“Ragaouna Misr” Take Us Back to Cairo!

“We had barely drifted out of Alexandria’s harbor when I heard my father cry ‘Ragaouna Misr!’ – Take us back to Cairo! It became his personal refrain, his anthem aboard the old cargo ship…from The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit

Just as the Call to Prayer greeted us at midday on arrival a short 9 days ago, it woke us this morning to bid us goodbye as we rushed to pack our suitcases and get to the airport to board Egypt Air Flight 985 nonstop Cairo to New York. Carefully wrapped perfume bottles, colorful scarves and other treasures unavailable to us in the bazaars in the U.S (otherwise known as “malls”) were placed into our bags to greet us on the other side. The side where memories sometimes need tangible items to awake their wonder.

The cry of our hearts has often been that of the fathers’ in The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit. “Ragaouna Misr!” Take us back to Cairo! Our children could verify that this was our cry for 7 years after leaving in 1996. And leaving a piece of our heart in the form of our daughter gives us more reason to want to return, to be a more consistent part of her world .

But arriving in Cambridge, my heart is satisfied. We are indeed where we are supposed to be. Unlike when we uprooted our family, we now recognize that though the cry may be loud at times, we are given the occasional gift of a visit to rekindle our hearts and spirits. Though we may still cry out “Ragaouna Misr” – sometimes like the Israelites and other times in a far healthier way, sometimes audibly and other times silently – we are living where we are for a purpose. Even as the cry comes up to my lips, I walk in and put a kettle on for tea and smell the scent of home. Right now that home is Cambridge, Massachusetts surrounded by our memories, pictures and life thousands of miles removed.

View from the Minarets by Bab Zuweila
Another View
City Street leading up to Bab Zuweila
“Ragaouna Misr! – Take me back to Cairo!”
View of the citadel
Minarets of Bab Zuweila

All photographs taken by Cliff Gardner, who climbed to the farthest point on the minaret.

14 thoughts on ““Ragaouna Misr” Take Us Back to Cairo!

  1. Yes, I agree with weaving tapestries. This post is a more “typical” sounding post…”it’s good to be home” but knowing how difficult it can be to make that statement for a TCK, it is a very profound post. I am glad your heart is satisfied!


    1. Lois – thanks for recognizing that it is a huge statement…In my more rested state I almost regret making it – now I have to publicly live up to it! I have so much more to post on Cairo as I had so little time during the week to reflect in the way I wanted. Really interesting being there post uprising….Thanks so much for the comment!


  2. Love the pictures. Thank you Cliff for climbing on the highest minaret. I am glad you feel happy to be home Marilyn. We are alike in that, we leave parts of our hearts and souls wherever we live. It takes time for a place to become home. I am glad your present home now feels like home.
    Wish you all a Wonderful 2012.


    1. Thanks so much Pari – So I was a big baby and only climbed to the third level, two of the kids climbed to the fourth and Cliff and Jonathan climbed to the very top. Their satisfaction from the view was worth the climb over the very rickety steel ladder that was tied on one minaret to keep it safe! They did this in both minarets so I can’t wait to give Cliff your words. What to say….I wish I could have blogged more and plan to wrap up some of my thoughts through blog posts. Home is interesting – as long as I’m in my house, warm with tea and memories, I feel at home….I haven’t yet ventured out to Boston and I think emotionally it was easier to arrive in New York City because I didn’t have any expectation of belonging. So much more to say but this comment will get too long.But thank you for the welcome back!


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