There comes a time when you want to escape.
Some people escape with a bottle of booze or a bag of chips.
Some people escape by going numb in front of the TV.
I needed something different.
I needed some real peace.
I know that I can find peace in prayer or
peace by reading the Quran
but there comes a moment when you need to change your location.
point to a place and say,
"I want to get there."
For me, I chose Lake Qarun an hour and a half away from the desert where I live.
It is a man-made lake from the 12th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenemhat III.
The Greeks called it, "Crocodilopolis".
There aren't any crocodiles now
or if there are, then they are very careful not to be seen.
There is something to be said for a person who stood on solid land
yet decided to trust enough to get into a boat
and head out to the middle of the lake
with no life jackets.
And I'm not sure if it's bravery or stupidity
which puts us into little boats on big water
but we keep doing it.
Maybe we need to feel that we and our problems are small
by comparison to the beauty which surrounds us.
And it's temporary.
Everything is temporary actually.
No one can stay in their boat forever.
There are islands to explore.
Subhanallah there are ladders to climb
in the middle of an olive tree grove.
And you didn't know there would be such a thing
in such a place.
Yet there you are
looking at freshly picked olives in your son's hand.
And that's when you remember Quran.
In the middle of the olive tree grove you recite Quran.
Not because you found the Quran
but because the Quran found you.
a most glorious home
like something out of a movie.
Yes, it was from a movie
Al Ra'i We El Nissa The Shepherd and the Women
with Ahmed Zaki, God bless him, the most mashahallah gorgeous man ever in Egyptian cinema
and my namesake Yousra
who, I learn, was actually born as "Suhair".
Later, I would see the video of this place.
I would see a slightly familiar face.
Was it her?
Soad Hosni "Cinderella" when she was older; 47. She was there too. The boy had forgotten to mention her name. It was Soad Hosni's last movie.
May God bless her and forgive her any sins.
That was 1991 and for ten years afterwards she didn't make any movies.
Some say she was shocked to see how old she looked next to the 11-years-younger Yousra.
By June 2001, she had fallen out of a window and died.
Four years later Ahmed Zaki would be gone too.
There really isn't time to stay in one place
and dwell on what isn't.
There are so many other possibilities.
A man came up to us
because we were strangers.
And even though I've felt uncertain about trusting people any more
I walked up to a man I didn't know and talked to him nicely
and showed him my pictures
and he let us come inside.
If I'd never taken a chance
to turn a "no" into a "yes"
then I'd never known
there were windows shaped like stars in their ceiling.
And colorful fish shimmering in their salon.
It was so cozy.
There were comfy couches in little nooks next to the windows.
They were covered in woven rugs.
And it was humble
so humble that I couldn't take a picture of it
for fear of offending.
But I loved it.
I really loved that feeling inside the home.
May Allah grant that family halal risq and increased iman.
It was time to go.
We headed back to the shore.
It was almost time to catch our bus.
I flirted with the idea of staying the night.
The Panorama Hotel was tempting even at 400 LE.
But I thought better of it.
I was thinking better about lots of things.
The lake would still be there inshahallah another day
when we had more time to enjoy it.
Maybe we'd find some crocodiles
or more ladders to climb
or more movie locations.
Or maybe we'd find something that we weren't expecting
and a fresh sensation of being alive