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Ibn Battuta

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I arrived at length at Cairo, mother of cities and seat of Pharaoh the tyrant, mistress of broad regions and fruitful lands, boundless in multitude of buildings, peerless in beauty and splendour, the meeting-place of comer and goer, the halting-place of feeble and mighty, whose throngs surge as the waves of the sea, and can scarce be contained in her for all her size and capacity."

Ibn Battuta

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On the bank of the Nile opposite Old Cairo is the place known as The Garden, which is a pleasure park and promenade, containing many beautiful gardens, for the people of Cairo are given to pleasure and amusements. I witnessed a fete once in Cairo for the sultan's recovery from a fractured hand; all the merchants decorated their bazaars and had rich stuffs, ornaments and silken fabrics hanging in their shops for several days."

Ibn Battuta

These are the great ancient temples of Karnak, on the edge of the Nile about 450 miles south of Cairo. They were the center of Egyptian religion, built in the imperial city of Thebes, when the Egyptian empire was at its height, the greatest power in the world. This was the New York of its time. The temples were built over a period of 2,000 years, each pharaoh adding his bit, leaving his name in stone, to last forever. Inside the temple domain, there were 65 towns, 433 gardens & orchards, 400,000 animals, and it took 80,000 people just to run the place. Small wonder that centuries afterwards the Greeks and Romans came here and gawked like peasants at a civilisation that made their efforts look like well-dressed mud huts. It still has that effect today. You come here from the great modern cities, full of the immense power of modern technology at your finger tips, press a button, turn a switch. And this place... stops you dead.

James (science historian) Burke

I always say you can get your tragedy of any desired length in England, from thirty seconds to a lifetime. I had one adorable one of twenty-nine minutes by the watch. At the end of that time I started for my train. Woman I'd had a glimpse of in London walk. She sat on a style, I below her, gazing into her eyes then, "remember this lane," "while memory holds its seat, etc." "Adieu." And I still do and ever shall remember her, and I rather think she does me a little bit. What imbecilities for an old fellow to be talking. But if one knows his place and makes way for younger men when he isn't sure, it is better perhaps not quite to abandon interest in the sports of life.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

When I arrived at the place of the execution, the gunmen fired into a pit the size of several rooms. They fired from small submachine guns. As I arrived, I saw a Jewish woman and a small child in her arms in the pit. I wanted to pull out the child, but then a bullet smashed the skull of the child. My driver wiped brain particles from my leather coat.

Adolf Eichmann

When undeniable crime had been committed, justification was the act of a coward. And it was cowardice that permitted such crimes in the first place. No tyrant could thrive where every subject said no. The tyrant thrives when the first f**king fool salutes.

Steven Erikson
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