Sahib drove us along in the off-road vehicle, with air-conditioning and a smooth suspension. Mohamed talked and we listened. Past the Pyramids of Giza in the distance, palm trees waved their light yellow-green fanned arms into a pale blue sky. The air filled with a golden mist. It smelled of dates and fresh baked bread. Mohamed asked Sahib to stop. Getting out the car, he walked over to a house, where the people greeted him. He emerged with Egyptian flat bread, wrapped in paper, a bunch of children dancing around him. The smell of anise seed and fresh dough filled the car, as he distributed the bread among us. This is where I spent some of my childhood, he commented. I always stop here to buy some bread, but they never let me pay, so I give coins to the children. I had my camera ready and snapped pictures.
Mohamed started to talk, as soon as we had finished our bread:
“The land of Egypt has been compared to the lotus flower.” He paused. “The delta in a way depicts the outlines of the flower, while the long stalk of it is compared to the Nile valley and Fayum declared to be its bud.” He smiled, turning from his seat, observing us.
“Poetic,” I commented.
“The colours are descriptive of the changing atmosphere,” Sola said.
Mohamed nodded, “well observed, you two budding Egyptologists.” He smiled, the gap between his front teeth showing. Sola had remarked to me that it made him look like Omar Sharif, as she encountered his smile for the first time.