The novel starts with the visit of the grandson to the pyramids in 1990s, then he goes to visit the Swiss ambassador in Egypt. He searches for traces of his grandfather of whom he knows very little, and about whom there are few words in a book about the Swiss community in Egypt in the 1940s. When the narrator goes to the Swiss Consul he gets more of the unnecessary information but he continues his search and exploration. He takes us back to Zurich where he gets scarce information from his grandmother who had left him a blue notebook including some writings about his grandfather Heinrich, she had also left him a recipe book which contained some letters from Heinrich and his son. The chapters of the novel are interwoven of the journey of the grandson to Egypt and his grandfather’s journey. This structure allows the translation of the very important idea that the two journeys are interwoven, and that the son is following the footsteps of the grandfather even if the aims are different. The Swiss adventure continues in different times and in different ways.
The story of Heinrich is driven by his own ambition and independence, and by his desire to realize what he wants no matter what the consequences will be, but his desire is always met with bad luck whether in Switzerland or in Egypt. Heinrich was originally the son of a priest who had three children, but Heinrich the son did not want to become a priest like his father. He was interested in monuments; as a child he found some golden Roman coins from the era of Neron and kept them, he told his father that he wants to become a silk merchant, but he finally succumbed to his father’s will and studied theology although it is unclear whether he had finished his studies or not. Heinrich did not work like his father as a priest in Switzerland, he moved between several professions, like the cotton industry and banking. Heinrich visited Paris and got engaged to a French girl, he enrolled into the army and participated in the civil war of the Swiss union, but he succeeded in getting married and had a little son with his wife, and he insisted on working in the silk industry.
The conditions were not good, and Heinrich got largely in debt, which made him lose his property in return and announce his bankruptcy. His wife left him with their small child. He was obliged to travel to Egypt to try his luck there. He came to Egypt in a troubled era, during the rule of the eccentric Khedive Abbas 1st who was quickly killed in peculiar circumstances. During those years Heinrich moved between several cities of Egypt, he worked in different professions, he led many private projects and acquired the trust of the Egyptian government. He was in several important jobs, once as the manager of the Egyptian company for salt in Shalofa in Suez, then moving to become the supervisor of the Department of post in Ismailiyya and the cities of canal Suez, then finally becoming the supervisor of the industries of cotton in Delta.