Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 132, Monday. 26th March, 2012

I was planning to take a day's leave on the coming Wednesday and travel to Ta'if, where I had some work related to the bank account I have in India, and to then proceed to Mecca for my third Umrah. I was mentally building up to this since the last few days, and went to the medical director to seek permission for the leave. Fate, however, had decreed otherwise. It seems that the director had received a formal request to send a pediatrician to Zalm General Hospital, located at Zalm, a small village about 50 km north of Al Muweh, to replace their own pediatrician who needed leave for three days. One of us, i.e. either yours truly, or my co-Pediatrician, would have to go to Zalm by Tuesday evening and stay there till Saturday morning. As my colleague Dr. Yasser was on call this week, it would be my "turn" to go to Zalm, and hence, leave to go to Ta'if  on Wednesday was not possible.

This considerably dampened my spirits for a short while, but I decided then and there to try and go to Ta'if today itself. I sought verbal consent from my co-ped Dr. Yasser, then went home to pack a few things for an overnighter to Ta'if, and returned to the hospital to join a few nurses who had already "booked" a hospital ambulance to go to Ta'if the same day. I was told that they would start after the Dhuhr prayers. I waited patiently for the same. However, the driver had not turned up until almost half past one. When he did turn up, he was informed about my intention to join the nurses to go to Ta'if, but due to some reason, he dilly-dallied the departure for a further 30-40 minutes. Then, just a few minutes before our intended departure, the ER received a road-accident patient who came in very severely injured. It was decided that we would accompany the patient on his transfer to Ta'if, and so, our departure was delayed by a further 1 1/2 hours. 

In the event, I remained in the ER till almost 3:45 p.m., when the ambulance finally started off with the nurses, the ER resident who would accompany the patient, and myself. We reached Ta'if at about half past five, and I got off at a turn-off point where the ambulance and the rest of its occupants would proceed to the King Abdel Aziz Speciality Hospital (KAASH). I first went to a local eatery where I had a kabab frankie (it was delicious) with sweet-lime juice. Then, I went on to the bank office to complete my official work.

After this, I contacted Dr. Asadulla, the Pakistani surgeon whom I have befriended, and he asked me to come near his house in Bukhariya after Maghrib, and he would assist me in getting a hotel room for the night.  
So it was that I walked about half a km from the Panda supermarket where the bank office was located, down Abu Baker Street, to finally reach Bukhariya. I met Dr. Asadulla, and, with his help, I was able to secure a room for myself in one of the small hotels located in the vicinity of his residence and a stone's throw away from the Indian souk located behind the Gazzaz mall in Ta'if city centre. The room was actually a BHK type of accommodation, and although the facilities were simple, it had the advantage of a quiet location, reasonable charges (SR 90 per night after considerable bargaining by Asad), free wireless internet access, working AC units in the bedroom as well as the living room, and clean bedsheets. I settled in, then took a bath and refreshed myself. I sat for a while to surf the net. Dr. Asad, meanwhile, went off to meet a few more doctors - one of them being a newly arrived Pediatrician who was to join a military hospital in Ta'if. When Dr. Asad came back, I met with his new guests, who, in fact, also visited my room as the new doctor needed a room for a month or so before he got his own rented accommodation in Ta'if. In fact, this promise to the manager of my hotel helped bargain my room price down from SR 130 (his original demand) to SR 90 (which I paid). 

Dr. Asad then left me for the night, and I went to the Indian souk to buy kadhi-patta (an essential that is not available in Al Muweh), and then have an amazing dinner at the Asian Restaurant located there. I had the Indian-style tandoori roti with Mutton Kadhai and rice to end off the meal. With a soft drink, it cost me SR 18, and it was worth its cost.After dinner, I returned to the room, and then began downloading various things on the laptop to take advantage of the free access to relatively rapid internet. I fell asleep a little after midnight. This was a great day indeed. By the morning, I had downloaded four complete movies, and about 17 episodes of Series 7 of How I Met Your Mother!

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