18 hours in Jeddah

This is actually an old picture of Nadi praying in Singapore or Malaysia.

When we were re-routed, our layover went from about two days to just under 18 hours. In a normal airport, 18 hours may be doable but in Jeddah, it was truly difficult. There is one large Duty Free shop, a coffee shop and a ‘restaurant.’ There were people sleeping all over the place and not a single decent thing to eat in the airport. There was also a prayer area that ended up being the most entertaining part of the airport.

I went to the small prayer area to take a nap and a few other women had the same idea. At Fajr, I heard people coming in so I got up to make room for people to pray. Soon the whole area was almost full. A group of women came in and there was not quite enough room for them to fit in. They noticed that there was a woman sitting in the back with containers of food all around her. Acting oblivious to everything that was happening, she continued to eat even as people were looking for a place to pray. An older woman went up to her and asked her to move since people were trying to pray. She looked up defiantly and said “I’m. Eating.” The older woman told her to look around and to make room. The woman replied, “This is not your business. Get away from me.” The older woman was upset at this point and asked her if she thought this was a restaurant. At this point the younger woman started shouting and I made my exit not wanting to be in a small crowded room with these women.

Later that day, I went in to the prayer room to pray my Zuhr. The younger woman was still sitting there gossiping loudly with two new friends she seemed to have made. With the air of someone who is not actually important she said in her heavily accented voice, “I’m sure you have heard of where I’m from. Its Chicaggoooo. Its a verrrrry big city.” Then she looked at the others with a smirk. She carried on talking about how important she was and every few minutes one of her kids would come into the room needing something of her and she completely ignored them. I mean, didn’t even look their way as they yelled, “Mommy, Mommy.” Since they called her Mommy and not Amee, I could see that she was very modern indeed.

You might be thinking, Sumeera this seems like a pretty mean spirited reflection. Are you being fair to this woman? The truth is maybe I’m not. Up to this point, I had just been observing her with a slight curiosity in an otherwise uneventful airport. As her children ran around, I started my prayer.

But then. Then she says, “This room needs some music.” She takes out her phone and starts playing badly recorded Hindi songs on full audio. Keep in mind there are several other women praying as well. Then she starts humming along. And painting her nails. As far as I know, she continued to do this for the rest of her layover.

How do people become this way? How are they unaware of how rude they are being? Where do they come from? Oh yeah… Chicago.


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