Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Update: Day 203, Tuesday, 5th June, 2012

Dear Readers,

Updating this blog is becoming a little of a chore nowadays, since I am passing through this negative phase after my return from the Indian holiday. However, I am making an effort today to resume the blog because there are several things I wish to share.

First of all, I left India on Friday,1st June, 2012. The main problem that kept me tense was my father's ill-health. For those not in the know, dad, 78, has weakened considerably in the last few months, and is now suffering from chronic renal failure, or, to put in simply, has failing kidneys. This may be secondary to diabetes. A few days before my departure, we had hospitalised him for a night to give him a drip and to confirm the diagnosis. Now, he is home, but he will need to undergo dialysis within a few months. His weakness is so much, that I was in two minds as to whether to leave on the appointed date or delay my departure by a few weeks. Reassurance from my wife and brothers finally made me stick to my previously fixed date of departure.

My flight was at half-past two in the afternoon, so I left the house with the rest of the family at about half past ten, arriving at the CSIA (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) in an hour. We separated at Gate B, and the wife and daughters went their own way. However, as usual, I was in for trouble when my large suitcase was weighed in at 42.5 kg! I expressed my willingness to pay the extra luggage charges, but the officer pointed out to me that the rules were that each piece of luggage must not weigh above 30 kg. I was in a state of panic then. I borrowed a mobile phone from someone nearby, and called up Nishrin. I told her the problem and asked her to go out and get me a foldable soft bag which would hold 8-9 kg. I then requested the security people to allow me to leave the departure area and wait outside for the family to return. Eventually, they returned at about 1:20 p.m., and I sat there and removed a lot of eatable items and so on and transferred them to the new carry bag. Re-armed with four pieces of luggage collectively weighing more than 50 kg, I re-entered the concourse and approached the same officer with a sheepish smile. I removed my wallet from the pocket to prepare to pay extra luggage charges, but to my utter surprise, he waived off charges and let me go without charging a penny!

The Air India flight took off about 1/2 an hour behind schedule, thanks to some late passengers and the "queue" that is a usual phenomenon at the over-crowded Mumbai International Airport. The flight would first go to Hyderabad (just as my Jeddah-Mumbai flight had done) and then, after a halt there to take in more passengers, it would fly to Jeddah. A journey that should have taken about 4 hours was thus stretched to over six. They served a measly vegetable sandwich on the initial leg, and then, a proper meal after about four hours of flying. The in-flight staff was good, and the entertainment panel, equally acceptable. I watched the movie "Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne" (starring Jeetendra and Rajshree, producer V. Shantaram), as also bits of other stuff. 

We alighted at Jeddah at about 8:10 p.m. Jeddah time, and the walk through Immigration and customs took about 45 minutes, so that I was out of the airport at about 9:00 p.m. (Contrast this with the nearly 4 hours of waiting and torture I had to undergo at the Riyadh International Airport about six months ago when I had first reached the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!)

I debated between retiring in a hotel room in Jeddah and travelling onward by taxi to T'aif and then retiring there. The latter option won, and after heckling with several taxi drivers,  I found an English speaking young Saudi, who offered the ride for SR 350/-. I accepted, and we left. Eventually, I reached T'aif at half past eleven, or almost twelve mid-night. I got off near Gazzaz mall, and checked in to Hotel Noof located next door to the mall. The nightly rent would be a whopping SR 200/-, and I wasn't looking at staying beyond the one night. My intention was to retrieve my Iqama and deposit the passport from the Muderiya the coming morning, and if everything worked out well, to proceed to Al Muweh the same evening.

The room was actually a five-room apartment with two toilets, a master bedroom, a large room with two beds, a living room and a kitchen with a working refrigerator ... the total area not less than 1000 sq. ft. I went to sleep within an hour of checking in, but after partaking of a sumptuous dinner at the Asian Restaurant located a mere 100 metres from the Hotel.

I slept soundly, but more of this in the next post.

Thank you for reading this post. I request you to encourage me by posting comments. Thanks.

1 comment:

Holly Jahangiri said...

I'm so sorry to read about your dad's poor health, Dr. Taher. I'm glad, at least, that at the end of this long and challenging day of travel, you found a pleasant surprise in your room and meal!