Monday, October 3, 2011

The Arab (R)evolution: What's Next?

This is indeed a problematic question, because we are often very inclined to admit that there is no way for us to know what the future holds, but, at the same time, stubbornly strive to 'figure things out'.

Yes, the revolutionary spring blossoms of Arabia have got us posing this question (but didn't they rise from that very question - aha.. paradox!).

We want drama Goddammit. We want it loud and colorful. We want it on the news and in the papers and we are soaked in glory and fame.. us the Arabs. And we have earned it. We have finally proven to be the problematic people that we had been known to be. And we've done so oh so heroically!

But we are not ready for the morning after - we have tasted the hangover before (well, our parents told us about it). We have no interest in a puff - you know, getting just a little high on political emancipation. We want it all and all the way and we want it BIG.

But are we up for it? (Please be a devil and ask me the right question: do we HAVE to be up for it to do it?)

Seriously though.. Do we/should we/will we stubbornly strive to figure out What's Next?

We think we are/we should/hopefully we will.

Wrong f***ing answer.

WE HAVE NO CHOICE. We have got no choice but to figure things out because we have got no one but ourselves. In fact, we haven't even got a 'we'. I can't even talk about 'us' without producing even more paradoxes that just dig a deeper hole for 'us'. But that hole is a tease - it just won't kill 'us' and rid 'us' from us, them and all!

My point is that the 'revolution' might reduce all to nothing, or everything to even more. And I pray that the latter be next...

- Bedouinette

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Islam on Chairs

It was sadly brought to my attention via an unfortunate blackberry message that chairs are haram. I will try very hard to describe what went through my head while reading it - because too many thoughts and emotions were created up there. Here is a summary - and yes, it is in neuro-chronological order:

Interesting - That we are expanding our religious lens to encompass all aspects of life is intriguing. We should start thinking outside the box, and assess all habits of our daily life and see how and where they fall within our Islamic framework. It is very abstract and meta - to have a religious opinion on something as trivial as sitting on a chair!

Lost - You are saying that we are not to use chairs because it is in a way imitating the 'West'? I thought this argument is too old to use - and too ironic since you're spreading your word on the internet...

Oh no you didn't.. - ..bring female sexuality into your arguments. I thought women's legs were even further apart when you sit on the floor - comfortably - at least for me?

Ridiculous - What?! Did you just sit around and think of the most useful thing in the household, and ponder on its religious legitimacy? That indeed takes a lot of creativity.

What would the Prophet say - He would probably be sad that we are wasting some serious time and effort on details. DETAILS.

Sad - Which is what I felt towards the end of the 'fatwa'. I was sad people read this. I was sad to think that some people might be affected by it. I was sorry for the person who thought about it - because if chairs are haram, God knows what in their lives is even remotely halal? I was sad because I could not at all relate to the fatwa, or even think of justifications as to why it could be true - which made me think of my own religiousness and whether it was affected by all the chairs I sat on.

Bad - I felt bad because I couldn't take this seriously, or think about it without making-fun.

..but seriously. Such 'religious verdicts' only exist because there is a demand for them. We should take responsibility for what we do - and whether it is 'Islamic' or not. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. If we had been mistaken about our use of chairs all this time, think about ALL the other things we do EVERYday that could be WRONG!

Angry - There are other pressing issues at hand. Like using tables - because really, they are the reason we had chairs in the first place!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friendly Portrait

Why is it so hard, in Arabia, to make friends?

You meet an awfully huge number of people, simply because everyone knows everyone. You know names and faces, you 'hang out' and have endless dinners and coffees. But how much do you actually expose yourself to others? What are they most probably lying to you about, and to what extent are you yourself being honest?

Putting aside the gender barriers, and assuming that girls or boys can be satisfied with having platonic relationships with similar sexes only.

What is that social component that makes everyone a clone, a copy of one another? Why should you know more about the person in front of you - you'll only discover vulnerabilities that most definitely replicate in your character as well. And that is a painful way of living.

I am, of course, horribly generalizing, and talking from only personal experiences.

But, here, being friends with someone is like walking on eggs. You have to be so cautious, non-critical, and just pleasant and fun. Friends do not hold themselves as mirrors to each other here, but self-portraits that are but the exact portrayal of the friend - but never the real reflection.

Perhaps this is an honest cry for identity?
Or perhaps this is just the case everywhere?

- Bedouinette

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Functional Educational System

I am really not intending to write anything deep or superbly constructive, nor am I claiming anything or suggesting anything.

I just wanted to reflect on something that happened today.

Bedouin and I were sitting at some restaurant, and we suddenly started talking about Arabic grammar. I actually fail to recollect how the subject was brought up, but we were both remembering how much fun it was to study it and be tested on it(Bedouin please let me know if I am not being very accurate!), and it made me realize that school was not that bad.

Yes, the curriculum was far from perfect, some teachers were far from the best, and some things were just pointless to learn. It was fun, though! I guess enjoying learning is as important as learning something enjoyable.

Education is about the material AND the attitude and skills. It made me feel good to realize that we at least came out of high school with a good attitude towards learning!

- Bedouinette

Sense of Organization in Saudi

... or lack of it?

As Bedouin knows, I have pledged, earlier this week, to turn into a positive individual and to try hard to avoid criticism.

But have you seen the roads recently?

I have absolutely NO 'road' experience - architecturally or through driving. I used to enjoy watching them as my Dad drove, until I got older and the nausea caused by the lines moving faster and faster as the car drove off overcame my excitement and childish sense of inquiry.

I, however, am not nauseated by the yellow/white lines anymore - no, I have not grown younger - because you simply cannot drive fast enough anymore!

I really hope there is some miraculous logic behind the road renovations happening all over town. The roads that are renewed already look beautiful. However, I can make a wild, 'educational' guess that closing down several main roads (we're talking about the auto-vein of K Town and other important branches) all at once does indeed cause a major crisis.

What I have heard recently from sources that are not necessarily to be trusted, is that different companies are working on different roads. Yay diversity? Or, alas, chaos? Again, I do sincerely hope there is some sort of agreement in planning.

Another interesting road-related phenomenon is the scraping of the roads. I understand that you need to scrape around 20 centimeters of the asphalt when renovating the road, so you can basically put on a fresh, 'even' layer later on. I have seen an aesthetically intriguing, but practically troubling, scraping of some of the smaller roads - specifically ones that feed into living quarters. It happened to be that some cars were parked during the process, and the scraping machines, though intended to scrape in straight lines, had to curve around the cars and continue with their task. What my Dad told me yesterday is that there is probably no intention of getting rid of that island of old asphalt under hundreds of parked cars. The end result will be a new road with car-wide uneven patches on the sides. Now of course, the new yellow and white lines will make everything look better, so no need to worry, for car tires will be just fine.

Just a side, less important question - WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK PEOPLE TO MOVE THEIR CARS?

I am amused because I find myself writing with the enthusiasm of a driver... but passengers can feel the road too!

- Bedouinette

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I just go out of a great taxi ride (yes, I tend to rate them - this definitely gets a 10!).

I had to go out of the house and wait on the main road, as usual, for a taxi. Usually there are tens of taxis passing by, but for some reason whenever I am out and looking for one they go extinct. And it's not that I mind standing under the wonderful Saudi June-sun, or breathe fresh, hot air - no! It's because the sight of a woman waiting for a taxi amuses too many drivers on the road that they start honking whenever they pass by me. I don't get why they do it - are they offering me a ride, or just rubbing it in my face that they can drive and I have to be driven? (I am not going down the women-driving-road).Today though I didn't have to wait for long. Going into the car, my favorite hindi song was on (kal hoo nahoo). I was SO excited to hear something foreign that I recognized, that I couldn't help exlaiming 'I like that song!' The driver turned and said 'Really?' and put the volume up. 'Yes yes! It's called kal hoo nahoo right?'. The taxi driver nodded and smiled. Of course I didn't recognize any of the songs that came after, but for some reason I felt so happy!

As culturally-ignorant as this might sound, I really could smell the diversity in the air, and life seemed even more beautiful!

- Bedouinette


As much as I loved and continue to love reading and hearing about your latest random antics in taxis, I think you brought up a pretty important issue that of public transportation in the country. As I am writing this post, I am breezing through today's issue of Arab News. And guess what...a new article has been published about the trouble women in the kingdom facing transportation. Now, I do not want to convert this post into another endless rant about the ban of women driving however I will discuss the dire issue of Saudi Arabia not having any means of public transportation. It is somewhat absurd to think that everyone has can afford a full time driver. Saudi Arabia is not an exception in the major economic crisis currently in progress. With the middle social class on the rise, more families are not able to scrape the sufficient funds in order to get a full time driver. Despite the "religious" and cultural justifications for not allowing women to drive, why is there not a means of public transportation? It amazes me that there is not even a project in process to support these problem. In major cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah, the number of families that do have a female worker without a driver has significantly risen. This results in people resorting to alternative options such as taxis and private driving companies, which both are not financially convenient. Furthermore, there is a huge number of foreign workers in the kingdom that either do not the means to use private companies everyday or do not have authorization to obtain a driver. The impediments faced by millions everyday create serious consequences in the country; it encourages underage driving, creates a bigger divide between the social classes, promotes stay-at-home mothers, and more importantly extinguishes any level of motivation a Saudi women might have to work. Saudi Arabia needs to address this issue immediately to further develop the nation's potential and economy 

Arab News Article -

- Bedouin 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Customer service

I went suit-shopping yesterday, with Bedouin. It was us, and mothers and frustrated high-school students who had come out of one of their final examinations that day. We went to the first shop, where Bedouin tried on suits and I criticized relentlessly (it's what I do best). We spent almost 30 minutes just going through stuff. Even though the men's section of the shop was almost deserted (except for us and a man wearing scrubs and another accompanying him), and even though there were at least 3 workers roaming the empty space, none of them approached us. No one wondered whether we were looking for something specific, whether the size was fine, or even showed interest in offering help.
We did not get anything from that shop.
We walked into another shop. We find a suit, and Bedouin tries on the jacket. The shop was also empty, with at least three workers. There was one worker dressing a mannequin, one approaching us very slowly to give Bedouin the pants, and the third busy giving us very weird - almost unwelcoming looks. They were definitely more active than the ones in the previous shop - one handed the pants over and the other was grabbing a different size of a shirt (the third was taking a surprisingly long time dressing the dummy). No more. They offered no opinion, no suggestions, nothing.
We did not end up buying a suit that day.
A week ago, I went into a lingerie shop with my mom in that same mall. The shop, as tiny as it was, had 5 workers - with very big 'welcoming' smiles on their faces. Like a fish I was snatched by a shark - err worker. "Can I help you with anything?" - "No thanks, I just walked in, and am just looking around". He walks away, fewf! It takes only one minute for another worker to come and tell me about the 'new collection of underwear'. I nod, thank him politely and walk away. Another worker chimed in a couple of seconds later to tell me that they have 'three other colors of this.. and two more of that'. I left when the fourth told me "this (name a lingerie piece that is extremely inappropriate to discuss and should clearly be chosen alone) would look amazing on you."
I walked into another store, one that sold clothing, makeup and shoes. I had to cross two rows of booths selling makeup to reach the clothing section. "Try this mascara on - it just came in today morning!" (Bedouinette nods and smiles politely). "This new concealer is almost sold out - get one before it is gone!"........ and it goes on, until I tell one who harassed me with his offers - "I really do not use makeup that often" - "and you look great like that, madame!". So much for promoting your product, huh?

My point of all of this is that there is a twisted, tainted, cropped, distorted image of how customer service should be like. A man spending 15 minutes choosing a suit, trying on a couple and still looking indecisive DOES need help, and needs to know about the new collection and cuts. A woman buying simple underwear most probably doesn't.

- Bedouinette