Sunday, February 05, 2012

Day 78, Wednesday 1st February, 2012: Mecca -> Jeddah

It was a great feeling to wake up inside a hotel room, although we are talking here about a small, nondescript place here. This was not the room I went to sleep in ... and thereby hangs a tale: after I wrote yesterday's entry, I surfed the net a bit, then went off to sleep. However, I could not fall asleep instantly, and it was at around half past twelve that I heard footsteps outside and a couple of knocks on my door. I ignored these knocks, and for a few more minutes, everything was quiet. After this illusory pause, there was more insistent knocking and I got up to open the door, a bit annoyed and apprehensive. It was the man who had allotted my room earlier yesterday afternoon. He was accompanied by his "assistant". He explained, rather sheepishly, I think, that he had just admitted a large Saudi family into the three accompanying rooms and wanted my room too as the family was big and there were women too. He offered to shift me to the fourth floor - and into a larger room. I tried to refuse but he kept pleading and I was left with no choice but to assent. Between his assistant and him, I took my belongings on to the top floor and into the definitely larger room and spent the rest of my night here.

Okay, so I was up and about by approximately half past eight o'clock. I took a bath and went out of the room. Going back to the Haram, I went inside and did 7 more tawwafs. Praying to Allah for success in my endeavours, I felt better than I had since I had stepped on Saudi soil 2 1/2 months ago. After this, I roamed around the local area for some time. I visited the mall inside Al Safwa towers. From here, I picked up a box of dry fruits that I would gift Juzer Kagalwala, my cousin, when I reached his home in Jeddah later in the day. This mall was even bigger than the bin Dawood that I went to yesterday, but I did not have the luxury of time, so I left by noon. For lunch, I had trifles. By half past one, I was back in my room and packing my luggage for the check-out. 

Eventually, I checked out at 01:40 p.m., and went off to search for the taxi stand that would take passengers to Jeddah. Initially, I came across the high-priced stand which had taxi drivers who took single passengers, and the average price quoted here was SR 75. I shunned these and finally located the low-cost share-a-cab stand where the average price quoted was SR 15 per passenger. I finally took a cab with a Saudi driver who spoke English. He was an interesting man indeed. Claiming to be a Masters in English from Sussex, England, the driver kept entertaining me and another Indian co-passenger (who also understood English) with various stories. Indeed, because of his pleasing banter, the road to Jeddah turned out to seem too small. 

Approaching Bab-Mecca, the place where we would get off, I called up Juzer. He asked me to take a cab to Tareek Medina and get off at the Shola store. The ride took about 15 minutes and the local cabbie charged me SR 15 for it. When I got off at my stated destination, I had to wait for a mere two minutes before Juzer arrived in his car and escorted me to his house nearby. Abi Talib was also with him in the car as his school and all other schools had been given a half-day off. The reason: rainfall had been predicted for the evening! Juzer, too, had wound up for the day, and was available for the evening.

Memuna (Mrs. Juzer Kagalwala), as gracious as before, served lunch and we all ate in silence. Thereafter, I sat down to connect my laptop with Juzer's home network. I initiated downloads of some movies ... a task that would go on for the next few days and allow me to download almost 8 full length feature films. 

Later, in the evening, Juzer took me to Zarir Bookstore to purchase my new mobile phone. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 for SR 949/= (the salesman gave me a SR 50 discount on the list price of SR 999/= upon my insistent request). This is a beautiful phone that costs about INR 12500/=, and almost the same price in India. I must thank Inas' friend Manish for his help in choosing which phone to go for, but I must also thank Dr. Muhbeen who cautioned me against buying a very costly mobile which would serve no additional purpose, and besides, as he pointed out in a friendly way, I have an easy propensity to lose mobile phones. So, here goes: Thank you, Manish and Muhbeen.

In the night, for dinner, we had - guess what - chicken biryani, cooked lovingly and fantastically by Memuna. It was something I had not eaten in the last 2 1/2 months, and I really enjoyed eating it with the mutton soup that she had made to go along with. 

Thus ended the second day of my "vacation". 

1 comment:

MUHBEEN said...

u r welcome taher bhai. i hope u remembered us in ur duas.