Sunday, July 01, 2012

Day 229, Saturday, 30th June 2012: To Jeddah

Readers of this blog  are probably astonished to realise that over the last seven days, I have travelled a lot: twice to T'aif, and once, to Jeddah. In fact, when I was chatting with the family, my daughter Inas asked me if I was working in the hospital at all! I explained that I could get leave on a day-to-day basis by exchanging six "call slips" for one holiday. Let me explain this further. When I am on "call", I am often asked to go to the hospital to see patients. Each time we do this, we are given a slip of paper with the signature of the ER in charge. In lieu of six such attendance slips, we are given the privilege of one day off. Of course, it also depends on whether or not your co-pediatrician agrees to look after your work in your absence. 

Thus it was that I remained in T'aif for two days last week in connection with my attempt to pass the driving licence exam (read my previous post about this, Days 225 and 226). I returned to Al Muwayh on Wednesday night, and did nothing much for the next two days, except reading and so on. Today, I hired a private taxi to first take me to T'aif, where I would attempt to pass the licence test once again ( I was already scheduled to go there today); later, I would go to Jeddah to submit my application for the MRCPCH examinations due in October. My taxi driver was Khalid, the same person whom I had hired for the trip to Al Wabah a fortnight ago. He came over to pick me up at half past five, and we set off shortly afterwards. About a km ahead of our starting point, his car's engine suddenly stopped. I waited while he patiently tinkered with the wires inside the hood. He explained that he had just gotten possession of the car a few days ago, and he was, in any case, planning to take it to T'aif for a complete overhaul of the electrical and wiring systems as the wires had become stiff and were likely to break.

After about ten minutes or so, he re-attempted to start the engine, and, to my utter relief, the car started. We drove warily, worried that the car would stall again over the next 180+ kilometers, but thankfully, it did not. We reached the licence place at about eight a.m. I paid him his fare and said good-bye to him. My second attempt to pass the licence exam bombed as well, as I could not drive smoothly around the circle. Dejected, I left the place, went to the Gazzaz taxi stand by a share-a-taxi (only SR 5/= for over 25 km of driving), and took a share-a-taxi to Jeddah. 

I reached Jeddah at about a quarter of one in the afternoon. I called up the MRCP office to get directions for the place, and arrived there about half an hour later. The "place" was the Department of Medicine" on the second floor of Building No 10 within the King Abdul Aziz University Hospital in Sulemaniya district of the city. The person who helped me fill the forms etc. was a Chinese named "Ching". I finished my work here and immediately left the premises. A professor of medicine gave me a ride to the nearest point where a taxi could be found. My driver this time was a Pakistani man who helped me reach a place called the Nirala Restaurant, a famous and reasonably priced Pakistani restaurant in downtown Jeddah. I ate Bhendi masala and tandoori chicken breast with tandoori roti and finished off my meal with a small container of "kheer". 

After this, I took another cab to "baab Mecca", and then, yet another one to go back to T'aif. From there, a dabbab finally brought me to the SAPTCO bus stand, and from there, I returned to Al Muwayh, reaching my home at about half past eight. The owner of the place where the bus stops for half an hour just 17 km from al Muwayh gave me a ride in his car to drop me to the hospital. 

I had a dinner of the food I had had at lunch in Nirala (I had parcelled half of the bhendi), and then retired for the night.

I was sad at not getting my driving licence, but also glad that I had taken the first step towards qualifying for the MRCPCH Part 1 examinations. 

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