Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Driving in Jeddah

It's been about two weeks since I started driving here, and it is not as bad as I thought it would be. First you really have to change your mindset and understand the mentality of people on the road. Once that is done, it will not be bad. There are many people from very different regions of the world here. most people do not have the proper traffic training, and they just hate rules. Even police cars do all of the things below!

Some of the common things you will always see are:
* Making a dozen lanes in a three lane street at traffic lights.
* Not seeing lanes at all while driving.
* Some very very wide stretches of roads without lanes at all.
* Stopping at the right lane on the road, and then making a U turn at the lights. crossing two or more lanes who want to go straight, and one or two who want to make a left.
* Who stops at roundabouts? Who has the right of way? I still did not figure this out, but it seems that whoever can stop, should. In most cases it is those at roundabouts who stop.
And all of that behavior is perfectly normal. very few honks are ever heard while doing any of this.

It is in other words, "organized chaos".

But one cool thing is, you can do all of that too, and get away with it! Just like everybody else on the road, others will generally take care for your wrong moves. You might hear some horns, but you will probably give some to others too. Just relax, and blend in.

Two major things that are proven by looking at the streets here are:
1. Allah does exist.
2. HE is very forgiving and merciful.
Otherwise there will probably be no man alive in here. I still recall that guy crossing a 3 lane congested highway, without even looking, hearing no breaks or horns at all, and him reaching the other side safely like nothing happened. By all laws of probability and physics, he should be dead meat. But Allah Raheem.

Happy driving if you do it in KSA :-)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Leena and I were busy packing and arranging for the move over a week ago. The move to Jeddah was planned months before that. But somehow it just seemed like another minor thing. Even though we both knew it was a BIG move. We knew we will leave many things here, and will start a new life in Jeddah. We knew of all of the details, but we just did not feel how BIG it was Until last night.
Yesterday we went to get our one-way ticket. Then I went to finalize selling my car, and realized I still have another 2 years instead of just one of loan payments. We went back home, and my brother came to get some stuff. That stuff was a spare desk, and my PC desk. Both desks occupied most space in my "operations" room. I had to pack my PC. And then my operations room was almost empty, except for some boxes.
Now I feel it. We are moving, we are leaving all of this behind, and starting a fresh start.
I am not feeling sad or afraid for the move at all. I am excited, but I will miss all things, and most importantly all people here.
The different thing in this move from all the others I made previously is that this time, I will take the most precious person with me. That makes it easier :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


No, it is no typo. This is one very versatile word in my family's personal and growing vocabulary.

My family, have passion for laughter. One of their talents, and joys, is remembering sentences, sayings, and miss-pronounced words and creating our own proverbs and sayings.

Today's word is "7ajafaan". This is pure family heritage. It's not even a word! Yet we say it so often, that it is part of our daily vocabulary. We share it with our friends and relatives. It's also a sort of passcode that when any one of my family hear it, they will know you are part of the family. Sort of get's you in the circle.

And the story for this word happened way before I was born. During a gathering that included my uncle, many others and a very old man having a heart problem. The old man did not look well that night and was asked what was wrong. He said "Madri, yumkin 3indi 7ajafaan fi al qalb" 7ajafaan instead of khafaqan (pulse). One of my uncles heard it, and loved that word. And so the word was born.

And from that day for anything that is not okay, and the reason is unknown, we say "fee 7ajafaan", or "having 7ajafaan".

"What's wrong with your stomach? You don't seem well.". to which you answer. "madri, fee 7ajafaan".

"What's with this program? a bug?" "Yeah, this program fee 7ajafaan".

Just Google it!