I had been waiting for this gate from the moment we got into the car heading towards Jeddah, after our Umrah three months ago. This gate signifies the boundary of the haram area of the city of Makkah, where non-Muslims are prohibited to enter. But long before this gate arrives, people coming into Makkah from Jeddah have already undergone the necessary checking of passports and other documents. The structure is that of a huge book, representing the Qur’an, sitting on a rehal, or book stand.
And it looks even more beautiful at night …
Our driver, for this Makkah to Jeddah trip, was a local and didn’t speak English at all. I was actually surprised since back home in the U.A.E., I never saw a local drive a taxi. But then, this car wasn’t a regular, registered taxi; this was his own private vehicle. However, buses take a long time, as per our Madinah to Makkah experience, we had a plane to catch in four hours, and besides, everywhere we looked, people were taking these private taxis. Therefore Masood, his friend and this local guy negotiated the fare in sign language, and we hopped in.
Before we entered the highway, our driver stopped briefly at a gas station. He asked if it was okay with us if he made ablution and prayed 2 rakats first. It wasn’t time for the regular prayer, so we assumed he prayed nafl. We waited for him in the car.
Our adventure began when he returned, fixed his head gear, smiled, and started the engine.
He didn’t drive the car; he flew it! And when one is flying, one doesn’t feel a need for indicator lamps. So he just changed lanes as he wished, abruptly.
And since driving can get so boring, and such a waste of precious time as well, he decided to multi-task. He made/attended phone calls, sent text messages, cleaned his ears with cotton buds, searched for the tissue box, and counted his money – all the time maintaining a speed of 120 km/hour.
“We should’ve prayed a few rakats ourselves,” I told Masood.
We reached Jeddah airport an hour earlier than we were supposed to, in one piece. Alhumdulillah.