Friday, October 19, 2012

A hectic journey later ... back in the Kingdom

As I approach the completion of one year in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I wonder what actually made me decide to come here ... whatever it was, I am going to say it's been a very, very eventful year so far ... the highs being my being able to perform Umrahs for myself and for dad, my niyyat (intention) to perform Haj this year, my trip to Medina, my augmented financial condition and my being able to give examinations for part 1 of the MRCPCH. The lows are few, but, of course, the most significant being my having to stay away from my family, my having to stay away from the fun and excitement of Mumbai and my being unable to do so many of the things I took for granted in India. So far, I am managing most of my personal needs fairly well, though there have been days when being alone has depressed me. I have days when I just don't feel like cooking, or washing clothes, or stuff like that. Then, rationalism takes over and I do what I have to do.

I really miss being able to choose to eat at a decent restaurant or order food home ... I miss the excitement and flurry that accompanied my private practice .... and I miss being able to meet and network with hundreds of people from all walks of life. I also miss my outings to parks and other places to do a bit of Nature watching and bird-watching. I miss photography. I miss the TV ... but that last fact can, and will, be rectified in the days to come. I sincerely hope so. 

Yesterday, I left home at about half past ten Indian time. Nishrin came to leave me to the airport. We parted at about half past twelve. This was an Air India flight via Kozhikode to Jeddah. Check-in was swift, and although my luggage was over 30 kg (it was 39 kg including my small bag, which I would have otherwise taken in the flight as cabin baggage), it was accepted without any additional charges. 

Most of my flight inmates were Muslims in ehraam proceeding to Jeddah for the performance of Hajj. However, there were at least 30-35 of us in the front section of the airplane who were going to the destination for other purposes, such as for work. We were segregated in the flight in the front section, and also allowed to deplane first and receive our luggage etc, before the Hajj people. In between, the flight halted at Kozhikode to deplane and emplane some passengers. Meals were served twice - lunch and dinner.  I was able to watch some movies this time, including 10000 B.C., Guddi and Message In A Bottle (the last one based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks).

After arrival in Jeddah, I had some minutes of anxiety when my luggage did not come through till the very end of the cycle; thereafter, I got into a private cab from outside the airport, and finally changed to a taxi to take me to Ta'if. However, both the journeys cost me much more than they do  usually: SR 80 and SR 100 respectively. I reached the hotel in Ta'if at a little after 1:00 A.M. Saudi time ... which means at half past three in the morning by Indian time! Thus, I had been travelling for nearly 17 hours. I went to sleep shortly thereafter.

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