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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Searching for Mohammed - Part 2

We arrived in Shanawan (see part 1 below) and were ready to search for Mohammed.  We hadn't seen him since 1985.  Linda had pictures of both his family and his mother's house from 1989.  The city of Shanawan has grown enormously in the past twenty-five years.  Where to begin?

We drove along the main street that comes from the Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road.  Nothing looked familiar to Linda.  So we began stopping and talking to old people on the street and showing the photo of Mohammed's mother's home.  Surprisingly, one person recognized the style of house and rode with us to one that looked similar.  Nearby was a second with a similar look.  More asking.  This time the questions went to a boy.

"There is a house like that where a Mohammed lives." he said.

"How old is Mohammed?" we inquired.

"About seventy!" he replied.

"No way," we thought.  But maybe he knows Mohammed's mother.

We drove up to the house of .the old man.  Linda immediately recognized Osama, Mohammed's brother.  "The family picture is just like the one we have!" he noted.  I guess that "seventy years old" describes anyone over thirty when you are ten.

The search had only taken about fifteen minutes once we reached Shanawan.

We had cookies, tea and fruit.  It turns out that Mohammed lives right here in his mother's house as does his brother.  Mom has passed away.  Mohammed is in Cairo today.  We visit by phone.  The easiest way to meet is for us to return to Cairo where Mohammed will wait for us.  We'll be there in an hour.

Of course, a half hour later we are only about six miles away from Shanawan.  Goma wants to visit his friend since we are here in Shibin El Kom.  "Just have some tea."  I suggest that Linda call Mohammed to change arrangements.  We locate Goma's friend's place and begin with tea and more sweets.  We are introduced to the family.

Soon, I hear the rustle of pots, pans and plates.  Linda calls Mohammed.  Plans have changed.  Mohammed will return here and meet us at Goma's friend's home.

Dinner is served.  This plate is for the four of us.

After dinner, Mohammed still had 45 minutes to go to reach us.  But we did get together for a brief but very nice visit.  We will meet again here in Cairo and perhaps go to Alexandria with him.  All parties exchanged cellphone numbers.  I can't imagine how many numbers the typical Egyptian has in his phone.

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