Sudan, Turkey, and Finally Ramadan!
I’m finally back home and it’s finally almost Ramadan! After being away for almost a month that felt more like a year, the first part of which was spent in Sudan and the second in Turkey, words cannot describe how I felt as we touched down in the Cairo airport. Not that I didn’t enjoy both trips, but as they say, home is where the heart is, and my heart is in Egypt.
My trip to (North) Sudan coincided with the official creation of South Sudan, so it was a very interesting time to talk to people on the street and get their opinions. So, I decided to ask literally every person I met, and when you think about how many taxis and microbuses and rickshaws I rode, and how many supermarkets I went into, and generally how many people we interact with on average every day, that makes for an interesting sample. Although people in the South were celebrating, the people I spoke to weren’t feeling as celebratory. The dominant opinion was that the split was a necessary evil. Sad, but inevitable because it was the only way to end all the “problems” they’d been facing. That’s a word I heard used a lot: problems. Like marginalization, inequality, racism, civil war, and genocide – all tactics used by the regime to further their political agendas – can be described as mere “problems”. Interestingly, the majority of the people I talked to also believed that it is the regime’s deadly tactics that have led to this situation, but they just don’t see a solution other than the split. Like my last trip to Sudan, almost everyone I talked to was anti-government. Unlike the last trip though I finally encountered some pro-government people this time: a total of two people were pro-Bashir.
As for the trip to Turkey, it was absolutely amazing, and I’ve fallen completely in love with the country. Erdogan has done an incredible job ensuring that Istanbul is as clean and beautiful as any major European city. It kind of reminded me of Vancouver, Canada because of the gorgeous coast and all the beautiful cafes and restaurants on the water.
But in Vancouver I’ve always felt something missing that makes me really long for Egypt. Egypt has so much soul, so much history and culture, and such a complex identity, and this is something I always missed in Vancouver. I also felt that gap when I went to Dubai. It’s not really something that can be easily articulated, it’s just a feeling. Istanbul seemed to combine the beauty of Vancouver with the history and soul of Cairo and Alexandria. I mean, if any place has a rich and convoluted history, and a complex culture and identity, it’s Turkey.
Now that summer traveling is over, it’s time to start focusing on getting prepared for Ramadan. I’m really looking forward to the mental and spiritual detox this year. With everything that happened since last Ramadan, including the revolutions which are still ongoing, I think this is the perfect time for all of us to concentrate our energies on praying for freedom fighters around the world.