A Momentous Occasion, Today on 9/11 Made Reservations to Return to Saudi Arabia; Momentous Defined and Illustrated; Coming Home; An Unusual Encounter on Edmonton Streets Leads to Information on the Literacy of Saudi Women; Another Story to Be Told; Photo of My Prayer Wall and Staff at the Riyadh Hilton

It is happening!  I am definitely eager to return to Saudi Arabia and FINALLY everything is coming together on this day. 9/11, the day whose repercussions. spelled such devastation and horror to Muslims the whole world over. It is on that very day I able to receive assurances that I will return (in style, by the way) to Saudi Arabia. Perhaps to reside in Medina, at least for awhile. 

Momentous the word used in the title. It is defined as: (of a decision, event, or change) of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future. It has many important synonyms: significant, epoch-making, historic, headline, fateful, portentous, critical, crucial, vital, pivotal, serious, grave, weighty, consequential, great, far-reaching, life-changing, of importance, of moment, of significance, of consequence; earth-shaking, earth-shattering, world-shaking, world-shattering. 

I am not sure that my flight to Saudi Arabia is all of those things but to me it is almost guaranteed to be life-changing, significant, pivotal, far-reaching and of consequence. It certainly is NOT unimportant, trivial, insignificant. 

I shall return to Canada at the conclusion of my tourist visa but it is unlikely that I will return to this my native land – it no longer seems like my home. 

A text today between AK (of Eish’ha Tours) 

Me: I have gotta go and deal with stupid stuff. Canada is a waste of my good time 

He: I understand..go take care of things..you got this. 

Me: You are right I am determined to come home. You guys are home!! 

He: Will be happier to have you back. 

There were lots of hearts and emoji exchanged but for some reason they just get changed into question makes in the translation. 

Nothing of value comes easily, it seems. It took approximately two hours to make the plane reservation, much consternation, much stress, some slip-ups.  Nowadays one does not get a piece of a paper with your flights. Instead one receives  an online promise, or ‘sort of’ promise. In the midst of ‘negotiations’, the price of the ticket almost doubled.  A solution was found. Do arrive in Riyadh at a rather inconvenient hour. I teasingly asked for a parade to welcome me. It will not be happening at that time. 

My original plan was to be back in Saudi Arabia in a few weeks, it will almost be two months. At this moment feel achingly tired, in need of Islamic nurturing. A most unusual occurrence happened on the streets of Edmonton. I was walking home from buying toilet paper, noticed a man talking to a fence. 

Me: Why are you talking to a fence? 

He: I am talking to my beautiful girlfriend on the phone. 

Me: Really? Good for you. I will talk to her for a minute. 

Me: Hi. Do not worry. I am not a threat as I am old. 

Well the conversation continued. He is a Muslim, a convert. She is Saudi. How unlikely is all of that??? He works down the street from where I live. She said that she is attending the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.

Wikipedia has information about it which is now being conveyed.

“The first post-secondary education for girls was Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, established in 1970, which is also the largest women’s university in the world. It was called Riyadh University for Women until 2008. 

Wikipedia tells us more about the  education of women in Saudi Arabia., statistically revealing that the literacy rate has increased phenomenally over the past decades.  

In 1992, women in Saudi Arabia had an average literacy rate of 57.28%. In 2017, the literacy rate for women was 99.3%. Statistics show an increase from 272,054 female enrolments in 1974-75 to 2,121,893 in 2004-05.

To all those people who say that Saudi women are oppressed I say onto them.

Me: Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 

Alter Ego: What does that mean?

Me: It is an idiom. A rather rude way of telling someone that they must accept what you have just said, even if they do not like it.

Alter Ego: How do you say it now and where  does the expression come from? 

Me: Put that it your pipe and smoke it, which might be reinterpreted for modern life as ‘Deal with it’ and for which an earlier synonym had been the 18th century’s blunter ‘Take you that!’ is currently first recorded in R.B. Peake’s two-act comedy Americans Abroad (1824)

Alter Ego: Thanks. More than I wanted to know. 

Me: Probably. I  am such a veritable font of information.

Alter Ego: What is that? 

Me: A fount of wisdom is a term used to describe something, but usually someone, who contains all the answers or has a large aggregate of information.

Alter Ego: Is that you? 

Me: Actually not. I do not have all the answers but I research things that are of interest to me. 

Alter Ego: When does that happen, when does something become of interest to you? 

Me: For example, I was walking down the street with a bag of toilet paper and saw a man talking to a fence. Now that is funny actually. 

Alter Ego: It is! 

You can see that I am being playful but there is underlying seriousness and stress – for many reasons. My well-considered plan was to spend this Canada ‘down time’ writing. I did accomplish the Quest for Life story, reaching some resolution. 

However there is another tale to be told. I returned to Saudi Arabia on June 27, 2023 for two reasons: 1) to hunt down my Life magazine  2) To discover more about a photograph taken on December 11, 2022 in Medina. That day, I was with a very small tour group – the excellent tour guide (called the Encyclopedia of Medina) heard the call for prayer. Left those of us who were traveling (and thus relieved of obligatory prayer observances).  Waiting for his return I took photos, not really knowing it where we were, or of its significance.  

Returned to Canada on December 24, 2022, and at some point  sifted through my vast collection of images. One photo was engrossing, in very good detail so it was enlarged and ‘framed’. It now graces the wall of my prayer room. The mosque catches one’s attention but your attention is drawn to the many people, peering through a fence. What captured their rapt attention? What was behind that fence? 

I was able to discover the reason for their rapt attention. It is pivotal to the struggles encountered by the Prophet (PBUH) during the infancy of the Islamic Faith. It has been the focus of several blogs but they shall be pieced together along with reactions upon my return to the very place in July of 2023. The entire story shall now be told.   

September 12, 2023 

Major problems were encountered, but all is well (temporarily anyway). Spoke to an absolutely delightful woman, working for the Hilton Honors program. 

She: What is the climate like in Riyadh? 

Me: Hot, hot and more hot most of the year. I am going from the coldest place (Edmonton) to one of the hottest places (Saudi Arabia). I am a woman of extremes. 

She: You should think of living here in the Caribbean. 

Me: Hmmm Where? 

She: Jamaica. 

Me: I know Jamaica. Thought of living there once, quite recently. There is a large Muslim population living there – originally from Ethiopia. 

She: And the weather is much better. A temperate climate. 

Me: I met a man in London, who came from Jamaica. I did not know at the time but he was a Muslim. I did not become a Muslim until 2020. I did rather fancy him. 

 If you fancy something, you want to have it or to do it. If you fancy someone, you feel attracted to them, especially in a sexual way. Synonyms: be attracted to, find attractive, desire. 

But that was almost ten years ago. I have aged well, probably he has as well. 

Alter Ego: Alexis, never mind! 

Me: You are right! I have other things on my mind right now. It seems Allah (SWT) is guiding me down another path. The Name of Allah today was Al-Haadee. which means The Guide.  Meaning: He is the One won helps his creation to know Him as being their Lord, guides them to whatever is in their best interests and to earn their livelihoods. He shows people the path of good and the path of evil and guide them to His Right Path whomever of them He wills with His immense wisdom. 

I am returning to my Riyadh Hilton. Photos will include one of some of the great staff (and me). Also a photo of the wall in my Prayer room with the enlarged photo, the topic of future blogs.