Friday, 3 April 2009

Being the Curiousity

Thanks everyone for your comments on my previous post; as for those who suggested we use a state-registered taxi next time, guess what? Turns out they're ALL like that... Still, they seem to be able to get us from a to b, so am just suspending all knowledge of what passes for 'safe' driving back home and going with the flow for the moment...

Onto my Mother Tourist's Guide Part #2

Sometimes it’s brought home to me what a sheltered life I’ve led. Not often, living in an affluent (though rather less-so recently, of course) bubble in South Kensington, but every now and again when Husband and I step out of comfort zone. As we have done – just a little – on our trip to Egypt.

Clearly you already know about our taxi ride on the night of our arrival. I’m over that now – though I haven’t let Husband know, obviously. And Boy #2 is showing a worrying excitement level every time a taxi trip is mentioned; it seems that the Egyptian style of driving coupled with the lack not only of child seats but any kind of seatbelt as well is just the adrenaline fuelled- ticket as far as he is concerned.

You don’t however yet know about my beloved losing his mobile practically the moment we arrived. Or of his subsequent midnight traipse back to the airport the following night in an attempt to track down the taxi driver who’s car he was convinced he would find it in. Or the fact that the driver from the hotel who took him found the opportunity to get the police involved (despite Husband’s pleadings to the contrary) just too good a chance to pass up.

Or that they both then spent an hour sitting in the office of the Cairo Airport’s Chief of Police who in turn seized his opportunity to use some incorrectly filled-in paper work on the part of said taxi driver to try and make an example of someone. Or that when Husband, finally got the chance to check under the seat of the taxi where he was convinced he would find the missing mobile, there was of course nothing but dust...

Neither do you know about our trip to the Pyramids; not only did we get to actually go inside the Great Pyramid of Giza (hot, claustrophobic, cramped, a bit of a disappointment and at the same time a major rush), but the boys were yet again treated like film stars by the locals in a way reminiscent of our trip to Bangkok last year.

Or even that a woman in full bourka asked to pose for a photo with me. I thought it was the boys she was after – I’m not blonde or anything – but no, despite the fact that neither of them would show their baby-blues to the camera, she persisted. Apparently a western woman in a long skirt and t-shirt was enough of an unusual experience for her to want to take a piece of it home to show the folks...

Now, I’m used to my sons getting attention. But to be deemed interesting enough in my own right for a photo opp? And I also wondered; would it have been acceptable to have asked the same favour of her and requested that she pose for a snap with me? I may be being over-cautious, but that's not a chance I would want to take.

It's odd, though, to have the tables turned on you like that. Has it ever happened to you?


  1. It is so weird when you become the focus of attention. Almost disorientating. Out in Lesotho, I used to ride the Police Horses and if I went out on patrol round the villages we would be greeted with ululation and would have to canter/gallop through the streets to make a show - personally I think they just wanted to see me fall off!
    You are wise to show respect and courtesy from my expereince you will benefit greatly and have a wonderful trip to remember.

  2. I know the feeling. In Turkmenistan a couple of years ago I visited a random shrine in teh absolute middle of nowhere. A group of girls on a pilgrimage insisted on having their photos taken with me in fits of giggles and I was left none the wiser!

    I think it does us good to get taken out of our comfort zones once in a while.

    Hope the boys are enjoying it too!

  3. Husband and I were once enjoying the afternoon sun in Barcelona on Las Ramblas when a woman approached me with her boyfriend. I assumed she wanted me to take a picture of them, but no, she wanted her boyfriend to take a picture of me and her. All very bizarre and I'm still non the wiser.

    Although ... it was a few weeks after I appeared on What Not To Wear and Susannah told me I looked like Prince William ... maybe they thought they were amongst royalty, albeit with boobs.

    I often wonder where that photo ended up.

  4. If portable cassette recorders were as much part of the tourist garb as cameras are, I guess I'd be pestered the whole time.

  5. Sounds as if you're having a great time.

    When my parents took my sister and I to Taiwan as children, people were endlessly fascinated by us. I think very few tourists went there then, and particularly small children.

    More recently in South America, shortly before we had kids, people were amazed at the Doctor and I, being married and obviously in our 30s, and not having any children....

  6. Over here the Japanese love to get in your pictures. Even your wedding pictures. True!

    Just into the first 100 pages of "A Thousand Splendid Suns". Reading this book I'm really surprised at the woman in the bourka. Like you it does bring on a number of questions for me.

    Did they mob you on your way to the pyramids and back?

  7. Oh! Not my wedding picture - but a relatives.

  8. Not to me but I was surprised when a girl stopped us in the mall to take a photo with our daughter.

  9. About 100 Japanese tourists took our picture when my sister and I were dressed up as Southern Belles at a theme park in California. They crowded around as if we were movie stars. We had very blond hair and blue eyes and tans, of course.


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