Thursday, October 3, 2013

The air conditioning in the multi faith room in Heathrow airport is not functioning

En route to Hyderabad with a layover in Heathrow, I arrived with enough time to daven Shacharit. Whereas typically in the US I have no compunction about laying tefilin in an airport (or airplane for that matter), I'm attempting to respond to my wife's initiative to practice discretion on this trip. Good advice, but by no means my default setting. Fortunately, Heathrow is a beautiful, modern airport with excellent signage, so I quickly found my way to the "multi-faith room". (I made the bold assumption that it was also open to those observing only one faith.)

The room was a modest, cozy 8x10 space with no iconography whatsoever, a large rack of prayer mats, and a small side room for negelvasser/wudu (take your pick). It was already in use by a family whose young son was clearly worn out either from a long flight or a vigorous prayer session and had passed out in his prayer mat, reminiscent of so many in-shul shluffs that my kids have taken over the years. The father finished his zuhr before I finished my shacharit, so I didn't get to make conversation, but I'm reasonably certain it was the closest proximity either of us had prayed with either of the other's co-religionists.

(It occurred to me that I never see Muslims praying with siddurim.  I've been davening for years, and I still couldn't make it through psukei d'zimrah without the full text before me. Are the salat simple and repetitive, or just well drilled? A concession to a 40-60% literacy rate?)

That said, the subject of the post is accurate. Hopefully the beit medrash in Hyderabad has a fan.


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