A Wake Up Call; The Trepidation of Visiting Saudi Arabia Turns to Equanimity: Simply Put the Western Media Lies About Saudi Arabia, This Place is Nothing like they Say; Both Trepidation and Equanimity Defined; Seven Saudi Women Exhibit Care, Compassion, Graciousness; Photograph of a Jeweled Alexis and Business Cards Promising Happiness and Freedom from Depression

This trip has turned into be a wake up call, but in a very good way and with excellent results. One definition of a wake up call is  a person or thing that causes people to become fully alert to an unsatisfactory situation and to take action to remedy it.

I do admit to having a great amount of trepidation going to Saudi Arabia. Mecca and Medina are in Saudi Arabia so it was necessary to go there – I did not anticipate that Allah would move the location of these immortal monuments to please me. Of course, Allah would have the power to do so but it would be inconvenient to scores of people, places and things.

By the way, trepidation has the greatest synonyms, some simply expressive, other ones very rare and funny: dread, fear, apprehension, jumpiness; the jitters, the heebie-jeebies, the willies, collywobbles, cold feet. Heebie—jeebies and collywobbles. Visiting Saudi Arabia gave me the heebie-jeebies and collywobbles actually sounds rather exotic. Hahaha  A

So I bravely made plans, proceeding in a cautionary fashion. The tour company insured me of my safety although, to be honest, it was Allah that provided the greatest comfort. I reasoned that if Allah did not approve of this pilgrimage it would not have taken place – the ease must have had to do with Allah’s blessings. Also in a rather forward and vainglorious fashion determined that if death were a result of this adventure, I would go to Jannah.

My fears of traveling to and within Saudi Arabia were occasioned, of course, by Western media which pictures Saudi Arabia as a frightening place stripping women of all rights, governed by an evil man whose initials are MBS – the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. While here at the Rawhaa Heritage Museum saw a display of the Rulers of Saudi Arabia from King Saud to the present day. I was speaking with a young woman born and residing in Saudi Arabia. I pointed to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia (MBS0 saying:
Me: His father may be the King but he is doing all of the work.
She: Alexis, you are so funny! But yes the Crown Prince does all of the work and does rule this country.

Have spoken to people from all walks and stations of life since my arrival here – men and women, doctors, translators, administrators, CEOs and the like, who opinions I respect. One woman, a physician trained in Saudi Arabia, going to Boston Mass. for a fellowship replied to my question.
Me: What do you think of him.
She: We love him. All our people love him.

It must be remembered that these people are not afraid of me, they hardly think I am a spy for MBS supporters or a reporter who is going to squeal, providing some secret police force with their names if disapproval was expressed.  I am what I am, honest, open minded and open hearted. These people are telling the truth. I have ascertained that it is the Western media that is lying. The complex reasons will never be discovered, there are layers and layers of a different form of conspiracy. Doubt that anyone will ever get to the bottom of that one.

Saudi women shrouded in face veils reach out to me constantly in kindness and acceptance. One woman’s young son (13) took a particular interest in me, laughing with me, asking for hugs and receiving them with great enthusiasm. She was not threatened as USA mothers would be (and have been). She was gracious, asking English speaking hotel staff to speak to me, asking me to join her and another woman, expressing acceptance and joy – that I was a Canadian woman new to her faith – one that she had been, of course, born into.

This another encounter. A Saudi woman, shrouded in black, was wearing huge outsize red glasses. It was such an interesting image. She was wearing black face veil, a black abaya and a black hijab, her eyes the only visible sign that a woman resided therein. She gave me an approving ‘high sign’, I returned it. I found a staff member to translate;
Me: I love your glasses. They are so stylish, I love glasses. I have fourteen pair.
She: I have only two pair.
Me: But the pair you are wearing – perfect!

Back to one of the women mentioned in the sixth paragraph. I began chatting with two woman in the lobby of the hotel – there to inquire about check out time as I thought that I would be going to Medina today. It seemed (and was) impossible to gett the information from the agency that arranged the tour (for some inexplicable reason). The two women, wearing abayas and head scarves, but not face veils were both Saudi physicians. We chatted for almost an entire hours about so many things, reaching agreements. Despite our many diversities. One woman took my email address and promptly sent me the following  message.
She: Hi Alexis 😍
This is  (No Nickname Yet) who met you in hotel lobby😁. it was so nice to meet you and hear your story and how strong you are 💪🏻 I’m so proud of you for walking this road, for doing what’s right for you and makes you blissfully happy , keep it up 🤍 i’m looking forward to see you again (In Riyadh). Lots of love
Me: cannot begin to tell you how much joy your email brought to me. Meeting the two of you was such a magnificent coincidence that it must have been planned by Allah. Shall write you longer – later. With much Affection, Alexis (aka Sheikha Fatimah)
Me: I have wonderful news!! I am four more days there and then been able to extend my stay in Riyadh for two more days. Not sure what hotel. It is a blessing from Allah indeed.
Thank you for the portable prayer map. I did not know what it was but when I found out I was so happy! Did not know these existed. It can be SO useful.

(She gifted me with dates and the portable prayer mat when we met. I ate all the dates as I was hungry and room service and the restaurant were closed because of our long chat.

It does seem that we will meet again soon, before I leave for home. She will give me a tour of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia which is a beautiful city.
She: Okay Deal 🤩🤩 And btw im a careful driver.
Me: I absolutely KNEW you would be a careful driver. Hehehe I read that Queen Elizabeth II was hosting a Middle East ruler (not sure which one) who did not allow women to drive. They were at Balmoral and she drove about in her Land Rover. I loved that story and her for doing it. He could not get in the car, so had to be gracious.

Another encounter. A Saudi woman, shrouded in black, asked me to join her. We are in the Lounge – open only to IHG members – it comes with my ‘package’. She spoke English, our views identical. We both identify ourselves as adherents of the Islamic faith – not Muslims as the practice of the faith, in her country and in mine, does not honor women in the manner proscribed by Allah and the Prophet Mohammed.
She: I have some cards in my room. Can you wait. I want to give you some to give to people in Canada when you go home.
Me: Of course, I shall wait.

She returned and you shall see photographs encouraging people to join the faith offering them happiness and freedom from depression.

The other photograph pictures me wearing a make shift hijab displaying jewelry, taken to thank the giver of the gift. HAMED’s mother lives in Saudi Arabia with the youngest of her children. FAMED came to be with me this morning, we exchanged emails before she came:
She: My Mom bought a gift for you.
Me: WOW! I am deeply honored and grateful. I cannot believe such kindness.
She: When I arrive at the hotel I will text you.
Me: Great!

She arrived, presented me with the gift from her mother, a beautiful necklace and earrings. I did not know if Muslim women could wear earrings. They can!! FAMED put them in my ears which had not seen earrings for months and months,  We took this photo and then a video on FAMED’s phone thanking her  mother being most enthusiastic, using hand signals and expressions to convey my gratitude. My Arabic thank you is laughable that no person could understand it.

So, all in all, I have never before treated with such kindness. Saudi women are so gracious, so caring. Who in the world would guess that an old woman went so far, a sixteen hour flight from Montreal to a country that frightened her. She arrives and within three days finds the greatest kindness and care that she has ever experienced from women shrouded from head to toe in black.

Equanimity is mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. Some synonyms: calmness, composure, self-possession, coolheadedness, presence of mind; serenity,, tranquility, imperturbability, equilibrium; poise, self-assurance, self-confidence, aplomb, sangfroid. Saudi woman have provided me, in these first days of my journey, with presence of mind, serenity, tranquility, aplomb and sangfroid.

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