Our first destination was Medina. The flight to Medina was very turbulent, specially the second leg of the journey. Our first leg was Karachi to Dubai, where we met turbulence at intervals. The second leg was Dubai to Medina, the flight was really really turbulent. It is expected as the journey is across the desert and planes can meet pretty heavy winds on the way.
Medina airport is pretty basic. There are no ramps at the airport. We got off the plane the old fashioned way i.e. the stairs and then took the bus to the airport. If you have passengers with you that require wheelchair assistance, it would be a problem at this airport. We had requested wheelchair assistance for my grandmother, who accompanied us, but we did not get one until we were through from the immigration counter.
A car was supposed to be waiting for us at the airport as part of the arrangements from the travel agent, but it wasn’t. The airport staff confirms from the hotel where the reservation is done and sends off the passengers. At this point, if transport is part of the package, refuse to pay the car any amount. It will be settled by the representatives of the travel agent. We didn’t pay anything, rather referred them to the Saudi representative partner of our travel agent.
Most drivers strictly follow the traffic rules. There was a small intersection near our hotel, but apparently it wasn’t for taking a u-turn. The driver went on to a proper u-turn to bring us to our hotel. If it was Pakistan, most of us would have just taken the illegal short cut.
We reached the hotel at almost Fajr time, which meant only my dad went for prayer to the mosque. It was Friday that day, and we planned to get some some rest after the long journey so that we could attend the Jumu’ah prayer in the Masjid-e-Nabawi. Since a huge number of people wish to attend Jumu’ah prayer in the Holy Mosque, it is better to go as early as 10 o’clock to get space inside the building of the mosque.
It is a completely different energy inside the mosque. It is tranquil, calm and serene. It is an experience that words cannot completely explain. It can only be felt. But yes, both of the Holy Mosques are places to forget everything, and remember just one fact, being present at a place that is larger than us, than life.