From a previous post- tips on spotting a Saudi Hillbilly:
#1 You know you’re a Hasawi if there’s a pile of chewed-up spit-out seeds shells on the ground next to you.
#12 You know you’re a Hasawi if you must have a bag of seeds, della of tea and beyalas to “travel” to Dammam. (Dellas are vacuum thermos flasks and beyalas are little glass tea cups).
My first days with my in-laws, they stayed with us in the temporary furnished apartment that we’d rented for a few days to welcome me to the family. On the first night, they came with vacuum thermoses of tea and Saudi coffee and distributed plates of various toasted and salted seeds such as sunflower and melon seeds. They sat sipping tea, chatting, laughing, and putting handfuls of seeds in their mouths.
I watched in silenced shock as my new family members deftly maneuvered the seeds around their mouths with their tongues to crack open the shells, extract the inside of the seed, and move the empty shell to the outside of their mouths leaving the husk dangling from their bottom lip waiting to be orally projected out onto the floor in front of them- all without the use of their hands. It was reminiscent of watching those large parrots at the pet store eat their seeds, cracking them open with their beaks and extracting the inner part with their tongues.
Within a half hour of the first seeds being consumed, the living room floor was filled with discarded seed shells which then became embedded into the bare feet navigating through the shell piles. This facilitated the migration of seed shells throughout the entire apartment as they resettled on the previously immaculate carpet once shaking free of their podal vectors. There wasn’t a corner left unmolested by a seed’s presence in the entire apartment. Several times during my in-laws stay, the husks were swept up by a hand-broom (as I hadn’t yet been able to buy a vacuum) once seed-appetites had been satiated for the evening only to have a fresh coating redistributed during the course of the next tea/chat session.
This was my introduction to Hasawis and their love of seeds.
Previous to coming to Saudia, most of my Saudi acquaintances had been either Hijazi or Najdi. People from all different parts of Saudia eat seeds, although not necessarily in the manner previously described. What sets Hasawis apart from the average Saudi seed eater is the frequency and amount of seeds that are eaten as well as the manner in which the husks are disposed of. Although I have seen many Hasawis delicately remove the empty seed shells from their mouths with their fingers and neatly dispose of them in a designated receptacle, more prefer the spittoon-style disposal method onto the floor/ground. This irks me to no end- especially if it’s MY carpet!
Keeping in mind that I may be generalizing, I didn’t apply the seed-eating/spitting stereotype to ALL Hasawis. However, year after year of witnessing countless discarded seed husks around town around have confirmed that this is indeed a wide-spread Hasawi convention. Also, I’ve come to learn that some Hasawis use eating seeds as a way to help with appetite control when dieting or to stop smoking. With the exception of peanut shells on the floor of a well-known steakhouse chain, I’d never before come across seed husks when in public. Here are a few locations I’ve seen piles of seed husks:
· friends and family’s cars
· the park
· the desert on the outskirts of town- despite its size there are usually petrified seed husks mixed in the sand.
· in parking lots
· on supermarket floors
· on the ground in the souk
· in the sofa-cushions of just about any Hasawi home.
· at the beach
· outside my children’s schools
· outside the hospital
· in DesertFlowers knickknacks
· inside computer printers
· thobe pockets
There are more, but you get the point.
DD has not only infuriated me with this seed-habit, he refuses to alter it any despite my trying to convince him with logic. Yesterday, while watching the Saudi vs. Indonesia game, he called for the housekeeper to bring him up a plate of seeds. I started telling him he shouldn’t be eating seeds now; Buddy is 8 ½ months, crawling and putting everything he finds in his mouth. I’m worried a broom-evading seed husk could get lodged in his little throat. After he deflected my objections with a look that says he doesn’t give a damn and I’m just nagging, my housekeeper arrived with the plate of seeds. Unaware of my having already reprimanded him, she started chastising him too. Apparently, the middle-ground was reached because by the end of the game there wasn’t a seed husk left on the floor because they’d been respectfully discarded in the trash bin. Thanks DD…and it only took 10 years folks!
So…if when in Saudia you see a pile of seed husks on the ground- chances are, a Hasawis been there.