Monday, January 19, 2009

Padikathavan - You are watching at your own risk

I have always been apprehensive to go and watch tamil movies (albeit a very few) and this time this movie confirmed my fears. This was the worst movie that i could have seen for a long time. The problem with tamil cinema is that the directors try to portray the hero as a larger than life image and when the hero happens to be Dhanush, things get very difficult for the director. A new comer as a director (since i have never heard the director's name before this one) with super hero Dhanush and Tamanna as the charming female lead with a story that you would die to not watch all added to our woes.
Right from the start when Dhanush fights macho men with ease, things become unbelievable. Tamanna sizzles in the dance sequences where she has the leeway to bare herself and she does a good job at it. In no other movie would you have seen the audience giving themselves a break during each of the songs. I do not remember any of the songs in the movie, so you could guess how bad it might have been. The songs are one too many and you start to think about how many songs does dhanush get to play with Tamanna. The fight sequences are horrible too. The villain shoots from the helicopter and two cars are blown 20 metres into the sky. Next he shoots another and one more goes high into the sky.
Vivek comes in the second half but your expectations become a damp squib. The story is bad and there is no logic in the way tamanna falls in love with dhanush out of pity. The dialogue where dhanush says that girls wont like guys like him the first time they see, but would like as they see him again and again is good. Some scenes tickle your funny bone here and there but the concept of a puny guy beating up every dada around him just doesnt fall in place. On a holistic view, the film is pretty bad and if you ask me to rate it on a scale of 5, i would give it somewhere between 0 to 1. My friends and I decided not to watch any movies if it was directed by Suraaj. Believe me, its that bad...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

'VA' effect on my new year resolutions

VA effect, you might be thinking what this guy is talking about. For those who have guessed it, yes, you are right. I am talking about Vaaranam Aiyaram. Man, what a movie. Although this blog is not for reviewing the movie, i am about to tell you what effects it has had over me. For starters, the romantic surya with his guitar and his 6 pack just made things worse. Those were the best moments in the movie as far as i am concerned. It just made you love him for the romantic he his. Any girl would have atleast thought about falling in love with him once. I just adore the character he portrays and would definitely like to transform myself into that.

But realistically speaking, i cannot start looking like Surya. Of course, i know that. Although i can start training myself for a six pack and definitely start learning to play the guitar. So i made a decision and it ended up being my new year resolutions and have started to hit the gym. Yes, for those of you who have seen me, six packs doesnt come in a fortnight and for me, it might very well take over six months. Hence i got this six month six pack deal from a very good gym and i could not help myself from joining it. So part of my plan is already put into action.

Now the second part, playing the guitar. Man, i havent even touched one in all my life but now i want to play like the way surya did (although he wouldnt have in the movie, it looked cool). So i started enquiring places where they teach amateurs on learning to play the guitar. I found one on the internet and signed up immediately. Wow, i am on target and these have become my short term goals. Now the only thing missing is a beautiful sameera reddy so that i can romance with her. Hope i find mine and impress her the way surya did in the movie. Just cant wait to play romantic songs on my guitar to my girl. Lol..

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday - Day 7 - Final day

Day 7 - Hot air balloon & the valley of the kings

The day of the hot air balloon finally arrived. I had been waiting for this from the day they announced that we had an option of going on a balloon. I had never been on one all my life and i was anxious to get on one. Though this wasnt covered in our trip package, we had an option of signing up for a sum of 75US dollars per person (pretty high but worth it!!). So as with all other opportunities, i did not want this to go by jus like a dream. We had to get up early and supposed to see the sunrise from the balloon. Unfortunately due to god knows who's mistake, we were still on the ground when the sun arose from the mountains. We left the cruise at 6AM and arrived to a small boat in which we were ferried to the other side. There were two mini vans waiting for us which transported us to the fields where the balloons where ready for blasting off. There were two balloons, one was a seven seater (in fact its a seven stander, u don get to sit) and the other one was a 20 seater. We went through some sugar cane fields until we arrived at the balloon. After splitting ourselves into two groups we got into our respective balloons. Our balloon's pilot was Mustafa and it was his second balloon flight that morning.

We were asked to face the direction of the wind initially when the balloon rose into the sky, firing on two blowers which blasted fire into the innards of the balloon as it slowly kept on rising. We steered clear of the fields and had a birds eye view of the Ramses II and Ramses III temples. We had an apprenhension that the morning would be very chilly but standin near the fire blowers made us from reaching for our woolen wear. We were in the air around 40mins after which we slowly landed in the desert. The most adventurous part of the balloon ride was the landing. It just skidded for some 4 metres and tilted to one side with everyone screaming into my ears. But it was real fun, believe me!! Once it landed the balloon started to deflate and the people tied it as it deflated. Then they mounted the basket onto a mini truck and put the folded balloon along side. Our wonderful balloon ride was over, but we all enjoyed it. Atleast the youngsters did. Of that i am sure.

Our next stop was at the valley of the kings. As the name rightly suggests, this is where most of the kings had their tombs. It seems that none of the kings knew that some other king too had chosen the same spot for putting his tomb. Sheer co-incidence that noone found out. In fact there are 62 kings whose tombs are in this place. The entrance has a model of the valley showing the location of each of the king's tombs. There was this queen hatshepsut who wanted to be king so badly that she painted herself dark and made herself look like a king to everyone. She is the only queen to have been buried in the valley of the kings rather than the valley of the queen. Here video camera was not allowed though you were allowed to snap on the outside before entering the tombs. Your ticket covered the entry into any 3 tombs of your choice. My advice to you is to go to the Ramses II , Ramses IX tombs for sure. They have intricate paintings and colours that are still holdin even after 5000 years. In the inside you can see the sacrophagus in which the mummy was kept. The last one depends on the time you have. We actually had time only for two tombs. There is also the famed Tutankhamen tomb where you get to see the mummy. But this one is not free. You got to shell out 100 egyptian pounds to enter this tomb. This is the only mummy in egypt that can be seen since the others were destroyed or stolen. I saw the picture of the mummy and was in two minds unable to decide whether to go or not. Finally decided against it and settled for the free ones.

Next we were on our way to the queen hatshepsut temple nearby. This had lots of steps to get onto the top of the temple. Nothing much to describe here. Maybe a few pics here and there. So we moved on back to the ship for our lunch. We had time for a nap and stretched ourselves after plungin into a hot shower. In the evening we headed to the konark temple. By now people had gotten wary of the many temples that we were seeing and only a small bunch went there. The temple as like others had huge columns. In fact the biggest ones were here. There was also one of queen hatshepsut's obelisk here, the tip of which is still supposed to be covered in gold. Nah! i didnt believe it either. We saw a small room which had two layers of granite to keep it at a reasonable temperature during all times of the day. King Alexander had ordered this extra layering to be done so that the Gods can be comfortable inside. There was a pond inside the temple and a scarab atop a pillar which people went around 3 times to ward off their bad luck. People and their superstitions!! After taking a lot of pics, we headed back to the cruise.

People here were waiting for the horse carriage ride which took two persons per carriage and took them for a tour of the city and into a poor farmer's house showing the chores that he was doing. This too was an additonal option at 30 US dollars per person. We had not taken it. But people who did, came back moaning that it was a waste of time. They were shown what you see here in India. Maybe it would have been interesting for people who come from the developed countries where you dont see bullock carts and oxen in your environment. But for us, we have seen it enough and showing the same in Egypt is seriously nothing new. We were then taken to a local bazzar where you were allowed to shop at your will. Again your bargaining skills come to the fore. We guys planned to do hookah here but couldnt find a good shop to experiment our rudimentary desire. After two long hours we walked back to our cruise to have our last dinner aboard it. The next day we had to pack up and start off to Luxor international airport at 9AM and board our flight at 11AM local time to Doha.

Another six hour transit at Doha, but this time we seriously didnt want the time to fly by as we chatted with all new made friends. People whom i didnt know just a fortnight ago had become thick good friends. We had a wonderful time going through the duty free shops, the free browsing centre and the coffee shop where we were treated by our singaporean friend. In all the trip was one that i would remember for a long time to come. A christmas break that seriously took a lot from my workload and gave me enough freshness until the next international trip. Am eagerly awaiting the next international trip, which i would definitely grab with both hands. Till then waiting to explore more within...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday - Day 6

Day 6 - Temples, Esna lock n the belly dancer

Christmas day and we had to start early in order to go to Edfu temple. So we were out by 7AM and it was damn chilly. The wind just didnt help us either. We had to take a horse carriage ride to the temple. We were in Edfu city and it was a 15 minute journey to the temple. Each carriage accomodated 3 persons, however we had to sit as a group of 4 so as to fit into the available no of carriages. It was a good ride although there was nothing of interest to see on the way. Edfu temple was like the other temples, huge with lot of inscriptions and paintings. There was a picture of a goddess inside on the ceiling in a semi-circular fashion. She was the goddess who ate the sun during the night and released it again in the morning. I seriously do not remember her name. However from this room you could see an adjoining small building with a window which is supposed to be the heaven. There were two routes to the heaven. One a long winding route which went around before reaching it and the other was a short one diagonally coming down. This signifies that going to heaven was tough, however falling from it was easy. The other interesting thing that i noticed is a dog in the premises. You may think that it is queer, however the fact is that there are no stray dogs in any place that i went to. But instead there were cats everywhere. The Egyptians had their share of stray cats. That is why finding a dog there became a note worthy point. Ahem.. Now you understand.

Once back in the cruise we had the entire morning and afternoon to ourselves until we reached Luxor. We whiled away our time over games on the sun deck and others lay on the mattresses near the pool. But noone ventured into the pool cause the water was ice cold. We then retired to a game of bridge and then came back onto the sun deck when we reached the Esna lock. Now this lock acts very similarly to the suez canal passes where your ship goes into one pass and water is drained from that pass so that your ship comes in level with the water in the second pass. Unfortunately we missed the entire episode of it over lunch. We just entered a vast area which we presumed as the lock and the transition wasnt at all interesting. But when we went down to have our lunch, the actual lock worked. Our cruise just kept on going down as water was drained from it. Once it reached a level which was 3 metres below our earlier level the second gate opened and we went out into the river as usual. By the time we went upstairs, the cruise had moved away from the lock. So this is still pending in my list and i would tick it off when i go to see the suez canal later this year.

Afterwards we had a nap and woke up when it was dark and when we had reached the Luxor temple. The Luxor temple looked magnificient under lights. We were ushered to take a group snap in front of the temple. The photos each cost 25 egyptian pounds for people who were interested to buy them. The front of the temple had a huge statue of the head of king Ramses. Also beside it was one of the obelisks of Queen Hatshepsut. Remember the name, Good. Actually there were three obelisks of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt out which two were supposed to be here. But we could find only one cause the other one was exchanged with the King Philip for the clock at the Alabaster mosque (trying to remember). The third one is in the Karnak temple. At the foot of the obelisk were four baboons which danced and greeted the sun every morning. There were lots of statues of Ramses on the inside which were damaged. It is said that it was purportedly done by the muslim rulers. However the pillars inside were very huge in diameter and height. Also there was a row of sphinxes for a 3 KM stretch from this temple to Karnak temple. We had our free time to take the snaps inside and then had to rush to catch the bus so as not to miss the belly dance show.

This show was part of our cruise and as a part of christmas celebrations. We rushed and were on time for the show. The music was loud and peppy as though inviting you into a dance but a littler harsh. Then came the belly dancer and then started the much awaited belly dance. I would prefer to call it the flab dance, since she was trying hard to shake all her extra muscles in her body. She went around and called a random male or female to dance with her. Thank god, she missed my seat and i was happy to be in the audience. I was expecting something even more enchanting that this show just put me off and hence i am not giving any more descriptions of her. But next came the swirling dancer. From the moment he came in, he was swirling in his place as if in a trance for almost 20 minutes. All the while he kept his hands busy taking his drums and showing it one by one. Then he used his head dress to turn into a cradle holding a baby, all this while still swirling. Compared to the earlier perfomance, this one was awesome. Everyone enjoyed it a lot. The program ended after 10 minutes and we proceeded to our special christmas dinner to the restaurant.

The dinner was hyped to be very promising with a 17 course menu. However it all turned out to be a damp squib, atleast to us. The food served was typical egyptian style, i guess, cause it was not at all palatable. Then from the fifth course onwards something looked eatable atleast to the non-vegetarians. For the vegetarians it was much worse i guess, cause they couldnt stifle a smile. The dessert was really extravagant and good. So much for the earlier courses. We had dessert for our main course and were full. The dinner was followed by the opening of the dance floor and we guys were forced to shake a leg by a couple of girls and we had to since we had promised them. So after all the fun and our funny dance performances we finally called it a day and retired to a corner in the bar to chat. Finally around 11:30PM we retired to our rooms eagerly awaiting the next day's hot air balloon ride.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday - Day 5

Day 5 - Aswan & the nile cruise

As i had said in my earlier blog the train had reached the Aswan station half an hour behind schedule. However our bus in which we were to be transported had already arrived and our bags were shifted. By this time i was able to look around the Aswan train station. If there is one thing that Egypt has to improve it would be its public transport and public stations. One thing i noticed here in Egypt is that all the residential buildings are 15 to 20 storied at a minimum. I could not find a single independent house here and the gas here is supplied in pipe lines like the US and Europe. Also you can find all the different models of cars that have been manufactured in the world here. I found a lot of BMWs, Ferraris, Toyotas, GM, Hyundai and even our Maruti (can u believe it?). They have lots of car showrooms scattered all over the city. One other thing is that there were no two wheelers on the roads, the obvious reason being the heat and the dust that is there. People here dont paint their houses, so you could look at the brickwork that is there, since the paint peels off due to the excessive dust in the air. Also the fly overs in the city have been meticulously planned and executed. One other uniqueness is the similarity in all their tourist buses. They are of the same build and design and extremely comfortable. It is as though there is only one contractor to do all the bus body design. However the local bus is very messy, cramped and unclean. So when i found the train station dirty, i found myself thinking that there are things that they got to see us and emulate.

Once we were packed into our buses we were on our way to Queen Hatshepsut's unfinished obelisk. We were to go to the Nile cruise liner for lunch and hence had some places to visit before that. So first on our list was this. This place is where all the obelisks were made during ancient times, the reason being this was the place where one got the best granite stones. In ancient periods there were no special tools to cut the stones. They chipped holes in the granite and then put in wet wood in between the rocks and left it. The wet wood deepened the holes and made it to separate (i seriously didnt get this part). Then they used heavy small rocks called dura weat to put in between the rocks and moved them. After the granite is cut, it is carved as per the king's wish and the obelisk is made and then transported to the temples. Here you would find an unfinished obelisk of Queen hatshepsut, since she had died while it was still in progress. So it remains unfinished to this day.

We then started to go to the high dam. On its way we saw the Aswan dam which was initially built to stem the floods in the river Nile. However during one such flood the dam itself got covered and hence it was not used anymore. Then came the need to build an even bigger dam. For this Egypt did not have sufficient funds and hence requested the US, Europe and Russia for financial assistance. The US gave 20 million dollars, Europe another 20 million dollars and other countries gave an additional 20 million dollars. However Russia said that it would provide technical man power instead of financial assistance. So the Russians sent 5000 engineers to built this dam. They along with 30000 Egyptian labourers completed the dam in a span of 5 years. The US however put a conditional clause that it would use the Suez canal strip for a few years without any charge. This dam was built when Nasser was the president of Egypt. The dam served its purpose and there were no more floods in the Nile. Also due to the massiveness of the dam, the hydroelectric power was extracted to convert to electricity and at present Egypt is exporting electricity to neighbouring countries.

Our next one was a boat ride to the Philae temple. This temple was earlier in philae island where the Nile covered the entire temple and hence it had to be shifted to another nearby island (the name of which i am unable to recollect). It was a 20 minute boat ride to the island where we saw the temple. This temple as i had said had been shifted by cutting the original into 45000 pieces and moved and restored as per the original. The temple has a lot of pictures and hieroglyphic messages on its walls. Its a nice place for photo shoots because of its strategic location on an island. Now it was 1PM and time for our lunch. We were eagerly waiting to go to our Nile cruise liner, my first at this too.

The cruise liner was a big one, but almost every liner there looked similar. There were 4 decks in each liner where the first three decks were full of rooms and the top deck was called the sun deck with tables and chairs and a swimming pool too. Of all the liners our was the most simple one i guess, since the others had casinos too. Immediately after we boarded the liner started to move and we watched the Nile in awe. It was really fascinating to see the Nile just slowly flow along and to see the embankment brizzling with life. There was a restaurant in the first floor and a bar in the second. Here we were served tea and then at around 5 we reached the komombo temple. We disembarked and walked to the komombo temple which took us ten minutes.

By now it was dusk and it was beautiful to see the temple brightly lit. This temple too had lots of inscriptions on the pillars and walls. We saw a nilo meter here which was used to measure the floods in the Nile. Also the temple had ancient medical instruments used during those times. However we couldnt get to look at it due to the crowds there. Also we had a time constraint since the liner was scheduled to start at exactly 7PM and we had to make it before that.

We had dinner at the cruise and we had a taste of the egyptian cuisine too. Also one of our troop members celebrated her birthday the same day and was wished during dinner a la egyptian style. The attendants drummed and sang the egyptian version of happy birthday and celebrated it with much ado. In all we had a nice time just looking at it unfold.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday - Day 4

Day 4 - Cairo - Shopping & the sleeping train

Today was our last day in Cairo and hence we had plenty of time to kill. We had to board the sleeping train from Cairo to Aswan at dusk and hence had to check out of the hotel at 9AM. But since i had the morning to myself, i decided to hit the gym. I wouldnt say that the gym is state of the art, but definitely has got all the things that one would like to use. The massage and spa were also open. However i avoided that for obvious reasons (its not free). I used the treadmill and the elliptical for an hour and then had to rush back so as not to miss my breakfast. We were all ready by 9 and checked out as planned after taking pics of the hotel where we were put up.

Our first stop for the day was the papyrus institute. In cairo you would find papyrus shops and institutes in plenty at every nook and corner. Here they showed us as to how ancient egyptians made paper from papyrus. The papyrus plants grow abundantly along the Nile. These plants are cut in pieces and soaked in water for a few days. After that they are taken out and the outer skin is peeled off. Now the fiber is soft and flexible and can be easily torn. So they are beaten with a hammer and flattened. This is followed by hard pressing it beneath heavy objects. The ancient people used rocks for this purpose. The colour of the papyrus varies from light to dark brown and depends on the time for which the papyrus is left out in the open for drying. After this the paper is ready to be used. We went around the shop looking at all the portraits made on papyrus. We had an option of writing down our names in hieroglyphics in the papyrus in a oval shaped window called as cartouche. The owner there told us of a method to find the difference between original paper made from papyrus and that made from banana leaves. When you hold the papyrus paper towards a source of light, you can see criss cross lines in the paper showing the fiber whereas in a banana leaf paper the lines would be diagonally outward. However we compared some duplicate ones that some of us had bought the previous day with the original ones by this technique and couldnt ascertain the difference. So much for that guy's technique.

Next stop was at an egyptian cotton shop. Egypt is known for its cotton and hence people want to buy them as a souvenir. But i found the prices way too high and restrained myself from picking any. However the girls in our group entertained themselves by trying out the traditional belly dancer's head gear (known as gallebia) and waist chains for photo shoots. The sales girl encouraged them and helped them wear it. So if you have no interest in buying the cotton dresses then better ask your friends (mostly girls, guys dont have anything to try out) to try out the different head gear and dont forget to get yourselves snapped. It might come in handy when you are searching for some display picture for orkut. However after an hour we were back in our bus en route to the Alabaster mosque.

Here is where i experienced a mini-sand storm first hand. The wind gushed and spew sand all over. We were being pushed by the sheer force of the winds. We finally made our way to the entrance. By this time, sand was all over me, in my hair, eyes, mouth and in my handy cam too. This mosque is built inside a citadel (i dont remember the name of the person who built it), a huge one which you would notice from a long distance. The uniqueness of this mosque is that the entire place is built of alabaster, an ancient material used in Egypt. The outside of the mosque has a clock tower gifted by a french king (King Philip). But the story is that it wasnt supposed to be a gift. In fact it was an exchange for one of the obelisks of queen hatshepsut. To further add to the woes, this clock never worked (what a gift!!). The mosque was brilliantly built with huge columns and a center tower which was brightly painted. The chandeliers inside was another feast to the eyes. The mosque has two long minarets also called as the pencil towers. When we came out we were relieved to find the winds blowing softly.

Have you heard of shopping plazas solely for tourists? Yes there is one here. Its called the Khan-el-Khallili bazaar. It has rows after rows of shops having everything that you would want to buy. Here is where your best bargaining skills come to the fore. The shop keeper will start the bargain at 150 egyptian pounds and then finally sell it to you for 20 egyptian pounds. So you have to bargain like hell in order to do justice to your purchase. Here we were given a hour and a half to roam around and shop till we dropped dead. There were many lanes each full of shops stretching the entire distance for almost a kilometer in all directions. This is the best place to buy your souvenirs and stuff that you wanted to buy for your friends, colleagues, bosses and who ever. A piece of advice from me, whatever you do never wander alone. There is every chance that you might get lost amidst the narrow ways and the locals may start harassing you, more so if you are a woman.

We reached the Giza station around 6:30PM, pretty early since our train's scheduled departure was around 8PM. However friends came to my rescue and we played dumbcharades till the moment the train arrived. The train stops in Giza station only for about ten minutes which was more than enough for 40 people to get in since their baggage were stacked up neatly. So if you are travelling in a much smaller group, then you have plenty of time to board and get settled. Just make sure you have your bags ready and have already decided on the berth nos for your group individuals. The sleeping train as it is called, travels the entire night and reaches Aswan in the morning (this could be the reason for its name, i guess). The train has coupe like compartments with two persons in each coupe. Each coupe has two beds one on the top and the other, the usual seat. The ladder is tucked neatly behind the head rest so that you can take it out and use it when you want to sleep in the upper bunker. However the attendants on board the train serve you on call. So you can ask them to make your bed once you feel sleepy. There is a foldable table for taking your breakfast/dinner. Also there is a table top cum a wash basin on the inside. But the space is pretty cramped. You can either use the heater or the cooler depending on how cold/hot you feel. Dinner was offered immediately after the train started and for those who drink, drinks too were served on request.

We spent the entire night chatting away till early morning when we retired to our beds. And young couples, please dont disturb them. But the train was very bumpy at times, more like a camel ride than a train ride. The train travelled through the night and reached Aswan next day morning at 8:30AM, half an hour behind schedule. The train halts here for half an hour and hence there is no need to panic in getting your baggage out of the compartment. More on the day's trip in Aswan in my next blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday - Day 3

Day 3 - Cairo - The pyramids

Before i start about the day's tour, let me take some time off to talk about the hotel. We stayed in the Oasis Hotel in the Giza area near the pyramids. The hotel is built on a sprawling area of 10 hectares and has a total of 300 rooms. All the rooms are spacious with heaters and coolers depending on the time of day that you are staying in the room. There are lots of fountains adjoining the rooms. The hotel welcomes you into a spacious lobby enough to hold the baggage of 40 people (we had all our luggages there before moving to our rooms). There is Wifi available but at additional cost. There is a gym available which is free to use but it works from 7:30AM to 10PM. They do have jacuzzi, sauna and massages which are at extra cost and you could use them if you have both time and money to kill. There is also the swimming pool but its usage is from 9AM to 6PM. So for tourists who have a busy itinery lined up, this wouldnt work out. There is also the tennis and basket ball courts but we didnt use any of them. Actually, we didnt have time to use them either.

Coming back to our subject, day 3 was supposed to cover the pyramids and sphinx which is the first thought that comes to people when you talk about Egypt. Our first stop was at the pyramids, where you have an option of going into the bigger pyramids. There are two options either going into the 50m one or through the 110m pyramid. The distances that i have given here denotes the distance that you need to crawl through a small passage to reach the tomb which is at the bottom of the pyramid. But both these options are at extra cost and you need to decide on it before you enter the pyramid area. We took our sweet time to decide and hence couldnt buy tickets for the same. I would not recommend these to old people, pregnant women and people suffering from breathing problems since the air at the bottom has lesser oxygen concentration and you definitely do not want to be getting medication at that place.

However for people who do not want to go for these extra options can go into a smaller pyramid which has a narrow passage of length 10m to get the hang of it. The biggest pyramid of all is the one built by Kofu measuring 146 metres in height. All the stones that were used to build the pyramids were brought from Aswan via the river Nile. It is estimated that some 2.3 million stones have been used, each weighing from 2 to 10 tonnes. Look at the amount of workmanship that has gone into building the pyramid. Due to sand storms over the past 5000 years some 9 metres at the top of the pyramids have fallen off. The next pyramid near to this one was built by Kofu's son keops and stands 139 metres tall. It still has some glazing on it left. Each of the pyramid has smaller pyramids near to it. There are usually three small pyramids beside each big one. One is for the king's spirit since egyptians believed in after-life and hence preserved their bodies by the process of mummification. The second one is for the mother of the king and the last one is for the queen.

Next we went to a place where the pyramids can be seen at a birds eyeview and also to take pics of them. This place you can take the camel ride across the desert near the pyramids to the sphinx area. The cost of this is 25 US dollars. We took the ride and believe me it was worth the money. The way the camels jerk to get up itself is freaky. Then you got to get used to the constant rythm in which the camel shakes and moves. We went to a place where all the nine pyramids in the Giza area can be seen in one line. We then continued for about 40 mins before reaching the sphinx. The sphinx as everyone knows is famous for its broken nose. It is believed that some muslim king when he came to egypt saw the local people worshipping the sphinx and got infuriated. So he ordered his men to break its nose and from then on people have stopped worshipping it. We got a group picture with the sphinx and the big pyramid in the background. The cost of this picture is 30 Egyptian pounds. The sphinx is adjoined by a temple where the king is mummified and taken to the pyramid by a way directly from the temple to the pyramids. There at the pyramids he is laid to rest in his tomb with all the jewelry, riches and food for the king.

After the sphinx we were taken to a nearby perfume shop since egypt is famous for naturally extracted perfumes. It is believed to stay fresh for a period of 20 years without going to waste. Here we were served a special egyptian drink called hibiscus and then started the demo of how the perfumes are made. We were made to smell the different kinds of scents in their repertoire. Following this you got to choose the exact flavour of scent that you would be purchasing. Now its bargaining time to get as good an offer that is possible and we Indians are very good at this. Then amidst chaos people bought scents for their loved ones and got the dispensers free for this.

Lunch followed at an Indian restaurant and the food was good here (Tandoori restaurant). We then visited the Egyptian national museum, one of the biggest in the world. The museum was very huge covering two massive floors and containing thousands of artifacts. We got only an hour to explore this huge area, but you would definitely need a full day's time to go around the entire museum looking at everything that is on display. For a history lover, maybe more. Here the most noteworthy thing that we saw (in our brief stay there) was the Tutankhamen's tomb and all the treasure that was found there. Of all the egyptian pharaohs, tutankhamen is the most famous since his is the only tomb that had not been looted for centuries and was opened by the government. The government seeked the help of British nationals to open it since the locals feared that opening the tomb would get them into a curse. So when they opened the door to the tomb they found four huge caskets one above the other all covered in gold to protect the king inside. The jewels found in the room and sacrophagus that was housing the king is on display and worth a watch. The actual mummy of the king is still present and can be seen in the Valley of the kings. There are still other artifacts showing the way the people lived and the utensils that they used. However due to our limited time we could only stray for a look here and there.

There is a sound & light show in the pyramids area where the light is shone on the pyramids and along with the background sound you get to hear the story of the king who built the biggest pyramid. The timing for our show was around 6:30 and you got to show up at 6PM itself. It was for this reason that we were rushed through the museum. The sound & light show costs 30 US dollars per person. It is freezing cold at this time near the pyramids and so you better wear proper warm clothing to protect yourself. For those who dont have it, they can rent blankets at 5 Egyptian pounds per blanket. The show started with the traditional trumpeting and music rendered by people wearing traditional gear. At 6:30, the show started throwing light first on the sphinx and explaining its story. Then it is followed by the story of the person who built the big pyramids and how it was built. Personally it is worth seeing for the first ten minutes when you get to see the story about the pyramids and the time when all the four visible pyramids light up. This is the most beautiful shot in the entire show. This is followed by the story of egyptian people and it rambles on for about 50 minutes. Just when we were reaching near freezing states the show ended and people made their way back to their hotel rooms to retire after a long and tiring day. It was so good to be tucked under the warmer blankets in the bed.

The pyramids had been seen and they are testimony to the stories that happened 5000 years ago. It has stood the test of time and is still standing to show people that time has lost to noone but the pyramids. It has seen history unravel in front of it for 5000 long years and still more to come.