Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 118, Monday, 12th March, 2012

This turned out to be an unexpectedly different day, and I will shortly share this experience with all of you, my dear readers. I had planned on going to Ta'if later this week to visit the people in charge of conducting my Council examinations, viz. the guys from Prometric, the European examinations experts on a global scale. However, the opportunity to go to Ta'if suddenly happened today when a patient with a heart attack was to be transferred to King Abdal Aziz Specialist Hospital at Ta'if. As the patient would be going by an ambulance, I jumped at the chance to accompany the patient. 

Accordingly, I rushed back home (taking a lift in a Saudi's car) to pick up all my documents to present to the guys in Ta'if. Dr. Amr Hashim had already told me the approximate location of the building that housed a bank on the ground floor and was located at the last corner before the right turn approaching the Panda Mall (Ta'if's Heart Mall). Dr. Ahmed Taib had come near my residence building to pick up Dr. Magdy, one of our residents, who has just moved into a first floor flat in the adjoining building to mine. I joined the duo and returned to the hospital in record time.  I met and asked Dr. Yasser if he would look after my OPD work as I was going to be away; he agreed readily. The ambulance, with its driver, Mr. Omar was ready by 10 a.m., and so, we left for  Ta'if at around that time.

We reached the outskirts of Ta'if at a speed of 150 kmph within a few minutes less than 2 hours. I saw the driver turning into a new road to reach the referral center where the patient was to go. At that point, I asked the driver if he would drop me off, so that I could go and finish my work. He, however, assured me that he would drop me off exactly where I wanted to go, that is, near Panda, but after we had handed the patient over to KASH. I had no choice but to agree. Thus, we first went to KASH, where we spent the better part of an hour. In between, Dr. Magdi and I visited the local cafetaria where I had a chicken sandwich and tea, while Magdi had a lamb sandwich and a soft drink. In between, I made a few calls here and there just to while away the time. Eventually, it was at a little after 12.15 p.m. that I finally reached my destination. On the ground floor of this building was the Ladies' Branch of the NCB(National Commeercial Bank), and above this, on the second floor of the facade was a board of the Al Alamiya Educational Institute. It looked like a good candidate for being in charge of the Council exams, so I climbed up to the 2nd floor of the building (there was a lift here, but it was out of service due to reasons best known to the people who owned the building). 

I opened the door of the institute to see a large reception desk but no one at the desk. Slowly, I entered the office and went inside, past the reception, deep inside till I came upon a room with a solitary person praying the Dhuhr salah. I returned to the reception desk to wait for him to finish his prayers. He came pretty soon, and introduced himself as Mr. Aiman. I told him who I was and what the purpose of my visit was (to book a date for my exam). He asked me to show him the paper the Council had sent to me, and I proceeded to take the paper out from among all the documents I had carried with me from Al Muweh. Imagine my complete shock when I realised, after repeated searching, that that paper was NOT in the bag at all. It dawned on me that I had left the paper in my house in Al Muweh! Mr. Aiman regretfully informed me that he could not register me unless I had the reference number printed on that paper. I moaned silently. We could not find any way of completing my small task, and eventually, I took his cell phone number and promised to call him after I had reached Al Muweh in the evening  with all the details. 

Dejected, I left the office, and went to Panda, where I had lunch from the Syrian restaurant located next to Kudu on the first floor of the Mall. It was a plate filled with rice, 9-10 small pieces of boned chicken, french fries, a roomali roti and sauces. It wasn't very exciting, but it was filling. After this, I washed down the food with a can of Pepsi Diet and then visited a doughnut shop to pick up an assorted pack to pass on to the nurses in the OPD. After some more browsing and so on, I finally left the mall and went to the SAPTCO bus stand (Nakal Jamaee) to book myself a ticket to Al Muweh by the  4:00 p.m. bus.

I reached my house at about 6:45 p.m. Straightaway, I went in for a bath, then refreshed and made some tea for myself. Next, I searched for and immediately found the page sent to me by the Saudi Council examinations committtee. I waited for the Maghrib salah time to end, and then called up Aiman to give him my reference number. He asked me to call him back within ten minutes, when he would connect me to a Pakistani person with an Al Rajhi bank account. I would be asked to deposit SR 350 in that person's account using my debit card. The person I spoke to is one Mr. Muhammad Imran, and as per his instruction, I went to the ATM machine and put in my deposit into his account. One thing led to another, and finally, I received an email confimation informing me about the successful registration of my ID into the Saudi Council system. Another email confirmed the receipt of my money and the date of the examination, viz. 10th April 2012. The only hitch: the exam would be in Mecca.

I was relieved to have finally completed the task I had set out to do in the morning. After this, Dr. Niyaz and I went for a walk, and we had dinner at the Kerala joint. A very eventful day was ending. 

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