This was my 3rd trip to the Eastern Region of the Kingdom. My previous visits in the Kingdom were boredom as work was consisted without perk. Had no idea what to enjoy in this silent and dry place. I just had designed my framework to this region for the month of December with the understanding that this region will please you with a cold weather. I saw that coming and that did happen.
To the exact opposite of Al-Rashid Mall is Rotana Hotel, where I stayed for couple of days last time. The cornered rooms of all the three floors had the plus of a panoramic view of Al-Rashid Mall. I wished to see happen that again. Soon as I reached the mall, I straightly went to the hotel to test my fate. My wish came true when I got the very same corner once again. Room environment was sound with a big passage, couple of bathrooms and accustomed kitchen.
Food serving in hotel was fair as the food ordered would reach within an hour. Net service was extremely slow and limited. I forgot to bring 2-pin connector and paid the price. One night, I lost my laptop’s battery and left only 15%. Now mine is 3-pin plug but all in my place was 2-hole sockets. I found one luckily but that too in bathroom -_- It was midnight already and had no solution but to connect and let it charge.
Workers in the hotel were very multinational. Receptionist and dealer were Syrian, cleaners were a Bengali, Tamil and Filipino each. A very quiet passage of hotel with workers itself watching TV lying on the sofas. My colleague, who came with me, was a Filipino and he was glad to see his native working here. Like I said in my previous blog, they are very friendly to each other and often get very open in first encounter. So it was convincing for him to sit and talk with him all the night down the passage and do skyping with his relatives.
Working and staying in Dammam will always be a blessing with enjoyable weather this time and company’s 3 shops out of 4 located in this Rashid Mall (the other is in Dahran Mall). Once I visited Dahran Mall and as usual I began scanning the displaying standard of my company’s showroom. Then I noticed that one of window display of Charriol brand had a backpanel featuring a lady with seductive eyes hiding her face and displaying one of advertised watch. It was further stickered with a small piece of Charriol page.
I felt pretty strange that a lady with her face veiled, qualified to install in any shop in particular region of Saudi Arabia as human faces in many malls are not allowed due to strictness from religious officers of the ‘Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice’ (CPVPV). To their bad luck, the office of CPVPV in mall was also located opposite to the shop. I asked the salesman in charge the reason of further stickering. He replied that they (CPVPV) further objected the model’s hair and forehead -_-
The salesman Mr. Baraa of TagHeuer boutique in Rashid Mall was frustrated of lack of sales. But I became blessing for him, he sold 2 expensive watches in consecutive days in both my visiting attempts. He became a good friend of mine who assisted me in most of my work in Al-Khobar. He asked me if I like drinking hookah (sheesha in Persian). My joys knew no bound as I had no knowledge of existence of hookah in the Eastern region. I replied my definite YES.
Baraa is from Palestine and is son of our Showroom Manager for Eastern region. Born and raise here like me, enjoys a good but limited life. I did ask him if he has time enough for me to gather and enjoy sheesha. He was like me, enjoy without tension at full scale. There is a cafe at the outskirt of Al-Khobar, Ole’ Cafe. A huge cafe expanded like 40-45 meters with at least 100 seats and a dozen TVs. Now the most important aspect was quality service and quality flavor of sheesha. That surpassed my expectation. Baraa told me that double-apple is the best flavor of sheesha and he was correct. The moment I sip my first, I felt like if I ate a red apple with smoke gasped from the chewed part.
Sitting and drinking, my brain began sinking. But the brain cells started half-flourishing when MBC 2 showed Robert Rodriquez’s ‘Machete’. I had never watched the movie but do wanted to. Aaaah! watta movie. Baraa is an old customer there, drinking for years. So a good service from workers was expected. That day, a new worker had joined. He was from Bangladesh. Very scared of his first attempt and confound. His senior was shouting at him to serve quickly. That wasn’t enough. Even customers had their loud say when he could not settle down the charcoals on the top of sheesha.
Same charcoal story in my side. He decorated 5 small charcoals and I was stunned. He lost his edge again and expected the shoutings from my side now but I politely told him to place 3 big charcoals and I will do the decorating. He apologized to me by saying he is innocent and new in the Kingdom, and poor guy looking for work to feed his family in his country. A story of millions spoken by one I encountered. I was helpless to help and just a keen listener of his dismays.
Once I finished my work in Rashid Mall, I had an hour to check out from hotel. So I intended to go Jarir Bookstore to check any interesting findings. Recently arrived Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography was available at SR.130. First time I got so disappointed with the collection of books I saw. Most notably I was enraged to see the West’s nowadays darling Malala’s book ‘I am Malala’ in two different corners. I checked the book and saw few pages. It was like reading a 10-year-old baby’s diary -_- That book wasn’t enough. There was a small corner under Kid’s section. Believe it or not! there were around 5 different books on Justin Beiber -_-
Checked out from hotel and with all due respect, the workers in hotel delivered a proper goodbye and well wished me. Baraa did his final serving by favoring us to drop at airport through his friend. Reached the airport and my tour ended. That wasn’t enough because few stories are more to write you.
I met my brother’s friend Omer Shahid. I am not a lot into hi-hello with him but met at a rare moment. We shared our talks and opinions about living in Saudia, working environment stuff and presently dipping performance by Manchester United. His flight was late by 30 minutes but still 30 minutes on board before mine. While waiting our turn to drop our luggage, the man in uniform told him to stay on thin red line and wait for his turn. Our turn was after him and when I reached to drop my luggage, two Arab boys stood on my extreme back :S I told the officer to keep them stay on thin red line, he avoided -_-
There was an old Arab couple in their 70s. The good thing about them was that they were smiling and goofing instead of murking. The handbag carried by man was seized by his lady and vice versa. In sitting area, they were the only odd talking aloud. The talkative lady checked her boarding pass by every half a minute. She all of a sudden wanted to go toilet when boarding was on. But she want to go with her handbag :S Her hubby won’t let her do that. She ran like a penguin and returned within couple of minutes. The man was laughing.
Travelers in queue as gates were opened. People from every walk of life and miscalculated sizes stood in one line to show their boarding pass. My turn came and the officer stopped me :S Hiccup! The computer wasn’t accepting my boarding pass. He made me stood aside. A moment of embarrassment! Then I checked the date on boarding pass and realized the pass belonged to my previous flight from Jeddah to Dammam. I had presented wrong boarding pass and the correct one was in my bag. Now all is fine.
Entered the plane. It was A320 -_- Plane gets smaller with my travel I guess -_- Even in this flight, air-hostesses carried same boring faces to face the unlucky travelers. Time to sit on my booked seat but hello! some buddy already placed his ass on my seat :S I had my second thought over legality of my boarding pass instead of checking his. Then I forwarded and cleared my throat to seek his attention. I requested him to off from my seat and check his number. He kept staring me until the air-hostess came to settle. He was off to my seat.
The flight and service was ordinary. Ate the same food I had in my previous morning flight, cheese sandwich -_- I was expecting a dinner to serve for me, not the same repeated breakfast for dinner -_- This time it was a little better sandwich to chew and pass my esophagus. Plus, I asked for a coffee and enjoyed reading Babaji Ashfaq Ahmad sahab’s “Zaviya”. As I told you in my previous blog that I began reading this masterpiece, but I went so deep in reading babaji’s stories that I realized how distinguished personality was he. The plane landed safely with a temperature outside double of Dammam’s one. The nights in Dammam were in tens but returned here in twenties.
Babaji’s take on the world, his philosophies and heart touching incidents circulated my deepest thoughts in brain. I wasn’t feeling normal for once at all. From departure from A320 till arriving home, babaji’s chapters on life made a remarkable full stop. It actually was like ‘travelling with a zero’. I was like Lucky Ali’s album ‘Sifar’ or Ronan Keating’s “Life is a Roller Coaster”.
Being so mystic with life circle, I entered the bus with more stories. There were two wheelchair travelers with different problems. One entered with a Bengali helper was an octogenarian Yemeni who suffered with old age. He wasn’t able to walk and lost his temper every second. When the helper made him close to the bus door, he began shouting on his helper and protesting his entry because of the height of door the wheel chair was about to lift inside. I was forced to smile when the old man snatched his stick from him to hit but failed. All of a sudden, entered the second helper and lifted the wheel chair and entered the bus with ease. He kept shouting at the entry but then he turned silent. Being silent, he stared every traveler with rage.
Sat on the other wheel chair was a disabled teen, to whom I was observing from Dammam Airport sitting area. He spoke nothing and wore casual dress with a careful eyesight under his normal specs. I never dared to ask his helper if he was paralyzed or not able to speak also. But his hand movements and finger alignments weren’t normal.
How thought provoking was his behavior under my observation! The travelers, almost 20 meters far from him, walked towards joining the queue on board. He stared their legs and his left hand middle and index fingers made movements like walking. That was speechless!!
Then in the bus (dropping to Jeddah airport) I saw him again. This time his eyes caught a few months old baby crying under his mother’s lap. They were Sudanese family I guess. With intention to stop his cry-bullying, he struggled with his right hand to finger-snap. He wasn’t using his index finger a lot and his middle and ring fingers looked more crook and close. So he struggled to finger-snap with his thumb, middle and ring fingers. Within half a minute, the baby actually stopped crying.
What a nature of Allah!! Babaji’s reading really made me take more careful observations of earthlings. Both wheelchairs were together with a tremendous and strange on-the-spot chemistry with no match but different stories mixed altogether. I was noticing his finger-snapping and the baby. Once the baby got silent, I wanted to observe the baby more but avoided because yet again in the bus, the lady (the mother of kid) began staring me like if her eyes recognized the murderer of her husband -_-
The wheel chair stories weren’t enough. Entered a lovely young Arab couple in the bus. Precisely in 20’s and hand in hand they stood in the bus. I don’t think if the girl’s left hand and boy’s right hand ever ever untouched each other’s skin. Their love had a scent of jasmine and their innocent behavior to each other made sense of their new relation was a bed full of roses. To her bad luck, no seats in the bus were empty (fully occupied by ladies). Her man of honor made her stood holding the bar. That wasn’t enough. When the bus ran, he hold the supporter with his left hand and she pressed his shoulder from her right hand. Their other hands were still tightly grabbed to each other. The boy was in his casual dressing, a sporting cap decorated on his head behind. The girl was veiled with beautiful eyes decorated with decent black eyeliner. They were whispering in each other’s ears. All the time smiling to each other every few seconds. Ahhhh love!!! Love is a gift of Allah to mankind indeed…
I have landed Jeddah and time to pee. Entered the male toilet and there is no hanger to hang my bag and suit. An Indian cleaner offered me to hand him my handbag and suit. It was risky but I took it. He kept holding both my stuff until I finished my toiletivity. Babaji’s worldly simplicity mashed again. I felt a lot for his service. He surely was poor guy like I met that Bengali worker in cafe, have to do nothing here in life then only cleaning the toilets. My heart humbled and gave him money for his service. He didn’t expected this and stared me with innocence with a million-dollar thanks and regards. I felt a spiritual comfort performing a good deed. My soul was well satisfied till I went colorless when no one stood to receive me. The message was conveyed on call that my brother and his friend are waiting outside airport :S Vow what a reception.
Returned home. My all 4 cats stared at me :S I began sneezing. Drinking water not available as water supplier is absent for days. Water even not coming in bathroom :S Welcome back to Jeddah Mr. Naik!!