She was very hardworking and loved reading from childhood. Father passed away when Rukhsana was studying in class 9. Her uncle was an engineer who believed that engineering is too hard a profession for girls. Rukhsana took this as a challenge and studied engineering. She joined the first woman-owned engineering factory in Pakistan but had to resign later due to family commitments. While working there she invented a pipe which was then named after her as “Rukhsana Pipe”.
Rukhsana joined Peoples’ Party at an early age though no one from her family ever entered politics. She worked alongside Mr Bhutto as young advisor. She counselled Mr Bhutto to open Polytechnics in Pakistan to advance technical in the country. She advised government on petroleum issues while in senate. Later she supported & guided young Benazir also. As Benazir got surrounded by group of greedy people she quietly moved aside.
Rukhsana has many revolutionary ideas in relation to energy crisis in Pakistan. Below are few of such ideas. Some of these are already in implementation:
– While in engineering Council she arranged a children’s nursery, doctor and a canteen to facilitate workers and save valuable money.
– Instead of using a hotel and wasting public money, she rented a full house, used one part & sub-rented the other, net cost to Engineering council = Zero Rs.
– Rukhsana is introducing an online records system for Pakistan Engineering Council.
– She is advocating on all forums that we must make good use of Solar, Wind and Coal energy to create electricity. People are ill advised about these. Pakistan has abundance of wind, sun and coal. Government has to take initiative.
– Introduced solar energy panels at council building as well as many other public buildings like Mizar-e-Qaid, Islamic University and Part of President’s Office.
These are lessons for us & our leaders. We must think of ways to help our nation’s energy crisis. Most importantly, government money belongs to people. Leaders must spend it carefully as they would spend their own money.
There was life in Egypt around 10,000 years ago, but Egyptians united under one government around 5000 years (3200 BC) ago when history of Fir-aons or Pharaohs (Kings) is believed to start. Pharaohs numbered in 100s. They can be divided into 30+ dynasties, dating up to year 343 BC. The story of Moses (Musa AS, or Moshe) & a Pharaoh (Fir-aown) is narrated in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Which Pharaoh was it? I really don’t know. Strange fact is that Egypt was ruled by non Egyptians till 1952 which included Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Turkish, Arabs, French and British.
Cities of Al Qahira (Cairo) & Alexandria:
Alexander the Great (Sikander-e-Azam) established a city Alexandria (Iskandria) as Egyptian capital. It remained so until Muslims (Fatimid) conquered Egypt in 640 and founded the city Al-Qahira, now known as Cairo. They shifted the capital of Egypt from Alexandria to Cairo. Cairo, known as “city of 1000 Minarets” is full of Muslim history. The city is hugely populated; as a result it is too polluted & crowded with traffic.
Traffic congestion is a huge problem in Cairo, on top, Egyptian driving is second to none. They like precision driving, meaning they drive bumper to bumper at any speed. But they do care about light pollution at least. As many as 40% people drive at night with headlights off. Surprised & scared, I enquired about it from my Egyptian colleague. “We don’t want to dazzle the driver ahead” he explained. Cairo city is similar to Lahore, overcrowded, narrow streets, too much traffic, dust & rubbish everywhere (here Cairo is ahead). Tourists are punished badly; most taxi drivers & vendors would put their price up by only 2 or 3 times if not more. They will try any means to rip off your money. Unfortunately this is sad since we claim to be Muslims and fear Allah. This behaviour leaves a bad impression on tourists visiting the country. Egypt is not alone; I faced this issue elsewhere also, mainly in Muslim countries except few. Malaysia is one such good example.
Saladin / Salahudin Ayubi – The Warrior:
Salahudin conquered the city in 1171. He built a citadel (castle) here to defend the city against Crusaders (Saleebi fighters). Elegant Citadel and some walls still stand.
The world’s oldest script or writing system called Hieroglyphics was established here around 3200 BC (5200 years ago). It is a complex mixture of pictures and text. It was very difficult to learn and people who mastered it earned huge rewards, one such writer become King later.
TWO MOST FAMOUS WOMEN: UME KALSOOM AND CLEOPATRA
Who is Cleopatra?
Who doesn’t know her! A beautiful lady who is the subject of countless studies, books, films & dramas. She was Macedonian Greek who ruled Egypt between 51 & 30 BC. It was the period when Egypt was weak politically. Romans sent two of their generals Julius Caesar & Mark Antony to Egypt one after another. Cleopatra married them both, in their order of arrival (Caesar died after which she married Antony). No wonder Romans accuse her of seducing their generals. They sent army to fight Antony after his marriage to Cleopatra. He committed suicide on hearing the rumour of Cleopatra’ death. Cleopatra killed herself as she came to know of the death of her husband Antony; sad ending really. Romans were happy though; Egypt fell to Romans & became part of Roman Empire.
Umm Kalsoum (1904 – 1975):
Umm Kalsoum was/is a legendary singer of the Arabs world. She started singing around 1930. Soon she became the most famous & loved singer in the whole Arab world. For 40 years, first Thursday evening of every month, all Egypt & other Arab countries would stand still for hours to listen to her live in concert! She passed away in 1975, a museum is established in her memory. Some Egyptians call her the 4th Pyramid of Egypt.
TWO MOST FAMOUS WATERWAYS: SUEZ AND NILE
There is a 163 KM piece of land that connects Africa to Asian land. Red sea is on south of it and Mediterranean sea on the north. Just because of this tiny piece, ships had to cross the whole Africa to reach Asia. Only if we could dig a canal through it would save journey of many days. French thought of doing it but then gave up; their engineers miscalculated and declared that one sea is higher than the other. Egyptians took the challenge and started the Suez Canal project again in 1859, completing it in 10 years. It is a 193 KM long man-made single-lane canal. As an example, a journey from London to Bombay would be 11,600 KM through Suez, but 19,800 KM otherwise – only 8,200 KM more.
Digging it was a difficult & costly job which is completed mostly with manual labour. Egypt became bank corrupt and ended up selling the canal to Britain & French. Suez remained with them till 1956. Gamal Abdul Nasir claimed it back from them, obviously it made British & French only angry and led them to occupy it militarily with the help of their friend Israel. International condemnation compelled them to return it back to Egypt. Suez Canal is a major sea trade route now days earning huge amount of toll tax for Egypt.
Suez is considered to be one of the Most Important Canal in the World.
RIVER NILE – The Longest River in the World:
Nile is the longest river in the world (6,670 KM). Starting from Burundi, it passes through Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Only 22% of its length falls in Egypt. Yet Dirya-e-Neel is the life line of Egyptians since 1000s of years. Starting in south it runs through the country towards north. Most of the population lives along its banks. Nile provides them with water for agriculture & drinking, sea food, transportation and tourism opportunities. Before falling into Mediterranean Sea, it produces one of the biggest deltas on earth. Nile used to flood Egyptian land every year due to summer rains and snow melt, providing a natural fertilizer to the Egyptian soil. A high dam was built at Aswan in 1972, after which yearly flooding has stopped. Egyptians use artificial fertilizers now.
River Nile & Cairo City
To be Continued. Read Part3 Here (Covering Al Azhar University & Masjid Imam Hussein)
If you would like me to summarize Egypt (Misr in Arabic), then Pyramids, Mummies, river Nile, Cairo, Al Azhar, Ume Kalsoom, Cleopatra and Suez Canal will do the job. You can only imagine how excited I was visiting this country.
I was lucky that I visited a new Egypt; an Egypt without Mubarak! I roamed freely in streets around Tahrir Square which was the centre of uprising few days ago, life has come to a normal now. I felt a sigh of relief & hope for good future in every Egyptian I spoke to. I believe it is not because Mubarak is gone; rather it is the barrier that has broken i.e. “People cannot bring the change”. People can! If they really want to, though it demands hard work & sacrifice – Egyptians did it with their blood & toil.
Egypt is the most populous Arab country with population of around 80 million, which is nearly 25% of the whole Arab nation. Cairo is heavily crowded city with about 18 million residents. About 94% people are Muslims and 6% Coptic orthodox Christians.
96% of Cairo is dry desert; area around Nile is the only green & fertile part. Egypt borders with Mediterranean Sea in north, Sudan in south, Red Sea & then Saudi Arabia in east, and Libya in west. There is a little border with Israel in north-east which was closed by the Egyptian government during the intifadah (uprising) in Palestine to punish them even more. Palestinians were not allowed to take refuge in Egypt from Israeli attacks nor was humanitarian aid allowed in from Egypt. Thanks God old regime is gone.
Weather is dry & hot mostly, November through March are the best months to visit. I visited in March, to my surprise days were excellently pleasant but nights were cold. My wife advised to take a sweater along which turned out to be quite handy.
Egypt earns most of its revenue from tourism followed by toll tax from Suez, and oil & minerals. Don’t even talk to a tree in Cairo, otherwise it will start selling something to you. Dealing with tourists is in Egyptian blood since millenniums. Their civilization is so old that even Romans and Greeks used to come here for tourism. First question you would get is where are you from, so they can assess how rich you are? Then they will become friendly, innocently asking, first time here? Oh I know a hotel which is the ‘cheapest’ in Cairo…
I asked for a prayer room at the airport. The person took me to the room, but briefly stopping on a taxi counter. “Their service is the best in the city, price is $xx, after finishing prayer just come back here”. I nodded OK. The price quoted to me was a bit high, just double than what I paid later to a taxi outside. I stayed at Siftel, a beautiful Hotel on the banks of river Nile. We had breakfast sitting outside overlooking Nile and Cairo buildings, a wonderful experience.
Let’s Go Pyramids:
Pyramids at Giza are the only surviving structure from the 7 wonders of ancient world. We passed near Pyramids many times during my stay but I couldn’t get closer. Then on last day I hired a taxi to visit Pyramids (Ahram) with a guide/driver Mr Mohamed, an old Egyptian talking machine. As soon as we drove off he started broadcasting Egyptian history, inserting ads in between. “…After visiting the Pyramids we will stop at a great souvenirs factory. They are very hospitable people; we will have a ‘free’ cup of qahva and have a look at their work. You can buy if you like anything, no obligations of course”…. I politely said no, it was ignored. A second strong ‘NO’ worked, history remained but ads disappeared.
But it was a great decision to take him along. Never ever go alone to Pyramids. There are many touts there who would become physical with you to sell something be it guidance, horse / camel ride, a souvenir or just to suggest a place to take photo. It was sadly pathetic; the people even hit our taxi physically because they lost business due to it.
The three Giza pyramids are known as great pyramids and belong to father Khufu, son Khafre and one of their successor. You can either walk between three pyramids or use taxi. Each pyramid is about few hundred meters away from each other. Pyramids were built as burial places for Pharaohs (kings). A long narrow tunnel takes to a tiny room in the centre where the King was buried, along with items which he might need in the life after. These items have been stolen now and Kings gone to live in more modern air-conditioned facilities known as museums.
Biggest and the oldest (built 5000+ years ago) is called Pyramid of Khufu. It is 148 meters high & 230 meters long. Nearly 2.3 million limestone blocks of 2.5 tonne each on average were used; some weigh up to 16 tones. Stone was taken from Muqattam hills about 30 miles away. It is built with layers of stone, each top layer is slightly smaller than the lower hence a pyramid like shape is achieved.
God knows how they carried such heavy stones to the site and lifted them up without modern machines. As legend goes they were very strong people who could carry one stone each. Pyramid of Khufu remained the highest building in the world until recent developments. The pyramids are true mathematical marvel. They are exact square, and sides are aligned perfectly with the north.
Then there is statue of Sphinx, a lion with the head of a woman, it is known as Abu Al Haol “father of terror”. Its nose has gone missing. According to Mohamed, it was Napoleon Bonaparte who broke it and took it to Louvre museum in Paris, just to rip Egypt off its assets. But books say it just broke off over time.
Here comes the Mummy:
Old Egyptians believed in eternal life hence they mummified (preserved) their dead. In fact their belief was based on a complex array of myths, consisting of strange rituals, funny theories and multiple gods controlling the universe. The burial ritual started by removing the dead person’s organs, except heart – it was required in after life. The body was either left in sand or salt to dry for a month. This dehydrated body was then wrapped in strips of cloth, and finally placed in a wooden human-shapped coffin. This was then placed inside the pyramid. The jackal-faced god Anubis would then weigh the heart of dead person against the feather of truth in front of the jury of other gods. If lighter or equal, person lived eternal life. Tough luck otherwise, jackal gobbled him up..
The story continues… Read Part 2 Here with Egypt’s two most famous Women (Cleopetra & Ume Kulsoom) and two most known Waterways (Nile & Suez).