Ok, here we go.
I have to apologize sincerely for being late about this blog, I think I was, and still am, in some sort of utter amazement and shock at my presence in the US.
Let's kick this off with my beautiful, relaxing, first-class journey to the "land of the free".
It was Sunday, July 20th and I haven't really slept for a k then, going through tons of paperwork, licenses, packing and painful good, I thought I'd stay up with three of my buddies for one last shisha on the ahwa, one last long drive in my then powerful yet minute Citroen AX allure, and so it was, we stayed up until one hour from check-in time at the airport.
After a teary farewell with my parents, I head to the airport at 6:30 am, checked in my bags and sat down in the newly renovated Egypt International Airport. They really made it work this time, excellent duty-free area and food court believe it or not. Anyhow, I ordered a pizza slice and an ice-tea lemon. But as soon as I had my first bite, they called for the passengers to board the plane. I left the pizza, bought a sandwich and boarded the plane.
Of course, and as any guy would think, I hoped I'd be seated next to a beautiful girl, or even an interesting guy working in a utopian business, but as usual, I was wrong. I took the window seat and as I sat there wondering who'll sit beside me, this beautiful girl, looked spanish, came towards me, only to deviate in the last second and sit right infront of me. I was pissed, but not as much as seconds later when I found out that my next seat neighbour was a 70 year old lady that smelled like she ran out of toilet paper and that held three mini vodka bottles. Oh God, Not Again, I thought to myself.
Anyhow, the plane took off at around 8:20 am and it took us 5 hours to reach the Heathrow Airport in London. The trip was nice, was impressed with the little personal tv's you have on the plane, food was shit (chicken and scrambled eggs - weird combination, or better yet - gas-inducing combination) the flight attendants were average and the old lady's smell was unbearable, especially when she got to the drinking part.
In all cases, we did land, and I was greeted by one of my close friends Mohamed Hani, who was just relocated to London and had only been there for a month or so. He was kind enough to give me a quick tour of the city. We went to Harrod's and saw the crappy Egyptian section, but other than that, it was beautiful. We walked a lot downtown and ate at a Lebanese restaurant and even got the chance of riding the two-storey bus.
I really loved london I have to say, such an austere city, yet very advanced, with a diverse cultural-range from all over the world. The metro-system is superb yet a bit complicated. Hmm, what else....the women....Londonese women are top-notch, that's a fact. I pitty my dear friend for having to deal with this kind of tormenting pressure on a daily basis, leek el ganna ya hani.
We ran short out of time as I only had an hour to go for the plane, I should've been there two hours earlier for check-in, but we arrived at Heathrow only five minutes late, the plane was still on the ground, but the doors were shut. We pleaded one of the ladies to help us and she radioed the plane, but they told her that it was too late. I was going mad. Five minutes. I turned to the American Airlines check-in counter. On the desk, were two lovely ladies both in their late 20's, early 30's, I asked them about the next flight and as they were checking I looked at one of the one and said, "You remind me of Jodie Foster". In the same instant that the lady blushed, the other one said, to my shock..."YAAA SALAAAAAAAM".
I was stunned, how could this beauty be Egyptian...anyhow, she was really nice with us, she put me on the next plane two hours later at no extra charge. I said goodbye to Hani and headed to the bathroom to wash all the sweat that I produced during the run to the airport.
Check-in time, it was time for me to board the second plane, after I missed the original one. This time I wasn't even thinking about who I'll sit next to, I just wanted to sleep. I've been awake for almost 30 something hours. I found out that my seat was in the middle lane of the plane, on my right were a typical american family and I got a vacant seat to my left.
10 minutes in waiting and enters a Rabbi (kahen yahoodi), and of course and as usual, to my luck, he's sitting right next to me. With a Kippah, two hair horns behind his ears and the talmoud. Rabbi Samuel sat beside me. He was quiet the first couple of hours, obviously he recognized my middle-eastern features, although I know I qualify as a Hindu. But half-way through the flight, we started talking and we even started talking about religions and stuff like that. It was a superficial conversation, but it was nice. I was testing my handling capabilities for the first time on-hand.
The flight took around 7 hours to reach New York (The Big Apple). Ahhh...I always dreamed about going to New York, spending Christmas there and all that. I was in utter shock as soon as I set foot at JFK International Airport. What a piece of shit, I thought to myself. Low-lifes scattered all over the place, garbage, puke bags, what the hell is this? And for God's sakes, where are all the Americans?
All I saw were Nigerians, Jamaicans, African Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, Latinos and Latinas, Egyptians, Chinese, Taiwanese...man, you have got to be kidding me...had edalak 3ein kaweya 3al safareya dee.
I stood in a line for almost an hour to reach the passport control unit which had a huge sign in front of it saying "We pledge to welcome you warmly into the USA". I was thrilled, I enthusiastically handed over the passport to the agent and said Hello...he didn't reply. He didn't even look at the passport before giving it three stamps. I said Thank You, all I got was a NEXT! I looked at my reflection in the unit glass and whispered...Welcome to America!
I grabbed a taxi to take me to the bus station in China Town where my brother reserved me a ticket on a bus company like West Delta aw El Sahm El Zahaby. New York is cold...not in weather, it's a cold, lonely city, with beat-up buildings and lots of slums. It was nothing like the New York I always dreamed of, but I did later see the only place I recognized...Manhattan.
Anyhow, I reached China Town only to miss my bus heading to Philadelphia and there I was, stranded in the middle of the infamous Chinese district with four bags, dragging them for a whole hour while asking for directions but with no result. The problem is that in China Town, there are no english speakers which I think is really weird. The chinese have successfully integrated in the American society without even speaking English, unlike us.
I finally reached a gas station where I asked the Indian Sikh worker about another bus station, he told me to go to Port's Authority, some sort of a 24-hour bus service station. it was 11 pm (New York Time) and my bus was at 3:30 am. I sat down for all the time just looking at the people.
I took the bus for 3 hours to Philadelphia and from there I took another cab to reach my brother in the suburbs to reach him at 7 am Tuesday. July 22nd.
Reactions, Observations and Wise-Cracking in the next post...
Until next time...