Or “How many chickens for her?” and other top pick up lines in Luxor & Karnak.
Quick History Update:
So, as you know, Egypt was ruled by Pharohs for a very long time. In fact, Dynasty 0 started off in around 3000 BC and line of succession continued (in terms of dynasties) till Cleopatra’s aspirations put an end to the Pharohs of Egypt.
Traditionally, Egypt was split into two- Upper and Lower Egypt. However, unlike what egoistic Northern Hemispehereans like us would like to think, the term Upper and Lower revolves around the direction of flow of that great lifeline of Egypt, the Nile. So, Southern Egypt is Upper and Northern Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria) is Lower Egypt.
Historically, these two kingdoms were separate till Narmer (aka the Scorpion King) unified the whole country. If you have not been hiding under a rock for the past few years, I am sure you might have seen an illustration of a royal mummy (It’s usually King Tut- that sorry child of a king). The blue and gold striped head-dress is called the nemes crown. The crown is usually topped by a gold cobra (known as the uraeus cobra).
However, what is interesting is that most Pharohs had 2 crowns that were joined into one in their depictions, thus illustrating the unity of the 2 kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. These 2 crowns were the red crown of Upper Egypt and the white crown of Lower Egypt.
Now, most people know of the Great Pyramids of Giza. The pyramid builders were mostly from the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (notables include Sneferu, Khufu- owner of the Great Pyramid, Khafre and Menkhure) and built almost 150 pyramids around Egypt; mostly in the Lower Kingdom. The capital of Egypt during this time was around Lower Egypt, centered around Memphis.
The pyramid builders died and were buried in their grand testaments. But they also essentially emptied the vaults of the Kingdom till slowly Pharohs began being buried in mastabas instead.
Meanwhile, noone knows when, Thebes became the capital of the united Kingdom.
Thebes is now called Luxor.
End History Update. Start rant.
Luxor is known as the largest open air museum in the world and is the site of, among other things, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Nobles, the Valley of the Queens, Deir-al-Bahiri (Hatshepsut’s temple), the Ramaesseum, Luxor and Karnak temples… If you have been to the British Museum to gaze at the Rosetta stone, be aware that Egypt intensifies the experience in such a manner that you look at the Coptic writings defacing the monuments and snort to yourself, “Kids have no interest in culture anymore.”
So, we (2 Indian women and their team mates) went to Luxor, and I was understandably excited. We dumped our bags at the Sofitel Winter Palace and visited the Karnak “Temble”, finding ourselves a guide in the meantime.
Karnak Temple is a magnificent Temple complex that was begun by Ramesses II (of the 19th Dynasty and the hot headed Pharoh who is usually depicted as Moses’ oppressor). All that needs to be told about Ramesses can be summed up by this concise statement, “He was known as Ramesses the Great.”
We soaked in the history of the Avenue of the Sphinxes, the scarab beetles, the large pylons of the Great hall. The paint is still fresh in the frescoes. The Temple of Karnak hadn’t let us down.
The people, on the other hand…
We went into a store to get some suntan lotion. The shopkeepers attempt to palm off SPF10 for 75 LE (The temperature was 50 degrees in the shade, mind you). While the guys were arguing loudly with the main shopkeeper, a boy sidled close to me.
I shook my head.
I turned my head away.
“Where you from?”
“Remove sunglasses!” and he snatched my sunglasses away!
I was annoyed. I grabbed my glasses and fixed them on my nose angrily.
“You have nice eyes. Egyptian eyes. Where you from?”
I relented, “India”
By now the other woman on the team had come over and the boy snatched HER glasses!
We backed off, slowly and walked away.
The boy yelled after us. “Indiaaaa! Amitabh Bachchan.”
And since we hadn’t learnt yet, we ventured into Luxor’s market.
“Ohhh! Nice legs, come into store?” was what greeted us…
It was an omen of things to come.
While cringing, we were subjected to pick up lines by “smooth salesmen” like:
“How many chickens for her?”
“How many camels?”
and the top one…
“Marry me? Amitabh Bachchan.”
Yes, AB senior figured a lot in our conversations.
Somehow, after half an hour of walking around trying to stick to the guys so that I didn’t slap the Egyptian “men” around, we went back to our rooms. (Aside: I had the 40 EUR room. The others had paid 160! Big triumph!!)
I felt like I was back in the worst parts of India. It was not a good feeling.
Happily enough, the next day made up for it.
I am sorry, we have no pictures of the insides of the KV and KQ tombs. The Antiquities Police are “not bribable.” (I said that with a straight face!)
Seriously, do visit Luxor if you can!
Coming up next (maybe): The Stairway to Heaven & King Tut be damned!