Saturday, December 22, 2007

No one talks about downloading until it's too late

Sun, sea, palm trees and relaxation. That's what my friends promised when they invited me to join them at the Grand Rotana resort in Sharm el Sheikh. I was still getting over my jet lag and all my senses were assaulted by Cairo's pollution and chaos. The lure of sunny blue skies and pool side cabanas were just too much for me to resist.

I flew into Sharm (the bone rattling turbulence is par for the course in winter, reassured the kind man sitting in the seat next to me) and paid far too much for a super short taxi ride to the resort. I tried explaining (in english: my first mistake) that I lived in Cairo and that his prices were out of control. He looked at me, deadpan and said in equally perfect english: "You are in Sharm now."

The hotel was ridiculous (in a good way). Gorgeous, luxurious and filled with...Russians? Everywhere I looked, beautiful women with blue eyes and perfect figures were arm in arm with men whose figures weren't, shall we say, as perfect. While the women were sporting tasteful, if skimpy bikinis, all the men were kitted out in ill-fitting speedos. What must they have been thinking? Not one to ponder such deep mysteries while on vacation, I was content to enjoy the sea air, palm trees and hammocks.

Ah, the hammocks. There was a beautiful row of them, strung along a line of palm trees, their leaves creating a rustling green canopy. Equally beautiful during the day as they were by moonlight. I took pictures. On my phone. The phone I lost...the phone that had all my photos of the last three years. The birth of my nephew, my best friends kids, anniversaries, was a sickening loss. "Didn't you download them?!" everyone asks. Um, if I did, I wouldn't be so sad about losing my phone... So I bought a new one. Which explains the photo of my new phone on this post rather than pictures of sand and sea....

When we left Canada, good friends told us to plan escapes from Cairo often. They also told us to embrace the bubble of expat luxury. I felt a little guilty about running off to a 5-star resort so soon into my stay here -- but my guilt was soon washed away by a tall, cool glass of pomegranate juice and the fresh Red Sea breeze.

photo and text copyright sufia lodhi 2007

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