Somehow Idecided to reverse the story. I’ll start with the journey back and chronicle them in reverse order to day I left the country for the haj.
The journey back on KT71, MH8273 took almost eight hours. It was rather uneventful. We took off from Jeddah Airport at 5.30pm local time riding the 747 combi titled “malacca”. It was “Johor Baharu” when we came. Previously, I did not know that MAS named its jumbo plane after the towns of Malaysia. I had a bit of a run in with the guards at the scanning machines during the check in. People always tell me, with the Arab guards we must plead innocence and bow to their whims and fancies – then it will be plain sailing. Somehow I defied the convention. Things started to worsen when this teenager soldier rudely told me to take off my belt – I told them it was made of cloth and the buckle is plastic. Alas, no. You do not argue with this little Napoleon. I reluctantly took off my belt. I had lost so much weight due to the hectic Haj schedule and of course my run away tissue chewing diabetic also played a huge part in turning me into a skinny 49 year old. The trousers almost rolled down to my ankles as soon the belt was unbuckled. I had to hold them with left hand. Fortunately I was wearing the jubah or else I would be caught literally with my pants down. As I was about to walk to the scanner, he pointed to my RM25 watch. That one had to go too, along with with my newly acquired three riyal ring. The moment I stepped into the scanner, the buzzer went off. I said heck what else is triggering the damn machine. The soldier frisk me and found the the handphone wallet that I was using is triggering the machine. I told the guy, there was a stupid magnet in that thing and they can have that damn cheapo handphone wallet but give me back its content – that was all the oney I had at the moment – all seven riyal and RM91. As he was examining and scrutinising the piece as if it was a suicide bomb component, I pointed to him where the magnet was. He was livid and called his boss. I said, look it was just a magnet to hold the cover down. He ignored me and together with his superior they both examine the piece of plactic again. Getting very impatient, I told them again it was just a magnet to close the cover and they can take the thing to lab and put it under stringent tests, but give me my money back as that was all I had at the moment. After a bout of animated conversation he tossed the piece aside. Humbly I had to pick it up and I never saw my belt again! Fortunately I had a spare belt in my hand luggage which had a metallic head but did not even give the scanner a peep. My wife chided me for arguing with them. I said I did not argue but just want to tell them where the magnet was and my belt is made of cloth and plastic. Somebody had to tell these Arab guards about respect towards fellow muslims. We are on the verge of leaving their country not entering it.Why subject us to such humiliation. If we continually kowtow to their antics, they would never know such a word called “courtesy” exists. I can understand the security needs, but there is no need to be rough and rude. Perhaps we are softies. I suggest Syed Hamid institute similar search to them when they enter and leave this country. My friend said, there goes your Haji Mabrur – you are impatient. I can tolerate long delays but not disrespect and rudeness. Islam is against that too. After we are the guests of Allah.
After such drama, the flight back was uneventful. Even the airpockets over the Bengal Bay were mild – I can still sip my coffee without spilling it.
At 6.50am Malaysian time we touched base and we are grateful to Allah that we made back. I felt a tinge of sadness that my journey of faith had ended. Despite its trials and tribulations, I do not mind doing it all over again. After safely at home around 10 am.