Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Spiritually Inclined Person

This quote below is from Eric Pepin's book the Navigator. Muslims who believe Non Muslims do not know the real truth have a huge problem dealing with information that is not from Muslim sources. It becomes a handicap and a blindspot as they reject information that do at times give an indication of what is a true description and accurate account of what really IS. The fact is, as Human beings all of us , Muslim and non Muslim, as long as we are sincere searchers for the truth will have access to realisations such as the one Eric Pepin has written here .

We are lost in an ocean of humankind; a world that we are part of but separate from. Through our entire lives we have questioned reality; social structures, religions and relationships… suspecting that there is much more that awaits us.

We desperately feel an urge to return to whence we came but have lost the map that guides us. We hold a constant desire to reawaken a sleeping memory that, if brought to life, will change the face of this world for the good of humanity.

If what you want more than anything else is completion, you are looking for the map that will reunite you with that which you seek. It cannot be an ordinary map. It must be a guide that transcends time and space… and it must have the power to take you to that which has eluded you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Join me in Retreat

Are you surrounded by wealth and possessions and still feeling something is not quite right or , that there is something you want but still do not have?
Are you easily bored by your possessions and keep discarding them for new ones?
Do you feel stressed out by the people and atmosphere around you?
Do you need to find out who you really are?
Have you ever wondered what your spiritual body is made of?
Do you wonder what you are doing here in this world?
Do you feel distanced from God?
Do you feel a longing to find the answers?

If you do then join me in a healing and self discovery retreat at Lembah Beringin, far away from the crowd and your daily life.
Retreat from the worldly affairs to change your perspective and renew your senses and get insight to make your life become more purposeful and meaningful.

Click on Calender for details. Log in to your google account to view my calender or make an account if you do not have one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Preparing for the inevitable

I was called upon to help a sick friend recently.
I hope and pray he was helped by my presence and my suggestions. I also hope when it is my turn to ask for help, someone will come as I went and that someone would perceive what it was I needed at that point in time and give it to me .

This was what I wrote for him, at his request. He was very sick and , his illness made it difficult for him to focus. On my second and last visit , which was also the last time that I was to see him alive, he indicated that he had read and understood and I believe carried out the suggestions I gave him.

Ya Rabbi , accept his soul , his good deeds and forgive his shortcomings!

This below is what I wrote for him

Things we need to resolve :

1. Issues of guilt : Understand the circle of influence is less than the circle of concern.
a. Do what we can do to resolve the issue : ask for forgiveness, right whatever wrongs etc
b. Leave what we cannot do to Allah REDHA because Allah will never burden a soul more than the soul is capable of .

2. Inheritence : make wills etc, settle things

3. Debts: insya allah ask for help . let go of EGO because EGO wants to pull us towards material life which we will have to let go anyway .

Attitudes we need to change

1. Regard this time of illness as a time of retreat from world and worldly matters by resolving our issues as above
2. Focus on our origin: Our origin is Allah " Innalillah " and know that we will return to Allah " Wa Inna Illaihi Raj'un"
3. Know that we actually long for Allah and shift from the mental body to the emotional body and find that longing for Allah that lives in the heart .This longing is the source of peace and joy eternal and is the balm that makes all suffering bearable.
4. Understand that our illness is ordained and is Allah's will and surrender to Allah's will and trust Allah completely . We may not understand Allah's perspective but even without this understanding , we need to trust Allah completely.
5. Understand that anxiety and worry over worldly matters is what Shaitan wants from us and if we succumb to the wiles of Shaitan then we have let Shaitan win.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Let us read the Quran !

This from Marina Mahathir's blog. The message is self explanatory!


We need your participation!

Campaign name: Let’s Read The Quran

On January 1st 2009, four friends Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas got together at Coffee-Bean Bangsar Village and decided to launch a campaign to encourage people to read and understand the Quran better.

This campaign is not only for Muslims, but also for our brothers and sisters who are Christians, Buddhists Hindus, Sikhs and those who believe in a God-Head but not so gung-ho about being in any brand of religion, too – come join us and share your ideas! You can join this campaign even if you are an atheist!

The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to read the Quran in the language they understand most and find in it areas of common values in our day-to-day living.

What is the Campaign all about?

Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.

When will the campaign start and end?

January 15th to February 14th (Happy Valentine’s Day!)


Participating blogs in the blogosphere.


So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match it to what is really said in our daily lives.


Everyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc carry the logo/icon.


- To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon at your blog.
- Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
- Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.
- Ask questions about the Quranic message
- Read the Quran – eg click here or

Peace and Thanks,

Marina Mahathir, Rantings by MM,
Syed Akbar Ali, OutSyed the Box,
Walski, myAsylum,
Anas Zubedy ,

Participating Blogs

1. 3540 Jalan Sudin
2. ARTiculations:
3. Being Human in the World:
4. Cowboy Malaysia:
5. Disquiet:
6. Jebat Must Die:
7. Lunch at the Lake Club:
9. O.B.E.
10. Poetic Justice:
11. Rapera:
12. Renovatio:
13. Rocky's Bru:
14. Write Away:
15. Writing By Amir:

Friday, January 16, 2009

COMPLETE: We will not go down

I posted the lyrics and the links before , now. This version is done by COMPLETE with permission from Micheal Heart

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We will not go down

Download the song HERE

WE WILL NOT GO DOWN (Song for Gaza)
(Composed by Michael Heart)
Copyright 2009

A blinding flash of white light
Lit up the sky over Gaza tonight
People running for cover
Not knowing whether they’re dead or alive

They came with their tanks and their planes
With ravaging fiery flames
And nothing remains
Just a voice rising up in the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Women and children alike
Murdered and massacred night after night
While the so-called leaders of countries afar
Debated on who’s wrong or right

But their powerless words were in vain
And the bombs fell down like acid rain
But through the tears and the blood and the pain
You can still hear that voice through the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Have I lost it?

I was looking throught the archives in my blog and came across this post

And I started wondering why nowadays my postings about the interesting cases I meet almost daily did not make it into my blog.

What has changed about me that I fail to put in writing life's lessons?

I think being a coach has something to do with it.

Having people confide in me makes me reluctant to put it in writing because just maybe somebody might recognise the person I am writing about and that could be devastating for them to know I have written about them. no matter how well meaning my post is.

Having said that , perhaps there is a way to keep making notes of the interesting life events that pass by me and the lives I manage to touch or that manage to touch me as I pass through this life journey.

An interesting conversation I had with two old ladies is one that may be of interest.

The younger one had a backache and I cannot remember how the conversation drifted into the subject of death. She looked at me intensely and asked me , " So what is your perspective on death, Ustazah,"I find it quite common that some people knowing I am a doctor still manage to call me Ustazah rather than doctor but I will take that as a compliment !

I then gave her a mini lecture on my understanding of death . My perspective has been influenced greatly by some books I had been reading lately about the nature of man .

I expand that mini lecture to give my perspective as follows:

A Human being is made of at least two parts , one is matter which belongs to the Earth and the other is spirit which belongs to God . Of course since the Earth also belongs to God then a Human belongs to God in total anyway.

So when we die, the matter part of us goes back to the Earth , all the components return to the dust that it was and this dust is recycled , perhaps absorbed by plants and then eaten by animals or humans and maybe becoming flesh again in another living creature.

Then there is the part that is spirit and returns to its spiritual origin .

The Quran invites the soul at peace to enter into God's garden*. Then again, are all human beings, oomposed of body and soul at peace when they die?

What about those who have a lot of hate , anger, vindictiveness , revenge, cruelty , pride and all that which makes a person restless and not at peace? Do they keep these emotions after they have lost their earthly component ?

According to Al Ghazali , yes they do. If they have lived a life of pursuing the pleasures of the flesh and have no taste for spiritual enlightenment then when they die they will crave the same.

So what prevents the soul from entering the Garden ? A soul not at peace.

And how then would the soul not at peace resolve the issue of entering the garden anyway?

The soul would have to work on their issues and resolve them , only , it is much more difficult without the embodiment they had while on earth. If you think it is difficult to work on your issues now, wait until you have to work on them without this body.

That working on it is Hell. Die before you die is a quote from Imam Ali. It has many meanings and one of it is to die from the negativity that is possible in being human .

*AL-FAJR 89.
27. "O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
28. "Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased and well-pleasing unto Him! 29. "Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, 30. "And enter you My Paradise!

Further reading on Al Ghazali, click this link

Friday, January 09, 2009

I love children .....

If you were a soldier who had to follow orders , would you shoot at a school? Would you willingly kill children or would you rather disobey orders?

I am not a soldier and I do not know what I would do but killing children for whatever reason is surely wrong! I would like to think that I would rather disobey orders than kill children . Then again, I would never live in a state that was built on displacing people , even if I felt I had a right to the place.

If you do not yet know what happened read the news HERE.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Mukalla town. This was the morning that Mohamed went to the bank ....and I lost my passport

Old Mukalla Town

This was where we went the night we went to Mohamed's apartment. The song in the background seems to be one of Mohamed's favourite songs.

To Wadi Doan , road destroyed by flood

This is the part of the road destroyed by floods. About 8 km of road was destroyed

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yemen Mukalla 7

The Bugshan residence in Wadi Doan
It was already dark when we reached Mohamed's village . From the road looking down I saw a road lined with street lamps leading to a building that looked from the distance like a hotel.
It was the Bugshan residence, like a castle rising up from the bare stone of the terrain, like a fairy tale castle transported to this bare windswept village by a genie.

We never got to see the Osama Ben Laden residence , but we were told that he had a large house there , but he has never been back for very many years!Indeed , he must be the most famous or shall we say notorious resident who hails from Wadi Doan.

The Toyota Hilux lumbered on like a camel onto the road that was not , to Mohamed's family home. I am told that the rains wash away most of the roads here as well. Another square 4 story building that had 12 rooms . It was now very dark and we could not see the village in its entirety . It was the price I and my friends paid for my carelessness in losing my passport or, perhaps it is meant to be , for having not had the chance to fully appreciate this mountain village , my wanderlust might just take me there once again in the future.

We were met at the door by Mohamed's mother , two sisters and nephew. They were very happy to see us and we had brought some gifts for them.

Mohamed's mother is young in spite of having r children. Mohamad is number 4 and the younger of two boys. I talked to her in my broken Arabic and we got along well in spite of the language barrier.

We could not stay long and she made Mohamed promise to drive slowly and take us to dinner on the way back.
Eating at a roadside restaurant on the way back to Mukalla

We stopped by a roadside restaurant where there were no tables and chairs, only partitioned carpeted areas where we ate on the floor , from a tray, Yemeni style and finished the meal with Chai , the sweet strong tea that is typical of the Arab world.

When we got back to Mohamed's town apartment , it was late but we had the difficult task of packing and throwing out whatever we could to lessen our luggage. In an earlier post I had mentioned we had too much luggage because we had to carry back exhibition materia since the freighter refused to carry it back.

At this point in time I remembered that our worldly existence is like a journey and understood well that traveling light was the best way . Blessed is the 'insan' who has few needs and travelled light!

In the morning , we said our goodbyes to the downstairs neighbour and went to the airport only to discover we had forgotten the long box of buntings. The very same box that had caused us to be late when arriving.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for , we were in excess by about 30 kgs having given away as many things as we could. Luckily for us , Mohamed negotiated with the airline people and we did not have to pay for excess luggage. Saying goodbye to Mohamed was not so difficult for we promised ourselves and him that we would meet again in Malaysia since he was coming to Malaysia again in January to continue his studies. He promised to bring the box of buntings with him and at the time of writing , the box is back with Mas!

Within an hour , we were in Sanaa airport.

Our connecting flight on Jazeera airways was delayed by two hours. That gave us a chance to meet up with a Malaysian couple who had been staying in Sanaa for three years.
Our meal at a restaurant in Sanaa. Bread on the table is typical!

Mas left with her a box of t shirts to help sell and the couple took us out for lunch . As in Mukalla , the restaurant immediately put a screen around our table so we could eat in private. The generosity of the Malaysian couple resulted in an overwhelming amount of food and I told them that there was no necessity for the huge tray of rice and I think a quarter of lamb! The waiter took it away and we had instead soup , Yemeni bread , vegetables and chicken !

Jazeera airways is like Air Asia and they did not tolerated access baggage. The ground crew looked at me and told me we were 17 kgs overweight. I stood dumbfounded for an instance and then asked her if we could hand carry some luggage. She said yes and then started to ask if we already had hand luggage and that we were only allowed 7 kg each. Before I could answer her superior called out to her that the line was slow and she was to hurry up and get the passengers checked it. It saved us because after Mas took out two catalogue stands, we were still about 7 kg in access.

Again I felt burdened by having to carry very heavy hand luggage but was grateful for the reprieve we got , Alhamdulillah!

Almost 3 hours later, we touched down and Dubai airport walked the very long halls with our heavy luggage , collected our bags , passed immigration and took a taxi back to the apartment which Mas's nephew shared with his friends.

As soon as we got down from the taxi I had an argument with Mas about dialling a local number.
I soon realised that all the time we were in Yemen , we never had any arguments that were as heated as the one we were having then and this realisation made me silent.

It was the energy of the place . In Yemen , no matter what troubles we were in the energy was calming. In Dubai there was a certain urgency and and certain tension in the air which heightened our emotions.

I will keep this in mind when I am back in Malaysia and working. I will bear in mind that the energy of the city is urgent and tense and will recollect the hills and valleys and the seas of Yemen and bring back the calming peace that helps me to surrender my will to that of the Beloved.

Hasbi Allah wa nikmal Wakeel.....

I think it would not be out of place for me to record the most important lesson I learnt from this trip.

I learned the true meaning of hospitality embodied in the the person of Mohamed, who had been longing to rest after a hectic time with the Malaysians in Mukalla only to find himself having to look after and entertain three ladies who were really rather unimportant, except to him, because we were his guests.

The End.....

Yemen Mukalla 6

The road to Wadi Doan

View the video Here

To Wadi Doan at last. Mohamed had said it would take two hours to get there. I was not looking at the time and did not actually time the trip which was just as well. When the road allowed it , Mohamed was speeding at 160 km per hour! For the most part the road was good . There were many sections of the road that was entirely missing and an alternative rocky path provided us with a very bumpy ride. At one point there was 8 kilometers of the gravel road.Syifa commented that she now knew how it is like to ride a camel. It was not like this before the floods and rain 2 months ago. The rains that came were very unusual and caused massive floods and destruction of buildings and roads. Mohamed had pointed to some hills which were slightly green and had said these hills are usually brown , the rains made them green.

We stopped on the way to appreciate the view. The road we were on was at times by a cliff side and parts of the wall separating the road from the cliff was missing . It was a dangerous road to be on. The view was breath taking. We seemed to be driving in a canyon with sheer cliffs rising up from the road. Villages are not built in the valleys which flood during the rains. They are built higher up the mountains and the air was getting chilly as we traveled higher up the mountains.
Mohamad asked us to hurry because there was something he wanted to show us before nightfall. Night comes early in Yemen, by 6 pm it is dark!

When we arrived at the entrance to a new Resort , Hayd al Jazeel , I was incredulous. It was unbelievable that a Medieval looking castle existed there among the mountains just outside the village of Wadi Doan. The view that Mohamed wanted us to see was yet to come .

The resort looked like something out of a history book . It was about half past five in the late afternoon and the sun was going down. You can see the pink in the sky . The serenity of the place needs to be felt personally

Inside one of the rooms in the resort. The doors were solid wood with metal studs

Hayd al Jazeel Resort was named after a group of 20 houses built on top of the flat surface of a small hill. From the higher hill on which the resort was built , the houses on the hill presented a stunning view that I had only seen before in movies like Lord of the Rings. Mohamad asked me to stand on the wall at the end of the garden overlooking Hayd al Jazeel and I almost did not do it for fear of falling off the steep hillside but I am glad I did. This photo was taken while standing on the retaining wall. You can see the houses are on top of the hill and the valley below is green with trees. The rainwater is retained in the valley.

The is Hayd Al Jazeel and the view can now only be seen by walking to the end of the garden at the resort of the same name.The resort belongs to the Bugshan group and Sheikh Abdullah Bugshan is a philanthropist and had done a lot for the village of Wadi Doan and its people .

To be continued

Monday, January 05, 2009

Yemen Mukalla 5

This is Mohamed wearing traditional Yemeni clothes.He wears braces which he said he will remove only before he gets married !

He read my blog and complained I did not upload a picture of him
This picture was taken at a restaurant in Yemen. We had been taken there the same afternoon by Muneer who brought us to the first floor with alcoves which were screened off so that women who wore burkas could eat comfortably and families could have their privacy.
A favourite dish of mine Homous! We also had kebab and shawarmar with a hot chilli padi sauce!

Mohamed on the other hand brought us to the ground floor and we were the only ladies around!He insisted it was quite proper for us to eat there!


I have to add that the men were very polite and for the most part ignored our presence!

Muneer took us to Mohamed's house.It is a square building now with three stories ..The first two stories were rented out and the third story was for Mohamed to stay whenever he was in town in Mukalla. Since it was new , it was not yet furnished but it was carpeted and there were mattresses pillows and blankets.We deposited our bags and went back to the exhibition to pack our things , take some pictures and take leave of our Yemeni fellow exhibitors. As I mentioned , it was a sad goodbye!

We went to the beach as I mentioned earlier . There was a stadium by the beach and Muneer told us parades were held there.

This is Muneer's lady boss in her office

Muneer was very obliging , acting as a tourist guide as well as driver. We learned he worked as a taxi driver part time and his other job was with the government. What is more surprising, he has a woman boss. The fully veiled lady had a Phd in Pharmacology from a University in Hungary . She was in charge of Standards for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Appliances in Mukalla. We visited her at her Office and received a warm welcome .

I notice that even though it seemed as though the women in Mukalla were segregated and veiled , it did not stop them from getting an education and working full time jobs as well as going about their business in the streets and in the shops .The waitress at the restaurant we had our lunch at was a fully veiled woman . We also saw fully veiled school girls waiting for their school bus to go home.

School girls across the road from the restaurant on the first floor , the ship like building is another restaurant

Muneer did not want to have lunch with us even though we offered . He said his wife had prepared lunch for him and she would wait for him and not have lunch until he has it with her.I looked at Mas who looked back at me.Such chivalry on his part, such devotion on his wife's part .

lunch in an alcoved space Muneer took this picture

Where did we lose such consideration in our modern high paced life where the husband went one way and the wife the other way , each busy in their pursuit of ...WHAT?.....

After taking us to lunch as I mentioned above , we went back to the apartment to wait for Mohamed who had gone back to Wadi Doan , to get his car. He told us it was two hours by car.He arrived back in the late afternoon and we went to the Yemenia Airways office to confirm our air tickets. I heard Mohamed talk to Dato ..........who was one of the organisers for the Malaysian delegates. He put the phone on speaker and I could hear the frustration in her voice

" Mohamad, our names are not on the airlines list . We are being treated badly. Please tell your uncle to DO SOMETHING."

Apparently Mohamed managed to get people moving for he got another phone call the next night , a very happy voice thanking him and telling him that they got a flight back to Malaysia and had decided to skip going to Dubai. So instead of shopping in Dubai , they had gone shopping in Sanaa.

We stopped by some shops in the old part of town and Syifa bought a jubah for her mum and Mas persuaded me to buy one for myself .We argued over which jubah looked nice . Apparently my taste in jubah differs from Mas and both of us must have confused poor Syifa by giving her our opinion on which jubah to choose for her mum.

I was surprised to find hot cakes and hot sweet tea waiting for us in the morning after I had bathed and changed. The neighbours downstairs had taken it upon themselves to give us breakfast and they did so for the two days we were there. They even wanted to cook lunch but we were already going to the airport the second morning we were there. I though Mohamed had asked them to do so but apparently it was spontaneous and typical of Yemeni-Mukalla hospitality

That morning Mohamed had to go to the bank.

When Mohamed went to the bank , I went to a nearby shop and bought two lovely gowns for my grand daughters. Mas and Syifa went to other shops and soon Mohamed called us all back to the car .

We then went to the fish market . It was near the sea and there were a lot of small fishing boats. The fish were huge , mostly tuna and shark . All of the fish were newly caught from the sea!

Mohamed brought a kilo of fish to cook . He also bought rice vegetables and spices while we wandered around taking photos.

Mohamed's cooking and serving

Back home, he cooked us lunch.For someone who seemed to have deep pockets Mohamed was humble and unassuming. He had slept on the floor , wore traditional Yemeni clothes, did not have any airs . When I asked whether I should cut the vegetables he had simply said no and had taken the vegetables from me and I next found them scattered around the tray of rice heaped with fried tuna. I must admit he is a good cook, the Yemeni rice he made was delicious and I really enjoyed eating a meal Yemeni style. I note it saves time and washing up. When were are done,we just had to scoop up the waste food in the tablecloth and throw it away. Only one item to wash and that is the tray!

We were to go to Wadi Doan after lunch. I had asked to go since I was really longing to see a Yemeni village in Hadramaut.

It was then that disaster struck. I could not find my passport. It was in my sling bag which was with me all the time. I searched for it everywhere and everyone joined in the search.In the end I had to admit I must have dropped it somewhere .

When did I last know that I had it? I had it in the car that morning which meant I could rule out losing it the night before . So the only places we had been to were the Bank , the shops and the market plus the grocery store on the way back to the house.

Mohamed called up three people , one to go search in the shops near the bank, another in the marketplace and a third one around the grocery shop near the house.

I was devastated , imagining the worst. I think losing a passport is an international traveller's worse nightmare. I am no greenhorn . I am a seasoned globe trotter who has been travelling to unknown places sometimes all alone. I am also very careful with money and passport when I travel so how could this have happened? I was imagining being stuck for weeks in Mukalla while the Malaysian consulate issued me with a temporary travel document . From my previous experience, Malaysians working in Arab countries became just as laid back and inefficient .

My terror lasted a full 10 minutes. Muneer had been sent to the shops around the bank and he had found my passport in the shop where I bought the gowns . The shop owner was waiting for me to come back to get my passport. In my eagerness to buy the gowns I had been searching to see if I had any spare riyals and had taken out my passport . Soon after Mohamed had called and in my haste I had left my passport. The shop owner did not want to give the passport to Muneer, he waited for me to personally come to get it. He refused money that I tried to give him as a reward for his honesty and good faith. This is another discovery I made about the people here. The good ones were very good and had honor in spite of the poverty that I spoke of earlier.

When my passport was found , I discovered that Mohamed could nag. He scolded me no end and had said that when I said I had lost my passport , his heart had gone out of his chest and back!I gladly accepted the scolding , no doubt I deserved it . Upon reflection , I had told him that it was because of him that I lost my passport. His presence had made me feel very safe and relaxed , and I was off guard and no longer as alert as I usually am when I travel alone.The passport incident showed to me how efficient and organised this 23 year old young man was. No doubt he would be an excellent hotelier. That was what he was studying in KDU in Penang.

We still made the trip to Wadi Doan and I am really glad we managed to do so. It is an experience of a lifetime and the thought of this beautiful mountain valley tugs at my heart.

Next Wadi Doan , original home of Osama ben Laden , fairytale Resort Hayd Al Jazeel , Bugshan Castle and more be continued

Click on photo to see a video of Old Mukalla Town

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Yemen Mukalla 4

We had come to Mukalla for the International Islamic Fair that experienced a last minute unexpected change in location. The change in location cost me and my fellow travellers an extra Rm 3000 in airfare but that was not all that happened. It also meant all our preparations for the fair were wrong. We had prepared for a Dubai market but found ourselves instead in Mukalla . By Yemeni standards it was a large town, the main industry here was fishing. The average salary here was between US$100-200. While the people loved to see the things we brought, they simply could not afford our prices.

These girls were from the university, Faiza was very talkative and her English was superb!

We did manage to do some of the thins we set out to do that is to make known our NGO to the local people and to make known the work we do. I think we will never really know the impact of what we had done for perhaps amongst the people we made contact with , there may be some who were inspired by our presence and what we represented and perhaps it would spur them to do action to do something similar in their own country.
More bad news hit us just then. The freight company had experienced a lot of difficulty bringing the goods and exhibition materials to the fair and could not bring anything back. Just throw it all away he had said to me.The problem was the sudden change in location. There is a 12 hour drive to Mukalla from the International airport of Sanaa. It is a long and hazardous journey and lorry companies charged more than the freight company had anticipated. He had suffered a loss and thus refused to offer freight back.
Mas packing the T shirts that were seemingly overpriced!

Many of the souveniors we brought were not ours to throw away or give away so we had to bring them back with us, at least as far as Sanaa where we could leave them with a friend to sell for us. We now had another dilemma on our hands , another set of troubles. How do we bring back the buntings, the catalogue stands, the t shirts and other things we had brought for the fair home?

Financially, the trip was a disaster.

What I did to keep my spirits up was to change the perspective of my journey. I focused on the educational aspect of being in Yemen and kept in my mind that the experiences I was having were nothing that money could buy.

The fair for us lasted two days. We missed the morning of the first day because of being held at the airport over the lost box and we stayed till the morning of the third day when all the other Malaysians had left Mukalla. This was because I had booked the tickets myself and not relied on the group travel agent .It turns out that this move saved the three of us from a long bus journey which started for them at 3 am, only to find their names were not on the flight to Dubai from Sanaa.
When all the cares of the Trade fair lifted from our shoulders in the afternoon of our third day in Mukalla, I felt as if a load was off my back . Our ordeals were not yet over , for we had to face trying to bring back more that the allocated luggage and in the long run it may be cheaper to abandon our goods rather than pay for excess baggage, only the goods were not ours to abandon .
It was the young man from Wadi Doan that had made the rest of our stay a wonderful adventure never to be forgotten.

Fiona had asked Mohammad to help us with the lost box. I was reluctant to surrender the report , thinking it was my only link to the lost box and not fully trusting a stranger to arrange for the box to be returned. My fears were totally unfounded for Mohamed is the most reliable person I had met in a long time.On the first night that we arrived in Mukalla, totally exhausted from the day' s adventures I had gone to bed early only to be awoken by the room phone. It was Mohammad telling me the box was on its way to our room and he will arrange for it to be sent to the Exhibition Hall next morning!Mas could not understand my delight when I gleefully pointed to the box the next morning .She did not know my doubts and she did not fuly realise the miracle of having a person who could be relied upon under the circumstances we were in.

Mohammad is from Wadi Doan. On the third day we would be on our own. I am amazed that the three of us were not very worried about being the only Malaysians in Mukalla at that point in time. Having been around the Yemenis for the past few days , we had become familiar with the friendliness and laid back simplicity of their ways. I think we had absorbed some of the laid backness so that our moments of anxiety were very much muted and cushioned and a sense of peace had prevailed throughout our travails here.

When we asked Mohammad to find us another hotel , he had hesitated only for an instance before offering us his apartment which was newly built. In Yemen as in Egypt , people build their houses floor by floor. Mohammad had a house here in Mukalla and it was now 3 stories and the third story was just completed. We were quite happy to accept his offer having by then full trust in him .

He had arranged for us to be taken from the hotel by a taxi driver called Muneer who proved to be another Yemeni gem. Handsome gentle helpful and polite as well as speaking a reasonable amount of English , we found Muneer to be very obliging and he brought us to the beach , to lunch and to Mohammad's apartment .

At the beach , I had removed my shoes and stepped onto the pebbly part barefoot ( yes it was quite painful but I wanted to) before my feet felt the warm sand . A sense of exhilaration filled my heart . Leaving the exhibition , Mas had remarked she had felt a bit sad , as if reluctant to leave the Yemeni people who were still there since there was one more day of exhibition left. We had made friends with many of them and their warmth kindness and hospitality had touched our very souls. Now, at the beach a peace and joy seemed to emanate from the clear waters that were teasing at my feet as I carefully ventured to the water's edge only to find the waves swishing onto the legs of my trousers. I had let out a scream , was it out of relief, or delight? I do not really know nor is it important. The wind against my face, the gentle afternoon sun, the Sapphire blue of the Arab sea in the distance and the sound of seagulls painted a perfect picture of the beauty of the Mukalla coast and filled my soul to its depth with the fresh beauty of God's earth . I was moved to tears.

What is it about this place I wondered , that made me feel calm in spite of the uncertainty of our situation ? I think wealth should not be measured in terms of money , perhaps there is something more important, a wealth of the spirit , a generosity which was not limited by vested interests. We would be experiencing more of the Yemeni hospitality in the next days .

Next , Muneer's lady boss, A Yemeni restaurant, Wadi Doan and more

to be continued.....