San FranciscoI retired from Saudi Aramco on July 31, 2006 after serving thirty years . Since then I have been traveling to different places. First I went to the UK, then twice to India and now to the USA. In 2008 I obtained my USA visa to attend a wedding of a friend's son, but the visa came late and my plans were cancelled. In May of 2012 I realized that my USA visa was about to expire and I should visit at least once before it expires. I wrote a message to all my old buddies about my intention to visit the land of opportunities called USA and received a very positive response from all the relations, friends and old neighbors. My journey started on May 28, 2012 and I reached John F. Kennedy Airport on the morning of May 29, 2012. A cousin of mine who lives on Long Island about 50 miles from the airport came to pick me up. My first order of business was to arrange my travel within the USA and to do that I need to fix my travel plan and get the tickets. I was introduced to a travel agent and got the tickets to travel to 12 states stopping for a few days at every state and meeting friends. The states I visited were:
- New York - (Long Island)
- Georgia - (Atlanta)
- Florida -(Orlando)
- Washington DC
- Virginia - (Manassas)
- Texas - (Houston)
- Kansas - (Olathe)
- Missouri - (Lee's Summit)
- Arkansas - (Bentonville)
- Illinois - (Chicago)
- California - (San Francisco and Los Angeles)
- Louisiana - (New Orleans)
- Mississippi - (MacComb)
- Tennessee - (Murfreesboro)
Atlanta, Georgia The package tickets for traveling were made using local air lines, namely Delta-US Airways and American Airlines. My first station was Atlanta and my host family was Mrs. Yasmeen Mughal and her two sons Bilal and Talal. The family took care of me and showed me around the city, downtown and especially the Cable News Network (CNN) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. I purchased tickets to visit the CNN Studios from inside. It was really fun visiting the CNN Centre. Talal Mughal and Yasmeen took me to my old friend from Saudi Aramco who is residing about fifty miles from their place. It was nice meeting Mr. Islam Nabi and his family after a few years of retirement from Saudi Aramco. Later I met my old school classmate after forty-five years as another friend from Chicago told me about Mr. Shahid Yousuf Hidayatullah. It was nice meeting Shahid after such a long time. Later we were invited on dinner at Shazadi’s residence, the younger sister of Mrs. Yasmeen Mughal. The stay in Atlanta was nice especially the International Airport as it is said that this is one of the busiest airports in the world. In Atlanta I visited the grave of Mrs. Yasmeen Mughal’s mother and saw the Muslim Cemetery in USA. Orlando, Florida My next destination was Orlando, Florida where my host was my first cousin Engr. Ch. Muhammad Omar Khan and his family. As it was summer, you find a lot of tourist in Orlando who come from different parts of USA to visit Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World, etc. Omar Khan and his wife Kausar Khan are my first cousins and we worked in KSA as well. I visited them as Kausar is sick for some time and I wanted to see her in person. Omar Khan worked with Saudi Airlines for over thirty years and now is working with FedEx Company in Memphis, Tennessee. Ayesha Khan the daughter of Omar Khan was my real host as she took me all around the area and to Sea World. I also attended the graduation ceremony for the Primary School of Owais Khan the son of Ayesha and Ahmed. It was a good experience to attend the graduation ceremony of Primary School. I enjoyed my visit to Sea World and Wonder World it was very fun. I tried to visit the Kennedy Space Center but could not visit as you have to purchase the ticket a week before and I did not have such time to stay in Orlando. Aamir Khan, Omar’s son, invited us for dinner as he lives in the next city. Kausar Khan is undergoing treatment at Florida Hospital and I got a chance to visit the facility along with her.
Capital Hill, Washington D.C.Washington, D.C. My next destination was Washington, D.C. to attend a wedding and meet a few of my old NEDian friends. My first host was Sadia and Azhar Hassan. Sadia is the school friend of my daughter Erum Imran and she requested that I stay with her for at least two days. The family lives in Manassas, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Once again I got the opportunity to attend a graduation, this time for Sadia’s daughter, Amna Hassan. After that we went to Sadia’s parent’s house as Azhar, Dr. Mudassir (his brother) and Azhar’s mother all went to work. The family has recently migrated to the USA and lives very close to Sadia’s house. Her father Syed Naushab Sarwar, her brother Ahmed, and mother welcomed me at their house. Mr. Naushab and Ahmed took me to Washington, D.C. to show me the main buildings and important places in the area. On the second day Azhar arranged a very good dinner at Red Lobster restaurant. We all enjoyed the dinner. After the dinner, Azhar and Sadia dropped me at Centreville, Virginia at Mr. Abdul Latif Siddiqui’s residence to attend the wedding ceremony of his daughter, Sadaf Siddiqui the next day. Abdul Latif Siddiqui worked with me at Saudi Aramco for over twenty years. In attendance at the wedding of Saima Sadaf and Nauman Khan of Chicago were six old Aramcons who after retirement moved to the USA. I also met four brothers of Abdul Latif who came to attend the wedding from Canada and also met the kids of ex-Aramcons who came from other states to attend the wedding. After the wedding my friend Engr. Mohammed Ahmed took me to Alexandria to meet Engr. Waseem Ul Haq our old friend from Saudi Aramco. It was a good meeting and we stayed with him for several hours. Later, I met a very old friend Engr. Khalid Iqbal who I hadn't seen for forty-three years. It was very interesting meeting Khalid after such a long time. Khalid Iqbal took me to Engr. Asadullah Kazmi’s residence in Maryland. Asad is my very old friend. We were together in school and then in Engineering College, and later we both worked together at Saudi Aramco for about ten years. The next day Asad arranged a lunch party and invited a few of our old friends from the Engineering College and his three sons, Zubaid, Obaid and Mohyeed. It was good to meet Zubaid, Obaid and Mohyeed . Now Mashallah, they all are married and have their own kids. It was very nice meeting more old buddies after such a long time. The next day I went to visit the Washington, D.C. area using the Metro Train. I visited the museums under the umbrella of Smithsonian. I enjoyed National Air and Space Museum a lot. Further I visited few important buildings in the DC area including the Washington Monument Tower and the White House.
Visiting Arthur Clark, Aramco Service CompanyHouston, Texas My next destination was Houston, Texas and here my host was my niece Asiya Ahmed and her family. (Asiya, Tanweer, Heba, Osama and Basil). As Tanweer was very much occupied with his business, my cousin Mukhtar Chaudhry took me around and showed me the downtown area and took me to visit an old friend from Saudi Aramco who lives in the close city of Katy. He also took me to Aramco Services Company Building-9009 (ASC) where I met Mr. Arthur Clark, the editor of Saudi Aramco Magazine, Al-Ayyam Al-Jamila. Meeting Arthur was great as we discussed a lot about the magazine and future aspects for Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) where I am the Vice-President of the association. Arthur gave me VVIP treatment and presented a few souvenirs of ASC to me as well. Later I went to Engr. Chaudhry Mukhtar’s residence and met his wife Mrs. Riffat Chaudhry and we had a very delicious lunch. After the lunch we visited Moin Khan who lives about a one hour drive from downtown. I met Moin and his family and we stayed with them for a few hours. After meeting Moin we went to visit my very old school class mate Mohammad Yousuf. Later the next day Yousuf and I went to visit another school classmate, Mohammed Asif who closed his Optical business in Karachi and now opened the same business in the USA. We all three met each other after a very long time. The next day Mr. Mohammed Bismillah Khan, my son-in-law’s uncle, visited me and took me for lunch and then to his house. Finally the host Engr. Tanweer Ahmed and family took me to Galveston Island where we all enjoyed Ducky’s Beach. Here I had another experience of getting a ride on the ferry. This ferry is by the local city government and the ride is free which takes the people from Galveston Island to Bolivar Peninsula on the other side. Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri The next station was Kansas City and my host was Engr. Mohammed Ahmed an ex-employee of Saudi Aramco. Ahmed and I worked in the Sui Gas Field in Pakistan and for about thirty years for Saudi Aramco. Ahmed and his wife Azra took care of me and showed me around Kansas City and Shawnee Mission Park. Later Mohammed Ahmed and Azra drove me to Arkansas State where we visited our old colleague from Saudi Aramco, Mr. Aijaz Ul Haque Siddiqui and his family. The family is doing good business in the city. We visited the city of Bentonville where the owners of Wal-Mart and SAMs Club originally lived. We stayed for the full day in Arkansas and then returned to Kansas City. After returning from Arkansas we enjoyed the "Great Lightening" on the 4th of July. The next day Ahmed took me to Missouri State to visit his younger brothers Imtiaz Ahmed and Habib Ahmed. Both the young brothers showed great hospitality and served refreshments and other delicious items. Finally we visited Ahmed’s daughter Engr. Saleha Ahmed and her family. We all were invited to breakfast and Saleha’s mother-in-law and her husband Mahmood welcomed us at their new house. We visited the graves of Engr. Mohammed Ahmed’s mother and brother-in-law Mr. Khalid Fareed.
Chicago SkylineChicago, Illinois My next stop was Illinois where my host was Engr. Syed Atiq Ahmed Jilani who I met after about forty three years. Atiq’s son Hussain Jilani came to O'hare International Airport. Atiq lives in Oak Brook and the McDonald’s headquarter is also next door. As Atiq was very busy in his business I called my old schoolmate Mohammed Iqbal Khan who came and took me to downtown Chicago and to China Town, etc. He showed me all the important places in Chicago. The next day I called Iqbal Jawaid Kurishy, my old buddy who got married in the USA to Sheryl Kurishy and has now lived in Chicago for the last forty five years. Iqbal took me around and showed me the rest of Chicago and his house. I met Sheryl for the first time. Later, Iqbal took me to visit one of my cousin who also lives in Chicago - Ch. Zahidullah Khan and his wife Yasmeen Khan. We also went to meet my old colleague Mr. Zahid Shah who worked with me for thirty years at Saudi Aramco. Now Zahid is doing business along with his son Maaz Zahid. (Maaz Zahid just got married and I missed his wedding as my flight was late and I could not attend.) I attended the Valima function of Nauman Khan the son-in-law of Abdul Latif Siddiqui who was married in Washington. I stayed for two days with Iqbal Jawaid Kurishy and Sheryl Kurishy at their house. Later in the evening we went to visit Manzer Zuberi my old buddy from DJ Government College, Karachi. Manzer took us to China Town for dinner and on the way I got a chance to see downtown Chicago at night. What a view! All the buildings and the complete city looks marvelous at night. Furthermore, Iqbal took me to visit Pervez Banday my old school class mate from Marie Colaco School, Karachi. We had a lunch at a Pakistani Restaurant and stayed together for a few hours. The next day I visited the Oak Brook Zoo and later Engr. Khalid Razzaki visited me at Engr. Atiq Jilani’s place and we three had good lunch and revived our sweet memories of NED Government Engineering College, Karachi. I met Khalid after forty-three years. Finally, I met Seema Khan, Riffat Khan and Javeria Khan and had lunch with them at a local Pakistani Restaurant. Seema Khan’s parents are my neighbors in Karachi. After lunch Riffat dropped me at the airport so that I could continue my journey to San Francisco.
Golden Gate BridgeSan Fransisco, California My next destination was San Francisco in northern California where my host was Mrs. Subuhe Umar who is my niece from India. Her husband Engr. Omar Aftab came to pick me up from the airport. I was supposed to arrive the night before but the flight from Chicago was late and I missed the connecting flight to Oakland at Pittsburg Arizona. So the airline gave me a hotel for the night, free pick up and drop off to hotel, along with a coupon for dinner and breakfast. Umar Aftab came to pick me up at the airport and we drove to their place which is about an hour drive. After a few minutes rest we started our tour first to the Muir Woods the National Monument where we found trees a thousand years old. The visit to the Muir Wood was worth seeing. Later we went to the Golden Gate Bridge where we enjoyed the sight of San Francisco and, also in the middle of the bay you can see the hundred-year old Alcatraz Prison. After visiting these two sights we went to see downtown. On the pier we had a tour of the USS PAMPANITO World War-II Submarine. It was fun to see the inside of a submarine. Then it was time to meet a few of my old buddies from NED Engineering College. Engr. Pervez Iqbal Randhawa came to pick me up and we both went to Engr. Ashraf Habibullah the CEO and President of CSI, Incorp. Here we met Engr. Iqbal Hussain Suharwardy, Engr. Khalid Tai and few other Ashraf’s friend. It was a reunion of NED 69ers and we all had a delicious lunch and viewed a few pictures for remembrance. On our way back we visited the University of California, Berkley and a few important places around the area including the Tunnel Project where Engr. Pervez Randhawa is working. Los Angeles, California My next destination was Los Angeles (LA) in southern California where my old buddy Engr. Shahnawaz Ahmad and his daughter came to pick me up at the airport. The time was when all the office people were on the road (rush hour) and it took a long time to reach his place. After dinner, Shahnawaz stated that he has to leave for an important meeting in Kansas City the next morning, so I called a friend who was not far away, Mr. Mumtaz Khan who came to pick me up and I went with him to San Bernardino County and stayed with him for two days. Ramadan started and the first two days of Ramadan I stayed with Mumtaz and had a very unique experience in USA. Mumtaz took me to a friend, Engr. Inamul Qaiyum, who lives in Ontario, California. I met Inam after a long time. We both were together in NED College. (Later while I was in the USA I came to know that his wife who was sick for quite some time died just after the Eid Holidays. May ALMIGHTY rest her soul in eternal peace, Ameen.) When I came back to Shahnawaz my friend Engr. Hamid Ul Haq came to see me and took me to his house in Manhattan Beach and here his son Seraaj Ul Haq took me all over Hollywood, Beverly Hills and surrounding the beaches. Although it was tough for me due to Ramadan, I enjoyed every minute of my stay with Seraaj. The next day, Hamid Ul Haq took me around to different places and beaches and finally we had a very nice Iftar dinner at the Turkish Restaurant which is run by Engr. Hamid Ul Haq’s daughter. MacComb, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana My next station was MacComb in Mississippi where my first cousin Javed Halim Khan, his daughter Hina and his wife Shahmim came to New Orleans Airport to pick me up. MacComb does not have an airport so normally people use New Orleans Airport which is in Louisiana. I stayed here for the remaining part of Ramadan and celebrated Eid with the family. Javed and the family are doing good business in McComb. Although it was Ramadan Javed and Hina took me all round the area especially the two important Universities namely Jackson State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Hina Javed studied at these two Universities. We went to several restaurants in Brook Heavens, Hattiesburg, MacComb and New Orleans. On the Eid Day we were invited to visit Javed’s friend Engr. Mukhtiar Larik. It was a good experience to celebrate Eid in the USA. As MacComb is a very small city and few Muslims are there, there is no mosque at present. To go for Friday prayers or the Eid prayers you have to drive two hours to the nearby city where the mosque is available. We went to New Orleans to visit the important places and see the recovery of the city after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. We drove for an hour and half and reached New Orleans and visited different places like French Quarters, Bourbon House of Sea Food, New Orleans Cemetery, etc. It was Sunday when we visited New Orleans and just after a couple of days the Isaac Hurricane which originally headed to Tampa redirected toward New Orleans and what I saw two days before was all full of water. What an experience of Isaac Hurricane I got! It will be remembered for years. Marfreesboro, Tenneesee I took a Greyhound Bus from McComb to Nashville, Tennessee where my host Dr. Waseem Qureshi along with his son Mohammad and wife Asma came to pick me up. Asma is my niece and we had a good time while I was working in Saudi Arabia and her father Ch. Hamidullah Khan was working in Khafji close to to the Kuwait border. I stayed in Murfreesboro for a week and enjoyed my stay. I visited the Middle State Tennessee University founded in 1911. I visited downtown Nashville and saw the important places around the city like Gaylord Opryland a place I will never forget. What an atmosphere they have created inside! It is worth visiting. I could not visit the Smoky Mountain as Waseem was very busy and all the kids were busy in their studies. I enjoyed my stay with the family.
Central Park, New York CityDeer Park, Long Island, New York State My last destination was New York from where I started my journey. My host in Long Island was Mr. Furruk Zamir and his family. Furruk along with his wife Uzma and sons Nabeel and Ali came at JFK to pick me up. The next day we went at Middle Town, New York City and enjoyed the whole day at the Empire State Building, New York Times Building, Rockefeller Center, Roosevelt Island, United Nations Secretariat Building, etc. The next day we went to downtown NYC and visited the One World Trade Center (The New World Trade Center) which is newly constructed and is 104 stories. I could not visit the Statue of Liberty as it was closed for renovation. A great adventure in the USA! Last but not the least, I want to thank all my friends, relatives and old neighbors who welcomed me and spared their valuable time and money to show me around their areas. Further I want to thank all NEDians who invited me to attend the 2nd Re-union of NED69ers in Toronto. (I could not attend as I was not fortunate enough to get the Canadian visa from Washington, D.C.; the embassy stated that the visa will only be issued from the home country. Finally I could not forget those friends where I could not visit but they were getting my welfare on a regular basis while I was in USA. These friends were from Dallas, Ohio, Michigan, Hawaii, Arizona, Miami, Alabama, etc. My visit to USA was finally concluded and I headed back to Pakistan via Dubai and Alhumduellah reached home safely after four months. View more photographs of On Tour in the USA. Additional links of interest: