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Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge MAVEN IS MUMMIFIED
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Cairo, Egypt: The good news is that the Maven was seated next to a handsome man who could have been Omar Sharif’s brother. With rich black hair, bright teeth, tanned face, and deep brown eyes that looked like marbles, the Maven found him hard to resist. The bad news was that Omar’s “brother” was actually in the adjacent car. True, we could have held hands for our vehicles were ever so close, but then the Maven would have had to roll down her window and why bother when it was steamy hot outside. Pity, this lost love. But then this was Cairo, home to 9 million people who are all on the road at the same time lumbering about the swarming streets, hoping to reach their destination by the end of the century.

As the Maven pulled into the five-star Forte Grand Hotel in Giza, she was shown to a nice room, but what to say? Not exactly what she expected. The bellboy went into a little rant about the accommodations, and the Maven complimented him on his tidy apparel and requested that he wait until she check with reservations as obviously there was a slight error. “Oh, it’s the Maven!” the hotel clerk said out loud. “Sorry, we had your reservation under Upgrade! Please come this way.” And so your Maven was brought to a lovely suite where she immediately ordered lentil soup and a huge plate of salmon except it was really lox but why spoil the surprise of the chef, although this wouldn’t be a chef’s surprise unless you called it to his attention.

But let’s stop noshing for a moment and come to the truth: This wouldn’t be Egypt without a visit to The Sphinx, a very large statue of a lion with a Pharaoh’s head. However, it didn’t take the Maven long to notice that Mr. Sphinx had a missing nose. Why was it chipped away? Did it fall off naturally? And did that make the Sphinx a chip off the old block? Finally, did the solving of the ancient Riddle have to do with getting a nose job? If the answer is no, then tell me why under the statue there are calling cards strewn all over the place from plastic surgeons hoping to do reconstructive surgery, and then having their client check into a Beverly Hills Hotel under an assumed name. Inquiring minds want to know.

Before the Maven could do any more deep thinking, she was approached by a smiling merchant selling papyrus bookmarks, mummy statues, alabaster “gods” and plastic pyramids. The Maven picked up a little mummy that was painted black, mellow yellow and rusty orange. The Pharaoh had a strange stare, but this was normal since he was about 3,000 years old and tired of being handled by foreigners. “Look inside,” the merchant implored. The Maven lifted up the lid and discovered a baby mummy. All at once the Maven laughed and said “Get thee to a mummery!” Alas, this laugh was not shared by the vendor, the mummy, or baby mummy. Instead, the man yelled out a price -- “Fifty dollars!”

Naturally, the Maven recognized this as a clever ploy and walked away, but stopped when she heard a little voice from inside the sarcophagus. It was the baby begging her to take him home so that he could watch reruns of “Happy Days,” a real favorite with aging mummies still caught in a 50’s time warp. “Okay, I’ll give you five dollars,” the Maven said sincerely. That’s when the street vendor did an imitation of an actor from “ER” having a coronary. He coughed madly and clutched his heart. “Okay,” the Maven complied having had it up to here with bad acting. “Let’s do seven.” The man looked tense. “Nine dollars!” He was drowned out by the baby who called out “Enough already, Maven! Just pay him.” That’s when he began singing the “Happy Days” theme song: “One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock...”

Such sentimentality prompted the Maven to head for the real Mummy Room inside the Egyptian Museum where she brushed up on the culture and civilization of this glorified ancient world. It was all closely guarded as if someone from “The Dating Game” was in the neighborhood looking for candidates. It’s then that the Maven thought she heard Al Jolson singing “Muuu...mmy...How I love ya, how I love ya...”

But now the Maven is getting silly. And it’s time to get serious especially when all the guards were milling around the tourists who milled around the mummies who sat awfully still. One by one they all had a well, mummified look to them and weren’t in the least appealing until we spotted the greatest Pharaoh of them all, Ramesses II. Now there was a man! He lived as long as Charlie Chaplin but had more children. The rumor is that he fathered hundreds of offspring This was published in the Enquirer so you know it’s true. But now the question is, Was he faithful to his wife? You’re joking, right? By the way, wouldn’t you like to hear some of his excuses when each woman realized he was just another asp? On a more practical note, don’t you wonder what his pick up lines were?

On a more surprising note, who would have thought that after thousands of years he would have remained a natural blond? Evidently, this was the beginning of the “Blondes have more fun” slogan which proved to be so catchy that back then it caused a rash of henna bottles to disappear from the local shelves in the tombs. Never let it be said the ancient Egyptians were not clever. How can you make a disparaging remark about a people who used hair dye that didn’t fade after so many centuries of rinsing? I tell you all this with love & knishes from your (almost blonde) Maven.

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Linda-Marie Singer "The LIVEWIRE" for Travel Watch. Former President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and created the national writers conference, "The Days of Wine & Proses." She is a travel and entertainment reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area. (More about this writer.)

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