Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Memory 5:- Last summer I joined my family,who flew in from Cairo, in Jeddah. I was meeting them after 2 years. In these 2 years, I learnt alot. It was the first time I was on my own. I learnt how important the support system of a family is for normal functioning. No other people in the world, be it good friends, can substitute for this support system.
Anyways, when I arrived in Jeddah, it took me 2 hours to get out of the airport. Three flights landed there simultaneously, so naturally the airport was crowded and the proceedings were slow. However, in addition to that the authorities were very uncooperative. They made me go in circles making me sign various papers and forms because I had an official passport and special visa permit(because my dad's an embassy employee). Everytime I'd sign a paper and come to them, they'd find another objection and I would again be out of the line finding another form to fill. On top of it none of the airport officials knew English, so I had to communicate with them in broken Arabic which of course was very exasperating. After a while,to my horror, I found out that every single passenger had been cleared except me. All three flights cleared and I was still going round in circles. Luckily, a PIA(Pakistan International Airport) pilot came to check if all his pasengers had left. He spoke to the authorities and they cleared me finally. I still don't know what objection they had over my passport and visa. Anyways, when I reached customs, they were laughing and saying:" Thank God! You've come. We had to wait only because of you." Exhausted by the proceedings I collected my luggage and got it cleared and left the airport. There, I found my dad waiting and worried. He said that he was about to leave since no other passengers were coming out and the airport authorities said that all passengers had left and the flight had arrived on time. He thought that I might have missed the flight altogether. My dad had hired a car and we went to an apartment my family rented. It was there I met my little sister Saba for the very first time. She was born when I was in Pakistan studying medicine.
We performed Umrah and after 6 days it was time for us to go back home. This time my dad would be living in Cairo alone and my family and I would be going to Pakistan.On the last day, my dad decieded that we see some of the historical and religious spots around Meccah like " Gar-e-Hira" and "Muzdilfah". We rented a taxi and saw all the sites. While returning from out tour, my little sister vomitted over my Dad. Dad cleaned himself and when we reached Mekkah we gave the taxi driver his rent and some tip. The taxi driver asked for more but my dad said that it was more than enough. We all went back to our room.
After an hour of talking, my dad suddenly said" Where's my handbag?" As soon as he said that everybody started searching the room. We didn't find it and we all knew that my dad must have dropped it in the taxi. It contained all our passports, airline tickets and around 1200 dollars.My dad and I rushed back to the spot where the taxi dropped us which was right in front of the Holy Mosque in Mekkah. We found no signs of him. My dad asked me to return to the room and search again. I looked again and found nothing. When I came back to inform my dad, I found nobody there. I looked around confused. After a while, I found my dad across the road beckoning me. When I came near, he told me the taxi driver returned and saw him. He lowered the window and threw the handbag. My dad said that he shouted at him to stop so he could give him some reward for returning the bag. However he dashed away. When dad checked his belongings, he found that the taxi driver had taken all the money except 100 dollars. Luckily, he gave us back our tickets and passports. We all thanked God that we were saved from the trouble of losing our passports and tickets. We, however, did feel sad that the taxi driver being an Arab Muslim still stole money in front of the Holy Mosque. He didn't respect the teachings of Islam.My dad had the handbag strapped around his shoulder. Most probably, it slipped when he was cleaning himself after Saba vomitted. It was a stressful day and we all were relieved when we left Saudia Arabia.

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