Thursday, December 28, 2006
Elevators and live shots

This is me on the right, with our "minder" Khaled Al Nimeri.

It's 2.11 a.m., I'm crusty of eye, scratchy of voice, and far too tired to actually sleep -- which is good, since I wouldn't be able to slip into a restful slumber even if I wanted to. It's been a particularly long day covering the Hajj for CNN here in Mecca. Zain, Schams, Adil, Khadija and I have been dealing with all manner of logistical nightmares. Case in point: Elevators. That's right, elevators. This afternoon, we had to do live shots from the rooftop of a tower adjacent to the hotel we're staying in. At one point, the audio cable that Adil was using wasn't working. The task I was charged with seemed a relatively simple one: Return to our hotel workspace, retrieve a replacement cable, find my way back to the rooftop, and, effectively, save the day. The live shot was to begin at 2 p.m. local time, and it was 1.26 p.m. as I began my errand, a journey that should have taken, at most, five minutes. But Mecca and every hotel, boarding house, and shopping center, within it, is as packed with pilgrims as it can be. So I ended up waiting approximately four minutes everytime I would first press an elevator button until said elevator would arrive. Four elevator rides and a short walk through an underground parking garage ended up taking me 23 minutes -- a frantic 23 minutes filled with the kind of dread that can only come from thinking that your slowness will cost CNN a live shot. In the end, I shouldn't have worried, as the audio problems were solved somewhere between me almost having a heart attack and almost having a nervous breakdown. But hey, at least I made it back to the rooftop, with the right cable in hand, and 11 minutes to spare!
Thanx so much Mohammed for your blog. It is eye opening to read about your day to day goings on at such a Holy and momentous event such as this. Keep on bloggin' and sleep can come later, but keep the caffeine intake up. I've learned this over time at my work.

Thanx again for the inside look!
Mohammed, what a lucky man you are to be involved in such a wonderful project. I am jealous! Keep up the good work!!! Next time take the stairs!!
Thanks for the updates - it is fascinating to be able to read about how day to day operations go on during such a momentous event. The contrast between modern news gathering and the ancient Hajj traditions is amazing!
Just a thanks to the reporter who had the heart to ask for the truth....
Yes and children are to young to lie.........................

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