Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLXXIX. A Return Visit (8 of 15)

Agriculture and Cotton Museum

Mom took Robert and I many times to this museum, thus, when I went to visit it, I wondered if it had maintained its high standard. After my visit, I can say that, to a large degree, it has.

This museum focus on the various aspects of present-day Egyptian rural life, with the accent placed on its most important crop, cotton.

There used to be a section showing various seeds (mainly cereals) found in Pharaonic graves and temples; can these seeds germinate after thousand of years? Yes indeed, some of them did! Alas, I was unable to find this section again. I asked the staff at the museum, but they told me that such a section has never existed. Before I left, an older gentleman emerged from the museum’s office to inform me that I was right, but that unfortunately this section no longer existed. He expressed his joy to meet an old-timer who knew about such things.

Zoological Gardens

As a child, nothing meant to me as much as going to the zoo. I would have sold my soul to go there, and big promises were made that if my parents took me to the zoo, I would…

As much as possible our parents took Robert and me to Le Jardin Zoologique. And what a place that was with its countless animals and secluded gardens to exhibit the flora. It was, at the time, one of the most outstanding zoos in the world.

They say that some memories should be left undisturbed. Certainly this applied to my decision to revisit the Zoo.

The fauna consisted of a few scattered sad-looking cages; the flora included a few flower beds, and mostly burned grass.

I didn’t stay for long, for there was really not much to see. The old zoo was obviously no more. It existed only in my memory, and the memories of the old-timers of my generation.

Cairo’s University

As previously mentioned, I was a student there in the ’50s. At the time, the university was situated in an idyllic location; it is still there but, oh, how the surroundings have changed.

The university was built in a space that was once a botanical garden (Orman garden); actually the botanical garden was left largely undisturbed; thus, in my university years, I was surrounded by greenhouses, flower gardens, and a great variety of trees.

All I found during my visit was a concrete jungle. The stretch around the university was light-years away from what I remembered.

With a heavy heart, I looked around with the hope of catching a glimpse of the past, but I was trying for the impossible.

I could not even get into the university; there was heavy security at the entrance, and only students, professors, and staff were allowed in, after their ID has been carefully checked.

Rue Khantaret Ghamra

It would have been unthinkable to revisit Cairo, and not go to visit my old home. Indeed, one of the taxi drivers that I used, urged me to go back. He would give a good price and stay with me for as long as necessary.

After a price was agreed upon, I gave him the phone number of my hotel so that we could make the necessary arrangements. When he called, the original amount had increased. Why? He reminded me that he had 5 children to feed! Fine. Of course, once I got into the taxi, the fare has gone up again for by now he had 8 children to feed! I quickly met him somewhere in between before his issue multiplied again!

It took us a while to find the building. On my way there, I couldn’t help but noticing how narrow and filthy the streets were. (It would later occur to me that, while there has been a deterioration, the streets were not that different than when I lived there. But, this was my environment, and I accepted it as it was). The building was old and neglected. I entered it and looked at the mail boxes, they were no longer there! (Most buildings can no longer keep them because of vandalism).

It was my hope to meet a member of the family of our old landlady, Marie. I inquired, but to no avail. As we were ready to leave, the taxi driver noticed that a man was waving from his balcony, it was Mamdouh, one of the twins.

And so we went up and started reconnecting with the past.

His mother? She had, of course, passed away a long time ago. His other siblings were alive and well.

Mamdouh told me how hard it was to lose us all, they (his family) were never completely able to reconcile themselves with that loss. Life was very difficult in Egypt. In a way, he envied us for we had done well. It seems that I was not the first visitor from that faraway past. He had received visitors from France, Brazil, Australia, and Canada. The visitor from Canada was none other than Robert who had visited Egypt the year before. Robert was lucky for he was able to meet more members of the family and had visited our old apartment. On the day of my visit, this was not possible.

Next, I asked the driver to take me to Rue Tour Sina. Hard as I tried, I could not identify the building where my grandmother lived for so many years. The driver informed that a lot has been built, and that after 40 years, many changes have occurred.

You guessed it, when it came time to pay, the driver pleaded for an increase in the agreed-upon fare. I gave him more than he asked for. The difference, I told him was to buy new clothes for his children. His blessings still resonate in my ears.

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