Sunday, March 9, 2008

A little reflection

I always like to read about the places I visit after rather than before, probably because it is more interesting being able to relate. This weekend I rented The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and borrowed Death on the Nile.

It was great seeing some of the places I visited in Egypt and reading about it. I especially enjoyed this passage from Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. This scene is set in the Old Cataract in Assuan.

They turned to the left out of the hotel [Cataract Hotel]gate and entered the cool shade of the public gardens.


They came out from the shade of the gardens on to a dusty stretch of road bordered by the river. Five watchful bead sellers, two vendors of postcards, three sellers of plaster scarabs, a couple of donkey boys and some detached but hopeful infantile riff-raff closed in upon them.

‘You want beads, sir? Very good, sir. Very cheap…’
‘Lady, you want scarab? Look-great queen - very lucky…’
‘You look, sir – real lapis. Very good, very cheap…’
‘You want ride donkey, sir? This very good donkey. This donkey Whiskey and Soda, sir …’
‘You want to go to granite quarries, sir? This very good donkey. Other donkey very bad, sir, that donkey fall down…’
‘You want postcard – very cheap – very nice …’
‘Look , lady… Only ten piastres – very cheap – lapis – this ivory …’
‘This very good fly whisk – this all-amber…’
‘You go out in boat, sir? I got very good boat, sir…’
‘You go back hotel, lady? This first-class donkey …’
Hercule Poirot made vague gestures to ride himself of this human cluster of flies. Rosalie stalked through them like a sleep-walker.
‘It’s best to pretend to be deaf and blind,’ she remarked.
The infantile riff-raff ran alongside murmuring plaintively: ‘Bakshish? Bakshish? Hip hip hurrah – very good, very nice…’

I made same walk about six times. I got my silver and turquoise scarab pendant from the jewelry shop just across from the Cataract hotel. The description of the vendors was so similar to what we experienced. Except instead of donkeys there are horse carriages and I doubt anything would be priced at 10 piatres even after bargaining. Actually, I don't know if the kids would even think 10 piatres is decent bakshish (tip) money. Oh, inflation.

I love Agatha Christie and reading Death on the Nile after having visited Egypt I love it even more.