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  • Writer's picture Ahmed Elkhouly

The Unexpected Detour..

While I was Setting up the initial plan for this trip I knew Cairo would only serve as a start and end point. I had no intention to visit Cairo and thought that the limited amount of time available during Ramadan shouldn’t be wasted in Cairo. But it’s wise to believe that no matter what you know and/or expect is subject to constant change, and in all cases this change is for the best. Cairo is already well acquainted with the intricate world of digital marketing and there are plenty of firms that provide sufficient service and knowledge. The rest of Egypt though isn’t as fortunate, hence the need is to devote my time to other cities.

Usually there are signs for everything, when plans tend to change, it eventually becomes visible what changes will occur. It started out with issues on the original destination, when my friends there all of a sudden were unavailable during the planed dates. With very serious reasons for being unavailable, and with a location as tricky as Helwan there was no way I would manage it without my friends support. There are lots of cities on the planned route that I’ve never been to before; some where I already knew friends that live there, while others I just tried to make new friends for added support.

With Helwan out of the question I started researching another destination, looking for a city that meets the criteria of my search. My options were limited even non existent. For a second I thought I was out of luck and that I would have to replan everything again. To no surprise I’m actually constantly replanning the plan with every new city, every encounter, and with the newly added information. But this time, I would be saved by a phone call, inviting me to the only city I had planned not to visit. “Are you coming to Cairo?” He questioned, only a few hours ago I was sure to answer NO, but in light of the inability of visiting Helwan I answered “of course”.

It all started making sense, the call was from a major local newspaper. The journalist that called was writing an article about my trip after news had reached other local papers, and he needed an interview. He later explained that a video interview would also be created along with the writer article. The timing was perfect, its as if it really was the plan all along. I was excited; all of a sudden there was a way for me to explain it and to encourage others to find their own way of helping their community. Prior to this I had only been interviewed over the phone just a few days before that.

I arrived and Cairo looked just as I had left it only that Ramadan has now become part of it. My first instinct was to go back home to everything I hold dear and the place I feel truly comfortable. I couldn’t, I knew I shouldn’t, being on the road for the past couple of weeks you get used to it. You get used to this hectic lifestyle of pack, travel, walk, repeat it becomes a norm and even something to look forward to. Home would disrupt this cycle of habit that took a good few days to get in motion. During my very short visit to Cairo I would again sleep in a different room on a different bed something that I have become well accustomed to.

Right before the interview we had a light chat about what happened so far, as a way to organize my thoughts to accommodate his questions. I had a lot to talk about but said too little as if I was only used to writing, as if talking became a less expressive way of communicating. When I talked I discovered that my devotion towards this cause forced a lot of hand gestures and body language to aid my voice. Looking back now I hope I said enough, I hope I explained things properly. The rest of the day was a bit laid back having only planned the interview part that left me with a feeling of being.

That night I would discover that a simple new law would cause me a good amount of discomfort. People Living in Cairo aren’t allowed to stay in hotels around downtown, surprising news for me but after jumping from one hotel to the other, it became a solid fact. It was getting late and the key question was now, where will I spend the night? In the series of strangers acts of kindness I was yet to witness another one, when George a young hotel owner decided to give me a room at his own risk. The stranger I had only met a few minutes ago disturbed by the fact that in my case the laws were simply questionable. He looked at me and said “I noticed you were smiling in your ID picture, how did you do it?” I told him I asked nicely he laughed and said “Im not sure what your secret is, but I trust you.” A stranger’s trust is almost impossible. People’s simple acts of kindness are the key to strong supportive communities and the happiness felt by others.


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