Archive for August, 2016

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Breathing a polluted age of ignorance is a confounding experience. I observe more and learn nothing. Treasures of the endorsed festivities are devaluing and the ranks of discipline among the hoppy generations collapsing. People who lack money and power are atoning. The word ‘regret’ has its own dictionary and level. The patience is pleading, the patient is bleeding. Blood on the street is more than in the hospital. The population is increasing and rate of employment is decreasing. This is like a man alive in his grave struggling to come out of the box because he knows he can live more and die later. But what if he comes out of the box? Will his fellow creatures accept and agree his survival?

Now I hair more on me face than I used to on the skull. I dig pictures on Facebook of recent past like a couple of years ago and see my physical transformational downfall. My thinking clouds produce more heavy rainfall than the aggregate raindrops of Sri Lanka in an entire year but my head hardly gets wet. I do not get the courage to step up and make my mind what exactly I want because I am disturbed by everything surrounding me.

Most of the people nowadays are not noble, don’t have a good heart and are also not respectful. Lying is exhilarating and dying is an extended version of grieving ceremony. Exchange of regards have unusual dance moves and fast-food is delicious enough to fart my sweet acidity. When I try something in life, judges on the streets have a double-look and smiles are wide. I wear a beanie cap out of context without following season because I don’t folking care. I just love wearing this cap because it facially completes me and defines differently. Now the judges on the floor behave like a curmudgeon falling from a banana skin. I enjoy the curiosity on the contrary note because this is my folking life.

In recent days I planned to watch classic films of Dustin Hoffman and after a long time, I watched Midnight Cowboy. Jon Voight played the leading role. He was a cowboy from Texas seeking work opportunities in New York. With all the excitement on his face hoping for a new career, things didn’t work and get frustrated living a new yorker life. That drop of emotional complexion is what among the millennials today. The world to us is quite a complicated and hopeless case.

A few days ago I happened to know what craziness everywhere is with the game Pokémon Go. I had no single idea of the game which has taken the world follow it madly everywhere especially on the streets which are some alarm to a social life. By realizing its features and by knowing how exactly this game is played, I was lost for a second. How far has the world gone from making logic? What the folk is wrong with people? I can easily distinguish two different classes of humans nowadays.

On one hand, there is a chaotic world where people are killing each other and both parties don’t even know the purpose behind this. Too much terrorism is disturbing the planet and a general life of a common man. There is too much ego and anger involve that installing or restoring peace between the two has become highly unlikely. While on the other hand, there is a very interesting generation who are roaming the streets, the malls and public places to catch the victims on their smartphones. To what level of craziness an app can take the entire human race!?!

By gaining weight and becoming lazy, I have temporarily stopped following google maps for interesting sites in the kingdom which is another minus to my mood. Globetrotting is a mood swinger which gives you fresh energy. Now I need coordinates for peace where I can listen to myself and follow it. I need fresh air with a bottle of alcohol with a beautiful lady beside me who can understand me, who can accept me, who can become a morphine and please to me.

But it is hard in a cruel world full of hatred and hypocrites because the faith and loyalty nowadays bargain at a cheap price. Meaning and importance of love have been damaged, sincerity has dropped and commitment has no word of mouth. Internet freedom has made things a lot easier to corrupt the word ‘LOVE’. You have more choices of rejecting and accepting a person with the least and easiest excuse that the one to whom you were in relation didn’t stand for you even if you were blatantly wrong. Love is a subject and adultery is the real business of frustration.

If we carefully notice then the newest generation of youngsters is more impatient and frustrated than the older one used to be. Internet freedom is one reason above but other genuine reasons easily are the usage of mechanism in their earliest ages which is making them clever, wit and fast but at the same time they are growing more hyper-tense than the old ones. Today a two-year-old kid can explain to the elders the salient features of smartphones. The kingdom where I live, children of 15 before the turning of new millennium weren’t that bound to television sets and watching films due to many reasons, and one of the reason is lack of TV sets at homes but now a child of 8 uncontrollably can download a film of his choice by illegal source and watch. I sense with the passage of time, nothing will be in our control. The human-made machines will kill the race and generations and we will not have a space of time to blame ourselves. It is an ugly truth.

I do not borrow commitments to tweet a decades-long relationship with ladies because there is no promise to muster my courage to betray the loyalty. Being healthy is when you are at your desiring peace. Fulfillment of lust has more promise than odd expectations in fake relationships. An honest reason to why a man fond of woman’s beauty fall prey to exotic dances and strip shows.

After losing the gem of my life, I don’t desire an espousal but a relationship before a possible nuptial. Because for me, it is disloyalty of love to consider someone for the rank I chose the one I loved the most and lost in brutally unamiable way. And secondly I believe in freedom of choice for both, the lady should have potential enough to replace her which is highly unlikely and I should be good enough for her that she will see her happiness in me.

Folk the love! What am I now? My eyes are catching artificial attractions everywhere I go. Women with crystal looks, deceptive faces full of makeup, winterful smiles, and a rainbow of huge bags are a source of blessing to my punctured and penetrating eyes. Why not is it pleasant? I don’t see any harm if my intentions were not to hurt her or spoil her mood. It is not the love I seek, but the curiosity of eyes I speak.

Jeddah is a potential metropolitan city. It’s nights on the busiest commercial roads are jazz to my ears. Sporadically when I plan to drive the popular and busiest streets of the city at night, I am lost. At that time when I am driving my vehicle, my ears play Bernard Herrmann‘s marvelous saxophone-theme of Taxi Driver. I feel myself Michael Caine driving a classic Aston Martin DB4 or a Mini Cooper S. That is some source of relaxation and comfort.

If you are mentally disturbed and need a peaceful mind, I advise you to listen to Jazz music. Jazz is the best source of music when you need to come out of stress. I recommend you to listen Miles DavisKind of Blue and some other phenomenal numbers of Thelonious Monk and Adderley Brothers.

I quest the eternal spots of repose and solace to relinquish the dystopia. In a bad mad world, the sound of seashores is more pleasant than the sound of silence; farm and cottage houses build on my masonry is a willoughby. A library of books, a shelf of action figures and comic books, a hologram light of Batman in the corner, a Jazz or Opera to my eardrums, four walls covered by frames full of historic wars and portraits, a hookah near my chair, a beautiful charming girl in her lingerie posing a centerfold near the fireplace is my ideal room with a view.

Scold my wonders but no abuse as I articulate my wish and borrow some time for eternal merriment. In my hemispheres, dictating emotions are sharper than a sword, silence is just a roof of all hurrahs. Peace and jazz of my borrowed life are just an endorsement which will swiftly and repeatedly ask me the same question all my life.

I AM SAMI NAIK


 

 

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Fahrenheit 451 is the first colorful and the only English-language film of François Truffaut’s illustrious directional career. Produced in 1966, the film is based on Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name. For me, it is one of the strangest films I have ever experienced watching.

The film shows a fictional world where some totalitarian government controls general people’s life by dissuading them from books. For this purpose, this government employs a group of firemen who detect books from every corner and burn to ashes. Among these firemen, there is Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) who gets reading inspiration from his neighbor, a 20yo schoolteacher Clarisse (Julie Christie). Once he reads, he tries to motivate his wife and her friends. Time passes by and he begins growing hatred towards his book-burning job. When he becomes a book-burning rebel, the government makes an attempt to seize him and he tries to escape and survive.

On the internet, the general description or summarized explanation of the novel is a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. For me, my theory and basic understanding towards the novel/film are broad. What inspires me is the theme and content of the film.

Generally what we see in the film is a foundation of the ground realities clouding our brain. The film does show you an oppressive future but questions numerous objects co. existing in the same sorry state universe. Truffaut made this film in the 60s but I see this way advanced to the-then existence. The plot is easily applicable today. We see many totalitarian governments controlling people’s life. Last century, the world witnessed the same style of leadership in Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam and II-sung.

Next aspect, the book is a source of objection by such government in the film. The firemen search everywhere to every length to dig the books; and when they find, they collect and gather all the materials and burn these all. In the film, exaggeration is tremendous. Firemen are shown digging books even in public parks, stopping people and checking their dresses. One fireman even checks shirt-pocket of an infant crying in the pram, finds a book and naively discourages the infant not to read books. This scene shows tremendous hatred and point of exaggeration where the director conveys his entire message in one shot.

There have been numerous book-burning incidents in the past. The one which particularly reminds me is from the McCarthy era when the books written by the authors favoring communism were disposed and burned under Eisenhower’s presidency. Bradbury has also stated his concerns about the above-mentioned events being the base of writing Fahrenheit 451.

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Why books? In the film, this question will give you a lot of answers. Especially in one scene where the home of Clarisse’ friend is raided for an understood reason, the captain of all firemen (Cyril Cusack) spots a room full of books and gets some space of more than five minutes with Montag to present his hatred and forward his explanation/opinion about the literature. One of the lines the captain speaks to Montag in the film goes this way, Go on, Montag, all this philosophy, let’s get rid of it. It’s even worse than the novels. Thinkers and philosophers, all of them saying exactly the same thing: “Only I am right! The others are all idiots!” This captain’s ideology hit me for a second and showed a different perspective for a book-reading habit. Is this an ego which turns you a writer and makes you think that people will avoid others and listen to you?

About fictional novel, the captain discourages the viewers that people in such books never existed but by reading, they tend to assume such characters leading their lives towards unhappiness by thinking that they can never live that life described in such books. I must admit, this lengthy scene was one of the best in the film.

Montag the leading character has another explanation that the books make the readers unhappy and anti-social! How come? Because according to Montag, books change the people, their ideology, their way of living and thinking; and them reading people tries to become better than the others. How true is this? If you really begin judging the reading habit from Montag and captain’s angle, you will think twice.

Truffaut’s depicted future-world looks highly realistic and fashionable. I am very impressed with the heavy detailing of Montag’s place of residency. The color of walls, interactive TV program, wall telephones, and furniture was outstanding. Then we see monorail which was not frequently watched in the films those days.

Last 20 minutes of the film takes the viewers to a different dimension. The dystopian state turns into utopian. Montag shifts from one world to the other. While escaping from the cruel book-burning world, he unintentionally enters the world of hope where people from different communities and walks of life are named by some famous books. These individuals are learning by heart and repeating every word of their books to spread the literature to the future generations and avoid ignorance. There is one striking scene where a dying old man is filling/feeding the words of Weir of Hermiston to his nephew.

From a religious point of view, it reminds me the time when knowledge was to overtake ignorance in the times of Prophet Muhammad PBUH with time by learning and repeating the verses of Holy Quran and his Sahabah (Prophet’s companions and disciples) by recording the testimonies what the prophet said. It is just my understanding from those particular book-people scenes.

The film overall is a wake-up call to save the books, the literature, the treasure of knowledge from various categories of books and defeat ignorance. Truffaut’s artistic direction is yet again the winner. Very very ostentatious and fascinating work! This is like someone presents a theory in cinematic format and brings the world to knees. The film is sci-fi in some sense but also very humanistic theoretically. But his work plays on you, hypnotizes and manipulates you. Although there are some differences and missing elements from the film as compared to the novel but overall I believe Fahrenheit 451 is easily one of Truffaut’s most impressive works.

Ratings: 8.4/10

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Charlie the piano player (Charles Aznavour) is down with his life. He lost his wife in a suicide attempt and now has brothers in trouble with the gangsters jeopardizing his own life and his new girlfriend, Lena (Marie Dubois).

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) is a French film, also the second film in the direction of François Truffaut’s illustrious career. Based on David Goodis‘ novel ‘Down There’, it generally differs some points in the characterization of leading man Charlie. But overall it is a masterpiece.

 

The Film is mere 120 minutes of understanding Charlie to involve you. He is a forsaken individual whose omen calls him to wake his nature and express what he wills but he is always mixed in emotions. In short, he is a confused individual who thinks twice to touch Lena’s hand or hand her back.

Produced in 1960, the film is from the earliest phase of French New Wave, a celebrated dominating era of few decades in which the films became equivalent to art and literature in the state of free expressions and a break from conservative cinematic ideology.

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Realism has a much contrast like I mentioned the hardship of Charlie to date, Lena. Then we have a very realistic conversation in gangsters’ vehicle when the subject keeps changing in seconds and never focus on Charlie’s brother. Later on, when Charlie fights, he makes sure the windows and ears of the cruel society have an ugly look. A heated exchange of words b/w Mr. and Mrs. Charlie gives another directional example of an unusual pragmatic scene. Truffaut often played his wild card on brilliant post-marital scenes like Bed and Board and The Soft Skin, which often reminds you works by Satyajit Ray and Mani Ratnam in South Asia.

Truffaut preferred open relations in his films which are another aspect of the new wave era. In many of his films, translation of emotions are wide, open and offers all crossings. Women are free to express her desire by emotions, dresses, and private parts. She is ready to accept relations at a time. Charlie’s girlfriend asks him to inform when he is done with her. This is the same case in other films like Jules and Jim, Two English Girls and even Antoine Doinel series.

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Action sequences are the simplest and most realistic essence in the film. Charlie’s fight in the bar (mentioned above) and last 5 minutes of gangsters vs Charlie and brothers is impressive. 

Shoot the Piano Player is a combination of postwar Parisian noir and keen observation on humanist detail. If you don’t accept the film in the first attempt, you will definitely in the second.

Ratings: 8.3/10

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La sirène du Mississipi (Mississippi Mermaid) is François Truffaut’s romantic film based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel ‘Waltz Into Darkness‘. A French film with a romantic genre is icing on the cake but what I like about this film is the exaggeration of misunderstanding between the two.
 
Let me summarize you the first half of the plot in brief. A rich man Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) owns a tobacco plantation on Réunion island in the Indian Ocean and is about to get married to a girl Julie (Catherine Deneuve) to whom he has never met but has exchanged letters. He has her photograph, so he arrives at the port to receive her but he happens to meet the other girl claiming that she is Julie and the one in the picture is her sister.
 
Later on, they fall in love and get married. Louis gives her access to his bank accounts. One day he gets a letter from Julie’s sister complaining her absence and threatening to call the police. He informs Julie about the call and suggests to write and inform her sister asap. The other day, Louis comes to know that the lady he married was not Julie but an imposter who ran away absconding 28 million francs from his bank accounts.
 
Louise and Julie’s sister Berthe hires a detective to investigate the matter. Days later in the French city of Nice, his eyes catch Julie’s imposter who actually works as a dancer in a nightclub. He catches her but comes to know that the impostor whose name is Marion, actually is innocent and has none of his money. They restore their relationship and one day Louis happens to meet the hired detective in the same city who is here to find the imposter. Boooom!!! Where goes the money? How will Louise save Marion from the investigation? Where is Julie? You have to find all the answers in the other exciting half.
 
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There are few goofs in the film. I see a sudden change of dresses in two different shots of the same lunch eaten by the couples. Then there is a scene when Louise is looking for a vehicle on one side of the road where his shelter is located. But Marion takes him to the shelter on the other side of the road lol.
 
There are some doubts in few scenes over flaws in Truffaut’s direction. I noticed the actors were not displaying shocking emotions on their faces where the scene really needed e.g., when Marion is caught by Louis in Nice after running away from home, there is zero expression on her face. I expect big eyeballs if she doesn’t bother to scream. Same case when Louis meets the detective which should carry a huge surprise on detective’s face.
 
Anyhow there are plusses more than the above-mentioned minuses. One of the best things about François Truffaut’s direction is that he keeps the viewers busy and make them anxiously wait for the next scene. The excitement grows with the passage of time. Also in this film like all of his other directional work, he gives importance to small elements attached with individual’s life which offers you realism of free state of expressions which has been the major focus in French New Wave films.
 
Now just take an example of the introductory credits. There is no music but the presentation of introductory credits is fixed with the background audio of different male and female suitors demanding their requirements. The voices begin mixing and is exaggerated. Two theories develop from this, one is conveying the message to the viewers that an admirer will be seeking a partner in crime in the beginning phase of film and the other is an ugly truth that the necessary wants of the suitors are ridiculously high.
 
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In the opening scene, both soon-to-be-married confess the truth at their first meeting despite showing sincerity in exchanged letters. Then there is a 5-minute scene where Marion the impostor wakes up one late night with respiratory problems handled by the husband somehow which gives you some glimpse of marital life. Another interesting scene is in their wedding when Louis make failed attempt of wearing her a wedding ring showing the letters never went concern of asking her the size of her finger for wearing her a ring. How natural!
 
In such a serious romantic drama, there are bits of funny scenes like Marion calling a lady the name of Popeye‘s sweetheart, Olive Oyl, which she truly resemble her. Then there is Marion stripping in the middle of the street which makes one driver victim of a car accident that looks so real to laugh at.
 
Overall, it is a Louise and Marion show. Their confused relationship has a greedy suspense. Both are lost in emotions and would make the viewers grow their concerns over suiting and choosing a right lady with expectations of no misfortunes. Although the film does be based on a novel but still the amount 28m in any currency is an enormous figure to lose in one shot. The same film was remade 32 years later as Original Sin starring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie.
 
Ratings: 7.8/10
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THE STORY OF ADELE H - UK Poster

L’Histoire d’Adele H. (The Story of Adele H.) is a French film directed by François Truffaut based on the true story of Adele Hugo, daughter of Victor Hugo. Victor Hugo was one of the leading names in literature who is considered France’s greatest asset in poetry, novel and drama in Europe’s age of Romanticism. As much as father had earned a name of honor and respect in his field, his daughter met tragic fate for which she is known.

A British army officer loved and proposed her which she refused. Later she had a change of heart and travelled Halifax during American Civil War to declare but the soldier loved her no more after the refusal. That drove her insane and made failed attempts to win him. Her obsession increased and began showing signs of mental illness.

Yes François is hard to ignore in my reviews but first, the biggest plus was Isabelle Adjani‘s leading performance as Adele. It is hard to describe but she was very impressive in depicting different phases of one-sided affair. Her facial reactions, her eye-contact, her speaking to herself, her writing letters and so many demanding elements of this specific performance! The beginning of Adele’s frustration after the first scene of his refusal is the moment where her body language was so realistic, natural and with time, began to increase the level of astonishment. She was inclined towards the misery and more did she prove to be showstopper.

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Now the second credit goes to François, whose marvelous direction just propels you. With her quest of lost love, you are more obsessed than her to find out to what limit she will drop herself in hunger of winning his heart. The case is not only his direction but François’ collective belief on the-then 19yo Adjani. Keeping in mind, she wasn’t a popular name with very short number of films to her credit before making this. That is the quality and one of the most successful features of a director how he builds and maintains his trust on the leading actor for a certain film and that was the case of François himself. Take an example of his Antoine series in which he believed on Léaud‘s abilities to function the age-crossing role of Antoine Daniel to an extent that he went on to make five films in 20 years on his beloved character.

To my knowledge, this is the only known film based on Adele’s tragic story. You won’t see the character of Victor Hugo in the film but listen, and I think it makes sense. Besides Isabelle, all performances are below par but the viewers have no business to take a look on other performances than beautiful Adjani as Adele. The-then teenager Adjani was nominated for Best Actress in Academy Awards for this role despite being the role from a non-English film. She was the youngest to be nominated in the category by that time.

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A profoundly beautiful, tragic and dark film. Well done François/Adjani.

Ratings: 8/10

340326Need a rich exploitation of cinematic brilliance among Western films? The only piece of advice I will forward you is to watch Sergio Leone‘s Dollars Trilogy (DT) which will easily erase your memories of John Wayne films. These films are A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and all these films were produced in consecutive years without any gap.

Why DT? Because these three films were trend-setters and Western films had a new dimension from the age of 60s. All three films were the landmark of ‘BAD-ASS’ fashion of Western genre. Legendary actor Clint Eastwood played the leading role of a fearless bounty hunter ‘The Man With No Name‘ and brought a new style of heroism among the leading actors of future generations.

Eastwood’s character had an all-round attraction; his gestures of inclining his hat, smoking cigarette, walking, shooting and dialogues delivering were super excellent. I can now easily figure out from where Amitabh Bachchan got influence for his famous ‘Angry Young Man’ persona in 70s. Another prominent feature of his character was that he had no name which is unusual. He had been given nicknames Joe, Manco and Blondie in respective films but the viewers were not entertained with his real name. His cowboy stature had a different persona than what the viewers had experienced in past Western films. I like the character’s costume especially green poncho.

Director Leone re-introduced the art of film-making ‘Spaghetti Western‘ (SW) from this franchise. The general explanation to the term is that such Western films were produced by the European production companies or in collaboration between European companies. In case of this franchise, producers from Italy, Germany, Spain and US were involved as per Wiki source. So in short, this trilogy has the honor to become the most influential Spaghetti Western film which laid its foundation here. Over 600 SW films were produced till the 80s.

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The beauty of all the three films not only lies in Leone-Eastwood combo but also the storytelling. The flow of the story grows on your nerves and it fires you at the most critical point. Few of the scenes demand your full attention especially the last scene of trilogy, that epic Mexican Standoff scene won’t allow you to move your eyes here and there. Dialogues are brilliant and it is a sin to miss Eastwood’s dialogues who rarely talks in all the three films.

Amazingly, Eastwood had no acting recognition nor had ever played a leading role in his career before this franchise. For the first part, he was paid $15k which later increased to $50k for the sequel. For the last part, he received percentage-based salary. Same case with the financial budget which was only $200k in first part, $600k in sequel and $1.2m in the last part.

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Another impressive aspect in directing this film is its depiction of violence. Gunshots are loud, noisy and on your ears. But by violence I mean Leone’s theory of presenting a Western film which differs with the Western films of the past. If the viewers carefully notice, the ideology of heroism in Western culture was changed here. The trilogy was more of amigos whose nature was more of anti-hero. In final part, all three major characters were antagonist to each other. These three films changed the thinking towards the Western by focusing more on capitalism and greed which weren’t their critical subjects in past Western films.

It will be incomplete to give my review of this trilogy without its scores. One of the most versatile composers of the 20th century, Ennio Morricone, raised the curtains of his illustrious career from this franchise. With very impressive scores in the first two parts to his credit, his iconic coyote-howling opening theme for the final part is easily considered one of the greatest instrumental film scores of all time. The world-famous theme is still alive and often listened in many different mediums and sources. Hard to believe Morricone didn’t win Academy for this score which seemed to be a unanimous decision. He had to wait 50 more years to win his first and most possibly last Oscar for the Best Score in the last Academy Awards function for The Hateful Eight.

Personally, my favorite film among the three is the second one which introduced a brilliant villain El Indio. Also among the trilogies I have watched so far, the DT is only second to ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ Trilogy to be considered among the greatest. The DT is one of the greatest achievements in global cinematic village. The trio of Morricone’s score, Leone’s direction and Eastwood’s character will remain one of the most iconic moments of the 20th century cinema.

Overall Ratings: 9.2/10

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Al Wahba Crater

Being a globetrotter, there have been various trips I diary-milked your reading efforts. I have always felt blessing that the nature of being roady-piper became a source of understanding the secrets of marvelous sites in this kingdom which is by some range long remembered as dry and desert area. Reaching the altitudes or losing the grip down towards the surfaces made me realize that this Kingdom has advertising cards enough to send to the invitees around the world to treasure their experiences. With all the practice of longing the trips somehow, there was one trip which promised to give the unsharpened axe to hit my own head and butt. This trip was expected to be the mega-road-trip event within the kingdom covering almost a week but turned out to be the omen’s curse. Today I am sharing you a painful, embarrassing but a funny trip in six parts.

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This occurred in Mid-2014. Holy month of Ramadan was ending in July end and I requested almost 1-week internal vacations from my office on the last day and to my exuberance, the request was accepted. Google Map was the binocular of treasure-hunt and more than 35 sites were marked. Participants were approached and succeeded to take three of them.

There were four characters in this road trip:

  1. Gandalf – He had a vision, a road-trip map and stuck on it. Plans had been penned and God’s will was hoped for a peaceful trip.
  2. Alien – He was the first to be approached by Gandalf. He was the co-pilot of Shadowfax. (Old myth confirms, without their mutual understanding, trips wave in the clouds of daydreaming.)
  3. Caesar – This Roman cowboy had an unfinished business but he did join on a condition that he was to be allowed to complete his work. Approved!
  4. Deadpool – This unarmed sidekick had never experienced a road-trip. Teen by age and legal expat by document was making his traveling debut.

 E01 – AAAAAND FUN BEGINS

Gandalf had bought a new backpack from Jarir Bookstore. Alien assisted him. Deadpool had his packing done and by plan, the four creatures left Jeddah after final prayer of the day. As usual, things didn’t work and delayed in wait. The chosen Shadowfax was Hyundai Veloster 2014. All four left by midnight and ate dinner at Raheli station with Arabic rice & chicken dish ‘Matghoot’.

Petrol was filled and left for the first mark. The first mission was to reach Al Wahba Crater which is 367 km drive from Jeddah. But before this, the vehicle stopped at another station, this time for the sake of nature’s call. Deadpool had his embarrassment as he wasn’t used to of not using toilet seat. Toilet partitions were suspicious because few had no locks and water pressure in the hand shower was terribly low as compared to the residential units. Three travelers were done with the cleaning but Deadpool wasn’t coming out as he had his more frustrating adventure debut. The toilet unit he chose had no shower but a small bucket lol. Gandalf checked all the units and found the last one with the toilet seat lol. As Deadpool was washing his hands, he pointed at the unit and he took all his chance to that unit. The sidekick took time again and this time there was no water lol. It was just the beginning and left the station for Al Wahba Crater.

This Al Wahba crater is almost similar to Barringer Crater located in Arizona desert of the United States. Al Wahba Crater according to Wikipedia source is 250m (820ft) deep and 2km (1.2mi) in diameter. It is so deep that if you throw a stone from the top, you will listen its end in 6 seconds. There has been much speculation about the origin of crater. Many believed a meteorite hit the place. According to Wikipedia, many geologists agree that Al Wahba Crater is a Maar crater which is caused by a phreatomagnetic eruption. That is an explosion caused by groundwater coming into contact with hot lava or magma.

There was less but enough time to enjoy the site. The car was parked and stood on the top from where they can view the whitish surface of the base in the dark. All four travelers lied on the rug and focused on the falling stars. It was so exciting to look above the sleeping sky with millions and millions of stars and counting the one moving from its edge. Sun oped its eyes on the surface to bring beauty on the surface and time arrived to move the vehicle towards the spot where the hikers were to descend down.

Gandalf decided not to go down because he knew that once all climb back, then all will be dead exhausted and journey towards the next mark will become questionable. So he saved his energy and the rest descended down. It was a silence in the alfresco. After every 10 minutes, Gandalf used to check from the corner if he could view anyone’s feet touching the surface. In 20 minutes, he finally watched two small ants Caesar and Deadpool on the floor. Like I wrote above that the crater is 250m deep so the microscopic expectations are high from such altitude. Alien was exhausted and had told both the hikers to reach the surface by themselves as he will take rest. Was that rest going to ease his exhaustion? Here began an unexpected change of fortune.

E02 – MISS CALL FROM OMEN!

While lying in his shadowfax with the bags and snacks, Gandalf got a call from Deadpool and updated him that the Alien was in trouble and cannot climb. Before going down, Deadpool called him again informing that they somehow are trying to climb and reach. When they came back, they further informed that he had vomit and excreted loose motion. They had no remedy but Gandalf did know that by distance of 50kms, there is a general hospital in Mahad adh Dhahab. According to Wikipedia, this Mahad adh Dhahab is a gold mining area of Madinah province.

The driver tried his best to reach the spot asap and kept asking if he was feeling better. They reached the hospital and Caesar took him to emergency ward while Deadpool and Gandalf rushed towards the toilet to clear the hours-long unfinished business. Deadpool had finally used a comfortable toilet with a convincing hand shower lol since that stop before Wahbah. The alien informed the clinician that he has a history of lactose intolerance. He had his treatment for the next couple of hours and there was confusion over the ill state of the patient and time of recovery and all the landmarks they were planning to reach on this trip. There was a huge question mark and time was running. Mahad adh Dhahab was the next mark after Al Wahba Crater but from Mahad, they had to reach Al Shahanah Historical Tower in Ar Rass town in five hours by the time 4pm. But it was 12pm already.

Gandalf noticed there was a partition in emergency ward for each gender. Male and female ERs were separate by some distance and located in opposite directions. Surprisingly there was neither water in any dispenser nor tissues and water in the toilets near ERs. Plus, there were no chairs for the patient’s people in ER. So either they sit on his/her deathbed or stood firm staring hither and thither. There was a very old patient who wasn’t able to walk properly. He wasn’t provided a wheelchair; instead his son told him to sit nearby and didn’t help him sit!

Hours later, the doctor had passed him and allowed to take him with them. At this moment the travelers had mixed emotions. Caesar proposed the idea to return back as it was not safe to go ahead with not-fully-recovered Alien. But Gandalf argued that the next stopping is over 500kms from Mahad to Ar Rass, and when they reach the destiny, Alien will take all his rest and fully recover. With the series of useless arguments, they took the risk and the plan went ahead.

E03 – TIRANT & TIRANNY

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Shadowfax: First Blood

Within 10 minutes after leaving the hospital ad driving towards Ar-Rass, the vehicle suffered when one of the tires hit a huge pothole which further reduced the chances of reaching the landmark at time. Not only the tire was punctured but they had doubts over the rim. In the middle of the silent road and extreme sun-heat, the tire was replaced with the stepney small enough to limit the speed below 80kph. The new tire was the demand of the situation but more to the misery was that shadowfax had low-profile legs (17 inch rims) and availability of such leg in a small town was very low. It was 2pm already when most of the shops were closed at that time and if any shop by chance was open, they could not have arranged that particular tire.

Alien was dead sleeping, Caesar was sleepy but Deadpool was very dehydrated because the source of drinking water had also became an issue. This trip was becoming an unexpected curse as nothing was going right. After all these miseries, Gandalf changed his plan to reach Madinah instead of Ar Rass only if the low-profile tire is not found in the coming stations on the road. Caesar was insisting to abandon the trip and return back but he was convinced that the issue will be resolved in few moments. Gandalf crossed Mahad area, long broad road was inviting more exhaustion over patience as every next tire shop he checked, he found no such tire to restore the faith in completing this journey. Every time he stopped, he had to drop all the bags from the car boot to take out the dead tire to show and ask the worker if any life can be restored. And he got the same response that the new low profile tire had to be bought and won’t be possible to locate on the next stop. Finally, Gandalf made his mind to reach Madinah and buy a new tire.

All were dead slept and there was no sign of life during the destiny as the stepney-bound vehicle was driven at not more than 50kph to avoid further more obstacles and reach Madinah safely which was 200kms away.  The current scenario was exasperating Gandalf as the vehicle wasn’t able to gallop. All what he saw was a range of mountains stretched at lengths on both sides. All he could do was pray to Lord to avoid further curses and not to involve in any intrusion. With remaining distance dropping, the color of sky changed with the hailing darkness inviting the four retired veterans of hope to Madinah. Caesar woke up and witnessed the Holy Mosque. He forwarded his wish to visit the Holy Mosque but Gandalf refused to take him at the site due to the fact that the visit will cost hours and waking up early in the morning for the next destiny will become impossible due to reckless sleep in late hours.

After the tire recovered from a shop, the travelers quested a suitable hotel and found an acceptable shelter with only one room and a toilet. For Gandalf’s misery, the toilet had no lock but was bound to take bath while holding the door from one hand, embarrassing. The alien was taking a much proper rest and it raised Gandalf’s hope that his co-pilot will be all fit and on his legs by morning. For dinner, Gandalf and Caesar looked after a possible restaurant and to their huge surprise; there was a Pakistani restaurant open in late hours. The demanded food was getting prepared and took almost half an hour and while returning back; the pilot lost his way and took further half an hour. Indeed Gandalf had breathed an ill-fated day.

Before all fell asleep, Gandalf and Caesar restored their argument over hopeless future of lengthy trip. Caesar’s incomplete work had no ending as he was supposed to submit his work via internet that very night. He wanted to go an internet café nearby to finish the work but there was no such place. Then he decided to look for available flight seats, go airport and give up the trip. Somehow he postponed this decision. Yep that was Day 1.

E04 – GOOD MORNING BAD DREAM!

No special dreams were arranged for few hours as everyone woke up with best hopes and high spirits. Due to exhausting schedule and collapse of timing, Gandalf altered the plan and skipped the plan of driving towards ar-Rass town and Uyun al Jawa city which were the sites to be reached after Mahad adh Dhahab. His next stopping was Hail city which was landmarked on Gandalf’s original treasure-hunting map. Alien was still not fit and worried Caesar was still not confident to precede the next mark. Gandalf was determined with high hopes. They checked out from the hotel wearing backpack and bags in hand. Dropping from stairs of the hotel, Gandalf was informed that the condition of kidney patient had deteriorated again; I mean the new tire of vehicle had lost all the blown air. It was a major shock, sudden punch on the lurking face, start of another hopeless episode of lengthy trip and beginning of bad morning with uninvited curse.

The faces were dropped to meet a new low. They didn’t have enough money to checked-in the same hotel nor can they all sit in the car to increase chances of further problems in the vehicle. It was hardly 6 in the morning and to injure further expectations, it was Friday; so the chance of meeting a mechanic in an opened shop at this time was also very low. So the refugees took their bags out from the vehicle, and sat in the waiting area and let Gandalf drove the effected vehicle in hope to spot a mechanic in any part of the…. city.

Gandalf drove the vehicle hardly at 10kph. Embarrassment was that a lot of people were staring the vehicle and its driver. In fact some labor-class Pakistanis were smiling at his fate and whispering the case to the others. It was very awkward experience, in fact more annoying when he was at traffic signal and had to hark horns of crazy drivers behind despite the fact that he had turned on the hazard lights. He drove in this fashion for 20 minutes and to his surprise, he found a Pathan mechanic in one shop working on the other vehicle. Sigh of relief!

The mechanic’s verdict was dispiriting one and he declared the rim to be more problematic than the tire. He advised him to drive slow and safe but change the rim asap. Gandalf returned back to hotel to see sleepy faces. He was still positive to overturn the curse and proceed towards his plan. When they came to know he was still reluctant to return back, Caesar insisted to him to reconsider his courage.

Then the silent Alien, his best-man in all the trips, requested to drop him at bus station so that he will return back home and the rest may continue their journey. His illness had seized him to bring any positive intention for this trip. He had given up. This was the moment when Gandalf lost his edge and realized the highly promising trip is meeting its unfortunate conclusion. His determination met a severe low and dropped all the plans. It was finally concluded that they were collectively giving up the plan and returning home. Alien’s giving up was the only way to overturn his decision. It was a very sad but acceptable end of the trip. Taking a chance out of this concluded bad luck, Caesar humbly asked in soft tone if he could now let him visit Holy Mosque!!! He still refused and left Madinah city.

E05 – THE FASTEST SLOTH TO PENINSULA

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Shadowfax: Last Blood

The time was hardly 8 in the morning and the vehicle was driven at mere 40kph. It was a huge drop in speed to escape any remaining curses. The temperature was heating high and all were dead sleeping once again. It was a very ugly traveling debut of Deadpool who had toilet and dehydration issues the whole time. He had given miserable updates to his family at home during the whole trip and this time he had informed that they were returning back.

Distance between Madinah and Jeddah is roughly 450kms and the cars at normal speed reach the distance in 4 hours and 20 minutes. But in their case, the calculations and expectations were painful. Gandalf had to play his random songs to normalize his mood because he was still enraged of this terrible fate. Caesar was excited to return back and that excitement was infuriating him. So whatever random song he asked to keep it play, he tuned to the next song and behaved like a sheepish child. After some time he was back to normality because it was foolish to depict sadness on the concluded one.

Less than 100kms were left when the rim changed its mind again and decided to irritate the travelers by excreting air from the tire. It was noon and sun was above their heads on a highway full of running trucks. It was easily the unluckiest trip ever suffered and the stepney tire was fixed again. The vehicle in most part of the journey was at pace lower than the heavy vehicles but faster than any of Terrence Malick films. They finally reached home in almost 7 hours. More than half of the duration was taken in driving the vehicle at 40kph which forcibly turned into max 80kph later. Gandalf was physically done and dropped himself to bed with body ache. He was not in his senses and all his ears heard were from his father in the other room saying “Perhaps God had not accepted this plan”.

The remaining days of the short vacation were also spent mostly in pain as Gandalf suffered loose motions on long run. Perhaps he was lucky to return back on time to suffer this at home instead of the places he had never been too.

This unforgettable incident happened in 2014 but I began to write somewhere in Oct.2015 and is now finally completed by the end of July in 2016. I don’t know if I should thank the participants to make this trip unforgettable (for sad reasons) but I would like to apologize to them for rude behavior caused from the events full of misfortunes. The real identities of four characters I named in this blog will not be disclosed.

May you readers and travelers not face the obstacles and enjoy the trip with excitement, Amen.

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The Four Principle Characters of The Story