25th October Unayzah to Al Ghat
I stop 15 miles from Unayzah at a coffee drive thru and my policeman buys me a coffee. Down the road we sit together again and buys me an almond croissant and another flat white. It’s quite useful being tailed by Saudi CID and as I am now wedded to the Saudi security apparatus this journey across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is what is it and I accept the coffee and ask him if he’ll oblige me with another sugar and could he have my milk a little hotter next time.
Through google translate he asked me home for dinner and that I research the Otaiba tribe from which he belongs;
Bit of Information
Utaybah is one of the biggest Arab tribes originating in the Arabian Peninsula. Their distribution spans throughout Saudi Arabia, especially in Najd. and the Middle East. The Otaibah are descended from the Bedouin. They trace back to the Mudar family and belong to the Qays ʿAylān confederacy through its previous name, Hawazin.
The weather is gentle. A haze here is as good as a cloud can be. At the hospital in Sherri, Madhi told me that rain means the wind comes from the south and there was a shower before dawn. Today was a good day. A best day. Traffic volume was low and there was a sense of calm. Trees, oasis, the oddity of flowering bushes on the kerbside supported by a bed of artificial grass.
The idea of their being meaning in an otherwise meaningless journey gives purposelessness purpose.That says nothing. How about the idea of a creator video rendering my reality as it appears to me. If in the simulation, not attached to any faith but to the complex connection between however the beginning was created and whoever created the renderer?
Peter Matthiessen in his seminal book ‘The Snow Leopard’ said, “we have outsmarted ourselves, like greedy monkeys and now we are full of dread.” By selecting routes that have a history of kindness to travelling strangers, in Arabia presently, I have lost my fear and dread but everything I see and feel is connected to a God in any other name.
It is related that Sakyamuni [the historical Buddha] cried out in pity for a yogin by the river who had spent twenty years of his human existence learning to walk on water, when the ferryman might have taken him across for a small coin. I knew an old man in Cairo who said to me my son, you don’t need to go around the world but you will be the one who does until you realise you didn’t need to go. I was warned.
Um Hazm, is a village of the damned where the rusting fences are next to shutters drawn on crumbling derelict buildings and there is no one around. No bird song, just wind and the tickle sound of sand and smashed glass. Broken breeze-blocks stand in pyramid heaps in a lifeless landscape where even the mosque is locked. My policeman says don’t go as food will be here in 15 minutes and improbable though it sounds it arrives. We eat chicken and rice,. He prays. I say goodbye.
He is then replaced by a colleague who will protect me for the run into Al Ghat. Are crowds going to fight over me, will I be ritually slaughtered blood and intestines pulled out of me alive in this warm sunshine as has not happened since Tabuk.
The rain passes the sand is damp the secret of the desert is that the dunes simply exist, as I do myself as I cycle past, my new policeman in his car apace: the dunes exist simply, but I am more complicated. The camels stand there with their herder.
Map of the Day