Watching the travel pictures and the yearly event of live telecast of Mecca tarawikh in RTM 1 (during the ramadhan month (from 1am onwards), make me miss Mecca so much.Its a wonder all the imams are Hafiz (memorize the Quran) I was told that kids at a tender age are already memorizing the holy Quran and is vieing with one another sort of like a competition. Great minds are normally nurtured at tender age..
Its been ages since my last visit. But I do very much hope that I can go there yearly.
Anyway, alhamdulillah on my 2nd trip, I get to have a chance of being Umrah officer. I am a newbie at this, never in my mind I ever thought that could get the chance and somehow I did. Alhamdulillah.
Anyway, the first trip was BEST! Seing and doing everything for the first time was GREAT! Seeing the kaabah for the first time, was loss for words. Subhanallah.
Second time was unexpected. I never knew being an Umrah officer is so much hard work. I was very young and full or energy but yet, I felt so tired at times. Seriously, being an Umrah officer is hard work. I always thought their job is the easiest. hehee! (please do hug ur umrah officer for their hard work!) Kudos to them who has been in this line for ages!
Umrah Officer’s challenging job
Many bitter sweet experiences I went thru as an officer. Also I learnt to communicate well with all kinds of people from the hotel, airport staff to Ustaz and other pious people(mutawir) and not forgetting the wide range of ages that is in your tour group. As an officer, u are the babysitter, u are the first aid officer, u are the call-up person in the morning, u are also the information booth , u need to have all info at your fingertips and u are also the one to shoulder the blame and u are the one to ensure smooth flow of activites, u are the entertainer too..and lots more.
Dont think that in a Holy land, people will be very nice and treat u nicer than any tour guides of other countries…in fact, opposite.They expect lots from u irrespective of years of experience. “I- spent- so- much -money- and- I- deserve- good -service-” kinda attitude is seen everywhere around the world. Many kinds of people I face, many tantrums I got, many colourful characters.. Very demanding. I always thought Umrah/Hajj officers are so lucky to get to go these places annually but great jobs come with great responsibilities..
One thing I regret though, I wasnt into photography and so since I heard “horror” stories that ur camera will be confiscated if u try to take shots, I decided not to take any photos to save me the trouble.
Tips for newbies
Anyway tips for the newbie visitors of Umrah:
-Dont kiss the hajar aswad when in ihram, don’t touch the Kaabah cloth..cos all these are douse in fragrance oil.
-leave everything behind, dont worry about ur family or ur property or whatever u leave behind, just tawakkal and berserah to God. insya-Allah all is well.
-always doa that God invites u again and again every year
-I was told 40 days after ur umrah, ur doas will be fulfilled (allahu alam)
-if u cannot get to kiss the Hajar aswad at that moment, dont lose heart, doa that God will make things easier for u and u get the opportunity many2 times, insya-Allah easy..
I cannot give much tips because not “licensed” Ustazah..hehhe!
indonesian wedding in Mecca
anyway, some of the best moments I ‘ve experienced mingling with the locals is that I get to experience an indonesian wedding in Mecca and their food served. Get to see their house and the community. Was served some sort of briyani in a tray eaten with 3 other guests. And was served with very sweet pastries. Also the wedding has Khatamul Quran by a hafiz.Very wonderful experience, really opens my eye.
Of course I learnt a lot from my seniors officers. This job is not only challenging but patience is greatly needed.And not forgetting the preparation class for umrah goers and food catering and also the communication of the umrah goers and their family back home.(they are the ones responsible to convey news of individual family members..)
If u think the Umrah officers seems like not doing anything or has the most simple job, (like what I used to think heheh!), think again..A lot of hard work, dedication many2 manhours, sleepless nites to ensure everything goes smoothly from the registration, to the classes to the orientation to the actual trip till the end and more..u can say “alah bisa tegal biasa” but every trip is always DIFFERENT, always challenging, anything can happen in the Mecca and Medina and all that also depends largely on the type of umrah goers u have in ur group.. Alhamdulillah, I was trained and put under one of the best umrah agency officers’ wings…or else I never would have known how to handle difficult situations.
Crime and punishment
another major thing that I remembered was that (I think in Madinah vicinity)on Friday after friday prayers, there were a big crowd at a certain area. And to my horror, I was told that some punishment was being conducted. Ambulances are on stand-by not only for the one being punished but also for the faint-hearted audiences. I do not know whether it was the cutting of hands for theft or the “beheading” for other major crime. Once I heard about it, my ears deafened at any gory details, my body just shudder at the thought and refused to know more..
Saddest point of my life is to wave goodbye and knew that every good thing must come to an end. Even though u’ve been there for awhile but seems like u’r a part of the community living there. And the bonus was right after the tawaf wada (goodbye) , all the females in my tour actually hugged me and thanked me! I was so loss for words. They really hug me!! As my female senior officer wasnt around that moment, i get to enjoy that “precious” moment alone. Very touching..
Again another (small regret)thing which i did not try was riding the camel…hehe! phobia of large animals..
One wish- I wish to experience last 10 days of Ramadan in Mecca…insya-Allah one day. Of course Hajj is already in my lifelong list..
note: What i wrote here is not to make fun of anyone but to share my experience as a first time Umrah officer so that others will appreciate these officers more…no intention of embarassing anyone.