Day 7 – This Is It?

“There’s a socio-economic filter that results in Medina looking a little more bougie, with far less poverty and people in the streets. It’s kind of sad if that’s why people think Medina is more peaceful.”

10/28/11

I’m definitely getting sick. Alhamdulillah. I’ve got a sore throat, a bit of a fever and a headache. I missed Fajr this morning because I overslept. I’m in Medina now though, trying to understand this place. Even before leaving the hotel & stepping foot outside, I honestly felt more peaceful. I don’t even know how that works, but I just feel so much safer here. I got up & walked around a bit & still had the same feeling.

Today is Jummah (Friday). I’m chillin in the Prophet’s mosque now, it’s about 9:50am. I’ve been laying down, looking up at the ceiling & relaxing for an hour now. It’s a very elegant & beautiful building. I’ve been searching & honestly, haven’t found any flaws in it.

Masjid Nabawi

I want to know who built these masjids as they are now & when. I would love if they were actually old & historic. Saudi government tends to uproot legacy though, so I’m skeptical. I’m going to get up & walk around & explore some after the prayer – people are slowly pouring in and filling up the building. I need to do some shopping too & prolly should take some medicine…

—————————

I’m disappointed in these cities. There’s no local culture or spirit. You just have tourism, basically. Even in touristy locations in other parts of the world, there’s at least locals with their own culture, food, customs, entertainment, etc. You can typically find these people & places if you’re bold & adventurous enough to go looking for them. I usually love to go looking, I’ve tried to find stuff here & got nothing. It’s like there are no locals. Everyone is an immigrant – from Bangladesh or Pakistan. So, the “local” culture you’ll get, if any, is just a Pakistani or Bengali culture, watered down. Even when it comes to shopping, there’s just nothing interesting. I understand economies have been in decline & people care more about cost, but there’s no benefit to every single shop owner selling the EXACT SAME stuff, all made in China. It’s cheaper, I get it, but it’s also garbage.

Mecca is a little better, barely, b/c there’s just so many people, it creates more opportunity in business. Medina is completely dull. I change my mind about some of what I said about it. It’s peaceful and calm, yes, but that’s because it’s boring and there’s nothing going on. I’m pretty certain the masjid is the only attraction – which is even more annoying because you can’t even go to the Prophet’s grave! It’s always roped off and guarded by police that refuse people in. Such a letdown. It was made worse by the fact that there was a ton of people inside, where the grave was, but I couldn’t figure out how to get let in. There were lines of people around the entrances, no one was being allowed in. I imagine you have to camp out for hours to get in, so whack.

Entrance To The Original Section, Roped Off

The Rowda, As Close As I Could Get

I was taking pics of the entrances & one of the officials told me not to photograph the police, who were standing out front. At least, I think that’s what he said, it was all in Arabic, so I’m not entirely sure.

Maybe I just need to get out of the city centers in these places – take a cab out or something. No clue where to go though. Medina is totally not lush either. It’s just as much desert as Mecca, equally as mountainous. They’ve just planted more palm trees. There’s less people here too, still hundreds of thousands, but far less than Mecca. It’s a different kind of people as well. I know for a fact that there’s more Americans here, just from hearing people speak and from seeing the addresses on their bags. There are probably more wealthier folk here. It’s probably expensive to get here from Mecca, so those who travel for Hajj & have nothing probably can’t make it to Medina. There’s a socio-economic filter that results in Medina looking a little more bougie, with far less poverty and people in the streets. It’s kind of sad if that’s why people think Medina is more peaceful.

So far, I prefer Mecca, I love that realness. I can sit in my room at home, with the door closed & a picture of the mosque on the wall & get the same effect as if I’m here. Bored. The masjid is very nice though, mA. I’m not knocking that at all – well, just my inability to access the Rowda (grave of the Prophet), the main reason for its attraction.

I’m feeling much better, Alhamdulillah. I slept for a while today, so I got plenty of rest. That, along with a bunch of du’as is likely the remedy that worked. I also had a decent meal. There’s too much fast food & unhealthy stuff sold on the streets. Really, the best food I’ve been able to find has been Desi food. I’m totally not saying that cuz I’m Desi. I’m so not into eating Desi food normally, but here, it’s the only way to get a decent, cooked meal. Everything else, pretty much, is pre-packaged, processed, or fast food. There aren’t even decent Turkish spots, and Turks are everywhere! I know they own lots of property here too – and they have awesome food. Quit slackin homies.

With the amount of people here from around the world – with the diversity in cultures – the options for you to engage with other cultures (dining, shopping, learning, etc) are next to nill. That’s been the biggest letdown for me. It’s such a waste of a golden opportunity. Maybe that’s just the American preference? Wanting more options, wanting more complexity? Maybe things are the way they are because the majority of people here – from other parts of the world – prefer it this way. Maybe I just need to suck it up and keep livin off laban and skimpy, cold shawarmas – or keep digging deeper to find what I’m looking for. We’ll see how this plays out, it’s only been 5 days since I’ve been here.

I think I’ll go grab dinner across the street. There’s a hotel restaurant that has Desi food – it’s not bad. My mom told me they had breakfast there & that it was included in their meal package. I didn’t know we had a meal package. She wasn’t really clear about the details, actually. I just assumed it meant I could eat there whenever I wanted without paying. So, I had lunch there. Rice, butter chicken, spinach, naan – not bad at all. Didn’t pay either. Hopefully, it’s straight, probably wouldn’t be right if I was boosting meals while on Hajj, eh? I just acted like I was supposed to be there & no one questioned me or looked twice. They’re serving dinner now, so I’ma go holla insholla.

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2 Comments

Filed under Medina, Reflections

2 responses to “Day 7 – This Is It?

  1. ibrahim

    in the pics i see people inside beyond the ropes… is it just that they dont have ropes 24/7 and you only came the wrong time?? or how did those other people make it in?

    • Bslam

      Yeah, bad timing on my part. And I wasn’t trying to wait for hours until they randomly opened the ropes up again. It’s like Black Friday, tryinna get in there.

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