We specifically chose not to be placed in the same room. Firstly, we registered with the travel agent on the very last minute, which means we would have to pay a lot extra to get a room for two of us together. Secondly, I didn’t want to be in the same room as the husband. This decision was supported wholeheartedly by my mom. The challenges there are aplenty, she said. And knowing how hot-headed both of us first borns are, it is for the best that we don’t share the same room, so as to minimise any squabbles or spewing of words on Tanah Haram which we may regret later, especially when ‘doa terkabul secepat kilat’ there, and since ‘setiap kalimah adalah doa’, I don’t trust myself not to snap, especially since I anticipated the heat and the crowd.
When we were unloading from the coach, I made a silent prayer to get roommates who would be good for me and I, good for them and that it would be an awesome 12 days with them.
I was slightly surprised at first when the names of room sharing were called out. I was placed with two grannies, an 85 year old and a 75 year old. And the husband was placed with 2 senior citizens as well. By the time I got into our room, I learned that the two grannies with me are retired Maths teachers and the 75 year old is the niece of the 85 year old. They get pension money and every year, they go for Umrah together using their pension money as a token from their teaching days.
That was my first really humbling experience throughout the whole journey. So much for me being around 3 decades younger than the elder granny. So much for my aikido fitness level. So much for my walking a couple of kms daily at the park. Because on the holy land, none of all those mattered. The spiritual level of a person determines their resolute there and hence, wide eyed with amazement, I watched my two granny roommates moved around as though they are two bunnies fitted with Duracell batteries.