Out of many rivers, one Nile
There is no grammatical or typographic error in the title. When I read it first, I was confused and confronted with someone, who not only explained me the depth of this line, but unknowingly solved a big mystery for me.
It was 25th January of 2012. I was sitting in a office in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, looking at this line on the cover page of Sudan’s only English Magazine. When I said, it should be “Out of many rivers, one is Nile”, Mr. Mustafa Khogali, the man behind this magazine ‘In The City’ said it is ‘”Out of many rivers, one Nile”. Which means, Nile river comes out of many small rivers.
One small explanation of 30 seconds, changed it all and I realized, how much misinterpreted this country is. When you are outside the boundaries of Sudan, you think that it is one of the worst countries. When you search on net, you will find drought struck poor hungry people, starving from food and water. You will find all sort of bad things written on American and European sites. The US Sanctions make it worse. But the moment you land on their airstrip, everything changes. You then enter into a country, with infrastructure much better than most of the developing countries in the world. Let’s talk about it one by one…
Khartoum, the Capital
Khartoum is the Capital city and hence the best in terms of infrastructure and development. I tried connecting my handset to WiFi as I landed on Airport and I got free WiFi. There nothing exciting in this, but what’s exciting is that wherever we went in Khartoum, I tried to connect to WiFi and I got a free connection almost everywhere. I checked my mails at every restaurant I went. I was connected to Facebook without a GPRS throughout the city. It will take another 20 years for Delhi to get there. The national museum of Sudan is much bigger than what we have in Delhi. They had managed to relocate three ancient temples within the huge lawns of the museum. At the museum for wildlife, I saw hundreds of stuffed animals and birds. I could never imagine that Sudan alone had such a huge variety of birds. Not to mention, reptiles, sea life and untouched corals.
Nile of Niles
Those who don’t know, river Nile is actually a combination of Two major rivers and several small canals. The two major rivers are White Nile and Blue Nile, which meet each other at the capital Khartoum. The merger is decorated by beautiful hotels, the palace, several eateries, museum and a lot more.
Of Pyramids and Pharaohs
If you think Pyramids and Pharaohs lived in Egypt only, you are mistaken like I was. We people sitting outside Sudan think that Egypt is the land of Pyramids. Whereas, the truth is that Sudan has some most distinctive pyramids on earth. Though I did not get a chance to visit the Site with series of Pyramids, but I did visited their museum, where they had coffins of their deceased emperors and three huge temples. Although the pyramids of Sudan are much smaller than that of Egypt, they have a very unique architecture. I noticed several wooden coffins but the best part was a huge stone coffin, which belonged to some emperor from history. This coffin had amazing carving on every wall and corner. There were pyramids with the face of pharaoh resembling an animal. This reminded my of Indian Mythology. We have lot of similarities.
Surprise treat – Rabi’ al-awwal
I never knew that it is the birth month of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Our host Mr. Adil El-Hag took us to the Mahdi Mosque in Omdurman, Sudan. Sufi dances at singing reminded me of the Hindu ‘Kumbh-Festival’ (Haridwar) and Sikh ‘Hola-Mahalla’ (Anandpur). Being inclined towards Sufism, this was a blessing for me and I will never forget such a surprise treat. (I’ll try posting videos soon).
The Prepaid Country
The best thing I learned was that everything in Sudan is prepaid. Even electricity. You need to recharge before you can use it. Isn’t it good. You never get bills, because you pay before you use.
I have a lot to write about Sudan. About its people and the land. But Let’s split it into various blog posts. Let this post be an introductory post with my special thanks to all the people I met there. Specially Adil, Muhammed, Mustafa and Walid.