Blowing dust, sinus pain, fever and my travel companions
Wednesday 3rd December—5th Zil Hajj. After Maghrib
I am walking from the masjid. I can’t help noticing the cars that are parked on the roadway. They are covered with dust. The dust is so thick, that one can write with one’s fingers on them. I understood then, why I was suffering so much with sinus. I understood, too, why so many people suffer so many respiratory problems while in Saudi Arabia and on returning to Trinidad.
Arabia is a desert country. There are many hills and mountains. There are also plains. The land forms are bereft of vegetation they are all denuded. The constant, unrelenting sun bleaches the land. The nights can be very cold. The extreme in temperatures cause the rocks to split and sand and dust particles are formed. The wind then blows this dust all over. I witnessed whirlwinds, stirring up the soil and blanketing portions of the land. Its not surprising that so many suffer with respiratory problems.
I am still feeling feverish, I have just taken a cold tablet to assist in the battle to stay well enough in these conditions in order to complete all the rites and rituals of the Hajj in the next few days.
It is almost time for Isha, and we are leaving for the masjid. By ‘we’ I mean the fellow pilgrims in my room. Fazlur is a businessman who has a sewing factory. He gave the gift of a knapsack to each pilgrim in the group. Sheik is a retired TRACMAC Supervisor. He is 71 years old and has been quite sick. He had to also visit the doctor to his diabetes was under control. Hatim is a customs clerk. He is kind and keeps the room lively conversing on a wide range of topics. Hatim’s wife is also a pilgrim and together are ensuring that they have enough gifts for the family back home. Our Trinidadian Saudi-resident visitor is a student married to Sarah, the niece of my good friend Nasser being the daughter of his sister Bida and her husband Abdul Wahab.
Thursday 4th December – 6th Zil Hajj
We have just prayed Fajr in the masjid. The crowd is huge. Men are still praying on the roadside. The carpet that was spread on the roadway for women is no longer there and the number of woman performing the salat-ul-Fajr outside the masjid is considerably smaller. Those who are there have spread mats and newspapers and cardboard. They all seem to be pilgrims based on the badges they are wearing. They all seem to be older, more mature women.
I continue to marvel at the thick layer of dust that has settled on the cars that have been parked on the roadway leading to the mosque. One in particular, which has not moved in the last two or three days, is now a healthy mesh of brown from its original dark-blue colour.
Last night, about ten of us went downtown Azizia. We purchased a lot of stuff. This included a wide variety of fruits: grapes, plums, strawberries and bananas. A number of pilgrims from our group are complaining about the food. Don’t get me wrong. There is an abundance of food and on time but everything seems to be swimming in oil or grease or both. Breakfast thus far has consisted of eggs in every conceivable manner possible boiled, fried, broiled, scrambled and some even unidentifiable types. The salad, however, is always fresh and plentiful tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers all healthy and raw and very attractive laid out.