Yesterday morning, as is my want, I scrolled through my Instagram Likes learning to my delight that one my responsea had been pinned to an important message. I had written in response to a reel featuring Basheer Butcher, a full-blooded Native American speaking of his conversation to the Islamic Faith in 2001.
Me: An excellent speaker with his heartfelt faith It made me proud to share his faith. I am a recent revert living in Canada. So much continued prejudice against indigenous women. I also wrote to the ‘author’ mytickttojannah expressing thanks for this honour, mentioning that it was a bit ironic as I am now in Saudi Arabia.
38 people have subsequently Liked my response.
Back to my Riyadh Rashness, mentioned and illustrated in yesterday’s blog and on Instagram.
You: What impelled this inanity?
Me: Very good question! The answer shall be forthcoming.
It all began in the Riyadh Hilton Women’s Pool. This space, with its cool and bubbly water, is an oasis. It is a perfectly spot allowing me to exercise my left knee. I remember certain exercises from prior water enhanced physiotherapy and water aerobics. Movement is vitally important. My mobility is enhanced with movement and an anti-inflammatory cream prescribed by my doctor. The Women’s Pool is also a place to meet and chat with other women in the bubbly hot tub. The other women do need to be English speaking as that is my only language. Struck up a conversation with a teenager.
Me: Do you speak English?.
Me: That is the best answer I have ever heard.
Another woman was more fluent in the language.
She: Where are you from?
She: My husband and I went to Niagara Falls on our honeymoon.
Me: I was four on my last visit to Niagara Fall. I dropped my mothers watch into the falls.
It was a rather unusual honeymoon location for a Saudi couple. She explained their absence from Saudi Arabia was occasioned by her husband’s study n Coventry, England where their first child, a son was born.
She: He is not taller than I am, it id smsxinh.
She also had a daughter, an outgoing and enthusiastic almost thirteen year old.
She: My daughter would love to meet you. I want to encourage her spirit rt but want her to have industrious values as well.
Her daughter was also at the pool.
She: Lets meet for coffee.
Me: I would love to.
There is the greatest coffee ‘bar’ in this hotel. A photo of the AmBar Bar sign and facilites.shall be pictured. We not only drank coffee, she generously bought be ‘dinner’. A ham and cheese sandwich and a beer. It is all very legitimate as the ham is not pork and the beer is non alcoholic.
During the course of our lengthly spirited conversation, he following question was asked.
She: Do you have plans for tomorrow?
She: We are going on a plane expedition. The plane is very open and small. It should be fun. .
Me: I would love to come with you and your family but I will probably just watch as I deathly afraid of heights.
The next evening a SUV with mother, daughter, son and mother’s brother picked me up and off we drove. We arrived at a very make shift field on the extreme outskirts of the city. It was fenced, very temporary with a shaded waiting area consisting of tent canopy. Everyone took their turn to board the ‘plane’. It did not resemble a plane, the most you could say for it would be to call it a tiny ‘contraptions. There is apparently no English word for the contraptions. First the son flew took flight, then the daughter, then the mother. They all arrived back safely. Me: (to myself) If they can do it, I can do it.
I filmed an Instagram selfie reel. The vivacious daughter decided to interview me for another reel. The original plan was to have her record my comings and goings but when the moment of truth came, it seemed that taking the phone with me and filming from up there would be a better idea. I was quite frankly terrified but once strapped in, could not get out. The pilot sitting in front of me did not speak English. We took off. I was SO scared I could not open my eyes. I clung onto the pilot’s back with one hand.
Me: (to myself): Alexis, you have got to open your eyes. It is stupid to be up here with closed eyes.
So I did. But my fears continued unabated. This I will never understand, but I found it brought comfort to sing the following Beatles song (paraphrased)
Hold my hand and I’ll kiss you.
Tomorrow I will miss you
While I’m away I’ll write home every day
And save all my kisses for you
All my loving I will save for you
All my kisses, please be true
Remember you will always be mine.
Believe me there is no one sitting at home being true to me so no idea why this song came to mind. I tonelessly sang those lyrics again and again. All of a sudden, my iPhone alarm sounded. It was announcing it was Magreb prayer time. The sun was gloriously setting, there I was high in the sky with the setting sun.
Naturally, almost instinctively I began my prayer.
Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar
In the Name of God
The Most Merciful and Compassionate.
All praise is to God. The Ruler of the World
The Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate
Master of the Day of Judgment
Only You We Worship
Only You We Ask for Help
Guide us on the Straight Path
The path of those you have blessed.
Not those who have earned your wrath or those who are astray.
The prayer was simple, sincere and heartfelt.
Me: Allah (SWT) please get me down.
My prayers were answered!!!! We landed. My people and other people ran unto the ‘field’ to greet me. I am sure I was weeping – tears of joy, not tears of sorrow.
I am so proud of myself for many reasons. The bravery, the moxie but most important my ultimate trust in Allah (SWT). With people crowded around me, the pilot asked to make a reel.
Me: I DID IT! I DID IT!
(Moxie is force of character, determination, or nerve)
I have overcome enormous adversity my whole life – all these eighty years. I did it again!! But this time I had lots of help. Incredible support from my ‘Saudi ‘family’, all of the Saudi staff and even other passengers.
Adversity has many synonyms, all rather painful: trouble, difficulty, hardship, distress, disaster, suffering, affliction, sorrow, misery, wretchedness, tribulation, woe, pain, trauma, torment, torture, crisis, catastrophe, tragedy, calamity, vicissitude, issue; hard times, dire straits, trials and tribulations, hell on earth. Adversity’s antonym is good times.
Back to the good times, sunsets are my most favorite time of day. My Edmonton apartment faces west. I marvel at the sunsets, which are often simply spectacular.
Me: (to myself) How can anyone seeing a sunset not believe in the Creator? I guess they are too busy to see them, to busy at the gym, or having a beer or talking to their girlfriends. But then I gently remind myself that I have become enraptured with sunsets only since my return to Edmonton a little over a year ago. The impetus to this fascination is double pronged: the Islamic Faith and the view apartment.
Better late than never, I always say. “ it is better to do something or arrive after the expected time than not do it or arrive at all.” Other ways to say this:
- That is not lost that comes at last.
- Being tardy is better than not at all.
- It’s never too late to mend.
- Better too late than never to happen.
Photographs depict the amBar, its sign and surroundings. This is where I where I met MBS’ law professor (and other Saudi professors,) the place where I ate with my Saudi ‘family, the place where I met three petroleum engineers (one of whom once lived in Calgary) I am now writing from that ‘happening place.’
I received another response from an Edmonton woman, who received an email with a photo of me in the contraption.
She: Perhaps you should try sky diving as well.
Me: I am not that stupid. I might look it and act it but no way. However, if MBS suggested it and joined me. Maybe.) Hahaha