I was invited to a Hindu Festival of Holi last night. I wasn't sure what to expect, so a friend picked me up and we headed to the Asian Cultural Centre, off the Cowley Road in Oxford.

As we parked the car I could hear the call to prayer coming from the Mosque next door. My mind was instantly cast back to a trip to Cairo in 2007 for Martha's 10th birthday. We stayed at the Conrad Cairo Hilton right next to the River Nile.

On the first morning as we opened the curtains she innocently said 'look mummy, the river Thames', in her squeaky little voice, making me laugh. 

As we explored the city the haunting, melodic tones of the call to prayer intermittently drew our attention away from the bustle of this amazing city.

The pungent smells of oil perfumes in sandalwood and jasmine hung in the air, through the haze of the afternoon sun. Tiny trucks with precarious loads swayed on the dusty motorway that cut through the city. Elderly ladies whose faces looked like 1000 maps meandered through the traffic with tired donkeys.

Martha loved the thrill of bartering at the Khan el-Khalili Market and the stall owners looked bemused as this quirky little English girl negotiated a better price. We spent an afternoon at The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo which was incredible and concluded the trip with a visit to the pyramids at Giza as the sun went down. 

We didn't expect to love this city, it was a complete surprise to find it such a welcoming and exciting a place to spend a few days.


My mind returns back to Oxford, as I enter the room for the Hindu Festival. We are greeted by a lady who dips her fingers into an array of vibrant coloured powders and smears them down our cheeks. As I glance out the window I see the curvature of the stunning buildings outside, as a beautiful sunset bids the day farewell.

The night consisted of hearing from a selection of incredible female speakers, exquisite dance performances from Southern India, a Belly Dancing troupe and a Syrian couple showing us a traditional Syrian dance.

The food was a delicious array of home-made curry with all the accompaniments and quirky conversation with friendly strangers who talked about doing yoga with the cows they've bought under the 'right to graze law', (yes, you heard me right - bovine yoga!)

As we leave to go home we laugh at what a vibrant, funny and unusual night it was. 

I'm creating wonderful new memories, to add to those I created with my girl. I'm so glad I took her around the world showing her new horizons and stunning landscapes - enabling her to live a very fully and happy life during her 15 years and 9 months here.

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