Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wow....it's been a while...Egypt (and Beyond)

It's been a while since I have had time to write from At Home in Hyderabad...if the truth be told, we haven't actually been "at home" all that much!  It was busy, busy, busy there for awhile...Amy Suzanne had her Spring busy-season at Deloitte .... and I went to the States for my home-visit (see last blog entry).  I just had time to get myself un-jet-lagged - then we were off to Egypt, and a Nile Cruise - including an amazing side-trip Jordan, for a real out of India vacation experience of a lifetime... As always, we booked every iota of this amazing trip through our good friend Eve at Fugazi Travel - and once-again, five-star treatment all the way around!

We are so spoiled...it was almost like we had the entire country of Egypt to ourselves!!  Because of the 25 January Egyptian Revolution, things in the tourist trade are down well over 50%.  From what we could see, I'd say it was much worse....but - if anybody is planning to go, it is 100% perfectly safe and we never felt ill-at-ease at any time.  If you book with a reputable travel company like we did (see link to Fugazi Travel, above) - the Ministry of Tourism gives you an armed security guard to go everywhere with you....our guy was named Mohammad - and he had a fully automatic machine-gun under his coat at all times...so - yeah...we felt like VIPs the whole time.

There were some instances where "we" were not protected...like every evening when we were in Cairo and Amy Suzanne needed her horse "fix" - - she made friends with a couple of brothers who owned a string of Arabian horses and went for sundown/moonlight rides around the Pyramids and the Sphinx - very special indeed, and the brothers took good care of their new American friend....I don't think they'd ever seen a tourist who could ride like Amy!!

I'll post links for our Facebook Photo Albums - at least the ones through our visit to Abu Simbel - below.  The photos and their captions tell a pretty good story of our trip, so I won't bore you with the details here.  Rest assured that we had a wonderful time and suggest that you go to Egypt this year before the crowds come back...you will be glad that you did!!  By the way...the photograph above is an un-retouched, actual photo taken on our first day in Cairo...out the picture window from our room at the Mena House hotel - - the greatest view from a hotel room I have ever had.  It would simply take your breath away...no lie!

Oh...as long as this blog is officially about Hyderabad and India...I think it bears noting that Amy and I and Beloved have been here for one full year (plus a few days!) now...and we still love it.  Of course, I could do without the gridlock traffic (which is due to pig-headishness and not any accident) and the May/Summertime weather (although this summer in Hyderabad was one of the mildest on record...it was hot, but not so hot that it "would melt a brass doorknob")...

But some of the stuff that happens here is just so out of the ordinary, you just have to take in stride and make it a part of the experience.  I think there are some ex-pats who make the mistake of moving TO India and don't ever experience living IN India.  Hey, I enjoy the company of fellow ex-pats...and I certainly enjoy playing in Hyderabad's only Bluegrass Music Band (see the YouTube Channel for The Banjara Hillbillies Bluegrass Band ) - we will be playing at the World Music Day Festival at the Taj Deccan Hotel next Wednesday night, 15th of June.  But we live in a neighborhood with very few white faces, a tea-shack down the street and lots of friendly Indian neighbors of all stripes...politicians, doctors, servants, Hindu and Muslim alike.  I never thought it would happen, but I actually like cricket...and watch most of the games that are televised, as well as the Deloitte Tax Tournament....which is pretty good cricket, too! 

But there are still some very strange things that happen here....things that just make you shake your head and say "I don't think we're in Kansas any more, Dorothy!"

Take today for example: Coming back from Beyond Coffee, I saw some bizarre-looking Indian transvestites harassing people at the Jubilee Hills Checkpoint...I know they try to disrupt weddings and parties... and try to extort money or they will cause a ruckus...(I read about them in Sarah Macdonald's book, Holy Cow!  If you have never read it, I highly recommend it - - if you are planning to come to India, consider it REQUIRED READING, along with William Dalrymple's Nine Lives )  But what these colorful transgender wackos were up to today, I have no clue.  I will say that in the future...if they get too close to me, they will find a cricket bat up their wazoo!!

Anyway...on to the Egypt Photos:

Cairo, Egypt - Part One

Cairo Egypt - Part Deux (includes photos of us with Mohammad's machine gun!!)

Cairo - Part III

Luxor, Egypt 2011

Nile Cruise - Part ONE

Nile Cruise - Part Two

Abu Simbel

Thanks for reading our blog...as infrequent as the updates have been.  Next edition: Jordan and the Banjara Hillbillies public debut!

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