Monday, May 14, 2012

Flashback: Days 169 and 170, Wednesday 2nd May and Thursday, 3rd May 2012

In my excitement to write about my arrival and first week in India, I have overlooked the amazing two days I spent BEFORE my actual departure from Saudi Arabia. This entry attempts to right that wrong. Before I continue, let me thank Dr. Muhbeen Shaikh and Mr. Rudra for commenting on my last two blogs. It is because of lovely readers like you that I am encouraged to continue blogging. I even received a suggestion to convert my blog into a book. Well, that will have to wait till I leave Saudi Arabia, for we don't want to offend any Saudi National, no matter what the reason might be, do we?

On Wednesday, I was scheduled to call up our hospital's liaison officer Mr. Ali Ahmed to collect my passport from the Muderiya. I had left the hotel room for breakfast at a local, road-side eatery, when Ali himself called up and asked me to reach the Muderiya in the passport office as soon as possible. I caught a dabbab (a local taxi that doubles as a pick-up) and reached Muderiya a half-hour later. Enquiring with people as to where the passport office was, I reached about 10 minutes later; Ali was there. He took me to the senior person in the office and plugged for the release of my passport after I had surrendered my Iqama. I finally had my passport with me! My joy knew no bounds. Finally, at that very moment, my vacation got properly confirmed.

On to Mecca:

After this, I returned to the hotel, and checked out by three o'clock. I took a dabbab to the taxi stand near the city center, and there, I hired a private taxi to go to Mecca, my next stop. The driver charged me SR 100/=, but he took me quite well, thank you. I arrived at Mecca by sunset, and it was a long walk to the hotel area with all my luggage. I reached there in another 45 minutes, and this time, I stayed in a new place which was located in the same general area as the hotels I had stayed in on my two previous visits. The rate for the night would be SR 100/= here. I was unpacking my stuff when the green suitcase, which had served me well so far, finally gave up: its last surviving handle broke apart, and I was faced with the immediate prospect of casting it away and buying a brand new suitcase to take back to India.

I soon left my cubby-hole of a room and went out to visit the Haram for my obligatory tawwafs and prayers. It took about an hour and a half to complete the seven circumambulations of the Haram and the Ishaa prayers. After this, I left the Haram, feeling suitably chastened, purified, humbled and at peace. I then went off to shop for a bag, as well as several other things that I would distribute to my relatives and close friends back home such as "ajwa" dates, worry beads (tasbihs), zamzam water, and so on. I returned to my room to leave behind the new suitcase that I had purchased for SR 180/= before going back to complete my other purchases. Here is the picture of the suitcase that I finally bought.

Later in the evening, I went out for dinner, and then retired to the room to watch a Pakistani CNBC on the TV while transferring all my old suit-case belongings into the new one. I slept a little after midnight, and I slept well.

Thursday saw me visiting the Haram in the morning for the final time before my departure. I checked out by half past ten, and then went to the main road to catch a cab to travel to Jeddah.

Next stop: Jeddah.

I co-ordinated with Juzer Kagalwala, and told him I would come to his home just to leave my luggage and then go off to do some serious shopping. He agreed. I reached his house at about half past eleven a.m. I met Maimoonabhabhi, who was quite busy at the time conducting a  religious class for over a dozen children. I left my luggage, and then went back down to where my cabbie was waiting for me to take me to Corniche, an area of Jeddah well known for its malls, and its jewellery market. He charged me an additional SR 15/= for this add-on trip, but he left me exactly at Corniche, near the various malls. I entered the first jewellery shop that looked decent, but not too big. I chose what I wanted to buy and made the purchases after first clearing each and every purchase by taking photos and transferring them to Hannah through watsapp, just as I had done with the costume jewellery at T'aif a few days ago. 

The entire thing took about an hour, after which I also visited a few other places within the malls to buy other stuff such as dry fruits, some game DVDs for some of the kids back home in Mumbai, and a lot of other stuff. I picked up some eats from the Al Baik store at Corniche and went back to Juzer's place, where we had lunch out of this parcel as well as some of the food they had at home. 

In the evening, I used the few hours in their home to download some stuff from the internet, and at about half past nine, I said my final good-byes and left them to go to the airport with Juzer and his son Abi Talib in their car. My flight was scheduled to depart Jeddah and half-past one a.m. and I killed the remaining hours by drinking a few cups of tea and so on and so forth. Eventually, I boarded the flight at half past twelve, and we left Saudi Arabian land at a little before 2:00 A.M. on Friday morning, 4th May 2012.

1 comment:

MUHBEEN said...

the same evening we were returning from umrah. my flight from jeddah airport left at 11.30 pm. i later realised that u could have probably given me some of ur parcel to carry with ifroze and my daughter sharmeen and could have saved some money.