JFK from Dulles International on board Jetblue. These folks can teach those idiots who run United, Delta and American….talk about service back in America. Kudos Jetblue! A 5 hour wait for our red eye on Royal Jordanian through Amman, Jordan to Cairo Egypt. If anybody ever has to catch a flight from JFK’s Terminal 4 and want to grab a bite/drink @ the Bar Avion…Don’t! They are not nice to say the least….I know folks in NY tend to be rude and abrupt, but I would expect better treatment of patrons at a restaurant. The lady playing hostess should find a different line of work. The Royal Jordanian service is excellent, wonderful attitude of the onboard crew…again I would get them to tutor those idiots who run United, Delta and American. 12hours later we are in Amman’s Queen Alia Airport. Saritha manages to finagle our way in to the business lounge to wait another 4 hours for our flight to Egypt. The allure of “free” beer, snacks in a business lounge in an airport always makes me thirsty and hungry…even after 12 hour flights. An hour & half plane ride later we land at Cairo’s International Airport on Nov 4 about 10pm local. No jetways here but an old rickety bus that drags our tired behinds to the terminal. We proceed to the visa counter, where we pay $15/visa sticker to a bored official who barely looks at our passports while continuing to smoke. I know we are in for some fun in this country. Quick immigration and of to collect our baggage….this is where it hits us smack in the face. The Egyptians love their “bakshish”(tips), they will not fart in the wind with out someone paying them bakshish. One kind lady in our group is harassed at the baggage carousel where the porter wont let her collect her bags with out tips….so after some drama and our local baby sitter getting involved we are hustled to our bus for the ride to our hotel. We drive though the Heliopolis suburb of Cairo, that is clearly affluent, home to their army, president and other assorted rich folks. Also located here is the home of the founder/builder Baron Empain of this neighborhood built in the shape of a Hindu temple for his Indian bride. Let me caveat something here…every story we heard is apparently a “theory” and after 14 days on this adventure, I am convinced no body really knows much about Egypt, short of some speculation, some intelligent, but mostly fantasy. As an example all my research indicates that Baron Empain did not have an Indian bride but was fascinated by the temples in Cambodia and Orissa, India…so really who knows what possessed the Belgian to build a house in the shape of a Hindu Temple in Cairo at the turn of the last century….more theories are welcome. The Cairo Sheraton where we stayed is on the Nile and we had a wonderful view of the water and the streets.
November 5 - Alexandria (pictures)
6am breakfast of the local fare, I particularly enjoyed the fetter, a fava bean dish that is cooked for several hours and eaten with Pita. Yogurt is particularly important to immunize your tummy to the local cuisine. The tea here though was Lipton, actually tasted very good. We head to Alexandria after breakfast, the city that is supposed to have been commissioned by Alexander the Great to be his capital, but one he never goes to see due to his death. Alexandria is about 220KM northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean sea. The drive is pleasant with our guide Ahmed, who was recently married (2weeks) and is blissful of the world. Very smart kid with a great attitude and lot of passion for his history. He keeps his commentary alive about the history of Egypt from the pharaoh’s until the current time for Saritha and I, as I keep my ears in the car and my eyes on the scenery…mostly desert, but some vegetation on the north-north east that is part of the Nile delta. He however won’t say anything negative about Hosni Mubarak, their president and has an interesting definition of democracy…”Its democracy if you can vote”. I still think people disappear if they speak ill about their president in Egypt. Alexandria while the 2nd capital of Egypt, is a typical 3rd world city with the contradiction of poverty and affluence residing side by side. We see a lot of people just sitting around drinking tea and smoking….just like I imagined. Our 1st visit is to Kom-El_Shuqafa, catacombs. This necropolis was discovered by a wayward donkey after years of excavation had failed in 1900’s. It was considered a wonder of the middle ages, a place to hide bodies so the Christians did not mess with it, oh so morbid. We then head on to Amud El Sawari (Pompei’s pillar) and the current ruins reside on the original acropolis and was part of a temple. The last stop is the Roman theater also called Kom al-Dikka. Not a lot to write about the ruins here, but suffice to say we were about to see a lot of ruins, both Egyptian and Roman. Those of you wondering about the famous ancient wonder of the world, the Lighthouse of Alexandria…well it disappeared 3,000 thousand years ago by way of an earthquake. Well nobody told me about it and I was going to get into a fist cuff with our travel agent about it since it was not on my itinerary!!! Well that done, lunch at Aethonos, a typical tourist lunch place where the food was just about palatable washed down with the local brew Stella that was barely cold. We stop by the new library which is the 2nd largest in the world near the site of the ancient library that was burned down by Julius Caesar in one of his battles to control Egypt….the real cause is not definitive. Sight seeing done, we head back to Cairo. One of the world problems I am very keen on seeing solved is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, simply because I do not understand how as a people with more similarities than differences they are unwilling to forget the past and look forward and live together (United States of Palestine & Israel). So I ask Ahmed what he thinks and if the problem will be resolved, since all Arabs think they have a stake. I was disappointed that Ahmed did not see an end in sight. If a young man like Ahmed still prefers to look back, feels his brothers in Palestine are being hurt, the problem continues to self-propel itself. But more about that another time. We return to Cairo and face its traffic for the 1st time. It is bad, it is worse than any I have seen in LA, NY, DC, Manila, Jakarta or even Bangalore….they drive all over, honk and it is a true circus. The trip that took less than 3 hrs in the morning took well over 4 hrs to get back.
A fascinating aspect of life in Cairo. 90% of the housing is not painted with bars sticking out, looking unfinished. Apparently the property tax is applicable to only finished dwellings, so the creative Caironess prefer to keep the outside of their dwellings unfinished so they do not have to pay taxes. Wonder if that would fly here state side……….
November 6 - Giza and Cairo (pictures)
This is the big day…the day of the Pyramids. Saritha and I finish breakfast and wander across the Nile. The Nile that flows through Cairo is fairly thin but thickly polluted. We see families living in boats and on the filth of the shores, it is rather sad spectacle. Back to the hotel to catch our tour bus to see the great pyramids of Giza. The 30 minute drive is uneventful but for the drone of our guide who claims to be an Egyptologist. My 1st view of the pyramids is from inside the bus as we take a turn and boy I was quite thrilled. We drive on to the park that houses the great pyramid of Giza also called the Pyramid of Khufu’ and the pyramid of Cheops, the two Pharaohs of the 4th dynasty. We stop by at a spot past the pyramids to take in the panoramic views as well as the standard touristy pictures. Then come the standard camels for the tourists to ride. These were nasty smelly camels, that spit at me…..that was that with us riding them. We drive the 1/2mile back to the pyramid and get a chance to crawl in to the Khufu’ pyramid. It really is a tunnel 3.5 by 3.5meter wide and some 75 feet long that allows 2 way traffic, those going in to the tomb and those crawling out at the same time. I chicken out after about 15 steps, but my brave Saritha soldiers on. The only consolation for me was that the tomb is a bare room and so I did not miss anything. More pictures and then a short drive to the Sphinx. To me the Sphinx was not as large as I expected but nevertheless quite the construction. The Sphinx is the protector of this necropolis of current Giza, which is on the west bank of the Nile. What I gathered is that all necropolis is on the west of the Nile where the sun sets and the acropolis or city of the living on the east bank where the sun rises. More pictures of the Sphinx, more theories of why the nose is missing from blaming Napolean’s bombs to Christians or Moslems, can’t remember which exactly, but were/are opposed to any sort of idol worship and defaced the Sphinx to dissuade the citizens from worshipping the Sphinx. On the tour bus to a jewellery stop for those who want to buy a Khartush, a flat pendent with your name written in hieroglyphics. Then we go to On the Run by Exxon Mobil….apparently it is a cool place to eat for the locals, yeah and no ham sandwiches. Then Saritha and I peel of on our own to go check out Cairo. 1st stop is the Citadel that was constructed by Saladin (Salāḥ ad-Dīn) in the 12 century AD to protect the city from the crusaders. The citadel now houses a couple of mosques including the famous Mohamed Ali mosque that looks identical to the blue mosque in Istanbul minus 2 minarets. The citadel also gave us some spectacular views of the city through the dusty haze of the afternoon. Out in the distance we could see the great pyramids, but just barely. Getting in to the citadel was quite the challenge as we went on a Friday it was crowed. We had to fight the locals to buy our tickets that were higher since we are foreigners and the signs were in Arabic, then the metal detector failed, so the crowd became even more antsy with a lot of pushing and showing. Then we spot another foreign tour group getting in and we snuck in to that group and made our way in. Egypt has a federal organization called Tourism and Antiquities whose mission as I understand is to protect their treasures while making the sights tourist friendly. While generally speaking they have done ok, there is plenty more for these folks to do. We then catch a rattle trap that makes for a local cab, negotiate a lousy rate for me and drive to the Egyptian museum. One of the advantages to be of Indian origin when traveling overseas from the states is that you are less likely looked as an ATM and that you’re a pain in the ass negotiator, so the local hawkers leave you alone since you are not worth the pain to them to sell. It was apparent again here in Egypt that this theory holds true. Our cab drops of on the other side of a 6 lane main street, which means 12 vehicles pass at the same time in all directions in Cairo. It was an adventure crossing the road…..& the cab man suddenly forgot to speak his broken English when I asked that he deposit us across the street. I think there is a hell only for cabbies somewhere. The Egyptian museum should be taken over by the Smithsonian in my opinion. The treasures are poorly maintained, catching dust and very badly displayed. The entrance to the museum is 35 Egyptian pounds (LE), however if you want to see the royal mummies, you have to shell another 100 local monies. At $1= LE 5.5, it is not a lot, but I find it strange that they would scam tourists this way. In any case we wanted to see it all, so we go to the 2nd floor mummy display area, buy our tickets and go in to see the mummies. I think for 5 thousand years, those dead guys looked well preserved. I counted 13 mummies, including the famous Pharaoh Ramses II, his kids, III and IV as well as other assorted pharaohs. There was one queen in the lot, queen Hatshepsut who married her 5 year old nephew and went to war with him later. The museum holds all the treasures from King Tutankhamun’s tomb including his famous mask. That mask is something else. Since the museum won’t allow pictures, I had to check in my camera before I got in and hence no pictures of the mummies or the mask. The museum has 100’s of sarcophagi and coffins, it is amazing. It is amazing that the Egyptians spent so much time thinking about their after life, it is morbid. There is no evidence of anything they did or built for their people or their life’s in their current times, just tombs, temples and more tombs. We cab it back to the hotel to meet our new friends Noel and Midge from Toronto for dinner. We head to a restaurant that is supposed to serve local cuisine called Felfela. We allow our waiter to order food for us since it is all Egyptian. The mezza is pretty good, but the main course was let us say interesting. Egypt has 2 beer’s Stella and Sakkarra. They are both good and generally come in 500ml bottles, I liked that very much….the size that is. I could look Saritha in the eye and say I only had 2 beers….I don’t think she caught on to that. The Egyptians are really greedy about their tips, despite adding 12% to the check, our waiter friend seemed to want more. When we requested he take a picture, he refused….what a guy!!!
November 7 - Luxor (pictures)
We wakeup @ 4am to get to the airport to catch a 7am to Luxor an hour or so south of Cairo. Since they did not seat Saritha and I together, we went back to get different seats and got new boarding cards with new gate information…the rest of the group where heading to an unused gate and potential sat there forever. Saritha saves the day! The visibility is poor in Cairo and delays our plane until 8.30am. We land at Luxor which is on the east bank of the Nile, the city of the living. We take a short ride by coach to our boat, the Tamar Henna, that we will be on for the next 4 nights as we cruise the Nile. The boat is good and our digs are plenty nice as well with a little balcony. In typical Egyptian fashion and is true since we got to Egypt the check in process is complicated and inefficient….they keep up to that low standard as we sit around on the boat. Lunch is on the boat and then we head to the Luxor temple. This temple was built by a series of Pharoahs from Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis III. The main part of the temple - the colonnade and the sun court were built by Amenhotep III, and a later addition by Rameses II. Now I do caution, none of this is definitive, but a best guess from all the Egyptologists. This temple is filmed in the “Mummy Returns” with all those wonderful giant columns. The temple complex is quiet large and it takes us over 2 hours to get through it. Next stop is the Karnak Temple. The Karnak temple is smaller in size to the Luxor temple and is connected by the avenue of the sphinx. They have excavated about 200 odd sphinx’s but there are plenty more to go before the avenue is opened up. Well preserved temple with some odd ball theories about it. On the way back to the boat we stop at a papyrus place to learn how papyrus is created and how Egyptians believe it is they who invented paper and not the Chinese.
November 8 - Valley of the Kings (pictures)
We wake up on the Nile, lovely feeling that. Post breakfast we travel to the Valley of the Kings. This is where several generations of Pharaohs have been entombed in tombs carved in to the walls of the mountains. The tomb entrances are typically through hallways any where from 40 feet to more than 100 feet, with a lot of decorations that include colorful carvings in the wall. No pictures are allowed here in the valley because it would increase the crowding of tourists but also the flashes could harm the colors. We see the tombs of Ramses III and IV/V which are spectacular with the decorations, such a pity no cameras were allowed. The tomb of King Tut is here as well with his mummy but we decide to skip based on the fact that the tomb is really bare, something about the tomb being built for a high priest but since King Tut died young, it was repurposed. His mummy is there though in the original sarcophagus. On the other side of the valley of the kings is the temple of queen Hatshepsut, which where we drive to. The temple is remarkable both in its construction but also the level to which it has been preserved. The temple, specifically the upper tier is carved in to the mountain and the 2 other lower tiers built on it. MY 1ST view of the temple was in the foreground of the peak of the valley of the king and looked like a brown version of the Dalai Lama’s palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Visit done we return to our boat for lunch while sailing the Nile. The Nile is exactly as I imagine, very calm waters, with palm trees dotting the banks, the poor villagers making a living out of their little farms, children and farm animals in the waters. Post lunch our guide takes time to talk to us about life in Egypt as an Egyptian. I heard a proud Egyptian’s propaganda of how wonderful living in Egypt is and women have all the freedom’s of the world and that CNN reports all BS!....I see the worlds people making a beeline to this utopia. As the evening wears on we close upon a couple of river locks that will take us from lower Nile to upper Nile, we are surrounded by water bound hawkers who throw plastic wrapped scarfs and shawls 50 feet high to us standing on the upper deck of our boat in order get us to buy their wares. Another fascinating day in Egypt on the Nile.
November 9 - Edfu & Kom Ombo (pictures)
Today is our 1st relax scheduled day of the tour, just 2 temples one before lunch and one after and mostly sailing up the river (Nile is the only river that flows south to north in the world) to Aswan, where lies the famous High Dam. The first temple of the day is to Edfu. As with any temple in Egypt we get a long explanation of what the Egyptologist think it could have been built for. This one is for Ptolemy II’s coronation while depicting his fight with his uncle, who murdered his father. A replica of the boat used in the fight is in sanctuary. The walls show carvings of the fight and also what looks like a pig. Our guide would not admit that those were pigs but rather hippo’s. Not sure 5K years ago if Hippo’s waded the waters of Nile or not, but surely he did not want to admit pigs lived in a muslim land even during the pagan worshiping ancient Egyptians…oh well. Back to the boat for some more sailing to Kom Ombo, another temple on the bank of the Nile. This is in the context of Egyptian temples, a modern temple that took 450 years to complete but was ruined in a large earth quake in 14AD. More columns, ruins and hieroglyphics. The temple looks nice in the twilight of the dusk and I have some pictures to prove it. Oh one very interesting discovery Noel and I make….we see a stone breast for the 1st time on a temple carving. Still wondering about that.
November 10 - Abu Simbel (pictures)
Early morning we catch an Egypt Air plane to Abu Simbel from Aswan. The 1 hour plane ride over desert Egypt resembles the grand canyon from the air, except it looks more brown. The Abu Simbel temple is about 200 meters upland from its original location, which is submerged under Lake Nasser. The original temple was broken in to 17 thousand pieces and then rebuilt at its current location. The main temple for King Ramses II is essentially carved in to the side of the mountain and has a grand look to it with 4 large sitting King Ramses statues greeting you. A 2nd temple about 100 feet to its right pays homage to the cow goddess through queen Nefertari. The temples are both on the banks of the giant man made lake of lake Nasser. We spend about 90 minutes on the grounds of Abu Simbel before catching our plane back to Aswan for lunch. Post lunch we get a couple of Felucca’s (local sail boats) on the Nile of Aswan for little gander around the Elephantine island. Any interaction with Egyptians as a tourist always ends in them trying to sell you something and so it is repeated on our felucca. At a landing location close to downtown Aswan we get back on land and walk to the local souk (market) for some shopping. Our guide leads the way as we make our way through the many local streets, interesting sights all through with typical Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds and other symbols of American capitalism every where….the hypocrisy of hating America but liking everything about continues to baffle me. The Aswan souk is remarkably quiet, nothing like the Khan El Khalili market in Cairo. The Egyptian hawkers have learnt that western tourists do not like to be hassled while shopping so, their new tag line is “Hassle free shopping”, all this while they pester you to buy. Saritha and I go a little overboard at the local spice store and buy more spices than we really need. Once we are done shopping we head back to the boat by way of a local cab, now that was an interesting trip. This is another cab that is held together by duct tape and smells strongly of gas and he goes weaving in & out of traffic made up of other crazy cabs like him, horse carts and more. It was relief to see our boat and to be back on it for dinner and a belly dance show. As the night winds through I wonder about this oldest civilization and how little they have accomplished despite having a head start. What gives Egypt?
November 11 - Aswan (pictures)
Today we head back north to Cairo, but before that there are 3 stops to make in the Aswan area. The first is the location of the unfinished obelisk. Now there are 2 theories about this, the first is that there was a workers strike and they up and left and the second is that due to the structure of the granite, the obelisk could not be raised and so was left unfinished. Either ways I do not understand the concept of an obelisk. Next stop is to the island temple of Philae. We get on a boat to get to the temple and YES!!! the boat man sure as you can be tried selling more jewellery and assorted crap to us and Saritha almost fell prey to it. The Philae temple is typical of Egyptian temples and we are templed out this point….so while we learn this is one of 18 temples like Abu Simbal to have been relocated due to the creation of lake Nasser and other random theories about the temple, we are looking to move on. So of to the High Dam of Aswan the was responsible for Lake Nasser where pictures are not allowed, but they dont really care. 2 hour plane ride from Aswan returns us to Cairo. The airport hotel drive is close to as long as it took to get to Cairo from Aswan. By the time we get to the hotel we are cooked!. However Saritha and I are itching for the local fare and some of our new friends tell us about Taaza, a hole in the wall near the Sheraton we are at that serves some real good food. Saritha and I decide to head there. As we are crossing the street, my peripheral vision picks up a well dressed Egyptian crossing the street opposite us and doing a double take to return back to the side of the street we are on and strike a conversation with me….yes, his father has a store behind the gas station and he would really like us to go see it….right! I shooo him off and walk about ½ mile to the Taaza, where a kind waiter decides that we may need an English menu after all. Once we order, we settle to wait. A lady in her 40’s walks in with her kid and is looking to find a spot to sit, so I offer to make space for her. So in return for my kindness she decides she needs to talk to me. Her 1st question is if I am a Nubian!!!....Nubian’s are Egyptian/Sudanese people in the current times, you are particularly dark with curly hair….none of which I am, but Saritha thinks this hysterical. So I tell the Egyptian lady I am “Ameriki”, ah! She says something in Arabic which I think means ATM, because next thing she wants me to buy her and her little brat dinner. 10 minutes of this nonsense, we get our food and we are out of there. Now just as we are crossing the street, Saritha and I notice a boy playing on the other side of the street, but looking at us he crosses in a jiffy and he has tears streaming down his face and he wants money. In 30 minutes we see a very sad face of Egyptian life of deception….man, woman and child, it did not matter.
November 12 - Amman (pictures)
We checkout of our hotels and on to the coach for our ride to the airport and on to Amman, Jordan. Fairly uneventful ride to the airport, quick security, if that is what the Egyptian likes to call it, immigration and on to duty free…where thanks to Bo my wonderfully eclectic friend we find that they are selling beer for $1/can….so Noel and I hustle over and buy them all, though not much was left thanks to Bo in the 1st place. 3 hour later we are in Amman and driving south on the desert highway to Wadi Musa (Petra). This was not before I had to hit the ATM in the airport to get some Jordanian Dinar (JD), which by the way equals about $0.70/ 1 JD…very hard to think of the green back lower than any other, but even more so in Jordan whose GDP of $31B is less than that of lowest GDP states like MT, ND, ME etc. The desert highway is just that, tarmac through the heart of the Jordanian desert. We stop a rest place that also sells dead sea products and all of a sudden I had a very happy wife. We reach Wadi Musa, the little town outside the famous Petra park and check in to our resort of Beit Zaman that is really a restored ancient village. Very nice setting in the middle of the valley and the sun going down while watching the olive trees in the far.
November 13 - Petra (pictures)
The grand day of playing Indian Jones is here…I am back in my Arab garb, ready for any adventure. Our guide Rabee very kindly helps tie my …….correctly and then we head in to the park. Petra he claims was along the silk route and was used by the merchants to rest before they headed of to Istanbul. I am not convinced since this area is particularly inhospitable and is filled with tombs like it would be a necropolis. So more theories and hypothesis as we walk through the gorge. The colors of the rock and facades that have been carved in to the side of the mountains is just wonderful…well worth the visit and then some more. We walk ½ mile to the dam and the beginning of the “Siq”, the actual gorge where the Romans carved water channels in the walls of the gorge. ½ mile through the gorge and some indescribable scenes later, we come to a small opening (yes play this music while you read this part...) we come upon the awesome site of the treasury. The treasury is the tomb of a Nabataean king and the rumor was that there was treasury in the façade that now stands destroyed and one can see bullet marks left by the Bedouins and other rogues. This famous site is best seen and less written about. We stop and take more pictures than I have of any vista and then walk further on to see other facades and the amphitheater. It is all very breathtaking and I must say the Jordanians have maintained well. On the way back, I walk but Saritha gets on a horse for the trudge back. Petra done we drive back to Amman where we spend the night. Saritha had heard of another hole in the wall setup in Amman called Reem that is famous for its lamb wraps and has attracted the royal family. So we decide that for dinner, but before we know the entire group of about 15-20 has congregated in Bo’s room and we are ordering for wraps while Megan orders cup cakes. We head out to pick up the 20 wraps that we ordered, wait a while watching this operation. The lamb is on a vertical rotating spit slowly being cooked, one guys shaves the meet, another opens a pita puts hummus, tomatoes, onions and a bunch of meat on it while the 3rd wraps it. A wrap takes 30 seconds to make and $2.50 each with the cab fare. While this was fascinating, I was left wondering what was so special since it was a little to dry for me.
November 14 - Jerash & Amman (pictures)
Our penultimate day in Jordan has us going north for an hour to Jerash from Amman (Philadelphia in the Roman times), one of the Decapolis (10 cities) of the Roman period. Jerash’s claim to fame is that it is the best preserved ruins outside of Rome and I must agree with that though I have not seen all of the Roman ruins. Jerash’s “cardo maximus” or main street is remarkably well preserved where one can see the chariot wheel markings, however the “Decumanus Maximus”, the east west street not so much. The amphitheater is really in a good shape too and I climbed it all the way up to get some fascinating views. This is also a city supposedly visited by Jesus Christ. There are more columns, fountains, temples, and gates…lets not forget those admirable Roman gates. Lunch is delicious and very Jordanian and then we drive back to Amman for more sights. The first one here is the citadel where one gets a chance to see Amman being built on 7 hills, a so wonderful panoramic view. We then drive down through the city to another amphitheater that is about good looking as the one in Jerash. We also get some time to shop in downtown Amman, where remarkable none of the shop keepers bother us, in fact their tactic is to ignore us. At one shop where we checking out the typical arab tops women wear…I asked after the price, the shop keeper told me “that is not important” and proceeded to show the garment to Saritha, very smooth I thought. The last nights dinner is with our new wonderful friends Betty and Bud at an Iraqi restaurant names Zad El Khair. Apparently this is the best Iraqi food outside of Iraq. Since Saritha chose the fish, a carp from the Jordan river we went to choose it. The chef once we chose the fish, so non challantly picked it out of the tank and dropped it on the floor….talk humane fishing! That aside I must say the food, their hospitality and the ambience was a wonderful way to wrap our vacation.
Time to bid Good Bye to Egypt and Jordan. I stop to think how different these two Arab neighbors are, one so pleasant the other so chaotic. Both with such enriching histories, so much turmoil but yet so much potential. I wish the people and these lands much peace and prosperity and despite minor challenges, recommend a visit to all my friends. Those altruistic thoughts done, on to a 12hour plane ride from Queen Alia to JFK…….with thoughts of the next adventure on top of the mind and a screaming kid in the background.