For the Love of the Nile
If you drink the water from the Nile once, you will always come back.
An Egyptian proverb that I will adapt a little: If you walk by the Nile once, you will always want to come back to walk by it again.
The Nile is regarded as the longest river in the world, and one that Egyptians have depended on as a life source throughout the ages. I must say that I was slightly disappointed when I first caught a glimpse of it, because I had envisioned it to be a wonderful blue flowing river in the midst of the madness of Cairo. Instead, it is… well… green, surrounded by green – the green of palm trees, and other tropical foliage.
I wasn’t particularly drawn to the large body of water until I found a flat that had a Nile-view. Despite the honking of cars by drivers who can only speak through the horn of their vehicle; despite the back-firing of motorcycles that honestly should be in a scrap heap rather than on the road; and despite the extra bite of a chill that is swept off the river and through my glass-paneled living room windows, the ability to wake up in the morning, slide open my windows and cast my eyes on a river that God has maintained for thousands of years is really a gift that I am glad to have been granted.
However, looking at the Nile is one thing, and walking by it is another. There were whispers of calm one morning as I took an early morning stroll along the corniche. My ears pricked with each soothing note as the air swirled in my head to try to put my thoughts in order. I was sucked into a zone of contentment, and so I took a seat along the wall of the riverbank and started to write in my notebook. This is not a sight Egyptians are used to on a weekday morning: A distinctive foreign (or Nubian/Sudanese) woman sat on the bank of the Nile, scribbling mindlessly in a notebook. It was so odd that people stared, and one old man looked right into my notebook as he slowly shuffled past me – an act that still leaves me laughing until this day.
I’ve had many such strolls since my first, but it was only after my initiation to Nile-strolling that I understood why it is the spot where lovers love. Dotted along the corniche – especially in the evening – are couples standing, sitting or strolling beside the river. It seemed quite bizarre at first; the thought of my partner taking me for a stroll beside the Nile was quite absurd to me – I’d rather he took me out to eat than to be amongst the honking of car horns – yet, it was after my own initiation of Nile-strolling, albeit alone, that I knew of its wonderment.
The corniche is lovers’ central, and one where the shabab like to snap photos of themselves striking the dodgiest poses (the kind no girl would really be impressed by). Nevertheless, Nile-strolling isn’t limited to the youth of Egypt, and I get a warm flutter in my chest when I see older couples indulging in the moment – the river being a source of maintaining a spark in their lives.
Egyptians have a strong attachment to the Nile, especially those in love, those out of love and those who simply… love.
– The Londoner