Riyadh, in itself, is a modern city, complete with its fare share of skyscrapers. But there was something very warm and friendly in it. The people.
Part of our experiences as a traveller are built on the interactions with the people. As with any big city, Riyadh too had a lot of immigrants from several other countries. There are people from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia. People from far off countries like USA, Canada, UK as well as people from nearby Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The people who have come from other countries and cultures to embrace the local culture. I interacted with several such expatriates as well as the natives of the land. I got to peek into their lives. They shared
their joy and sorrow with me. My story includes them as well.
I met Naazneen (name changed) from one of the south east asian countries like mine. She is a cleaner at a office. She has taken the trouble to travel to such a far off land in search of a better life, not for herself, but for her family back in the country. And the joy of providing for her two daughters, abandoned by their husbands at relatively young age seemed to light up her smile when she chatted with me about how she was able to send a large sum this month. She worked two shifts at two different facilities. Woke up by 4 AM, did her namaz, cooked and cleaned, caught the battered company bus by 5:30 AM to get to her first place of work, where I worked as a consultant.
We spoke more because she spoke a different dialect of Bengali, my mother tongue. She earned relatively small amounts in both the places, but even that turned out to be more than what she got, back at home. I was happy to have provided the warmth of a familiar language, and a bit of a patient listening. But I was surprised and somewhat baffled that despite all the hardships, she never complained.
I guess when people say travel helps us expand our minds, it is not entirely incorrect! 🙂