When Abdellatif from @MasjidRoadTrip explained to me about a grand event happening in Le Mans, I thought it was an Islamic event. Because we were just talking about his trip with his wife Hassana, going around Paris / Medina / Mecca / Abu Dhabi / Delhi / Shanghai / Tokyo / Kuala Lumpur / Bandar Seri Begawan / Bali / Jakarta visiting 80 Masjids to follow the trace of Ibn Battuta. We met over dinner in Jakarta, talking about their amazing trip, and I also share on how I do it with PinkMosques. They’re very inspiring and a very romantic Muslim couple! I want to do something like this with my future husband, insha Allah!
Anyway, that was when they were in Jakarta. Fast forward, couple of weeks later, I visited the couple in their hometown, Le Mans, 2 hours train trip from Paris. Like I said, I thought they’re inviting me for a huge Islamic event in Le Mans. Saphia, my French buddy who was coming with me to Le Mans, said that she didn’t know any Islamic event in Le Mans. “As far as I know, there’s a big car race event in Le Mans.”
I didn’t remember Abdel was saying anything about car race, or did I puzzling myself. But when we walked out of the train station and saw a big sign of 24 Heures de Mans (24 hours Le Mans), I was pretty much sure, that my black abaya, is not the right outfit for (watching) a race car.
So if you were watching the race around Circuit de la Sarthe and happened to see a Muslim woman in head to toe black, wearing slipper, limping (I hurt my feet from too much walking, remember) in the crowd of car lovers that 95% men: she was definitely me.
After returning our Pizza twice because it has bacon slices in it, we finally finished our lunch and enjoying our time looking at fancy cars around the car race area. We walked from stand to stand and touching some cool sport cars, taking pictures, fighting the best spot to take picture with a 5 years old boy, had our hands painted in Bahrain’s stand :))
“Come Ollie, we move closer to see your Prince!” Abdel lead the way.
The Prince he was referring to was the handsome prince AbdulAziz Turki AlFaisal who’s participating in 24 hours Le Mans endurance racing.
So there we were, the 4 of us, Abdel, Hassana, Me and Saphia, would scream like crazy teens (okay maybe only me screaming), whenever Prince Faisal’s green Porsche coming our way. And everybody like glancing with the corner of their eyes, ‘what the hell is happening with these people’ :))
“Ollie, when the Prince come, you should jump with a ‘Marry Me’ sign!!” Abdel said in a high tone excited voice.
“Abdel… I appreciate your advice, but no. Thanks.”
No, I don’t ended up marrying the Prince nor had dinner with him because I had to get back to Paris to enjoy Seine Cruise and he has 24 hours race to finished, but I really really enjoy my few hours in Le Mans. Thanks a lot Abdel & Hasana for being a wonderful host, showing me your beautiful house, making me peppermint tea fresh from your garden, inviting me to watch the race (it’s my first experience watching race car, so it was a precious experience!), showing me around the lovely Le Mans old town. And also thanks for taking me to Le Mans Masjid and telling me that there are only 10 Muslims in Le Mans. You guys make me count every hijabi I saw in the street, “Look! 2 Hijabis! I can’t believe I met 4 out of 10 Muslims in Le Mans!” (Pleasant surprise was when I immediately spotted 2 Halal restaurant just in front of the train station).
I definitely will go back to Le Mans one day, and that day I must take long peaceful walk along the rocky road, sit in a little cafe overlooking the city, with my real life Prince and spend all day, write him poetry. As many as necessary.