Wednesday, January 30, 2008

.: Fragments of yesteryears :.

Expansions beyond expansions.

Things have certainly changed a lot ever since the last time I came here. Formerly, the 'Jamarats' were of circular form and I could only recollect it being no more than 2 levels; that is the ground floor and 1st floor. Furthermore the current "Jamarats" are colossal and they are in the midst of constructing a 3rd and 4th floor! Doesn't it bewilder you that such a spectacle is doable? Then again, we have numerous man-made wonders that are able to withstand the forces of mother nature. For no particular reason, the documentary 'Megastructures' comes into mind. This seems to be peculiar in the sense that I have never ever watched the programme yet I'm able to remember it from the ad. *The power of advertisements... by all means, do not succumb to it.*

Moving on, these are the photos for the 'Saie' area extensions. Fortunately, I managed to enter the area twice before it was blocked. *Thank you!* There weren't many pilgrims there. Perhaps they didn't know that we are allowed to enter the mosque by going through that area. In any case, the construction is spectacular. It's not like the area is adorned by exquisite furnishings or are there any elaborate embellishments. Frankly speaking, I myself can't comprehend the way to justify it.

At the end of the day, the implication I'm trying to put across here is that at some point in life, each and everyone of us shall undergo change. Either by our own free will or for the sake of others. Be it a change for the good or for the worse. Without a doubt, the choice lies within our very own hands. The question here is... will we?


8.10pm Malaysian Time

.: Reflections :.

Expecting the unexpected.

:: A few snapshots of Madinah Al-Munawarah ::

These were taken during the sight-seeing programme I supposed was organized by Tabung Haji . We went around Madinah by bus and the tour guides are in fact Malaysian students currently pursuing their studies in the University of Madinah. Evidently, I found out that the students there are fully sponsored by the Saudi government!* Unbelievable!* On the other hand, try not to rely fully on my facts as I may be wrong. Nevertheless, I do recollect reading about it somewhere in one of my books. At any rate, there is always the Internet. Simply Google for the website and presto! Answers galore! ~sigh... will miracles never cease to exist? *coughs*

Anyhow, do not be taken in by the photos. Throughout my stay there, I was *and still very much am* awfully astounded by the rapid development. There are massive constructions taking place all over the area adjacent to the Prophet's Mosque. Not too sure on what exactly are the expansions, although I’m certain that it includes the construction of hotels and commercial lots. What’s more, the vicinity reflects an upmarket area judging from the commercial centres and the branded labels it carries.

Shopping haven? Given that I barely shop at all *literally the words of a self-proclaimed miser here*, obviously I gave it a miss. As a matter of fact, most of my money went on FOOD! There can be nothing wrong in spending it on provisions. Obtaining food there is not difficult since Tabung Haji provided us lunch and dinner. *plus everything is halal* For breakfast, sometimes we have kebabs, sandwiches, bread, fast food, junk food and tonnes of other foodstuff that I have neglected to remember the names. At that point in time, it didn’t occur to me to note it down. Perhaps I was overwhelmingly engrossed with the immeasurable selections. *I am no glutton. I just love my food.*


So here is just one of the localities where we purchased our daily needs. Be it food, toiletries, household items and the list drags on. If my memory doesn’t fail me; there’s a:
  • pharmacy
  • money changer
  • fast food restaurant
  • Movenpick
  • Indonesian restaurant selling "Bakso Goyang Lidah" ---Roughly translated as: Shaky Tongue Meatball Soup?--- *What?*
  • convenience store called “Mona” *we bought tonnes of chocs. and biscuits here*
  • 3 kebab restaurants [inclusive of the Indonesian restaurant]
  • 2 restaurants selling “Broast” *???* and food like ice cream and sandwiches
  • plus some other establishments that I may have missed out.

Other than that, close to our hotel there are countless shops selling souvenirs, goodies, clothing and etc. There’s this particular shop where we bought our “Jubah”. It’s not a big shop but it has a nice selection and the owner is terribly pleasant! Apart from offering us discounts, we could try out the outfits in our hotel rooms and if we are not satisfied by it, it can be exchanged. Talk about admirable customer service! The number of wonderful shop owners or shopkeepers was aplenty that it’s simply not possible to relate them all. *I’ll just keep it to myself.* After all, some things are better left unsaid so as to preserve the impact it has on us.


11.21pm Malaysian Time

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

.: Taking a breather :.

Quintessence of a bowled over individual.

It's been nearly 2 weeks since I'm back at work and 3 weeks from the time I came back from my pilgrimage. In fact, I had a journal of the events there. Mostly things that touched my heart. Then there are the photos taken by my uncle. Didn't manage to take any shots of my own as we didn't bring the camera. Besides, I could have ended up taking loads of photos of basically anything in sight and that definitely defies the purpose of me being there in the first place. *touché*

Eventually, I thought of blogging about it. Honestly, I'm not gonna blog about everything. Just bits and pieces of the photos and perhaps some information on it. Sure, I have a semi-existent or partially defunct blog at Friendster albeit I figure it's better if I start a new one to mark the new beginnings in my life. Not that I'll be embarking on any newfound objectives anytime sooner but truth to be told, I have in fact set my sights on a few things here and there. While I'm at it, the picture above is my sisters' impression of Rodins' 'Le Penseur' aka 'The Thinker' at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah. *pun intended* It was our last day in Saudi Arabia and we were waiting to alight the flight back to KLIA. In the picture as well is my mum and aunt. Being the uber camera shy person that I am, please do not take notice of my back.

:: Mina :: Muzdalifah -tsk tsk- :: Arafah ::

The second image was taken in Muzdalifah. -memory... all alone in the moonlight... i can smile at the old days... i was beautiful then *i'm being modest here* i remember the time i knew what happiness was... let the memory live again...- *pompous cats brandishing their struts... shrugs* Let's just skip the details on that. Thy memory shall remain only for muah! *snickers... haha!*

To describe the situation then is beyond words. Hitherto, I'm still very much dumbfounded by the pilgrimage. There were times when things seemed to be so clear-cut yet there are times when things appeared to be above all purely impossible. One way or another, everything always manage to turn out right. I constantly feel blessed that come what may, there are always kind and beautiful souls that extended their assistance to all of us. Presumably, I reckon that is just one of the many miracles that I encounter during the Hajj. Taken together, I sincerely believe that a smile really does go a long way and am gratified by the kindness and earnestness that was bequeathed on me. Truly thankful.

Throughout the journey, I was fortunate enough to meet new acquaintances in addition to experiencing bewildering occurrences. Life is indeed a voyage of never ending learning experiences. I can vouch on that. Despite the fact that the de facto happenings involve both the negative and positive, I tend to look more towards the positive side and brush aside the negative ones. Little as I may, I try to view life in a more optimistic way and in due time; learn to be a little more compromising and serene. Such I suppose is the esprit de corps portrayed by my family, metaphorically.

In all honesty, a part of me wish to remain there. Isn't that ironic?

Note: *seriously have to brush up on my grammar & vocab skills. Been making blunders here and there.*

3.34pm Malaysian Time