“Have you ever heard of a singing vacation?” one of the women at the Christina hotel asked me. I admitted that I had not. But about a dozen women had come from the Netherlands to this hippie-esque resort village on the Sinai peninsula to do just that: sing. For a week, they’ll be led by a Dutch singer named Ellie who will turn them into a choir, harmonizing on songs by Abba, Sade, Whitney Houston and others.
As I sat on the patio reading a Norwegian murder mystery novel, I’d hear them rehearsing. Though I would miss their final performance, I did get invited to join them for an evening of karaoke. A 70-ish woman sang Bohemian Rhapsody with gusto. Another couple (including the only other male – the husband of one of the participants) sang Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.” I took on another Queen song – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and did a duet with Ellie, being Elton John to her Kiki Dee on “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” Couldn’t hit the high notes like Elton (of course, neither can he these days).
Not what I was expecting for my few chill days in Dahab. But, then again, serendipity is my best pal and the very reason why I travel.
It’s cold in Dahab. Colder than average this time of year. Too chilly to scuba dive (at least for me). So I’ve been chillaxing.
I read a Norwegian mystery novel about a serial killer (The Leopard by Jo Nesbø), using the Anderson Cooper book mark I got at the airport book store.
It’s funny what you remember instantly when all your senses are engaged.
Four and a half years after leaving Cairo (where I spent a year as Knight Fellow and first began this blog) so much had faded from memory. But it all comes back as I see and smell and taste and feel this wonderful mess of a city again.
Minding my step on the sidewalks—which can drop off suddenly or catch you in one of the ankle-wrenching holes—the motion memory kicks in. You recall the rhythm of crossing the ridiculously trafficked streets. The smell of the shisha from cafes and the desert dust in the nostrils sparks thoughts of evenings out. The taste of the Nile in the air near the corniche, and the foul medames (fava beans) and tameya (falafel) and hibiscus tea at breakfast, all trigger their own images.
Even the Arabic words (kalimat) come back when you hear the music of the oud or the play-by-play of the Zamalek or Ahly football games on the scratchy AM radio in a taxi.
These are clichés, I know. But all that surface stuff can lead you to deeper places. Continue reading “The Dazzling Uncertainty of Egypt”
That’ll be me. Professor Craig Duff. It’s now official. I’m heading to Evanston, Illinois.(According to the Sacramento Bee)
Here is a piece I produced with TIME international photo editor Patrick Witty, who followed photographer Peter Hapak as he created portraits of dozens of protesters in locations around the world (Spain, Greece, Egypt, Tunisia, India, Mexico and the U.S.) for TIME’s Person of the Year issue.