World travelling author Sherif Loutfi has an inspiring story. Some would say it began as a sort of mid-life crisis that turned into a journey of self-discovery, which in turn inspired him to write an extremely adventurious story, as well as a memoir about his life which he named, Half. Loutfi literally went on a trip around the world that turned his world upside and down. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey chased down the world traveller to discuss his one-of-a-kind journey and to discover how it changed his life.
Half Swiss and half Egyptian, Sherif Loutfi was raised in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis. He obtained a degree in Commerce from Ain Shams University and went on to have an impressive career in banking. After thirty successful years working in banking, Loutfi’s life hit a curve. He felt he needed change and he needed it immediately.
The trigger to Loutfi’s sudden need to change perspective and to reinvent himself, was the historic 2011 revolution in Egypt. Loutfi watched from the sidelines as Egyptians demonstrated in the streets of Giza, as well as all over Egypt, demanding a better life, freedom, and human dignity. While he ached to join his fellow Egyptians in the streets and to be a part of history, as head of a Swiss bank, he was constrained by his position and couldn’t join the demonstrations himself. At that point, Loutfi, decided to vent his frustration by going and breaking attempting to break a Guinness World Record by travelling on his motorcycle, carrying the biggest-sized flags, an Egyptian flag as well as a Swiss one, for 14,000 kilometres all the way from Zurich to Tokyo in sixty nine days, as well as 25,000 kilometres from Ushuaia, Argentina to Anchorage, Alaska in 139 days..
“When you find yourself in extreme situations, you learn how strong you actually are, and you realise that you are much stronger than you thought. This is one of the reasons you should go on journeys like this alone. I only had access to limited social media and Whatsapp in the evening upon reaching a place to sleep, so I was very disconnected and lived every day as it happened. I was alone and you only discover yourself when you are alone. You also discover people. I learned that despite the terrible news we hear every day, there a lot of good people in the world,” Loutfi explains.
Loutfi’s journey exposed him to many different countries and cultures, each more interesting than the next. Each place he visited had an impact on him and changed him somehow; he is not the same person he once was, yet he is still somewhat the same. This all made him want to document this journey and write it down for people to read. Writing helped Loutfi process everything he has learned and everything he has been through. He published his book Half earlier this year and it has made waves across the country, and he’s been doing book signings not only in Cairo, but in the North Coast as well.
“When I was young, some people told me that I am a good speaker. That definitely helped me in my career. I was also told I could write. I later realised that writing is a form of therapy. Everybody should write. Write for your family. Write for the public, whatever, just write. It’s really therapeutic. When you are writing a book, you sort of flash back through the years. I started writing Half in 2017, and I finished it last year and finally published it this year. It has helped me discover things that I was not aware of,” Loutfy explains. His book details not only his journey across the world on his motorcycle, but also his childhood and adulthood. Readers get to see both halves of Loutfi through the book.
“When people read the book, I want them first of all to hopefully go through the adventure with me. However, the adventure was widely publicised back when I was on it because in 2014 and 2016 I was on several TV channels, all over the media, news and other places. So the trip itself is not new for people who have followed me for a while,” says Loutfi, who hopes readers learn more about him than just the journey through the book. “The book is about change and this is the message that I want to send. The other message is that when you do change, change smartly. When you are at the top, you get greedy, because people are naturally greedy. But at the end of the day, when you are successful, you should learn to let go, because otherwise it’s dangerous,” he continues.
When the conversation turned to whether Loutfi wants to write another book, he excitingly revealed that he was in fact writing another book. That book, however, won’t be a memoir and will actually follow a new journey Loutfi wants to embark on. “While my brain and body are still working, why not write another book?” he exclaims, adding, “I was thinking about doing something in the North Pole that is really exciting. So why not write about climate change, global warming and what’s going on there? I’m a swimmer and a diver, so I’m thinking about leaving the Egyptian flag under a glacier. Of course, publication would be easier because I have a great team now.There is definitely something in the pipeline, but it won’t be a memoirsp. It will be shorter and much more intense.”