BEING GRATEFUL, ELHAMDOULILLAH
This summer hasn't been the
greatest time for me. Everybody has heard of that heartbreaking
disease called Alzheimer. It's a disease that doesn't make you
forget where you put the keys, but what the keys are for. It's a
sh.. one, and my mum, bless her heart, has it. But she has the "smiling
version" Elhamdoulillah. As in, although we can see hear
fading away day after day, she is still singing, and laughing
and thanking the people that are taking care of her, every day.
Taking care of an elderly parent is a normal fact of life. It's
not easy, and basically, you just do not sleep anymore. Always
on the "qui vive", on your guard.
Going to Nantes last week, two hours from Paris by
train was a strange change of scenery for me after two solid
months at home with no travelling. A bit of guilt and relief at
the same time, and the will to make sure the event would get the
coverage it deserves, in two languages, sure kept me busy.
So I have to admit I arrived in Cairo Mena House as flat
as a a crêpe ... pan cake, whatever name you give.
After spending the first few hours getting my personal
internet/local sim card sorted thanks to my friend Tamer
Mamdouh who as ever picked me up from the airport, always
there to help me whenever I'm in need, we got a customary
MoriSushi, this time in New Cairo. Arrived at the hotel by
1am on the 15th. Needless to say I missed the breakfast the next
day, barely made it to lunch around 2.30 ...
It took me a while to get used to where I was, as the hotel is
vast and with several focus points.
The main building,
the oldest part, originally was a royal lodge for Ismaïl Pacha,
first Vice Roy, then Khedive Ismail (as in Egyptian Royalty
1830/1895). It was enlarged for the Opening of the Suez
Canal and the visit of l'Imperatrice Eugénie of
like the Marriott I told you about back in December
during the Ill Fated World Team event, is the closest to the
it's off the street that takes you to the Pyramids, by camel,
carriage or whatever means of transport you wish to use!
Ten years ago, we were in the Meridien, just a few metres down
the road but this time, we are at the Mena House, former Oberoi,
is THE closest to the Pyramids.
the café shop on the ground floor or the Khan El
Khalili Restaurant on the first floor, you just cannot miss
the main Pyramid really.
Across the main entrance, you'll find the most impressive/breathtaking
view, that's from the outside of the 139 restaurant.
Whether during the day, or at night, you cannot NOT stop and
having your breath taken away by the proximity and solemnity of
And if the hotel could do with a better internet connection - no
wireless in the rooms for example, and the cable not being well,
the best - and a few other little details, I can only quote
Tim Garner, PSA tour director, who keeps on saying, every
time somebody is complaining about one thing or another "yes,
I know ... but do you know where you are ???", pointing at
the Pyramids ...
Yes. Exactly. There are moments in life, like when you see the
Bay of Hong Kong for the first time in the middle of the night,
or the Hologram of Legend Shabana behind the court just in front
of the Pyramids 10 years ago for the last Al-Ahram, apologising
to his country for not reaching the final, where you have got to
stop, and be grateful.
Be grateful to be involved in such a sport that allows us to
place a court in such a place as the Pyramids.
Be grateful to be in a position where countries/Federations like
Egypt, promoters like Mansi, trust you to cover and make the
promotion of their precious events.
Be grateful for the welcome, the care, the love you get the
minute you put a foot in Egypt. Merci à toutes et à tous.
Be grateful for that stupendous sight you get to see every day
at breakfast, and every night after your meal.
Be grateful that you are part of a sport where the Athletes are
your friends, your idols as well as your children.
So yes. I am grateful. I am grateful I'm allowed to be here,
covering this legendary event, ten years after my first visit to
Egypt. The little I knew then how important this amazing country
was going to become, taking over my whole life really.
Be grateful for everything. I am.
Elhamdoulillah, very much.
Mena House History
DID YOU KNOW?
Mena House welcomed
Cairo Conference, 1943:
Plans for Overlord, the invasion of Europe, had to be
discussed by Churchill, Roosevelt & General Chiang
The Big Three conference took place at the Mena House Hotel.
Daily Mail Article
DID YOU KNOW?
Mena House welcomed
the pre-Camp David talks, where President Sadat
met with President Carter and Prime Minister Began.