A very very very happy Eid Mubarak to all Muslims across the globe 😀
The city of Yanbu, especially the Royal Commission area in Yanbu al-Bahr is quite well-known for its beautiful, awe inspiring Corniche (Cornish). Located in Saudi Arabia, Yanbu belongs to the coastal region and the Corniche of Yanbu is its beach, which has been divided up into different parts.
When I visited my brother and his family, who reside in Yanbu al-Bahr, this summer, the Corniche was one place where we made regular visits to. We drove there under the sweltering heat of the scorching late noon sun (Yes! The sun became unbearably hot as early as 8 am and it remained horribly hot till near evening. Even the nights were warm and it was really difficult for a person adapted to Karachi’s climate to adjust there. Thank God, it was not as dry as Riyadh was!), as well as in the calmer, warm and silvery nights.
Daytime brought around extreme heat due to which the beach was always less populated. Even in the early evenings (which are comparatively cooler), the swings and slides were too hot to sit on. If you did make the mistake of sitting on the swings, you ended up jumping, screeching with pain, and with a (slightly 😛 ) burnt bottom.
However, on the weekends (Thursdays and Fridays), despite the harsh weather, the beach was still crowded with people. Recreational facilities like motor-boats, jet skis, and even scuba diving kits were available (if you could afford them) at almost all the places which had beach resorts. (You got to see real green and pink coral reefs if you hired a motor-boat and a tour guide!!! :D)
Kids ran around barefoot, often collecting mud and water to build magnificent sand castles and other such sculptures. (Oh, and I forgot to mention: the beach stank of seaweed…badly. The smell was so strong, especially at night, that it made want to throw up.) People went chest-deep into the vast, shimmering sea. Tide breakers had been installed which did not let the water go higher than that level.
At night time, the scene was totally different. The Corniche at Royal Commission was swarming with people, usually teenage boys (known as ‘Shabbab’ in Arabic), the whole week round. The main street which led to the Corniche (at least the route we used to take) had oyster pearl shaped lights on the sides, and the trunks of the date palm trees, which grew alongside the road, were wrapped in nets of tiny, glorious, breathtakingly marvellous strings of white bulbs. However, the beach, which stretched for miles, was dark. With only a few street lamps, placed at a distance of about a kilometre from each other, it often became to dark to see clearly. Despite this fact, the sea was still filled with people wading in and even small kids, learning to swim.
At night, a variety of activities took place. Boys roared around on ‘Dabbabs’ (local name for quad bikes), pressing the blaring horn to warn people to get out of the way. In the family-allocated areas, plump little Saudi kids and kids of all other nationalities swung on the swings, and took turns to go on the slides, while the husbands and wives chatted with each other, enjoying the much-awaited ‘alone’ time.
It was still warm at that time, as I mentioned earlier, though there had been a drop in temperature. The atmosphere, despite the presence of locals and tourists, was so serene, so peaceful! Most of the kids were not rowdy, for one thing (I am not talking about my own nephew here). Shining silvery stars dotted on the jet black sky, were a treat for the eyesight.
Whether day or night, the place is amazing to visit with family and friends. Truly, Yanbu is the ideal place to go on a vacation, provided you can get there (oh..and you shall have to bear the climate as well)!
Ever since I was born, I have had four mothers. One, my biological mother, was ‘Mamma’; the second, my aunt, was ‘Ammi’; the third, another aunt, was ‘Maa’; and the fourth and the best was ‘Amma’.
Amma was a kind of a far-off relative, but, as they say, people you live with are often dearer to you than people with whom you have family ties.
Despite the distance in relation, I was closer to Amma, as a child, than I was to my own mother. Before my schooling started, nobody used to be at my home in the mornings, so I was sent to my aunt’s house, where Amma also lived, and babysat me.
She was the one who used to defend me when my strict aunt scolded me; who consoled me when I cried. She taught me the art of storytelling and even more, the art of listening to stories. Her stories were the wackiest, most unimaginable, yet truer than life and full of morals. The characters ranged from elegant princesses, to gigantic giants, to crows and twittering birds. The scenario was so fairy tale-like and yet, so familiar.
She was one of the best cooks in the family. My mother tries hard to recreate her ‘kaleji’ recipe every Eid, but despite her being a good cook as well, she is never successful.
Amma’s death in 2007, as an old, white-haired woman nearly seventy years of age, punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. She had been there for as long as I could remember, and it seemed unbelievable and almost, silly, that Amma would die one day. I later discovered that she had been suffering from cancer. But back then, I was unaware of this. Though, I always knew that death is inevitable, but I never, in a hundred years, would have expected that Amma would die so ‘early’. Her death was the biggest loss I had to face, and not only for me, was it the loss of a priceless, amazing person; it was a loss for the world!