Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hajj 1430 - Part 2 - Jeddah to Mina

Continuing the amazing tale of yours truly…

The colleague of my father—simply known as Mr. Bandar, drove a nice Toyota Corolla, a car he usually takes whenever he needs to drive his passengers around. He's pretty nifty with the road, slick with the shortcuts and all, but I have a certain problem with cars in general—they made me nauseous.

I have no problem with 4WD, so that’s quite a mystery.

I’m not trying to be ultra-spoiled or anything, it's just that maybe the way they drove their car was too vehement and adventurous, which made my brain rebelled with anger and shook the nerves with fury, further causing my head to spin, and my stomach to churn, urging my system to blackmail me with potential vomit bursting out of my mouth. Perhaps that’s it.

So, feeling nauseous and all, I tried to sleep it off, but that was impossible apparently, so I tried to control myself, and so, I did just that, sucking the vomit all in, and finally, at long last, we arrived in front of the Al-Mi3ad’s office at 6PM, with the contents in my stomach fully intact.

Arriving, we were enlightened with the fact that none of the Malaysians had arrived yet.

Well of course, when the bus was expected to arrive on 10PM, you would expect that no one in their right minds would come four hours before the schedule.

Except for those who live far away from Jeddah, that is.

And by ‘those’, I’m referring to my family, obviously.

It was a good thing that there’s a musallah near to the office. It was fairly empty, so we were able to do anything to our hearts’ content.

Uh…not really.

The musallah is a public praying hall, with transparent glass wall and no barrier for the women’s section. At least in Malaysia, there is a thick veil covering the male and female section, but there’s none here.

We can pray alright, but if you’re thinking of doing something else, then I suppose it’s not that appropriate.

Not exactly good if you’re thinking of taking a nap.

Which you might want to if you need to wait for another four hours.

It was a good thing that the place was relatively remote with barely any person visible, or else we would feel—at the very slightest—uncomfortable hanging out in the musallah, sitting around, waiting for the bus while munching cookies.

Because you know, who does that in a musallah?

So off we waited, performing the Maghrib and Isyak prayer, studying the Hajj’s guide once more, reading the Al-Quran, munching cookies, stuff like that…

Until we had enough and decided to mingle a bit.

The staff at the Al-Mi3ad’s office noticed our expressions of boredom, so he took a medium sized rag, positioning it on the side of the office and ordered us to sit there.

We sat there for a moment, but then I stood.

It felt very odd to sit right in the middle of the path.

So I stood, walking here and there, and right on time, just as I was lazily pacing back and forth in front of the office, the sound of Adzan broke the peaceful night, summoning all the Muslims to perform the Isyak prayer together.

We had already jama3 our prayer, so it didn’t apply to us. And it was a good thing that we left the musallah early, because really, imagine sitting there while the males populating the space in the musallah, and you tried to exit from the land of males, wouldn’t that be difficult? Odd? Embarrassing, even?

So yeah, we waited outside of the office (since the office is too small to fit us all in, and besides, they didn’t allow females in either), occasionally checking the musallah to see if they’ve finished their prayer or not…

Which of course they haven’t.

Because Saudis (or maybe all Arabians, I don’t know) begin their prayer fifteen minutes after the Adzan. You bet the waiting was strenuous.

Long story short, the praying finally finished, and we waited in the musallah again. My nausea had subsided as well, and by 10, we decided to leave our shell and greet the snails. Heeh.

I’m not the friendliest person on earth, but I think I’ve proven to others to be quite the cold and gloomy person, first impression-wise.

There's a reason for that! I can't concentrate on anything else whenever my brain decided to do her dirty work.

And by dirty work, I meant analyzing stuff.

First of all, I was shocked to see the Malaysians in Jeddah. How on earth could they survive wearing colorful hijabs and trendy abaya? And some of them even had white abaya on, and I was like, “Oh, you can wear that here?” :O

Mental shock, I know…

I’ve been to Jeddah for a couple of times, and yeah, I do notice how some had colorful hijabs on their heads, but that was only…5% of the majority.

And I thought those 5% were tourists, not expats.

To see those 5% right in front of my eyes at the same time was quite of a shock.

I was accustomed of seeing women thoroughly in black with only a slit of eyes visible behind their veil, so to see them dressed quite differently compared to me made me felt a bit queasy…and I was not even wearing my niqab.

At that time, I concluded that those are the ways of Malaysians in Jeddah. I suppose Jeddah was not as strict as other states, and the mentalities of Jeddah’s people are probably far more opened than the rest of the Arabians.

So anyway, half an hour after that, we boarded the bus, taking our seat while the leader handing out the sajjadah (if we’d known they’d give us this, we wouldn’t bring ours in the first place), our name tag and face masks.

Then it was waiting time. Again.

Because others’ hadn’t arrived yet, you see.

As time ticking by, one by one, people began to arrive. The time stroke 11, but not everyone still in sight. By 12, the bus had yet to move its lazy bum. And finally, by 1, the last passenger arrived, and the bus made for his run.

Except he wasn’t running on a smooth surface.

But before I elaborate further, I have a small rant.

One thing that had been bugging me during the trip from the start was that the bus’s curtain was placed in a rather odd way. You couldn’t slide it off to see the view; it seemed as if they just hanged a long cloth from the front window to the last and called it a day. You need to pull the curtain upwards to see the views, and who wants to continuously do that, really?

Anyway, ranting aside, the bus started to move, but not before stopping to gasp for some air. And it moved again, then stopped, probably taking a whiff of smoke.

No, the bus was not problematic or anything of that sort, it was just that the road’s condition was too severe for the bus to handle. It was the Hajj’s season, the road was packed with people going to the same destination, fulfilling the last pillar of Islam.

It felt like ages sitting in the bus, hearing the noisy honking, the loud brakes, and behold behold, the nausea sensation decided to resurface again. I tried to calm down, thinking to myself that I can sleep it off, I couldn’t possibly vomit in front of all these strangers, and yeah, I sat beside a stranger as well, and I don’t want her impression of me to be tainted with vomit…o.O

But by 4AM, we still hadn’t arrived, and I can feel the pressure churning my stomach, begging to let go, gas tried to escape from my lungs, and I just can’t bear it anymore, so I talked to the Hindi auntie beside me to call for my mother.

And she did. Off she left, and my mother took over her seat.

And I puked.

To be continued. D:

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