Friday, September 30, 2016

The Hajj, Accomplished?

We're happily back in our usual quarters, a bit tired from all the travelling, but starting to put things straight. And so the journey of a lifetime is complete.

But whether it has been accomplished is quite another matter. In Islamic terms the hajj needs to be accepted and approved by the Almighty to qualify as a hajj mabrur. This is clearly more than just a question of the pilgrimage fulfilling the conditions laid out in terms of procedures. It speaks to the sincerity of the pilgrim and the troublesome fallibilities with which we struggle. And so the struggle goes on, as it should.

Ustad Harun notes that there are signals that indicate a hajj mabrur, the chief of these being the change it effects in the individual. I feel that I have been changed by this experience, but feeling this is not enough, for those changes need to be apparent to the observer. Let's hope someone, somewhere notices something, eh, and I'm not just referring to my dramatic lack of hair on top.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The World Beyond

It's our last day here in Saudi Arabia. We'll be flying to Jeddah from Madinah this afternoon, insya'allah, and then on to Singapore, hoping to touch down some time tomorrow afternoon. It will be nice to get back to normality yet sad to leave the centre of things. Except, of course, that the centre of all things is always accessible assuming we don't make the mistake of assuming it's ourselves.

For the first week or more of our journey I felt almost completely cut off from the bigger world beyond. I didn't see a newspaper until three days ago - the Saudi Gazette, provided gratis by the Oberoi here in Madinah - and we didn't have any television in the apartment at Shisha. It was possible to go on-line for news, but I just didn't feel inclined to do so. The only thing I bothered to check were the football results - and I wish I hadn't. Then moving to the big hotel in Makkah I found myself occasionally glancing at CNN and BBC World, with those glances gradually turning to more sustained viewing, especially here in Madinah where I watched the whole of the first televised debate between the contenders in the US presidential election.

I suppose the race for the White House has comprised the most substantial part of my growing awareness of big events, along with the horror of the bombing of Aleppo. And in local terms exposure to the Saudi Gazette has made me more keenly aware of the challenges faced by the Kingdom, a place about which I have much to learn. Yesterday the lead story concerned some fierce cuts in government salaries - up to 20%, and no annual bonus for the current year - and when you consider just how many Saudis are government employees it isn't difficult to imagine just how disgruntled a lot of folks here are likely to be feeling. Another story about sudden lay-offs, 1300 of them, at a printing company dedicated to printing copies of The Holy Qur'an further suggested deep systemic problems.

As did the Clinton-Trump debate and reactions to it. When one of the contenders for the most powerful office in the world appears to offer little more than an almost comically blustering charlatanism and still gets taken seriously you've got to be more than a little nervous.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Last time we were here my feet got into a very bad state  Both developed suspiciously unpleasant looking cracks and the skin began to peel away on the upper and lower surfaces. This made doing the rites for the umrah particularly difficult.

I thought I'd face the problem again but, to my delighted surprise, this time round my feet look essentially like they usually do. It seems the application of some moisturising cream to them on a few occasions early on our trip here has done the trick. I'm very grateful indeed for this big mercy: our feet are as fundamental as it gets. (By the way, it's the Missus who has ensured the well-being of my extremities, rightly insisting I apply the cream.)

One of the odd things about regularly attending prayers in the mosque is how conscious you become of the feet of other worshippers - specifically the ones next to you as you complete prayers. Most of the feet I find myself glancing at have a rugged quality that mine definitely lack. A reminder of my privileged existence.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Lingering in the mosque yesterday between prayers, I got talking to a guy from Birmingham. He'd completed his Hajj also, and had been in Madinah for a couple of days and was happy to share his impressions, expanding with enthusiasm upon some of the lessons he felt he'd learned over the days. I was struck by how extremely closely these matched my own experience.

The three points he expanded upon so convincingly comprised the absolute need for patience, the absolute need for awareness of the needs of others, especially the elderly, and the demands made upon the worshipper to focus in his worship, given the multiple distractions at every point. I can't really do justice here to the details of his analysis, but it was clear he'd thought each point through in some detail. I had the feeling I was talking to a man who'd been changed by his Hajj, in itself a strong suggestion of its success.

I'm hoping that I've been changed too, and really understood those lessons.

Monday, September 26, 2016


We've just completed our farewell tawaf - the circumambulation of the Kaaba - and are about to take the road to Madinah. Looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the beautiful mosque there. Al Masjid al Haram is deeply impressive in its way but it would be difficult to make an argument for its beauty, especially in present circumstances where parts of it still resemble a building site.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Singular Place

It's our last full day in Makkah. Noi was already talking about missing being here yesterday evening as we came back from prayers in the evening from al Masjid al Haram.

A little incident which occurred after Friday Prayers over a week ago will stay with me as an example of the singularity of this location. Walking back through the rubbish-strewn back streets to our little haven at Shisha we passed a car, moving slowly along, wary of the stream of pilgrims around it. Suddenly the guy in the passenger seat wound down his window and proceeded to pass small, chilled bottles of a peach drink to us all. The drink tasted good, I can tell you, perhaps gaining in sweetness from the unusual circumstances in which I came to drink it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Doffing The Ihram

We've just completed our final umrah of this visit, which means I donned (and doffed) my ihram for the final time, for this visit at least. I remember moaning about my inability to wear with any kind of grace at all the two unstitched pieces of cloth which comprise the dress code for the hajj and umrah the last time we were here in December 2014. Well nothing has changed since then, despite my increased familiarity with the garb. In fact, on this visit I surpassed myself in terms of embarrassment when wearing my ihram attending the zuhor prayer immediately after finishing our first post-Hajj umrah. The top piece of cloth just kept falling off, in the middle of the prayer, and I had to be saved by an incredibly helpful French gentleman, fortunately behind me, who somehow helped me fix it before a complete catastrophe ensued. I suspect I will have nightmares about this for years to come.

The funny thing is that I'm entirely sympathetic to the powerful symbolism inherent in wearing ihram. It's just that I'm no good at all in putting it on and keeping it on.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Faces Of Islam

It's impossible to be bored here. Just viewing the sheer range of humanity on display is fascinating. This must be the most cosmopolitan place in the world - paradoxically, of course, since everyone is Muslim. That in itself is a reminder of the variations within Islam, despite its essential Oneness.

I reckon the average Taliban would get fairly depressed here. From my understanding they make something of a fetish of the notion that a male Muslim must be bearded in a luxuriant untrimmed fashion. But I reckon that despite the wealth of beards on display around fifteen per cent of the guys here remain resolutely unbearded or simply stubbled. And the variety of styles of facial hair matches the variety of physiognomies available. My favourite is a version associated, I think, with Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The beard (for the old guys) is long and white, but has been dipped (I assume) in henna, often around the halfway mark. This results in a curious transition from the elderly white into a sort of youthfully flaming orange. The fact that no one tries to hide the complete artificiality of the colouring adds to its charm.

It's interesting to try and guess what part of the world folk hale from. Of course, eavesdropping on the language they're using sometimes gives a clue - and can occasionally completely contradict their appearance. A young pilgrim who looked for all the world as if he came from India heard me chatting to a guy from Thailand the other night, asked me if I were English, and told me he came from Leicester. (And, yes, he did support the EPL champions, as it turned out.)

But the great thing is just how many of the faces one sees here, especially those of the elderly, are so full of what used to be known as 'character'. They look as if they have really splendidly lived life. So many could easily grace a cover of National Geographic, and I mean grace.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's A Scorcher

Just back from the zuhor prayer in the mosque. The temperature outside at noon was 45 degrees centigrade, which, I think, is the hottest I've ever encountered anywhere. How fortunate I am to be sitting in air-conditioned comfort to record this fact.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tough Going

As I mentioned yesterday, every second person in Makkah has a cold and is coughing and spluttering and I'm agreeably surprised to have remained reasonably healthy so far. Of our own little group I think I'm the only one who hasn't yet been ill. Noi has had a bad cough and sore throat for several days now. In fact, we went to see the doctor in the medical centre adjacent to the hotel. We get free health care as pilgrims under some kind of agreement with the Saudi authorities and took advantage of it by getting hold of several kinds of medicine. Unfortunately these have not done her that much good. Since antibiotics weren't prescribed she decided to get these herself from a nearby pharmacy. According to the instructions (in French) on the box these should only be prescribed by a doctor - understandably. It seems the usual sensible rules don't necessarily apply here.

Anyway, despite the aches of pains of my companions we've been getting on with doing a series of umrahs, completing our second one since we came to stay next to the big masjid today. I didn't realise just how physically taxing they can be until we did one in the heat on Monday morning - and I'm talking 42 degrees centigrade here. It pretty much knocked me out for the afternoon. It also made me further appreciate the simple guts and staying power exhibited by so many of the older or more frail pilgrims. This is definitely not an experience for the wimps.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Not So Quiet

Given that al Masjid al Haram is the holiest location in the Islamic world you might expect a reverential, contemplative silence to prevail within its precincts. Happily you'd be wrong. I say happily since Islam is a religion that above all deals with the world as it is and how we need to act within it. There is nothing of the monastic about it, and its holiest mosque echoes the sounds of a relentlessly busy world. Except, I suppose, during prayers, but even then the coughing and sputtering of the worshippers dealing with the onslaught of the common cold - and there's nothing more common here, believe me - has its own fractured music. You are not granted any kind of comfortable, meditative silence here, so you need to create your own inner version.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Wisdom Of Crowds

I'm told there are 1.8 million Muslims attending the Hajj this year. That makes for some big crowds, though not quite as bad as I was expecting. A little worse than we were here in December 2014 for our Umrah, but it still feels safer here than at Old Trafford when I was a kid. It's true that there are moments when you become aware of just how unreasonably packed people have become in certain locations, but the vast majority behave well with a sense of the vulnerability of many of those around.

A couple of things that have happened to me over the last two days nicely illustrate that vulnerability. Reaching the top of the escalator in the hotel the other day I was faintly irritated to find someone grasping my shoulder and then my arm. The fact that we weren't even in a real crowd made the behaviour seem even more irritating, as was the fact that the grasper was a man, Then I realised that the poor guy doing the grasping was actually terrified. He was panicking as we approached the end of the escalator, presumably because he had no idea of how to get off. Then something similar happened to me going up some crowded steps into the mosque yesterday for one of the prayers. I felt my shirt being tugged, football style, as I ascended and turned around annoyed to confront whoever was responsible. An old fellow grinned at me both ruefully and goofily and I ended up smiling back at him. I think he'd decided to hitch a ride.

I'm having to relearn the lesson I grasped on my first visit here. Being in the crowd is an  excellent way of maintaining one's sense of the varied needs of one's fellow man, and woman, and an excellent way of developing patience, of which a surplus is required here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Changing Times

Last time I was here in Makkah, in December 2014, it wasn't at all unusual to see cameras being wielded by almost everybody pretty much everywhere. This time around I've hardly seen a single one, such that when I use my own I feel distinctly out of place. The lack of cameras, by the way, isn't due to any particular fatwa by the authorities - plenty of folks are happily snapping away in every conceivable place. Selfies with the Kaaba in the background are the order of the day. I get the feeling that the majority of people's hajjs are being scrupulously documented on Facebook. I know that our own is on the Azza Travel page. But cameras seem to have been replaced by the ubiquitous smart phone.

Is this a bad thing? I'm certain the general behaviour of pilgrims has altered significantly over the last two decades particularly, but I wouldn't rush to condemn this. The Hajj as an event in history has, no doubt, changed dramatically in terms of its surface over the centuries. But much of what I see suggests that in its fundamentals it transcends time - though not place, of course.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Finished, Sort Of

Things are changing here. Last night we moved from our apartment at Shisha to the Al Marwa Rayhaan hotel, just opposite al Masjid al Haram. We can see the monster clock from our room. Then in the early hours of the morning, around 3.00, we completed the umrah needed to finish the Haj rites for us. Lots of shaking of hands with our companions followed, but not wild celebrations. We were too tired for that, and almost everyone was feeling under the weather, so quiet contentment was the order of the day night. Noi and I stayed on for the dawn prayer which we performed directly facing the Kaaba, in the tawaf area - a first for us.

Now adjusting to a new routine, but sort of missing the communal atmosphere of Shisha, despite enjoying the privacy of our own room. Not so easy to get on the Internet here though. I'm typing rapidly in the hotel lobby where you can get a slow connection for free, because I'm too cheap to pay for the premium connection you can get in the room. Some things don't change, I'm afraid. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Extraordinary Life

Bringing along Tariq Ramadan's The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad was one of the most fruitful choices I've ever made in a long career as a reader of what to read and when to read it. In a quite unexpected synchronicity it dovetailed beautifully with Ustad Haron's various post-prayer talks on all things Islamic as these often made incidents from the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) their centre. The Ustad tells the stories in a lovely personalised style, as if the various characters are coming alive for him like figures from endlessly recapitulated legend, in contrast to Prof Ramadan's urbanely academic recounting, but both derive movingly resonant ideas from that astonishing life.

I remember first reading about the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a detailed way in Karen Armstrong's sympathetic and insightful biography and realising just how remarkable the events surrounding him were. It struck me then as one of the sadder aspects of the way the world works that the story in many parts of that world had been deliberately neglected or distorted. So much has been lost that is precious as a result - but the great thing is that the story is available to those who want to benefit from it and is in good hands, considering the value and understanding brought to it by the likes of Ms Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan and our beloved ustad.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Both Sides Now

Seemed to see something akin to the best of Islam and the worst of Muslims within moments of each other yesterday. The location for this striking juxtaposition was at the Jamarat. We were there to complete our final stoning of the pillars in the early afternoon and, boy, was it crowded. Distinctly challenging, especially in the intense heat at that time of day. Approaching the final pillar I happened to walk next to one of the policemen marshalling the crowd, ensuring a steady forward movement. As I passed he reached out his arm to place his hand affectionately on my shoulder. I'm not exactly sure what provoked the welcome gesture, but I'm guessing it may have been related to my race - though, as a matter of interest, it's been very rare indeed for anyone at all to pay any attention to that aspect of this pilgrim. Anyway, it felt good in the simple, uncomplicated way of such moments of fellowship.

Then immediately after that came the almost dangerous foolishness of some pilgrims' behaviour during the stoning. It's one thing to be enthusiastic, but consider this: if a reasonably healthy and fairly tough bloke like myself who is generally used to crowds felt vaguely threatened, what must the surging have felt like to the very old, the ill, the infirm? And there was absolutely no need for any of this. Yes, the crowd was substantial, but if everyone remained calm and focused and aware of the collective needs of all around, an individual's throwing of the stones could have been achieved in less than five minutes with ease.

It was interesting to link the loonier behaviour to how various of the participants were interpreting the ceremony. If you saw the throwing of the pebbles as symbolic of the casting out of the negative parts of the self - the interpretation given by Ustad Haron and Ustad Hafiz accompanying our group - then it made little sense to deliberately drive a wheelchair into the back of someone's legs (as one gentleman took it upon himself to do to me) in order to force them out of the way since this was a fairly negative thing to do in itself, suggesting that the ceremony had not worked so well for the wheelchair propeller involved. (I might just add here that I was actually moving into an open space with little difficulty when my legs were assaulted and the perpetrator of the assault following me was going to arrive in that open space in another five seconds or so, but obviously decided he couldn't wait. Mind you, the guy actually seated in the wheelchair did manage to look faintly embarrassed about the whole thing to do him justice.) A somewhat different interpretation of the business at the Jamarat I suspect some pilgrims adhere to is that they see themselves as the holy righteous, slaying the devil in others when they cast their stones. In that case pushing aside all who deflect you from your righteous purpose has, I suppose, a grim logic about it.

But let's dwell on the positive. The vast majority of pilgrims don't behave in that manner. I didn't see anyone get hurt yesterday. And apropos the friendly cop I mentioned earlier, I've been taken aback by how the police and soldiers around have managed almost uniformly (pun intended) to cope with what must be difficult, thankless tasks, in extremely difficult, trying conditions, often with humour and understanding. So I reckon, all in all, a victory for the better angels of our nature.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Keeping One's Balance

A feeling that one is swinging from the very uncomfortable to situations of great ease has been a characteristic of our experience here so far. There have been times of marked discomfort, like having to stand on a crowded bus whilst moving from Muzdalifah in the middle of the night as it made its way through the jammed traffic to arrive at the Jamarat for the stoning of the pillar, yet even within these there have been moments of relative ease and lightness - like managing to relax and snooze at Muzdalifah and enjoy the crowd and the largeness of the night. But the most trying experiences have been counter-balanced by so much that has been distinctly holiday-like, especially enjoying excellent food and drink with amiable companions. At times it's felt like moving between two separate worlds, sometimes in the space of a couple of hours, with our quarters at Shisha being a kind of gilded sanctuary.

All this involves a certain degree of guilt - especially when one cannot help but be aware of those pilgrims who are not so privileged, who are surviving on the bare minimum, literally on the streets outside. But it's important to bear in mind that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made it very clear indeed through his actions that there was nothing wrong with seeking to make life as easy as was reasonable as long as the essential truths remained in clear sight. It's strange how easily we forget the idea of Islam as the middle way in a world that no longer understands its own extremes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Still Learning

One of the highlights of the trip so far for me was the opportunity I was given to do the azan before the zuhor prayer yesterday. It was a far more intimidating experience, by the way, than lecturing in front of a big group, or performing on stage. Somehow it felt far more serious with so much at stake, despite the fact I had the most sympathetic of audiences. My hands were shaking throughout, though the Missus claimed I sounded confident. Not sure that that isn't special pleading on her behalf.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Quietly Celebrating

Eid al Adha 1437

We're just back from the most strenuous stretch of the Hajj, and I'm no longer wearing ihram, the two pieces of unsown cloth worn by the male pilgrims, so technically our Hajj is done, though plenty remains ahead of us in terms of post-Hajj activities. I'm also happily shorn of any kind of hair upon my head - a sort of low maintenance rebirth. 

I won't try and describe the couple of days in any detail since doing so would take forever. (I'm reminded of Sondheim's frequent assertions in his writing about his musicals that God is in the details.) Suffice to say, I've never experienced anything remotely like this before and, given the length of the waiting list for visas for the Hajj, I'm not likely to live long enough to do it again.

There's something that pretty much every culture discovers: the need to journey far to find what's inside. Strange that in modernity we're losing that wisdom with, possibly, the Hajj as the final monumental bastion of that insight.

Selamat Hari Raya Haji to all of life's pilgrims. May you one day arrive at that place for which we are all seekers.


I'm learning all the time. The first sentence of the above post is massively incorrect. Technically or non-technically our Hajj is far from done so there's plenty to look forward to in the days ahead. Tonight we're off to Mina.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Essence Of Islam

We are setting off for Arafat soon, and are readying ourselves for the central sequence of the Hajj. The mood is one of nervous yet excited anticipation as we deal with the practicalities of packing. My roommate, Raihan, has just shown me a neat way of tying the sleeping bag to my rucksack which is going to be super-helpful as we walk. This is wonderfully typical of the helpfulness and grace of everyone around.

One small example of such grace will remain in my mind for ever. Yesterday, as were emerging from a crowded mosque after Friday Prayers, I looked back to see one of our companions, Ali, waiting with infinite patience to put on his shoes, behind an old man who was struggling with his own. He waited and waited and waited behind as the old man - a local, who might have been any age between eighty and a hundred and fifty - gradually managed to get his slippers on. As the old man raised himself he became aware of the fact that Ali had been standing protectively behind him and gestured slightly in apology. Ali, who was a good two feet taller than the elder, put his arm around his shoulders to embrace him. Then, with great gentleness, he lowered his head to kiss the old man's forehead.

On a hot, dusty crowded street in Mekkah I caught a glimpse of what heaven might be like.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Good Humour

I've been particularly struck by the laughter here at Shisha. It's loud and frequent, especially when we are all eating together. But not just then. Even during prayers, at those points of transition, like when someone is being called upon to do the azan, there have been relaxed moments of shared humour. And it's the notion of the laughter being 'shared' that's so striking. The hard, sarcastic, clever, often cruel humour, with which I'm so familiar, has no place here. This is a humour of acceptance and generosity and gentleness. I'm not sure how much this springs from the character and benign influence of our ustad - some, surely - but it's pervasive.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


I'd not exactly forgotten the extraordinary sense of giving amongst the group we did our Umrah with at the end of 2014, but the palpable, unrelenting generosity of spirit (and practical stuff like sharing goodies of all varieties) of our little group here has acted as a powerful reminder of the lived reality of that time. The idea that something akin to straightforward, uncomplicated goodness can manifest itself in this fallen world is the most revolutionary I can think of.

It's ironic that the idea is so radical it seems to have entirely escaped such revolutionary leaders of thought as Nietzsche and Sartre. The notion that hell is other people seems to me predicated on the most debilitating self-awareness and arrogance, and an astonishing blindness to the often quite extraordinary qualities of seemingly very ordinary people.

The other night as we walked from al Masjid al Haram to get on the bus, there were at least ten guys standing along the street offering free dates to all the passers-by. The one I ate tasted good. Particularly sweet.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


We completed our first umrah here during the night, came back to change, prayed the dawn prayer together, ate breakfast and went to bed. The notion of a sleep pattern is irrelevant to this experience. You sleep when you can, pray when you must, and eat, and read, and chat, and answer e-mails and blog in between.

It was 35 degrees centigrade at 1.30 am, by the way, so avoiding the heat during the day, if possible, is eminently practical. Another good reason to sleep by daylight.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On Arrival

Big test of patience arriving at Jeddah Airport last night. Our flight arrived around 8.30 pm local time, but we didn't get through immigration until something like 3.30 am. I'm not sure of the exact time we got through as I gave up checking my watch. Fortunately the first few hours were spent sitting in a waiting area until the Singaporean pilgrims were called to go down to Passport Control; unfortunately the next few hours were spent standing in a huge crowd, which gradually turned into queues, and generally not going anywhere.

Amazingly there was a general air of calm despite the crowds and delays. And the young guys on Immigration were polite, welcoming and cheerful. It certainly helps to be in a situation in which patience is demanded of everyone.

We're now ensconced in our quarters at Shisha - I'm rooming with Ustad Haron and two other guys - and wondering when we can go to the mesjid to do our first umrah here. We're waiting until evening when the temperature is likely to be somewhat more bearable (but not so the crowds, I'm guessing.) More tests ahead, but that, of course, is the point.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Good To Go

I have one last work-related job to do and that's it - for the moment, at least. Noi has pretty much packed everything so we're moving now into the more serious spiritual preparations for our Hajj. You can never be fully ready for these, but it's doing your best that counts. Simple enough idea, but of profound importance.

I'm not sure how regularly I'll be able to update this Far Place from the far place we're heading to, so things may get more than a little intermittent in the days to come.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Going Soon

Our flight to Jeddah doesn't leave until tomorrow afternoon, but we've already checked in our bags, going down to the airport to do so this morning. The channels for Saudi Airlines were packed with pilgrims and their bags, a small taste of the crowds to come.

I've almost cleared, or at least temporarily dealt with, all work related tasks. Doing so has left me deeply tired and in need of revivifying. I very much doubt an easy time is ahead, but I'm hoping for revival of the deepest kind.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Going Well

A key aspect of the improvement of my day yesterday was being around our drama guys for their annual camp. I've mentioned before the curiously vampiric sense I sometimes feel in feeding off youthful energy, and it's been working its revivifying magic this weekend.

We want across to Jurong Regional Library this morning to perform a couple of items in a little performance space they've got there for whoever cared to drop by. We gathered a small but appreciative audience, with one or two littluns in it, and the whole thing went like a dream. One way and another I'm now looking ahead to the rest of the day with a good deal more equanimity than I could have ever dreamed of some 30 hours ago.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Still Going

I seriously did not want to do much of anything at all around 7.00 this morning. Just before going to bed yesterday I'd been moaning about how little rest I was getting, and how much I still had to do; and on emerging from the comfort of my bed the morning after I didn't feel a whole lot better. When I say I dragged myself out into the world I'm speaking literally.

What to do when you feel this way? I can't honestly say I have an answer for all seasons, but I know what works for me. I keep going; I just get on with doing stuff, almost mindlessly - even if mind is required - and, as a result, I get stuff done. It doesn't make me feel much better, well, not at first. But as the day goes on and I keep going on along with it, there are moments that aren't quite so bad. And the moments turn into minutes. And I end up feeling pretty good, having got at least a few things done.

Of course, that leaves tomorrow to get through somehow.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Not Quite Stopping

I'm happy to say that yesterday's brief post was written in response to the fact we actually managed to get to the gym, despite not really having the time to do so. We're hoping we've built up a reasonable enough level of fitness to get us through the physical rigours of the Hajj, even though out trips to the treadmills have proved intermittent over the last couple of months. Mind you, I suppose one of the fringe benefits of being so busy at work is that it involves quite a bit of moving around a large building, so a degree of exercise is inherent in that.
In the meantime with a Drama Camp in view over the Friday holiday for Teachers' Day and the subsequent weekend I'm afraid there's little chance of slowing down ahead of the beginning of our great journey.