My second post of 2012. Sort of shameful, right? You probably think I’ve forgotten all about Cairo, right? Wrong!
I could never forget about Cairo’s charms, especially when I have so many who are near and dear who live there. Tonight I was reminded of the madness of Ramses station – the part of Cairo where many flock for their departure to other parts of Egypt or even destinations within Cairo itself.
Ramses was NEVER empty nor quiet in the 12 months I lived in Egypt, and being the little traveller that I tried to be, I was there quite a lot, whether it was to get to Medinat Nasr, or El-Rehab, or 6th October, or Sharm el Sheikh, or other parts of Egypt.
I loved the buzz of Ramses – the people crammed near the metro exits selling anything from men’s underwear (yeah, of all places!) to cheap dancing dolls that emitted the most nasal sound I’d ever heard. Then there were the people waiting for a bus, or a taxi, and those waiting for their shawerma to be dished up, and of course, it wouldn’t be Cairo without the beggars too. But what I loved the most were the long drawn-out calls the bus conductors performed to let waiting passengers know where the bus was going.
Yes, many buses had the destinations written on the side or the front of them, but with so many people unable to actually read those signs, the conductors’ job was amazingly useful. Although I could read Awwal el Makram on the side of the bus I needed to get on to get to City Stars, I just LOVED hearing the conductors call it out with so much drama. “Awwal el Makraaaam! Sala7 Saaaalem!”
And then, on the way back home I waited with girly excitement to hear, “Ramseeeeyes, Ramseeeeyes!” and I’d know that that was my cheap ride home.
Back in London, we just look for the numbers on the front of the bus and gloomily get on the one we need. I wonder what London would be like if we had the dramatic call of a conductor. “Paddington Station, Paddington Staaaaation!”
Somehow, I don’t see it working.
– LaYinka S. (The Londoner)
I know I haven’t posted anything since November, but thankfully, I’m still alive and in some ways I’m also thankful that I’m still in London. My beloved Cairo has changed so much since I left (is that a complete coincidence? :)) and I have no idea if I’ll return, but I wrote the following piece on 31 December 2011 and wanted to share it with you all here. It’s a little more personal than you might be used to, but it’s from me and about my journey in 2011. Enjoy. ~ LY.
P.S. I’ve split the post into several pages for ease of reading, so to read more, click the next page number.
Once upon a time, in a tale that held no fairies at all and in a world that is as real as the air you suck into your lungs, there was a young lady. For the sake of this story, we’ll call her LaYinka Sanni, because it’s quite a pretty name.
One night – let’s say on the 31st December 2011 – LaYinka sat to think back on the year and all that was dished out to her. For each month of 2011, she was able to mention an event that either helped to mould her, challenge her, shake her, enrage her, soothe her, console her, restrict her or free her. Each month had its own tale to tell, and in this story LaYinka recants them to you. Sit comfortably because LaYinka likes to talk, and it’ll be a long one!
Raised eyebrow. Wide eyes. Mouth slightly ajar. I guess I have this effect on people sometimes – when I make outbursts like:
I wasn’t created to live in a cold country!
Although some people go into a mini state of shock when I say that, I still stand by my words: I simply do – not – like – cold – weather. There.
I was born in Nigeria, (Yes, you DID know. Didn’t you? No? Moving on.) and although I was raised in the UK and learned to deal with the weather tantrums, living in Egypt was an absolute breath of fresh air. *sigh* No, the air wasn’t fresh, but you know what I mean. It was cool… in the ‘cool’ sort of way. Ya3ny fantastic. I loved it, and despite being veiled and having a love for cardigans (which I miraculously donned in 40 degrees without sweating!), I was in a climate I believe God created me to be in.
It has been exactly a month since I’ve been back in the UK. I actually have a super long post that I wrote during the 5 hour plane journey, but after having it reviewed by a close friend, I’ve come to realise that it’s incomplete. So, until I get round to editing and adding to it, I’ll be posting a few tidbits here.
I’ll be in London for a while – a long while – and despite the fact that my heart and feet are still firmly placed in Cairo, there is no denying that England is where I’m currently at. I didn’t have a farewell party or anything like that because I believe that I will be back, God willing. Many friends in Cairo were unaware that I was leaving and many in London were unaware I was coming – I can be a little reserved like that, but also I’m not one to cause a fuss.
There are so many comparisons that I can and will be making, and I doubt this blog will die, as it has been so faithful to me in allowing me the space to be able to share a little of Cairo with others. It’s still Cairo via London, and I’m in London via Cairo via London. 🙂
I hope you’re all well – please do touch base, I’d love to hear from you.
LaYinka S. (The Londoner)
Smooth hazelnut with a splash of vanilla – beneath me I could feel her strength and the direction in which she pricked her ears told me when I had wronged her.
She took me, yet I remained in control; I guided despite her being in the lead. I moved to her rhythm until we were comfortable to dance in time to the same beat.
In the great expanse of golden grains and rocks; amongst the load men of old had placed one upon the other; within the vicinity of the chambers of men who thought they’d never die, we ran and laughed with the winds competing against us in the opposite direction.
In a moment of stillness we touched, the melted chocolate of her gaze swirled within the darkness of mine and a tear fell. My apology had hastened itself despite me not releasing it from the entrapment of my throat. I placed a hand on her head, gently pushing aside the strands that had fallen between her eyes and rested lazily along the length of her nose.
She told me of how she’d been whipped, made to perform above the ability God had bestowed upon her, and kicked when her underbelly was plump with the swelling of a new life-form. She once resisted against me, thinking we were all the same: takers who gave nothing in return. But I stroked her, whispered to her, and refused to use the lash.
Standing unshaded in an expanse of nothingness, I professed my love for her, and she said for the final time, ‘Come, my love, hold my reins – let’s ride’.
– The Londoner