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6th May

How my senses seem to have changed

If someone had told me that in Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates, I’d be awoken each morning at five thirty by the first call to prayer from the mosque next to my hotel, I would probably have looked for another place to stay. 

To my surprise, when I heard the muezzin’s warm, melodious voice the morning after my arrival I was enthralled. 

I would lie in bed listening to his chant thinking of the other people in Sharjah and beyond who’d hear similar calls coming from the mosques in their neighborhoods. Even though I do not share their religion I felt a connection; we were all hearing the same words and melody at the same moment.

Not only did I enjoy listening to the chants, I was also surprised by how much in awe I was. The call to prayer is something I have encountered before on previous visits to the countries along the Persian Gulf, but this time felt different. What had been a mere background sound became my focus of attention. Had being out in the world after so much time heighten my senses, just as a piece of Sacher torte tastes so much more delicious after you’ve been on a diet for three years?

Or is it just age, and rather than being jaded by the experiences of these past sixty-nine years, I seem to have become more enthralled by them? 


I noticed on my trip to Luang Prabang several weeks earlier how I became inebriated by the smell of the plumeria, jasmine, milkweed, and globe amaranth in the temples and how moved I was by the cheerful devotion of the women from the local neighborhood who brought the flowers. And even though I had fantasized about sitting on the balcony of my hotel room at dawn before I travelled to Laos, when I was actually there, I was more enraptured by the cacophony of birds and the singing of the monks of the temple down the road than I remembered.

It's as if my senses have become more perceptive.

That promises something for the future. I can’t wait to see how delighted I’ll be at the age of eighty-nine when I hear the chanting of the muezzin close to my hotel room at five thirty in the morning. Or whatever my travels have in store.

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