This message appeared:
IR: I miss u in the Hilton – your great sense of humor and loud laughs. Were are you now?
Of course, I had to return the message, did so instantly.
Me: I am in Medinah but shall return to you in about a week on my way home to Canada. Thank you for liking me and my sense of humor and atrocious laughter. I will return to Saudi Arabia to live in Riyadh and the whole city will hear my loud laughter.
Then this: announcement.
Your reel has more than 2K plays. The reel is short, sweet and to the point. The title A Baboon on the road to Medinah. Yeah! Found these guys on the road between Mecca and Medinah. Thought this was supposed to be a religious experience but instead baboons. Found they are actually dangerous. Soon on the blog why they are. Stay tuned.
It is rather interesting that I had 2K plays but only 31 Likes. Hmmmm. Cannot figure that one out as it is very easy just to click on Like.
I strive to understand human behavior – its eccentricities and lack of responsiveness. Some people, sometimes it seems most people, are simply incapable of consistent connection and cannot be relied upon. I finally gained some insight with this original perception.
Me: How can you expect a hug from a person who does not have arms.
You: That is an interesting way to look at it.
Me: And it gives me peace of mind.
My Saudi Sojourn began with a certain set of expectations that were not realized – not predictable but exciting and adventurous. So many unpredictable occurrences – flying in a contraption, riding a horse for the first time, staying in a mobile home high above Mecca, viewing the beginnings of the massive NEOM development, Tabuk and its amazing scenery. And, do let us not forget about the baboons. But this was to be a voyage of religious renewal. It has become so at long last. I am in Medinah. I awoke the other morning out of sorts, sad and ‘at sixes and sevens’. I prayed for guidance during Fajr prayer.
At sixes and sevens is an idiom meaning that one is in disarray to be frazzled, confused and disoriented. The phrase was originally ‘to set on six and sevens ‘ and is thought to have derived in the 14th century from the game of dice. The meaning then was ‘to carelessly risk one’s entire fortune’.
Guidance miraculously came. I dressed in a covered, but stylish, fashion wearing Hannan’s hat – the Mecca woman met in the National Museum. Went down to the Lobby and said to a Duty Manager.
Me: I have a rather stupid question. “Where is the mosque?”
He: I will show you.
I was led to the Prophet’s Mosque by Muhammed, the Duty Manager. Down the elevator to Ground, out the door turn right and there is the Women’s Gate. Women have a special entrance.
Me: I was led to the Prophet’s Mosque by Muhammed.
He: You were!
Wikipedia shall supply information to nonbelievers of the Mosques significance.
Al-Masjid an-Nabawī (Arabic: ٱلْمَسْجِد ٱلنَّبَوِي, lit. ’mosque of the Prophet’), known in English as the “Prophet’s Mosque“, is the second mosque built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in Medina, after that of Quba, as well as the second largest mosque and holiest site in Islam, after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, in the Saudi region of the Hejaz. The mosque is located at the heart of Medina, and is a major site of pilgrimage that falls under the purview of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
My Mohammed got me to the right place at the right time. However, on a subsequent visit I accidentally attempted to visit via a different door, to the huge consternation of several men, yelling at me.
They: Harem! Harem! Harem! Screaming at me in abject horror. (Harem is Arabic for forbidden)
One kind Muslim man gently said:
He: This is the mens’s entrance. The woman’s door is right next door.
Me: (to the yelling men) I am sorry. I did not do it on purpose.
It was rather unnerving. Definition: causing one to lose courage or confidence; disconcerting Synonyms describe this state of mind: discourage, dishearten, deject, daunt, alarm, frighten, unman, dismay, distress, disconcert, perturb, upset, discomfit, take aback, unsettle, disquiet, jolt, startle, fluster, agitate, shake, throw off balance, put someone off their stroke, cause someone to lose their composure, confound, stupefy, stun; faze, put into a flap, throw into a tizz, discombobulate, shake up Scarcely a welcome to a holy place.
One does have to remind oneself that Islam is perfect: Muslims are not.
That was absolutely NOT the reception I felt the first time, upon entering through the proper door. Some attached photos will reveal the breathtaking architecture. I walked in awe, came upon a reception area manned by three woman. An extremely helpful, kind and considerate woman and I began to speak – interrupted twice by impolite women but then by a covered woman who stood by, and when acknowledged simply and wondrously gave me a hug. Needless to say, I hugged back. The staff member suddenly said:
She: I want you to meet my Manager.
Me: (slightly confused) That would be nice.
She took me to a nearby office, a room full of young spirited women. Two or three were English speaking. The Manager a commanding woman, full of energy and like me, loaded with strong opinions. We began a long conversation, she asking, of course, where I came from then curiosity about the motivation for my becoming of the Islamic Faith at such a late age. I had an appointment to meet AK, left, telling and motioning to all that I would return at 2. Did so, which began another huge adventure which you shall hear about in ensuing blogs.
The four attached photographs reveal the happy ending. However, I, and my companions were almost trampled to death, tripped and shoved during prayer. It brought the five of us closer together and stronger in the faith More to follow.
I am meeting Mr. Ali, the General Manager of this fabulous hotel for a tour of the newly remodeled rooms. I am the first resident of this newly remodeled room. You shall hear more of this hotel in subsequent blogs as well. Hardship brought me here. Allah (SWT) promises that out of hardship comes gifts. This hotel is most certainly a gift. I came to this hotel via a circuitous route. I know with certainty that I was meant to be here.
I remain in Medinah for a week, to rest, relax and write. You shall read details of the reunion of me and my May 31, 1943 Life magazine, more details of the wonderful Saudi people, treasures to my existence and of nmy ever-evolving plans for the future.
Me: Stay tuned. Fasten your seat belt, not just the lap belt but the shoulder harness as well.