africans and Kiwis did have some distinct characteristics.
During the campfire a Kiwi guy did the Haka (the Maori tribal dance) and every one sang their most popular campfire songs. I tried my best with the Indian song (Darling Open the door ... why are you angry so??) which is a popular number at any boy scouts camp, but hten finally I plugged my Ipod and played the evergreat Mehbooba oh Mehbooba from Sholay and suddenly all the people started swaying their bellys just like an Egyptian Belly dancer would.

And talking about this, throughout my stay in Egypt, the locals thought I was one of them (brown skin and knowing a couple of Arab words helped), but as soon as I said I was from India (or Hindoostan as some of them still call it) every one would simply shout out Amitabh Bachchan since hindi movies are extremely popular there. This was a proud moment for me, since I saw that Egypt was a country with slightly higher per capita income than India, but all their income was simply from tourism, toll on the Suez Canal, and electricity exports from the Aswan dam to Sudan and Somalia.
They didnt have any industries, and no cars of their own. The roads of Cairo were all crowded with the air smelling of Unleaded petrol. Thus India even though equally poor had made many advances, not the least in the entertainment industry.
The tour guide himself said that his favourite movie was Amar Akbar Anthony.

Another thing that I observed was that the Egyptians didnt have a concept of Vegetarianism. I went in to a Kebab house and all i asked was a Nan sandwich without kebabs, (as i have done before in Europe, doner kebab with no kebabs). Here the guy tried convincing me that the meat wasn't bad, offered me chicken, mutton, tender lambs meat but I relented. When he realised I was from India he said the meat was all Halaal (though i am not a muslim) and also said that they didnt serve any beef. after convincing them that I was perfectly fine with their establishment and didnt think that it was dirty but i was a person who was averse to eating meat.
After the whole comical episode got over, they didnt know how much to charge me for the salad and nan sandwich. All this is when those guys dont know English and I dont know Arabic. Some knowledge of Hindi and Urdu helps since many words are similar, but I am sure a lot was lost in translation.

And for people having raised this issue about racism, (especially after the Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother controversy) I did feel a bit isolated at times, but I am sure that was more due to coming from a different cultural background rather than discrimination. (dont we indians segregate according to our languages)

Another good thing i observed was their desire to travel and care free nature.
Though these are descendants of sailors, travellers and adventure seekers (the white residents of SA, Australia and NZ) and with social security and even blue collar jobs paying well, you could be a carpentar and take vacations all over the world. There was a Kiwi woman, who was a police officer in Aukland and was earlier an English teacher in Tokyo. She had currently taken a year off and was travelling all over the world. (you dont see that too often amongst Indians)

Well in india due to lack of social security and people sticking close to their roots, there isnt so much desire to travel or explore the world. But also the same thing makes people work harder and be more ambitious.
Dont know, I hope i get to travel and experience different cultures, and hopefully pick up the best from them.


Anonymous said...

Oh yes, nirav, u will be definately exploring different cultures, but, u already originate from a real rich culture by birth, d indian culture, well, i do definately feel our culture is one of the best.

Shruti said...

hey.. after reading i feel like visiting Egypt.Well, ya exploring differnt cultures and countries itself gives us a essence of beautiful world and lots to learn frm our experience!