The butterfly is a flying flower, The flower a tethered butterfly

Friday, 25 January 2013

Land's Head ...

Ras El-Bar; pronounced 'Barr', with ras meaning 'head', el, means 'the' and bar literally means 'terra' or land

It is situated right at the tip of The Delta [by that red line I put right at the top] and is part of Damietta, or Demiat as is called in Egypt. From Cairo onwards, the Nile splits into two routes, one goes left and is called the Rashid branch meeting with The Mediterranean close to Alexandria and the other goes to the right and is called the Demiat branch. The Delta lies in between and is the most fertile land in the world, although it's luxuriously black velvety 'terra' is now a bit weaker and is still under great threat of downgrading as the sediment that kept it so rich has been so drastically reduced by the building of the High Dam in Aswan. It's shores along the Mediterranean are also  being erroded by the sea, hence the concrete wave breakers on it's shores too. 

This is the brand spanking new light house at the tip of the one of two very long piers. There is an old red one too on the other long pier, very contemporary, but people here like this modern one. Both piers and their relevant length are visible at the picture on top.

This is the view from the terrace in front of th at new light house, with the Nile with it's deep blue waters on the right and The Mediterranean with it's turuquoise water on the left. This is a truly amazing sight unlike any other. That's because the river where it meets with the sea does not have an estuary as such because The Nile lies on a little higher level than the sea. So, because of that and as it's waters are heavier [always true estuary or not] than sea water,  the two waters will not mix and that goes on for miles and miles and miles until eventually, the Nile agrees to slowly leave it's ego behind and do it, mix that is. Until that happens, it is common to see Nile water as well as sea water fish as they keep jumping and leaping back 'home' if they miss their way by accident and vice versa, so there is an invisible underwater estuary where both river and sea meet but do not, and their creatures, mix still. Of that striking phenomena, the Qur'an says:

"And it is He [The Lord]  who has released [simultaneously] the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition." 

Amazing isn't it? ... and there is always that fine line between any two emotions; serenity and anger, love and hate, courage and fear ... right and wrong too, you think about it. But then there must be an estuary, visible or otherwise too ... or hope

And so this is the rest of the pier when you're standing with your back to the new light house with the angry waves of the Mediterranean on the right, hence the concentration of those wave breakers,  and the calm and serene deep blue water of the Nile to the left, and that Nile stretch ...

... and here is a picture with people in it in case you're feeling lonely ....

... and a side view, where you can see more breakers going along the coast. They do not stretch along the whole of it though, so Ras El Bar has beautiful beaches too, although it's sand is darker than usual, but now you know why it's that Nile sediment being washed along, ... the beaches are still as sunny and a swim is as enjoyable though ....

... and if you live in one of those residences, can you imagine that view, in full sun too!

... and this is the main Ras El-Bar road that ends with that view, you can see a bit of the 'tufftuff' or a unique tram that does not need rails, although it's usually open for people to jump on and off as it's slow ... so that must be a coach then

Of course, Ras El-Bar is part of the city of Damietta so there is the old city too

I was born by the Nile about five houses to the right of this large mosque, one of the most beautiful in Egypt. Though not in that precise building in the picture for my grandfather's house has now long gone like all the rest that existed then. Instead, there are now 'modern' apartment buildings instead.

This is how the old family houses used to look like in the past and up to 40/50 or so years ago. Ours was the same too although without the commercial premises at the bottom for this was the main commercial road at the time, or more than 100 years ago because this is a really old picture.

I immigrated twice in my life, out of Damiat was the first when I left the city with the family, including members of the larger family for Cairo when my grandfather died and the house and the Delta land were then sold. I was only three then but I do vaguely still remember my grandfather sitting with me in his Nile front balcony. I still remember the shutters and the room behind too, and the Nile view, and my grandfather, who looked the twin brother of Anthony Quin :-)  trying to keep me amused by blowing on the streched skin between his thumb and index finger to make the same sound passing boats do. It's very similar, try it, "Voooooo" ... but since I left as a toddler, we used to come here at least once a year when I was a child with the family and extended family. However, I have only been twice since adulthood, the last being a decade or so ago. So I never had their distinctive accent, nor does my mother apart from a few words that push themselves out specially when she's angry, come to think of it, she does it on purpose too sometimes ....

... and another 100 year old picture of one of the piers. The right one I think, where they 30 years after the picture was taken, they built that red light house I mentioned. It is still there and I hope they do not pull it down and build another new one, but give it a bit of tender and loving care instead for it must've been glorious before, all in red and all these curves. I don't think they will do that soon though since that new one on top was very recently built on the left pier.

Damietta, being a port city that lies right on the tip of Egypt, has had an amazing history during which, it saw many battles, as well as priding itself on being one of Egypt's flourishing  if not the most successful city. Since because of that history and it's position, it has an exceptionally high work and patriotism ethics, fishing abound, trade and commerce, making and selling quality wooden furniture of all styles and exports of same to the world, although with a lot of potential still. That's because the people who live there have higher than the average in Egypt standard of living and there is hardly any unemployment there because of that entrepreneurial spirit that comes with their trading mentality. The Damittans do not accept idleness and so, they are branded as 'misre' by the rest of Egyptians, but they are not at all in reality. It is just that they expect everyone to strive and they all do so no beggers in Demiat, but a thriving and busy city instead! For that, and because of this staunch work ethics, Ras El-Bar has never become a tourist city as the French predicted when they were there late in the 1800s. That's also because the Damittans guard their cherished city like they guard their homes and livelihoods and so the city remains a trading city and a secret summer destination for the Delta dwellers who can afford it only, but as you can see, there is potential in this regard too. They keep it in a prestine condition too, so proud, they also pride themselves on being the only Egyptian city to have captured a French king during the continuing era of the Tom&Jerry fights between east and west. BTW, they  got nearly a third of the then French GDP as random for the king's release. Typical capitalist Damittan mentality :-)

... and that's a view of the Delta as you drive from Cairo, or take a train ... Egypt has the second oldest and most extensive at the time train network in the world after Britain's who is the oldest. All because of that flat geography and it was, of course, a British idea since they were here too. The trains have now been making the news in Egypt quite a bit lately, not on that line to Demiat though ....

Old city Nile life ...

... and this is a Nile beach, true too ... close to the Mediterranean though, but not that very very close, you know what I mean .... 

and now they're at sea, and so is everybody else ...

...and that's a bird's eye view of this beautiful city's main road, Ras El-Bar I mean, or the tip of Demiat ....

The more affluent Damittans have gone back to tradition again in building these family homes, for there are no strangers in the majority of those houses but a flat for mum n dad and one for each child as well so that they can all live together. Their own little open door communities. Community spirit here is way stronger than anywhere I have seen by far. Usually families work together if in one of the trades too, but if parent or child needs to leave for any reason, with or without own family, their flat is locked until they return, and they do, at least for summer or a holiday whenever they can.

... and things like that are everywhere in Ras El-Bar too ... they love their art, you should see what the kids and adults alike build with the sand on those beaches ...

... and that's a common site for the old Demiat, well, when you have a big big river, and a sea, and that amazing for always sunny weather and then it rains, there has to be a rainbow, don't it?

And that's 'Barr', as she's neck named, by night ...

It's the 25th of January, and this is a very different atmosphere from that sad one on theTahrir Square of today now that the 'spring' is two years old ... instead, a walk alone for me with the sunset and that sweet sea river breeze, and some old Abdel Wahab, or really fascinating classic Egyptian music, and a wish or two for peace and  that the children were here ... but they are not

Damietta LNG plant [idled]
Joining two [seas]

لما انت ناوي تغيب على طو ل
Lama enta nawi tegheeb ala toul
When you intended to go away for good

 مش كنت آخر مره تقول
Mesh kont akher mara te'oul
Shouldn't you have said so the last time?

بالليل اسيب نفسي لهمي ولأفكاري
Beleel aseeb nafssi lehami wel afkari
At night, I leave myself to my worries and my thoughts

 افضل افكر فيك وانت ما انت داري
Afdal afakar feek wenta manta dari
Keep thinking of you when you're not aware

القى البعاد طول ،
Al'a elbe'ad ta'wel awla'a
And as the distance grows longer

  اولع وتزيد ناري
Wtezeed nari
I ignite, and the fire within me rages

لما انت ناوي تغيب على طول
Lama enta nawi tegheeb ala toul
When you intended to go away forever

 مش كنت آخر مره تقول
Mesh kont akher mara te'oul
Shouldn't you have said so the last time?

أشوف خيالك في الوحدة جه قدامي
Ashouf khayalak fel wehda geh odami
 I see your image in this loneliness presenting in front of me

 اكلمك واسمع حسك واشكي غرامي
Akalemak wasma'a hessak washki gharami
I talk to you and listen to your voice, and complain of my fondness

واقوم اضمك ما القاش
Wa'oum adomak mal'ashi
And get up to hug you, but find nothing

 غير أوهامي
Gheer awhami
But my delusions

لما انت ناوي تغيب على طول
Lama enta nawi tegheeb ala toul
When you intended to go away forever

 مش كنت آخر مره تقول
Mesh kont akher mara te'oul
Shouldn't you have said so the last time?

ما القاش أنيش في الوحده دي
Mal'ash aneess fel wehda di
I have no companion in this lonliness

 غير الحاني اقول لنفسي
Gheer alhani, wa'oul lenafssi
But my tunes, and I keep telling myself

 ده مش ممكن راح يسلاني
Da mosh momken rah yesslani
O he'd never do away with me

Lazem yehzo eshou'e liah,
The longing will definitely shake'm

Yerga' tani
to return again

لما انت ناوي لما انت ناوي
Lama enta nawi, lama enta nawi
When you intended, when you intended 

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