I always wish the hotels were like they are in movies and TV shows, where if you're in Paris, right outside your window is the Eiffel Tower. In Egypt, the pyramids are right there. In the movies, every hotel has a monument right outside your window. My hotel rooms overlook the garbage dumpster in the back alley.
Growing up, I came to love Egypt and respect Islam, but I never thought to go beyond the surface. Back in Canada, many of my father's Egyptian friends questioned his decision not to raise his only child more strictly in the faith. I was not taught salat, the Muslim ritual of prayer, nor did I study Arabic.
We were the outliers: my mother was the only Western woman (khawagayya, in Egyptian Arabic) to have married into the family, and during my childhood, we were the only members living outside of Egypt. So between my father's prestige as the eldest son and my own exotic pedigree, I basked in the spotlight.