Sahl Hasheesh – Not for Explorers

I gave my camping gear — a clumsily folded dusty tent, sand-riddled sleeping bag that I suspect still harbors that dead spider from my last desert trip, oversized torch and an ear-piercing whistle suitable for emergencies — one last look before I pulled an empty suitcase out of my closet and packed it.

I’m a nature-loving girl who’s gotten a bit too used to camping and finds sleeping under the stars familiar but never unimpressive. But this time I was breaking ranks with tradition and heading to a five-star hotel: Premier Le Reve in Sahl Hasheesh.

Sahl Hasheesh had often brought to mind a picture of seclusion — it remained for years a faraway land where those who had just tied the knot enjoyed a pristinely azure sea walking hand-in-hand. I firmly believed that the law of the land forbade the single, heartbroken or formally non-committed from going anywhere near it. I thought it would be scandalous and frowned upon to plan a trip with friends there or, God forbid, with family.

But recently, the area has slowly gained some prominence and become increasingly popular as a weekend getaway, with event organizers taking their DJs, booze, party spirit and rowdy customers to Sahl Hasheesh, only 20 kilometers away from Hurghada’s international airport.

It’s easy. Spend one hour on a plane (the flight costs less than LE 1,000, even in the high season), arrive, check in, throw your bags in the room, tan by day and party by night.

Fun? Not to me. I always loathed places like this with a passion, and I secretly judged people who could have “fun” staying in a fancy hotel and living it easy. In recent years, travel for me has become an adventurous affair. If there’s no risk of being stung by a scorpion or pillaged by rogue Bedouin gangs on the road, it’s not fun enough.

But here I was — the desert girl— heading to the airport with my sister and mother and actually looking forward to staying in a hotel with a French name that offers deluxe rooms with king-sized beds, pillows softer than a baby’s skin, delightful buffets and premium service.

Once I set foot in Cairo airport’s departure hall, something looked awfully wrong. It was unnaturally overcrowded as queues of travelers zigzagged toward empty stalls, members of staff on site were very few and shouts could be heard in the distance.

It turns out that air-traffic controllers had halted their work in protest of their low wages. Negotiations were underway while the airport was left in a half-crippled state.

Flights were delayed for days, planes took off or landed every few hours, instead of regularly and many were caught up in the mess of it all — one woman even wailed to airport staff telling them she’d been stranded with her kids in the airport for two full days waiting to go to Syria, afraid to leave lest her flight was suddenly announced. Some of the male passengers had started to become violent, cursing and pushing staff and throwing around threats left, right and center.

Three hours later than scheduled, our plane took off. An hour later, we were in Hurghada’s airport, where a hotel chauffeur carried a sign with my misspelled name scribbled in pencil in tiny font on plain A4. It took several minutes and a few calls back and forth between me and the hotel to actually realize that, indeed, this was my driver.

The road to the hotel would have been scenic if Hurghada’s streets weren’t stacked with concrete resorts and big hotels lined side by side crowding the clear skyline left and right. We finally arrived at Le Reve in a secluded spot in Sahl Hasheesh, which literally means “the grassy plain.” The hotel was pretty traditional in its general architecture. If you spent your childhood years vacationing in Alexandria’s Montazah or summers in its famous Palestine Hotel, you’ll know what I mean.

The lobby of Le Reve was vast — with a small pool of red flower petals right in the center. The feel of the place — its design and the art it carried — were modern albeit with an exotic piece here or there.

We were escorted to the VIP lounge and offered cold beverage as we waited for our rooms to be prepared. I had previously informed the hotel that I would be quickly reviewing their resort as part of my travelogue. But armed with two pre-paid Visa cards, I said I’d pay for everything myself. It pleased me as a writer, because I didn’t feel an obligation to be too nice — though a tinge of guilt did creep up when the hotel assistant informed me that they’d decided to bump me up to a deluxe room instead of the standard one I picked.

I took the keys, thanking him warmly. But as I looked around the hotel, humungous and stacked full with rooms along a U-shaped structure that hugs two large pools and opens up onto the sea, I suspected I would not like the place. The rooms’ terraces were narrow, and only very few rooms had a proper view of the sea.

When I was taken up to my room, my doubts were confirmed. The room was small, and quite plain for a deluxe room, and the only thing I actually liked was the spacious bathroom.

And, mind you, it wasn’t an inexpensive stay. A double room costs a little over LE 1,200 per night. Even the minibar had few options, which did not include nuts, chips or any of the requisite calorie-packed snacks that any self-respecting hotel fridge should have. Considering that more often than not I snuggle up in a sleeping bag under a curtain of stars with only a sheet of rubber beneath my bag to protect my back from the harsh ground, my standards are not high. Still, I couldn’t get myself to like the place.

My mood steadily plummeted until dinnertime, and I became slightly hopeful again. Perhaps I’ll get my money back in food, I thought.

My sister, mother and I took a small tour of the hotel’s restaurants. There were good Japanese, Chinese and Italian options, but it turned out that we had to book in advance for these. So we settled on the main restaurant, Turquoise, and the open buffet was not bad after all.

There was an explosion of color in the salad area and the choices were quite inventive. I went straight to the salmon and tuna wraps then stacked my plate with cold cuts and fresh, neatly chopped veggies. By the time I got to the main course I was already full, so I nibbled on some chicken kiev (delicious nonetheless), then went straight for dessert and a medley of fresh fruit.

The breakfast menu was no less satisfying — with an impressive variety of baked breads and mouthwatering pastry.

On my last evening, the friendly staff managed to squeeze in a table for me at Bella, the Italian restaurant — as an exception since I had forgotten to reserve a table in advance — and, as promised, it was a deliciously appealing gourmet experience. The hush, classy and cozy atmosphere of the small and tranquil diner was a nice change from the spacious noisy restaurant hall, echoing with the clickety-clack of tens of knives, forks and plates. They don’t offer pizzas, but they have an indulgent array of pastas and other savory traditional dishes.

If I ever go back to Le Reve, it’d be for the food; it’s consistently terrific.

As per the tradition of out-of-Cairo relaxing laid-back holidays, I spent my mornings and afternoons lazing by the pool, sipping on a cocktail or taking a swim while trying not to immerse my entire body in the water to protect my eyes. Only a day earlier, I had to undergo an invasive eye surgery that left me almost blind in one eye. The other eye was watery and my vision was blurred. I had to keep my shades on at all times, including at night, and had to shop for goggles so that no water would touch my eyes in case I went for a swim during the trip (and of course I was going to, corneal transplants be damned!).

The staff around the pool were friendly and quick to deliver on any request.

The hotel also carries a well-equipped gym, but I was in no mood for vigorous training. I felt that if I wanted a brisk walk or some exercise, I would have rather done that in the open.

I was quick to notice that during my stay, in the second week of October, my family and I were the only Egyptians at the hotel. All around me there were tourists, and when I inquired at some point at reception, I was told that it was a full house. Impressive, I thought, considering the tourism scare we experienced following the January 25 Revolution.

Following one of my dips, I decided to splurge on a spa treatment. Le Reve promotes itself as a spa hotel, and, in this regard, it does not disappoint. The Egyptian and Asian staff at the spa are passionate and professional. There was a long list of massage therapies and packages on offer that include sauna and jacuzzi use, scrubbing and a variety of Turkish baths.

I went for a hot stone massage which cost around €70. I can attest that the therapist that was assigned to me knew exactly how to tenderly release my stress and lengthen and stretch my fatigued muscles. She had a magical touch and I came out of that spa rejuvenated and feeling fresh.

But nights in Le Reve are not exciting.

There are a few bars — one a few meters from my room, whose emanating noise guaranteed I didn’t doze off before midnight. There’s also an “oriental show” that features a classic belly-dancing routine, which I found stale and unimaginative. Tourists sat perched up on plastic chairs around a small make-shift stage watching “whirling dervishes” dance and a belly dance show.

Sahl Hasheesh itself seemed like a cluster of resorts and hotels, without a bustling town center except for the one in nearby Hurghada.

Ridiculously bored one night, my family and I decided to take a limousine into Hurghada, which is rowdy and much more lively. It’s a $25 car ride to Hurghada and around $40 to Gouna, so not for the traveller on a tight budget. There’s a shuttle bus that goes to town, but it’s not regular.

Hurghada, its famous marina and Gouna have numerous shisha seaside cafes, bars and night clubs. If you’re a crowd and are up for a late night of raving or dance music, take yourself to Little Buddha on the Village Road, a safe option. If you prefer a more intimate atmosphere or if you’re a fan of Italian food, head straight to Divino diner and bar.

By the end of my stay, I grew restless and increasingly disenchanted; Le Reve failing to either impress or provide engaging activities — except for those few hours by the pool and in the spa. I remember thinking that whoever did the photography for the hotel’s website is a genius, because he or she made it look more beautiful that it actually was.

On the last day, I took my beloved Visa card and paid one last visit to the spa, which was truly the highlight of my experience, and I treated myself to another relaxing massage.

I was happy to leave, but I showered the staff with praise for bending over backwards to give me a better experience, with wide smiles and a friendly disposition.

Would I ever go back? Maybe. Next time I may pick a cozier hotel though; its sister boutique hotel, Premier Romance, perhaps?

But honestly, I’m not making plans to return any time soon.

What I learned from this trip? Luxury is an art, so no, modern decor, a grand pool, supreme service and a comfy bed might not be enough to impress even the roughest of travelers, if the setting and ambiance are not right. And if I’m paying a hefty sum, I expect a lot.

I also learned that my payment cards are slowly becoming my new best friends. Love big corporations or hate them, you have to admit, swiping your plastic for fancy services is deliciously fun, and for a traveler like myself, very practical.

 – Pakinam Amer 

In next installments of the “Visa Explorer Series,” I try another luxury resort, albeit one that doesn’t disappoint and leaves me wishing I had ten more loaded debit cards so I could take myself there every week. Then in my first Visa-related adventure, I take it all the way down south for a road trip that saw me and a friend driving more than 11 hours from Cairo to Aswan to spend a few nights on a charming island in the heart of Nubia. Stay tuned!

Originally published by Egypt Today Specials here: http://specials.egypttoday.com/travel/visa-explorer-sahl-hasheesh/

Feb 2012 Update: Unfortunately, due to personal reasons and travel plans, I’ve decided to halt this project. However, one day, when I feel like it, I promise I will come back here and blog about both the Ain Sokhna, and Cairo-Nubia road-trips. And I’ll have amazing pictures for you! Until then, love and light xx

The Philosophy of Touch

Before beginning this course, little did I know that massage – a form of physical therapy to improve health — is about communication, listening and getting feedback. Like personal relationships, a dance routine, or teamwork, it’s a two-way process in the sense that making it work is as much about the practitioner or therapist as it is about the patient or the receiver of the treatment.

Before using our hands, Gabriele Habashi, a reputed Cairo-based massage therapist and owner of Horizon center in Zamalek, Cairo, talked about privacy, trust, pain, skin memory and how considerate a masseur should be toward the people who allow him or her to touch their skin.

In the waiting room of the center, a friend and I sat cross-legged on the floor, which was dotted with warm-colored mats and large pillows. We were wide-eyed as we were given an elaborate introduction to the psychology of the body, its anatomy and its natural detoxification system. We sipped on hot aromatic tea, snacked on chocolate wafers, grapes and dates as Ms. Habashi spoke of the body’s stronger and softer parts, and invited us to experience the levels of self-awareness that go into the act [and art] of touching.

We were asked to explore different inanimate objects, like shiny smooth balls and stones, and to experiment with sinking in and “sinking up” with our weight against a door frame, to get the sense of what it means to have our own input in the process of touching. “We can communicate with an inner layer by knowing that there’s an inner layer. As important as technique is awareness. Touch different surfaces, and ask yourself, ‘does it become softer?’ Dwell on the depth of the touch,” she said.

“In our treatment, we deal with different layers of muscles and different types of tissue. You have to respect the tissue, be curious and open, not use a single approach to treat different muscles and tissues,” she added. “Sometimes, you have to stop applying pressure and wait. Stretch, caress, or stroke gently instead.”

Cupping a stone in the palm of my hand, I began to envision its anatomy — there are different densities and qualities to the things we touch and for all that comes in contact with our fingertips, and in turn our sensory receptors. An elaborate knowledge of surfaces is what an aspiring masseuse should start with.

Whether you’re doing it for fun, to treat a friend, a family member or your romantic partner to a sensuous massage, or as a prerequisite to rigorous training and certification, the journey begins with being aware of the feedback the surface you’re touching is giving you, and in your ability to have “maximum contact” with that surface.

“Am I aware of the feedback the skin gives me? Is the neck or back trusting or cringing away from me? Do I like touching it? How am I meeting the surface?”

As I meditated on these questions, I took in the sweet gentle smell that filled the center. I was told later that the relaxing aroma was of essential oils, pure naturally extracted oils that Gabriele revealed she used in both candle diffusers and in her homemade massage oils.

The atmosphere of the center was warm and serene, and it mirrored the temperament of the woman who was telling us about the philosophy behind a massage treatment. “One has to adore the moment,” she said at some point (reminding me that zen and stillness lie at the root of perfecting any technique). A mother of two, Gabriele is 48 years old, but easily looks like a woman in her late thirties — another aspect that made me trust her teachings; she obviously led a mindful, healthy lifestyle.

Before we began, she asked me and my friend (the only participants in this session) to sign a contract that confirmed we were taking this workshop “out of the best intentions,” that our touch is “non-committal” and that we respect the privacy of fellow participants. People come in with their scars, sensitivities and their own emotional and mental baggage about their bodies, and a masseur [or a course participant] should respect that, and keep any private information to themselves.

She explained that our skin has a memory; and that includes memory of abuse, and trauma. I probed deeper into the subject, inquiring if rape, school bullying, incest, or physical abuse can affect how people respond to a massage, or to others touching them, and Gabriele said that the “skin can get stiff as a result of being hit for instance. It can become resistant. Therapy can help the body get rid of persistent trauma, or trigger it if the person is treating you in a way you don’t like or if the massage is done by a person you don’t like.”

Gabriele makes no promises as to whether or not a massage can “heal” traumatic experiences. But she explained that regular massage treatment can help an abused or traumatized skin (in the psychological sense) to relax.

“The body has acquired patterns over the years and has learned certain reflexes that come out as a result of distrusting people, for instance. It’s that subconscious pattern that dictates movements, and it becomes apparent in the way we hold ourselves. Under stress, we fall back into our old patterns, and stress can feel like bullying. For a person who was bullied in school, stress feels like they’re back in there.” she said. “A good massage addresses these patterns, lets you reconsider old patterns, helps you let go of them, consciously.”

Once we started using our hands, and learning how to prop up a client for massage, the real challenge of the course began. The quality of your posture as a masseuse, how you carry your own weight, your mood and how clear your mind is are all parts of the equation.

Asking people to give you feedback during the massage is also valuable to the quality of the interaction; it helps you find out whether it is hurtful, nice or, for instance, ticklish. Making sure your client or your friend is comfortable, not too warm or too cold, and that their body is supported well is important.

“Before you touch, check the health history of the person. Check out their pain points. Hygiene is an important point, and it goes both ways,” Gabriele said.

Before beginning a massage, make sure your clothes and your surroundings are clean. Wipe away sweat from your client’s or your friend’s skin with a wet cloth if you have to. “If you’re going to touch feet, have them wash their feet,” she said.

You have to feel good about touching them, and not cringe away, feel disgusted or uncomfortable. “Treat yourself while treating others. Make sure you’re giving yourself a good time,” advised Gabriele.

When exploring skin, move your hands and fingers over protrusions, feel the hollows, buffers, the thresholds between bones, stay with “knots,” stiff tissue and muscle spasms, help the skin stretch until it eases in. “If I feel a lump here, is it better to wait on this spot, until the lump is more defined? Perhaps if I wait it will go away,” she said.

It’s not just technical, it’s a “feelings” affair– any “blockage” is sensed not seen.

In the first session, we were being trained on massaging fully clothed clients (and we were ourselves). Naturally, the practical part of the course is best illustrated by the instructor herself face-to-face as she guides you through the optimal use of your hands, and as she corrects and hones your posture, as well as that of your (imaginary) client. You slowly learn to become comfortable with using your hands, and making choices as you feel the skin: should you touch it with your whole hand, your palms, or your fingertips?

Before we left, we were briefed on the next part of the course in which we will learn about massage with oil. The instructor explained that you can easily make your massage oil at home, and that most ready-made massage oils bring together basic ingredients, like edible oil and essential oils, but could contain synthetically produced materials. “Olive oil, extra natural virgin oil, is beautiful for the skin. Cold-pressed sunflower oil, peanut oil, and almond oil are also good options. And you can get them anywhere. You can add a scent to it by adding a few drops of essential oils to the edible oil.”

Gabriele asked us to always check the properties of essential oils before using them. “For instance, geranium is a very relaxing oil, it’s good for the soul, but it’s sweet, so a man might not like it. Mint and eucalyptus can cause rashes for some people.”

The first session of the course left me in wonder — I reflected on our senses, how we use them (or not) and how much body and mind are connected, not just in receiving, but in giving.

The instructor kindly lent me and my friend two books to exchange and practice with until we meet again. I took home the “The Power of Touch,” which had a thorough explanation of the different types of essential oils (for calming, soothing tight muscles, warming, balancing or reinvigorating) and was full of visual instructions on how to self-massage and provide healing full-body treatments for others.

The course, which I highly recommend to readers, left me eager for more. The instructor also offers post-training consultations, and perhaps re-takes if need be, if one would like to revisit the technique, which I find very useful.

Skin can be powerful, in how it aches, relaxes, resists, surrenders and relays information about our past, present and deepest fears. I believe that repeated close encounters with it will add more to me than just skill.

Massage expert and reflexologist Gabriele Habashi gives massage treatments, and introductory courses in her center “Horizon” in Zamalek. For more details, and a price list, email her atele@horizon-healing.com. The same centre also offers Reiki “energy healing” training, Trager, which is a bodywork that raises body awareness, in addition to other courses like weight management with a nutritional expert. 

Original article published by Egypt Today Specials can be read here: http://specials.egypttoday.com/wellbeing/massage-the-philosophy-of-touch/

Reflections on a Revolution …

As I write this, a truce between policemen and protesters has just ended by the Ministry of Interior (MOI). Football ultras, seeking vindication and perhaps vengeance for their 75 friends who needlessly lost their lives a few days back, and their opposite numbers are probably engaged in a grueling night battle where stones, molotov cocktails and tear gas canisters are being pelted. And more physical and proverbial walls are being erected.

It’s Monday now, half an hour after midnight. It was a Wednesday when football ultras were ambushed and slaughtered in Portsaid. A black Wednesday. Another dark day added to the long list.

Black seems to be the color of New Egypt.

An hour earlier tonight, a friend of mine, Zakariya Mohyeldin, started reflecting on another, perhaps bloodier “Black Wednesday” a year earlier, where state-sponsored thugs had attacked unarmed protesters in Tahrir on camel- and horse-back.

My friends would testify to how notorious I am with sharing some of their views. While talking, it’s not abnormal for me to take out my blackberry and start quoting them in tweets. With Ziko, as I and his friends call him, I took it to another level. His reflections were raw, random … It always touches me how people’s memories are selective, and why they choose to say certain things. So I took out my laptop and started typing away. Refreshingly, he didn’t stop me.

When he was done, I asked, “But why are you telling me all this? Why did you feel the need to say that?” He shrugged his shoulders (Ziko doesn’t use many facial expressions, like most men. So I couldn’t read his sentiment), he said, “When I was walking in the square the other day, I saw angry people. But do we share the same anger? I don’t think so. I don’t feel I belong to them, I don’t feel like I support them. Does this make me ‘felool?’ I don’t know. I don’t remember that these were those people I saw during the 18 days, on The Camel Battle day. Maybe I’m wrong. May be they were.”

Zakariya, or Ziko, comes from a family of armymen — sort of. His grandfather, his namesake, was the first head of the General Intelligence Directorate, which he founded, had been reportedly involved in reshaping the state security apparatus, he was a Nasser adviser and he was a Free Army Officer, one of the most prominent and celebrated . His grandson is on the other hand no stranger to anti-military protests. Ironically, Ziko took to the streets to bring down the state security apparatus his own grandfather once helped refine. On his Twitter feed, you’ll find a lot of condemnation of the “3askar.”

But let me halt my editoralizing, this post is about what he said before that last statement, so here’s how it goes:

“The people that I’ve met that day [on Camel’s Battle / Black Wednesday] I may never meet again. Maybe some of them are now in Mohammed Mahmoud, may be not. But these people were the most courageous I’ve ever met. They were not thugs. Even those who were thugs among them were not thugs, if you know what I mean.

I remember how they looked at me when I left the square that day. I was drained. I felt I could either kill someone for real or that I would be killed myself, if I had stayed any longer. [Those I left behind] looked at me, their eyes pleading. “Don’t leave us,” is what I felt they said. That look. They were desperate. I can’t forget it. It wasn’t that they were taking the moral highground or blaming me because I was leaving. Unlike the people now in Mohammed Mahmoud. Maybe.

Everybody fought but no one was expected to. It wasn’t a duty. ‘If you want to help us, come help us. If you can’t, it’s fine.’

The goal was to defend ourselves against a brutal, planned and horrendous attack.

These people [our attackers] were the scum of the Earth, because they had no values or morals at all. They were there to kill us, just because they were told to kill us. They’ll probably kill us. Then go smoke a cigarrette later as if nothing happened.

Those fighting them back [in Tahrir] was such a strange group of people. Their economic background. I don’t know whether they were ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood], or ultras … they were just people. Very normal and very good.

Mind you that day wasn’t very positive. But it was … we were the people who went down [to the square]. There was a sense of comarderie and friendship that was undescribable. This Salafi guy came up to me on the day and asked me if I prayed the “thuhr” prayer. I said, “what if I’m christian?” He responded, “go pray, even if you are.” Some people came and asked him to leave, and they stood by me. I don’t know [why I’m telling this story]. These images keep coming to my head. I wanna write about them.

When I left the midan, I was in such an emotional state. I was ashamed. I broke down. It was worse than January 28 for me. I remember that day the phone calls of people asking me not to go to the square. Or telling me they won’t.

The people who were calling me on that day, amid the fighting, were saying things like, “what do you guys want? Didnt you get what you want?” School mates I haven’t talked to in years. My father’s friends. All pleading. But even if I’d wanted to leave, it wasn’t possible. We were in the middle of a battle. You can’t leave a raging battle. To some I used to say, “there are girls here in the square. I’m not leaving while a girl stays.”

On that day, I could have stayed at home in the morning. But when I saw the pro-Mubarak people marching on the square earlier in the day, I decided I wanted to go. Ten minutes after I went down, the clashes started. I was armed with an anti-Mubarak placard, that’s all.

I’m still trying to make sense of that day. Who was there. Who wasn’t. Part of the ikhwan were there, but by the way, part had left in the morning. And returned. I don’t understand why that happened. Was that part of a plan? I mean I’m sure some of those who fought [with us in the Camel Battle] were ikhwan. Or maybe they were normal people.

I asked Ibrahim El Houdaiby [a former brotherhood member, and the grandson of a former Supreme Guide] about the ikhwan. He said, “it’s either they’re not here [in great numbers] or they’re here but not organized.”

There was a friend who would hold me back whenever I got carried away and took part in the violence. “This is not your job,” he would say. “This is not why you’re here.”

For those who fell or got injured from the thugs’ side [our attackers], I felt no sympathy. For moments there, I felt i didn’t care if they were killed. May be it was wrong to feel so. But it felt legitimate to feel that way. We wanted to stay there. And we didn’t want to be killed. It was simple as that. Even if we were killing them, we were still better than them. I don’t know how many died that day.

That said, most of us protected them.

When I was leaving the “midan,” from near the AUC building near Sheikh Reehan street, a army officer decided to search me. I don’t know why he did it. I asked him, why didn’t they move to defend people. He told me, what are we supposed to do? We cant do anything. I argued with him. But it was futile. He stopped talking to me, and continued the search without even looking me in the eyes.

It was very vague. I left after curfew, and as I negotiated my route back home through blocked roads, I was thinking how I understood nothing; who’s doing what, and who’s on our side. In one checkpoint, I saw two guys shirtless in the cold and blindfolded, their hands tied behind their back. It looked like they were beaten hard. I didn’t understand who they are, or why they were beaten. Were they decent? Were they thugs? I never knew.

But it looked ugly.

I continued walking.

I met another solider, in another checkpoint, who asked me, “what has brought you here? it’s dangerous.” I retorted shouting: “You’re a soldier and you’re asking me that?” A higher-ranking officer, an army man, came up to me, pushing me away, screaming at me, “don’t you dare shout at an army soldier.” My friend pulled me away.

I walked on.

Another checkpoint. I was searched again. An officer told me jokingly, “I heard there are women with tight bodices in the square.” He looked at my friend who had long hair, and said, “And you? You probably want a president with long hair like yours.” I told the army soldier, “Look at me, talk to me,” and I told him who my grandfather was. “Of course, he was a respectful man,” he said finally. I tried to explain the situation to him. I told him about fraudulent elections. I told him that my relative was even part of it. And that it was forged. The soldier looked like he was thinking, that he considered it. Or may be he thought I was lying.”

Zakariya stopped talking. Abruptly, just like he started.

As I sat beside him putting all this into shape, in this blog post, Ziko joked, “you drained me.” It was just memories, just words. But I understood what he meant.

Memories carry such a heavy load, when they’re unresolved.

Happy with the fragments I collected, I proceeded to publish, asking him if he still wanted to write about it. “You can, you know, write your own version,” I suggested.

“Well, may be I will,” he said. “But may be by the time I try to put them on paper, the will will vanish. I still don’t know what I want to say.”

“Hmm. What should we call this blogpost?” I asked, sipping on my latte.

“Well, I was gonna call it ‘the angriest day of my life’,” he said. “But I feel this is your piece, more than it is mine, though it has my words.”

Over and out.