Cairo the Victorious

"Going to see the pyramids was never supposed to be like this!

"I’d booked the hotel months in advance, the boat-trip on the Nile (“pretty basic,” they told me – make sure you bring your own toilet paper). Things looked a little tense when I arrived – lots of guards with guns – but then don’t you expect those things in a Middle-Eastern airport?

"It wasn’t till five minutes into my ‘stroll around the town’ that I began to realise what was really going on. It wasn’t so much that I got lost as that I got swept up – in the excitement, the crowd pressure. They all seemed to be flowing in one direction –– as I learned later, to Tahir Square, the City Centre. They were chanting. There were women in full burqa, men with long white beards. Then the bricks started to fly!

"After that came the water cannon, the tear gas and the bullets – in that order. We couldn’t even run for cover – there was such a pressure of people. “Peaceful, Peaceful!” the crowd was chanting. Fat hope of anyone hearing that! They were dropping like flies. I saw a man get his head stove in by a brick, women and children screaming!

"I got off with a soaking and some red and stingy eyes, though – surprise, surprise! – there were no flights out the next day, and no way of getting a refund on the river trip. I ended up cowering inside my hotel room for a week, watching CNN, and trying to live on peanuts and bottled water.

"The next time the fellaheen decide to march downtown to defy Pharaoh, I think I’ll plan on being on the other side of the TV screen!"

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