Thursday, April 14

An Old Hand

Quite embarrassingly I seem to have lost count of how many times I've visited Saudi for Umrah. I can definitely identify 6 trips (excluding hajj), but I suspect the number is actually 7, possibly 8. Whatever the actual number, it is definitely a blessing to have had the chance to go, even more so since such a young age (my first trip was when I was five or so).

As a result the cities are very familiar to us. I wouldn't call us pros, but we certainly have less of a hassle of a time while offering our pilgrimages. The geography is well known despite the ever accelerating change, and we can expertly navigate the two centres both physically and spiritually (ie we know where the nearest KFC is).

We also are more secure in our expressing of our feelings of being here. This means we don't need to take selfies every two minutes, and don't need to participate on the typical ziyarat tours others feel compelled to.

On the other hand, I suspect we have a reduced sense of awe, zeal and euphoria too - it's not as exciting for us as it clearly is for most of the people here (who would have come for the first and possibly last time in their lives).

On balance I prefer being a veteran - as I said, it's a blessing and I feel my relationship with Makkah and Madinah is quite mature now.

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