Monday, October 28, 2013

The past week

The week that just ended was one where I was off call; however, I worked for the first two days and then proceeded on leave for the next three days. On day 3 and 4, I stayed in Al Muwayh; on day 5, I went to Ta'if and stayed at my usual hotel for the next two nights before returning to Al Muwayh on Saturday evening. This was one holiday when I did nothing particularly engaging, other than sleeping long hours, surfing the net and enjoying my meals at the Indian restaurants nearby. 

My younger daughter Hannah has gone on what is fashionably known as an "industrial visit" from her college. I have been speaking daily to her, and she is apparently having a lot of fun, but no real lessons in anything. In fact, according to her, the tour guides who are accompanying them show them stuff that is appropriate to be shown to school kids! Thus, there is a gap in the knowledge that they are getting. Of course, on the entertainment front, they are having a gala time of it. I think she is expected to return after some more days. 

Nishrin and Inas are on a house-cleaning spree now that Diwali is around the corner. To those of my readers who are not aware of what Diwali is, it is a "festival of lights" (and bursting of millions of rupees worth of fireworks) that commemorates an important event described in the great Hindu epic Ramayan. Apparently, when Ram entered Ayodhya after his 14-year long exile (when he lived an ascetic life in the forest), the people of Ayodhya lit up the whole city with hand made "diyas". Eventually, Ram was coronated and became the King of Ayodhya.  Although traditionally, this is a Hindu festival, it is now a part of Indian culture and people of all religions join their Hindu brethren in celebrating it. Diwali is an occasion when people clean their homes, make sweets and delicacies to eat, buy and wear new clothes, jewellery and accessories, burst fireworks, adorn their homes with "rangoli", "toran", lights and other traditional decorations, visit their friends and relatives, and generally enjoy themselves. Since the past two years, I have/will be missed/missing this great festival. However, inshallah, I should be back in India before Diwali 2014.

While India and Pakistan continue to engage in skirmishes at various points along the "line of control", in Saudi Arabia as well as in other countries where the people from these two countries have emigrated to work, people of these two nations behave in the most friendly manner. The events at the border between the two countries seem not to affect us where we stay. Some of my best friends here are of Pakistani origin. To give you an example, let me mention my car-mechanic friend Mr. Shabbir Choudhary. He is a Pakistani and has his workshop in Ta'if. I went to him during my visit to this city this week; he is a large, effusive man and talks through his heart. On previous occasions, he has surprised me with his friendly approach as well as his hearty hospitality. This time, though, we could not go out for dinner as he was very busy with his own and his clients' pending tasks. 

Meanwhile, just out of interest, I have begun taking oral lessons in the Filipino language! If I am able to reach a level where I can understand about 20-25% of the spoken language, I will be happy. 

In other news, I have completed my online learning courses on "Animal behaviour" and "Global Health" and in my last week of the course on "Vaccines". The next few courses I will be taking will be primers on "Diabetes", "Global Warming" and "Nanotechnology". By the time I complete those courses, it would be February or March 2014.

The last thing I wish to share is that my visit to India is now almost certain as I have received my vacation paper today. Inshallah, I should be in India around the 18th of November 2013.

That's all.

P.S. The women of Saudi Arabia are trying to get permission to drive cars in the Kingdom. They had planned a joint movement which was to be held on the 26th of October 2013, but they backed off because of the strict governmental directives asking them not to take the hasty step or they would be fined heavily or even arrested. In spite of this, about 50-60 women did take to the roads, and at least one such woman, an activist, was arrested and imprisoned for one night before being released.

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