Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Enjoying a few days' leave

The truth of the matter is that although I am entitled to get more than 35 days of leave (leave that I am legally entitled to, and which I have earned with hard work and performing duties outside Al Muwayh over the last 3 years), there is a severe shortage of doctors of all specialities in the Taif directorate-governed hospitals. The situation for Paediatricians is extremely dire. There is just one Paediatrician in almost all the hospitals in the region, except for a few; even there, one of the doctors is on annual leave - in most cases. Thus, when I applied for 7 days' leave, the Muderiya was able to grant me only two. They arranged for one doctor from Turabah - one Dr. Mahmood. He requested me to adjust his leave in such a way that he would arrive to replace me on Sunday evening, and would like me to relieve him on Tuesday evening. I agreed.

Accordingly, I was relieved of my duties for two days. Yesterday evening, the good doctor arrived at five p.m., as he had promised. I arranged with one of the brothers working in the hospital to take me to Taif when he went there after his night duty. His name is Rakan and he is a Saudi. He picked me up around half past twelve, his brother actually the driver. 

The journey was completed within an hour and a half - at an average speed of 150 km/hour, the range being between 130 and 172 kmph. These Saudi guys can really drive! At one point, he did not get the right of way, and he forcibly stopped the car driver whose car was blocking his way, and shouted a string of bad words at the poor Egyptian who seemed to be at a loss for words. While he drove at 160+ speeds, my heart was in my mouth, and I kept praying silently for him to reach safely to Taif.

In the event, we had a safe but eventful journey. These guys live about 30 km before Taif in a city called Hawiya. They dropped me at a desolate junction before going their own way, I finally got a Pakistani guy to drive me to another junction on the way to Taif. From there, a Saudi fellow, driving his private car unofficially as a taxi, took me to my destination to the hotel where I would stay for the night.

I have stayed at Ahle Saif hotel so many times I cannot remember! I reached the hotel at a little after 2 a.,m. I spent the next hour settling into my room, then going down to purchase a few things, and then I retired to my room, where I finally fell asleep at about 5 a.m. 

Waking up at a half past ten, I continued my work from where I had left it earlier. I went to the Bab-al-Rea market to buy trotters and some vegetables, to the Indian market to buy stuff like curry leaves, salted cashew, "garam masala", a few bulbs of garlic, snacky stuff and a few other things. I had completed my purchases by half past two. I slept for a few hours in my room, then went back down a little after the Maghrib prayer and, after buying a few more things, I returned to my room and packed my things. By 7:15 p/m., I checked out and went straight to the bus stand (SAPTCO) in a hired car. I returned to Al Muwayh by half past eleven in the night, and here I am, completing this entry at mid-night. 

Post-script: The Saudi taxi driver who took me to Taif had a harrowing story to tell. Apparently, his siblings are almost all affected with some complex disorder. His one brother is fine, like him. His two other brothers are in the Taif Psychiatric Hospital since many years for a chronic psychiatric disorder; his three sisters, all adults, are physically disabled and at home. His father is no more. He earns money through his taxi driving in Taif, although his family lives in Riyadh. When I expressed my regrets, he simply said "Alhamdolillah" That was something. My salute to him.

That's it for now. Thank you for reading this post!

No comments: