Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

May 16, 2004

~*Aishah's Journey Continues...Only in the Land of Chance*~

May 16, 2004 (Image - Road to Mecca) My husband, Mustafa, has now completed his second full month at his new job. The physicians at the hospital where he works are paid monthly. At the end of Mustafa’s first month of working he was quite anxiously looking forward to receiving his first paycheck. Little did we know that some completely ridiculous paperwork “snafu” would result in my husband’s paycheck being delayed until the end of his second month of employment. You can quite imagine the disappointment my husband experienced on hearing this news. Al-hamdulillah, Allah (swt) in His infinite Wisdom and Mercy continued to facilitate our needs. Towards the end of the second month of work, my husband had begun counting down the days in anticipation of receiving his back pay and the current month’s pay. As it happens, the “back pay” is one month plus two weeks, so altogether the anticipated amount was looking to be rather nice! To that end, Mustafa and I began discussing different plans for what we would like to do once he got paid. Our list began with the purchase of a car, followed by a satellite for TV and internet service, a new laptop computer (my anniversary present), a printer, Mustafa’s mal-practice insurance and insurance for the car, in addition to paying off some personal expenses. Hefty list! {{smile}} Al-hamdulillah for Allah’s (swt) continued facilitation of our needs. Discussions regarding the purchase of a car commenced. Aarrgg… My husband (good intentionally, of course) insisted that he wanted my input in the decision-making, but it seemed at every turn I was faced with my feedback being rejected. At one point I just wanted to say, “Mustafa, I can’t drive the car, and if I am lucky, every once in a while I will get to ride in it, so just buy what you want and leave me out of it, please!” Then one afternoon just a few days ago, I happened to be looking out the window of our third-floor apartment. The view from this window is of the rear entrance of the hospital, the mosque and the entrance to the gated family housing community. As I stood looking down on the scene in front of the mosque, a very pretty Grand Marquis, painted the most beautiful shade of green, stopped to drop off a passenger. Mustafa and I had discussed the Grand Marquis before (as a model to chose from on our list), but I was semi-dismissive of it at the time. However, seeing the one outside my window, all shiny and new looking, in its beautiful color, sort of began the process of swaying me in favor of the Grand Marquis. Later in the day I told Mustafa about the car, mentioning that it passed through the gate into the apartment complex’s parking area, suggesting that he might wander about after Maghrib or Isha to observe the color. As fate would have it, two days later my husband came home from work telling me that one of his colleagues had decided to resign from his position with the hospital and that the physician would be leaving in two months, thus, before departing he would have to sell his car. Lo-and-behold…the car for sale happened to be a green, Grand Marquis…Yep! The very one I had observed in front of the mosque!!! (Can you hear the theme from “The Twilight Zone”??) hahaha So, after sharing this news with me, Mustafa proceeded to contact the physician selling the car, and it turns out that the price is right, the car was manufactured directly in the U.S. and came here directly from the U.S., and as such it has all the right emissions controls (most cars here are not “environmentally” friendly emission wise…there are no laws here about this like those existing in the U.S. – which reminds me…every time either Mustafa or the both of us go out…we have to take a shower and put whatever we were wearing in the laundry when we get home because we smell like exhaust fumes…for real!!!). Additionally, the physician that owns the car is here by himself (his family is in Egypt), so the interior is still immaculate, and the car was also not driven in Saudi Arabia until its current owner bought it. Mustafa was hesitant at first to consider buying a used car, but after discussing the vehicle with its owner and having heard other good things about it, and its owner, by word-of-mouth, Mustafa and I decided that we would offer to buy the car. (By way or reminder, you cannot leave KSA if you own a car without selling it first – oh, and also, you cannot buy a car here without getting a Saudi driver’s license (that’s another segment of “Only in the Land of Chance” yet to be written…that, and the saga of “How to Get a Telephone” – promising to be a real nail-biter…), even though you are allowed to drive with a U.S. driver’s license…duh…Ah! But for once Mustafa found an advantage in being a foreigner in that if you have a U.S. driver’s license you don’t have to take any tests! Whereupon Mustafa happily plunked down his “Washington, D.C.” driver’s license when he went to apply for the Saudi license. Al-hamdulillah. Anyway, to get back to purchasing the car…(lol, I got a little side-tracked…sometimes I feel like I could write for hours about all these experiences…sigh…) May Allah (swt) continue to have Mercy on us! The physician selling the car was, of course, delighted to find a buyer so soon after announcing its availability for sale. Mustafa, in anticipation of receiving his paycheck on Saturday, was, understandably, anxious to purchase the car right away, however, the seller advised that he would not be ready to give it up for another two weeks. Upon hearing this, we were, of course, again disappointed, but we resolved to just wait out the two-week period, deciding that when Mustafa got his paycheck we would just rent a car for a couple of weeks. We have already been confined to the hospital campus we live in for nearly three months, and after living in Washington, D.C., we are both, understandably, suffering from a severe case of “cabin fever.” Sooooooo…Saturday came, and surprise, Mustafa arrived home at lunchtime to report that upon entering the administrative office where the physicians pick up their paychecks, they were told to “Come back tomorrow, insha’Allah.” Famous last words around here…don’tcha know… Well, don’t think for a second that the surprises stop there! Oh, no! (She says tongue-in-cheek…) On Sunday when Mustafa returned to the administrative office he was given only the paycheck for the month he just finished working, and told to come back IN TWO WEEKS, “insha’Allah”, for the back-paycheck! Can you believe it??? Wouldn’t you just know that in Allah’s infinite Wisdom, we were already poised to wait two more weeks to purchase the car… Today’s other "surprising" news was Mustafa’s announcement of learning that just two days after we arrived here, the administration changed the amount of the fee required for adding me to his iqama (residency document). Prior to this change the fee was 500 riyals, now it is 2,000. And that’s the end of today’s episode of…"Only in the Land of Chance." Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.