“I asked him about the Nile and what the river meant to him in his personal life and as a part of the Egyptian collective unconscious. ‘The Nile,’ he said, pointing to the river, ‘was the very source of life. You see that great river. It rolls on and on. This is our culture.’ I told him how we treated our rivers like the books of wisdom, like living beings, kind and sometimes angry. ‘Like the Ganga,’ he intervened. I told him about how these Books of Wisdom in their polluted state now carried the sins and stains of progress. He responded in Arabic, suggesting how progress had effaced the alphabet of learning from the pages of the rivers.”

That would be Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, on his encounter with Naguib Mahfouz. (From Al-Ahram–Pia, thanks for the link.)