So after being mistaken for a beggar and generally being the laughing stock for the day, I decided I would stand up and try to look dignified :)
a cup of tea was so what we needed so of we went in search of some, we didn't have to look far Lipton tea came to the rescue, for the next 3 weeks I survived on Lipton, so I would like to thank the makers of Lipton for there never ending supply of tea bags in Saudi, now whenever I drink Lipton (my mum bought about 5 boxes of the stuff back with her) I remember my time in hajj.
we decided we would stay till fajr, it will be the first jammah prayer we pray at the haram. When the adhan for fajer was called it was so amazing, living in the west has its ups no one can argue that but really one of the most missed aspect of the Muslim world is the adhan and when I travel to Muslim countries the thing that excites me about my travel is the fact that I will be able to hear the adhan, such a wonderful feeling goes through you and to witness the ummah of Muhammed pbuh rushing, running, preparing themselves for sallah, coming from all corners of the haram is really a sight to see.
the fajer adhan is my favourite adhan, its that time of calm and peace and to be awakened to the call for sallah is something that installs faith in your heart, to hear the muadhin call 'asalatu khairn min al nawm - prayer is better than sleep' and to join the many thousands who have woken up to stand before Allah swt in prayer really is something. Its really one of the major things that I miss.
you have to be at the haram early by like 2 hours before each prayer to even get a place inside to pray otherwise you will pray outside and even outside there are stages, you have the marble surrounding the mosque then you have the streets and by the time the adhan goes off even the streets are full of people wow. We managed to find a spot, one of the weird things is that during the hajj period men and woman will pray next to each other, you will be standing ready for prayer, you turn to your right and there could be a man standing next to you although majority of times people try to find there gender to stand next to :).
after the prayer there was a call for the prayer on thd dead, it was a child who had died, after every single prayer in mecca and madina this would be announced, my brother turns around to my mum and he says 'mama il3ayel mat fil tawaf? akeed mat fil tawaf' translation - mum did the child die at the tawaf, he probably died at the tawaf', bless he really had a terrifying experience.
by this point we where really tired and wanted to get back to the apartment to catch up on sleep, from the haram to where the taxis where is just a 5 minute walk, it took us nearly an hour because of the crowds and when we finally got to where the taxis should be all we could see was a sea of people, every one had the same idea as us, seriously it felt like everyone in Saudi was waiting to get a taxi, and see all sorts of sights I swear, I was so tired but I was laughing so hard my sides where hurting me. One guy who was driving had another guy sat on his lap, seriously!!! How was he able to drive?
one car kept taking people in, the maximum should be 4 at the back instead 10 of them where squashed at the back and they really did look like sardines, one guys face was squashed against the window it looked like a scene from dawn of the dead. People where getting onto the roofs of cars and mini buses, or at the back of those cars that have no roof, the ones that are supposed to carry loads of objects not people.
you are supposed to approach the driver and ask them if they will take you to where ever it is you want to go and negotiate a price, some of the drivers just ignore you when you approach them, some give you a ridiculous price.
one way of getting attention from the drivers is to shout out the area you want to be taken to, at one point no one was getting anywhere so we started shouting out areas in Britain 'Manchester, London, Birmingham' and then we started shouting out areas in Libya ' trablis, benghazi, misrata' the drivers where getting confused, one said I don't know where that is, can you direct me? loooooool he ended up taking us to where we wanted to go bless him.
we got home and hit the beds straight away dreaming of tawaf and Lipton tea....
woke up in the afternoon, prayed duhur and generally relaxed, had breakfast and got to know the rest of the crew with us, that evening we went out to the main road for a walk and to eat dinner, it really is a different world in Saudi, and they have all the names over there, its a busy street and its constantly buzzing full of life, in the middle of the pavement you would find chidren and woman who spread out a cloth and sell things like purses, scarfs, socks, perfume etc.. As soon as they see the police they bundle up there stuff and make a run for it, I feel so sorry for them when that happens and some of the shop owners are so cruel they will shout out 'baladeeyah baladeeyah - police' to watch them run away, whilst they stand there laughing at them.
what used to amaze me was how they would balance there stuff on their head, so cool, I tried doing it with a book and ended up hurting my toe, edge of the book fell on my big toe owwwwwwww.
we where spoilt for choice as to what to eat so we decided to go for a pizza, boring I know but I was in the mood for pizza and it was delicious, pretty cheap as well but I have a suspicion that the prices increase like anything in the hajj period tut tut. My brother and Judy about to tuck into their pizza.
we where to go to Mina the following day, so we relaxed and spent some more time at the haram, as well as my younger brother entertaining us, at one point he pretended to be a beggar and started coming up to us saying 'sabil illah, sabil illah, for the sake of allah for the sake of allah' and although it was kinda funny we had to tell him off and say that he shouldn't mock people but should pray for them. So he did acrobats instead as wlel as seeing how far he could twist his leg, kids are weird....
we where told that we had to be ready by 8pm because the coach was coming to take us to mina, so every one had to be ready and in a state of ihram by 8pm, we rushed home and had our showers and packed our smaller bags for mina and barley got ready for 8 but we made it, by 8 we where all ready, every one was set to go, all the men where in white, the bags, boxes what not where prepared but no sight of coach.
this is what the hall of the apartment looked like by the time we where done and dusted, that was just a portion of the stuff, the rest was outside with the men.
the men where standing outside for sometime, an hour passed yet no sign of the coach, my dad went back up and slept an asked to wake him when it arrived. We all sat in one room and waited for the coach, we ended up having a reminder on what hajj is all about, as well as eating and still no coach. Some of the woman decided they would go to bed and to wake them when the coach came if it ever did.
salma and her hubby waiting for the coach, no sign yet guys I'm afraid.
the thing is that our leader requested the coach to come, and he was informed 8pm, but nothing is ever guaranteed with the saudis or the drivers, so by the time the coach finally did arrive it was 3am, so those people who managed to sleep, they where very clever. it wasn't a problem, it's all part of the experience and that night where we waited was one of the best, because we established a bond with every one which might not have happened if the coach had turned up on time.
we got on the coach and began our journey to mina, hajj had officially began....