It took me three months and four days to finish the unfinished business of completing an incomplete story of my memorable trip to Baha. To the readers of this blog, this is second and last part of ‘Heavenz to Baha-Way’. Kindly read the first part here before you jump to an incomplete story.
The connotation of annotation rhymes with agitation, due to the fact that all our comforts turned into discomfort. Our rest in peace turned into wrest in pieces. Outside the village and beneath the sun heat, here lied our graves of intention. The mood went bood as the car determined never to vroom.
The street, where the car was parked, was narrow. The only solution was to turn the face of car somehow back towards the ascending slope. One sat in the car and the other two turned things into wings. It was a comical sketch. We moved half way towards the street joining the main road as almost dozen fellow Pakistanis kept staring us moving the car instead of helping -_-
Anyhow one Saudi gentlemen helped us by charging the battery. His son’s face was like a pumpkin brutally smashed sitting in…. Things didn’t work and directed us to ask any driver who could take us to one of mechanic at nearby places. We thanked and wished him. Call to Jummah (Friday) prayers and we rushed towards the masjid (mosque) close to us. The namaz (prayers) had began and I was performing wuzu (ablution) in haste.
Embarrassment began as the masjid was full of worshipers, and I couldn’t find the prayer rugs. At the entrance of masjid, I was about to lose the first rak’ah when I heard the chapter he was reciting was about to finish. The only solution was to open the left gate and make space. As the imam (the one who leads the prayer) finished the surah (chapter), I was still trying to open the gate. The f***ing lever of the door leaf was stuck -_- and the worshippers behind me (who were about to lost the first rak’ah) were slapping my back to move ahead instead of hindering.
It was absolutely embarrassing situation. They were so enraged but were obviously not in position to curse me at the entrance. So one stretched his face like a flamingo to check if space was inviting, then ran behind. But one fat guy was a flusher he just moved ahead of me to look for space as Imam called Allahu Akbar and fell in ruku (moment of bowing in namaz). I was still trying to open the gate and the fatty moved his body by force between the two. He couldn’t bow as his ass hit the wall and it almost tickled my rib but tried to control. I had lost the rak’ah unfortunately, so I gave up and prayed the same place where I stood.
After I finished my prayers, I didn’t see the fatty but my fellow travelers who perhaps performed ablution as faster than me and entered the masjid. I moved ahead, stayed in masjid and prayed to cross this miserable car battery situation. Life was at peace for few minutes. In masjid, I realized many of the worshipers were either Pakistanis or the Arab teenagers supporting their grandpas looking exactly octogenarian. I saw one Pakistani smiling in prayers when he saw a fellow Pakistani crossing him and leaving masjid.
15 minutes later, I left masjid and wished the matter goes solved asap. Almost 100 meters away, I saw my fellows standing at each side of the road. Till I reached to them, they found a Saudi to whom they convinced to help us. The driver left with him and the debutant traveler stayed with me for the next hour.
So the introductory phase of hi-hellos were carried out as it was my first meeting with him. He noticed my book-reading habit in the car and informed me that he has a group of book-readers and embarking the group meetings in cafe to initiate plans to develop the habit into a source of more intellectual community of learning and sharing. It sounded very interesting and fresh but I will ponder to join the group due to my working commitments. Have a lot of things to do and not easy to manage time. But I do wish such initiative proceed and succeed because I don’t see such formation of group on basis of book reading. Rare groups like these will take time to rise and develop but surely will grow because I have faith that there still are people who are loyal to books.
We were standing behind a shop for half an hour when shop-keeper advised us to sit in the shop without any hesitation. In the shop, we saw an old man eating his heavy lunch of traditional rice chicken. The first-timer bothered to inform the old man the situation and requested our comfort in shop for a while. He not only granted us permission but forwarded his lunch to join him. Series of bother words began between us. Then he gave us Ghandooresque chewing gums. The old man told him to open the fridge and chose the drink whatever he wish. We had no answers of such gesture, such humbleness, such height of hosting.
Further hosting was propelled though contacting our poor fellow who told us that the Saudi guy (with him) is trying to reach every unit of mechanic shop as much as possible but are usually closed after Jummah prayers. He further stated that he is calling to his friends and relatives close in the limited circuit for the least possible favor they could deliver. It was beyond our imagination that an Arab will touch the hosting height to such level to the expats living in the Kingdom due to the bitter fact that you cannot expect such behavior from most of the Jeddawi Saudis that he will serve an expat to that level. I am sorry to say but I have seen more rudeness in Saudis of Jeddah as compared to small cities. I tasted the same hosting experience in al-Ula and now al-Baha surprised us well.
He came back with him and charged the battery as we thanked the old man of his humbleness and service. Now we met this Saudi guy. His name is Meshaal and is a well educated guy and chemical engineer by profession. He surely was never a destitute because he was the man with Tahoe. Charging the battery for almost 5 minutes and racing at rpm between 2 and 3, the vehicle was still silent without even a miss call. After couple of minutes, our car showed some sign of survival and all of a sudden, it began working. Phoooff Alhamdulillah, the misery had its last say probably but one thing was sure, the car will be stopped in Jeddah. All the excitement of revisiting the forestry area of Thee-Ain shut the doors of our intentions.
It was time to thank Meshaal and his generosity took our heart. The hosting and gesture of friendship towards non-Arabs or expats like us imparted that people of such qualities will perhaps be found in small cities and we never bothered to claim to Meshaal that few people in Baha like the old shop owner and he are the best examples of hosting and we will hardly meet any Saudi of his caliber in Jeddah at least. All what he could do was smile. He gave the bandana of his local football team to our friend who own the car. Before he left, we did ask him to do one last favor…….. we asked him “which road shall we take for Raghdan forestry?” :P
After all what happened with the car and the fact that the car had a limited lifeline and will stop breathing anytime, we were eager to take the risk….
Meshaal left the scene and we drove towards al-Baha while keeping in mind that the car will never go off until we reach our home back. Oh boy o boy!!!! to reach Baha city, one has to drive to the most beautiful heights of the mountains. Colors of heaven flowing a sharp contrast on the pile of rocks, henge of stones and blade of grasses. The wonderful nature and a dramatic change in weather was inviting. The temperature which was 33 degrees 10 minutes ago in Thee-ain ridiculously dropped to mid-10s due to reaching the heights.
There are many corners at the heights with a limited space where the cars can be parked and families can have a proper sitting. We also stopped the car… no no no!!! we didn’t off… just kept in on for few minutes, so we can hang out in this cold air and enjoy the weather modeling in front of camera. Baha is located on a tremendous height elevated at over 7000ft. It took half an hour to reach al-Baha.
Ascending the heights of beautiful mountains, we found the noble tribe of hooting baboons from Hamadryas. Like I told you before in my Thee-ain blog “Rocky Doodle in Centuries-Old Ville”, these baboons belong to the baboon species from Old World Monkey family to be mostly found in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Time to look for the forestry of Raghdan and we followed the navigation. There are many hill stations in the city and by locating the spot, one of hill stations attracted us. It was very cold and the view was hallucinating with the angels riding the dark clouds. I was loving this cold atmosphere in such a beautiful surface of sphere. Then I noticed that there was a route on mountain to climb. The sleepy slept in car and the rest of us decided to leave him with the car on hold, keeping in mind that now if the car stopped… it will be a huge FML to bear. The risk was taken and off we go.
The route on mountain was actually made and I counted like 21 storeys which I comfortably climbed. The kingdom of greenery was installed on the mount reminding me the Hobbiton area of the rural Waikato town of Matamata in New Zealand. My excitement and joys knew no bound, I was like escaped from unbearable chaos or unaccountable babel. Seems like days of glory were back. I feel fresh afresh, pathetically unwounded. We could not hold our patience and efforts to lift our courage to move ahead what was inviting above our heads, plus the fate was lying with the car engine on safe mode without any jerks. We left the spot furnishing a moment to remember for long.
Drove back to modesty, a humble sketch of greenland and darkness of clouds dancing on your heads. But during our driving way back, we did oppose to run straight and were forced to stop at a spot which was quite appealing. A tower of stone shaped like a resting pyramid with a proud history of thousand-year-old myth. Rolled to the other side was more of hullabaloo. A small hole like a cave can deserve and the space inside wasn’t more than couple of meters. All what my eyes saw inside was hmmmm ahmmm a mattress with Saudi national emblems on the cover!! I simply didn’t understand the whole fuss. What the eff is the mattress doing inside a rare tower of stones? But the point to admit is that whoever designed that tower is an architect of remarkable caliber.
Tired and exhausted, descending down the sliding stairs of mountains from Baha till Thee-Ain village with no strength of photo-shoots at any stopping. The driver had gone drunk off his sleepy eyes contesting a showdown on the sliding road at minimum 80kph. Twice I woke him during the coronation of enemies on opposite road (about to kiss you). I threw my words on him to stop and sleep for a short but he had some other dreams on waiting list unapproved -_-
Alhamdulillah we descended safely but we were hungry now and located the desi restaurant where we ate the last time we came . Last time we ate chicken karahi and mutton karahi on that site, and was the delicious karahi I ever ate. After long search of the restaurant’s whereabouts, we found a desi restaurant and showed them the picture of that site from the previous Thee-ain blog I posted. They were surprised of attending such a bunch of special customers with committed hunger reserved for that particular place and so passionate to pic a glimpse of it.
Alas we came to know from this restaurant that it finished the business. We could not hold our strength to defeat hunger and intended to eat the same food at that site. I wasn’t surprised of the quality of deliciousness of karahi we ate later on but it satisfied my zeal and filled my stomach. On this particular moment, I really missed the two of our globetrotters who were with us in last Thee-ain visit.
It took further more hours of wait to reach Jeddah as the vehicle was humbled at mere 120kph, even when there was no sign of flashing meadows. During the returning drive was a short moment of rich black clouds with a lightning heritage of hiding the moon to seduce the earth in an earthly manner. It was very black-and-blue above with a terrific eye-catchy glimpse. Very Godly nature, sparking the beauty on the bearded clouds of wonders. The stars were praying and the clouds were playing. Watching those clouds above, my ear drums were tuned to Enya’s ‘May It Be’. Ah the beautiful scene!! the clouds kept trying to hide the moonlight but the beauty kept exposed, I felt like if Anne Hathaway is about to get undress in front of my eyes. Sumbuddy stop me!
Back to Bedlam…
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