Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Day 77, Tuesday, 31st January, 2012: On to a brief outing

Today, on the last day of January, which, incidentally, is also Nishrin's birthday (her first one when I am not with her in person), I set off on a 3 1/2 day outing. I had already applied for a day's leave for Wednesday, 1st February 2012, but I had to put a fresh paper before the medical director for the early departure today. Dr. Niaz had arranged for a car to take us both to Ta'if, where he had to visit the Muderiya to collect his passport (he is flying to Pakistan within the next 36 hours), while I wanted to return the monies I had borrowed from a few doctors working at the Children's Hospital here, and also, to transfer some money to my NRI account from my balance in the Al Rajhi bank. Thus, after Niaz had completed his work at the Muderiya, the car driver took us to Shubra street, where I did the money transfer and went to the Children's Hospital to hand over the money to two doctors I had taken the money from. After this, I was also supposed to go to the Al Ahlia Insurance company to submit an application for my medical malpractice insurance, but I could not do this as Dr. Niaz suddenly dropped a bombshell: he had to drop his idea of going today for the Umrah and rush to Jeddah as his flight was for today evening from Jeddah.

He wanted to leave immediately, and I had no option but to go with him, as, otherwise, he would leave in the car and I would have to make independent arrangements to travel to Mecca etc. Thus, we left within a few minutes and he dropped me at the Mikaat (the place where I would tie my Ehram, pray at the mosque and go onward to Mecca to perform the Umrah). From here, I was on my own.

After the prayers and other formalities were done, I took a paid lift from a cab that was also going to Mecca and arrived at the Haram sharif around half past three in the afternoon. I left my luggage (the bag and a small handbag with my shoes) inside a paid locker (SR 10 for two hours) and then entered the Haram sharif. I performed the Umrah with true devotion, and did Tawwafs in my own name, as well as one each for Dad, Mom, Marhoom Mother, Nishrin, Inas, Hannah, Kaizar and his family, Murtuza and his family, all my neighbours from all the three places of my life-time (Bharmal House, Tankiwala Bldg and Meena Apartment), all the people who are my friends, all my patients, all my extended family, all my subordinates (people who have worked at my home, in my clinic, in Nishrin's parlour, my own and my children's teachers  in school and college, and an unnamed tawwaf for all the others who I missed naming in the previous tawwafs. I got immense satisfaction doing all these tawwafs. I cried many times as I remembered my entire life and the people who have moulded me in different ways through my life. After this, I began the walk of the Safa-Marwa, did the Maghrib prayers, and left the Haram at about 6:45 p.m. I picked up my luggage from the locker.

I went down the road past the Bin Dawood mall and, with the help of a Bangladeshi, searched for and moved into a small, non-nondescript hotel room for the night, paying SR 60 for the same. After a bath, I went down and walked back to the Haram to join the congregation for the Ishaa prayers. Thereafter, I went inside the bin-Dawood mall. It is a huge mall with four storeys. There are several eateries and ice-cream outlets, two full storeys of clothes shops, and several other shops too. I had a vegetarian fresh, hand-made pizza and tea (SR 15 + 2). When I left the mall, I saw something interesting: a lot of dark skinned women had laid out their wares outside the mall. They appeared to be Sudanese, and they were selling purses, trinkets, peanuts, pillow cases, and several other things. As I moved down the road, I encountered many more similar women going to join their other compatriots, with loads of stuff slung on their backs. It reminded me of the hawkers who descend on Mohammad Ali Road after 7:30 p.m. every single day in Mumbai. The thing is that all of them, every single one of them were black women ... not a single man was seen.

I returned to the hotel room by 10:00 p.m., sat watching a movie on Zee Aflam (Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon) and wrote this blog entry as well as the previous one, browsed my mails and surfed Facebook before deciding to go to bed by midnight.

P.S. I did remember to call Nishrin to wish her a Happy Birthday. The family was planning to go to Gaylord Restaurant (at Churchgate) for dinner. 

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