Sunday, October 2, 2016


Way too much food was available to us in Saudi Arabia. I tried to be careful over what I ate and still gained 1 kg. Oddly Noi didn't seem to try to be careful at all and managed to lose 1 kg. Not sure how exactly that came about, but we're celebrating the fact that it did. In contrast our friend Raihan told us he'd gained 5 kg when we arrived in Madinah and could check our respective weights on the scales thoughtfully provided in the hotel bathrooms.

This evening Noi and I were discussing how much waste might have been involved as a result of the glut of comestibles. She noticed that when our group gave away the snacks provided by the hotel at Madinah Airport as we were on our way home, the workers who gratefully received them scoffed them down in no time. This strongly suggests, I'm afraid, that the guys involved - who were moving the bags about - were really hungry. We saw the same thing on arrival as well when a cleaner at Jeddah Airport helped us dispose of some packet lunches by eating some of the remains himself and then packed what was left for others - presumably his co-workers. We both found ourselves hoping that generally this is what was happening to the over-supply of food provided for the various groups of pilgrims - that it was finding its way into the hands, and stomachs, of people who really, really needed it.

One positive point: Noi asked at one of our hotels about what became of the excess food for the buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinner. She was assured it went to feed the staff. We're hoping this was truly the case.

It's an astonishing and painful contrast. There we were, the fortunate few with so much to eat it would have been damaging to our health to have given our appetites full rein; and standing by us, often assisting us, those who didn't seem at all sure where their next good meal would be coming from.

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