Revelry Behind The Iron Curtain

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Revelry Behind The Iron Curtain

Our bus rumbled across the Aswan High Dam, filled with Egyptian teenagers taking in their country’s history. I was accompanying my Cairene kids as their history teacher and chaperone but in truth, I was the most excited. I had dreamt of exploring the ancient cities and temples of the confusingly coined Upper Egypt ever since my older sister had won first place at the science fair, for her project on hieroglyphics. So, when the bus doors swung open, I was the first to rush out and explore.

I was immediately lured toward a giant towering structure off to the side by the sounds of laughter and music. A large commemorative plaque stood in front of the monument, lauding the cooperation of the Soviet Union and Egypt in their construction of the High Dam.

In the heart of the monument a large dance circle was developing, driven by drums and the sounds of song. Local field trippers and their dedicated teachers performed number after number as each kid had their moment at the centre of the circle. It struck me as an odd juxtaposition, the colourfully clad Egyptian revellers in the heart of a Soviet monument.

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The Musical Mystery

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The Musical Mystery

It was the music that lead me. I was exploring the old Dutch trading post of Galle in southern Sri Lanka when I heard it. The rhythmic banging of drums accompanied with beautiful melodies echoed off the stone walls and cobblestone paths.

At first it was faint and in the distance, but as I followed my ears, the music became more clear. I picked my way through an old building where I found a set of stairs with at least a hundred cast off shoes at the bottom. Combining this telling clue with my increased proximity to the source of the music, I knew I was close. I moved up the stairs quickly to find a circle of Sri Lankan mothers. They turned to inspect me but were soon drawn back to the spectacle at hand. Sons and daughters, dancing and singing.

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I had found my source, a dance class of at least 50 young Sri Lankan teenagers, all smiling and focused on the class at hand. Mystery solved.