A knew a British couple who lived in Jeddah a while ago. Their latest addition to the family was born in the Kingdom and the couple decided to head back to England for the Christmas holidays. They were stopped at the airport and not allowed to leave, because the baby’s birth certificate claimed he’s a Christian, just like the parents. Naturally.
Technically, and according to tradition, NO non-Moslem is born in the Holy land of the Moslems.
The parents had two options. Change the kid’s religion – which could take as long as “Inshah Allah” takes, or call the British Embassy for assistance. They resorted to the latter and managed to head home just in time for the annual family gathering, albeit the hassle and delay at the airport over silly technicalities.
Then there was this other friend of mine who was followed around the block by the religious Police in an unmarked car, as he went jogging along, one fine Friday morning. He was stopped, taken in, and detained for 24 hours – for “wasting time and not getting ready to get to the mosque for Friday prayers on time.”
These, and many other horror stories were flashing before me as I stood there at the long queue at the Customs. I was thanking my gin and tonic intake for preparing me for a possible good night’s sleep on a cold cement bench somewhere, should the unthinkable happen.
My bones were cold, and I felt frozen in time. I felt the longest minute in my life as I waited for my turn.
Five minutes later, I discovered God.
I mean, I discovered that he exists. Somewhere. Somewhere, where he could watch me, and watch over me.
For a brief but essential moment, he was looking down on me. No hassle, no harassment at the Customs and and He let me out in a flash. I almost regretted the fact that I didn’t copy some naughty movies to my iPod, or tuck-in some Playboy magazines, but then again, that would have been pushing my luck, just a tad too much.
I think even the Almighty himself agrees that there is no punishment worse than having to spend time in Saudi Arabia. This country is not exactly the most desirable place on earth – and He must have spared me from the tiny trouble at the Customs. He must have been looking at the big picture and spared the details, since I am paying for my sins already.
I’m sure He must have watched me with a cheeky grin on his gracious face as I walked out of the terminal unhindered by the authorities – to my own prison, at my own will...
God or not, I was out – unharmed and untouched, and in one piece.
So here I am, back after the Big Match.
And the Stag Night. And the Cabaret. And the Russian Lesbo act. And... and, and... lots of things that are “haram” in the land of the two Holy Mosques.
Here I am, miles and miles away from home, away from my Paradise isle. Here I am, back in my virtual life in Taprobane.
Much has happened in my absence, much to be read and much to be digested and deliberated. There is the Part 3 and beyond of the “Advertising in Sri Lanka” that needs to be written – all in due time, since time is all I’d have in abundance in the days to come.