Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fee Garroos

After finishing with our obligatory Friday in-law visit, we take the kids for outings. This time of year, the weather is still tolerable so we are engaging in mainly outdoor activities after Asr. Yesterday, we went to a small outdoor amusement park where my kids and their cousins rode on small roller-coasters, drove bumper cars, and happily hurled from motion sickness. I sat watching the fun from a bench, holding my sweet, sleeping baby. I soaked in the soft breeze filtering through my black chiffon burga and relished the gentle warmth of the season’s slowly setting sun as if trying to keep a piece of it to consol me through the upcoming harsh summer months. I blocked out the whooping and hollering bellowing forth from all the kids in the park in order to engrave the perfection of the moment in my memory. The sky began to change from blue, to hues of pink and orange necessitating our departure. The kids were happy and so was I.

We embarked on the return journey home to a symphony of requests for ice cream and slushies. How dare we adults consider the outing complete without the requisite intake of sugary substances. Five minutes into our journey, I felt a disconcerting twinge in skin of my left shoulder. This twinge slowly started to turn into a sharp radiating heat. Then another twing developed on my left arm, and another on my chest.

“What’s wrong?”
“Stop the car someplace where no one can see, it feels like there’s something sticking me, like a hot needle, AAAAYYYYE! Hurry!”

My husband proceeded to honour my orders and quickly pulled the car over to the side of the road, although not in as secluded a spot as I had hoped.

“Huh, esh feech? (what’s wrong?)”, the kids started asking me from the back of the car as they watched me begin a frantic search for the source of my pain under the folds of my abaya.

“Oh no”, I thought to myself, as I batted at my shoulder, “I know this pain.”

“FEE GARROOS!” I wailed pathetically to the car’s occupants upon the realization of my assailant’s identity. I’m now clawing even more desperately at my clothes under my abaya. “FEE GARROOS, FEE GARROOS!”

The Garroos: my enemy. It’s an insect which I'm convinced is an agent of Satan and it must have hitched a ride in my abaya as I contendedly sat on that bench. I have no idea to which kingdom, phyla, class, order, family, genus, or species it belongs (boy, my 10th grade biology teacher would be impressed I’ve remembered those classifications all these years). It looks like a large, long, flying ant. It thrives on hot weather and warm surfaces-including skin. It has pinchers that inflict a bite that feels akin to a bee sting which leave a radiating heat from the afflicted area that lasts up to a week or more (depending on how sensitive you are). Summary-you don’t want to be bitten by a Garroos.

I proceeded to lift open my abaya and my scarf while ducking down in an effort to keep myself concealed from the passing traffic. I systematically probed quickly through my clothes with my right hand while holding layers of clothes open in my left. My husband, sensing my desperation, proceeded to help by jamming his hand down my shirt and rummaging around (I’m not sure his intentions were all pure as I think he copped a feely!).

“I don’t see anything”, he says.
“I know it’s there, look!” I produced a corner of my now red and swelling left shoulder as proof of my sanity. “See, it’s in there somewhere.”

We sat at the side of the road for the next few moments, trying to ferret out the offending insect which only succeeded in angering him further thus, prompting more bites. All the while, the kids were snickering at me through my yelps of pain.

“Maybe it’ll crawl down into her underwear”, the little heathens speculated from the back seat of the car.

Admitting defeat, we conceded to continuing the drive home with the understanding that I couldn’t strip naked in the car to find that bastard bug! I believe I have never held so still in my life as I did during that car trip home. The only thing that moved on me was a finger, which tapped nervously on the armrest in anticipation of more bites.

“But we wanted ice cream”, the ungrateful little twits whined at us.

After a few minutes of ceaseless whining, my nerves broke and I chastised them for their selfishness without so much as expanding my ribcage to amplify my volume to avoid another bite. “It’s on the move”, I whimpered as I felt that hideous insect crawling over to the right shoulder via my chest.

My husband- who missed his true life’s calling, playing the part of Figaro, the Barber of Seville- began to bellow a tune using his best booming operatic voice:



FEEgaRoos FEEGaRoos FEEGaRoos FEEGaRoos


This ditty distracted the kids from their ice cream campaign and they began singing along. Finally we arrived at my house. While rounding the corner just before reaching my house, I advised everyone to stay in the car for at least one minute after I went in the house. The car hadn’t yet rolled to a stop and the garage door was only partially open when I began my race to the bedroom. Upon stepping foot into my courtyard, my abaya, headscarf, and veil came off faster than what’s been witnessed on any departing international Saudi Airlines flight. My strip-in-transit was continued as I ran up the stairs of my empty house, items of clothing dropping to the floor immediately upon their removal. I entered my room in only my bra and pants and flipped my hair over, giving it a thorough shake out. I quickly removed the last few remaining articles of clothing and proceeded to beat all the clothes against the wall.

I never did find that bastard bug! His legacy: 3 bites on my left arm, 2 bites my left shoulder, 1 bite my right shoulder, 1 bite on my chest, and a really bad nights sleep from their hot-itchy pain. Each red bite measures around 4 cm in diameter with a swollen nucleus of 1½cm. What else was his legacy? He deprived you of reading the earth moving, serious post I had planned because instead, I wrote this one.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Booty Food

Booty Food, noun, [boo-tee food]
1. Any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, and promote prolific booty expansion in the members of the Sunday Bitching Brigade (SBB).
2. Food items, high in fat and calories that have been horded and valued beyond societal norms for their American-ness, limited availability, and due to their difficult and sporadic acquisitions.
3. Examples of booty food are (but not limited to): Log Cabin pancake syrup, A&W Rootbeer, Pumpkin pie, Butterball Turkeys, any food of Mexican origin, most food of Italian origin, French bread, cheddar cheese (real stuff, not Velveeta), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, deli meats, Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, tins of biscuits, Steak, Doritos, Chocolate chip cookie dough, Dunkin Donuts, and Eggo Waffles.
—Related forms
boo·ty·less, boo-ty-full , boo-ty-li-cious adjectives

Every Sunday, I look forward to consuming Booty Food with my friends. Readers of this blog who live in the Greater Dammam Area (ARAMCO central), Riyadh, and Jeddah are probably perplexed at the great value the SBB (Sunday Bitching Brigade) places on many of the food items listed. For you, it’s just a normal trip to the supermarket to get any one of these things and more. Either that or you can just go to one of many American chain restaurants and order some of these things. For the SBB, these things are luxuries and we’ve gone to great lengths to acquire them. Although better than in years past, Al-Hassa still lacks the variey of....well...just about everything except date palms.

Seeing as how my husband is Hasawi, it takes months of nagging and planning for him to take me to Dammam (this includes Khobar and Dharan too) as this is considered major traveling to him (1 ½ hr car trip). When there, I execute a carefully planned order of stops with military precision to provide the least amount of irritation to my travel-sensitive spouse, and yet accomplish all my goals. This plan includes a mix of supermarkets, clothing stores, Starbucks, the gorgeous Corniche, friends’ houses, and restaurants, all designed to maximize my Dammam time. All the while I have my husband, trudging behind me holding packages or a child and asking, “ma baad khalaasti (haven’t you finished yet)?”

During my supermarket trips, I refer to two lists I’ve compiled over a period of months. One is a list of foods and other items to keep my eye out for myself, and the other list is my friends’ requests. Sometimes, I will find one item in one supermarket, and a related item in another. For example, I’ll find turkey in one supermarket, and a can of cranberry sauce in another. The supermarkets don’t always stock exactly the same items all the time so if I find pumpkin pie filling for example, I’d better buy it then and there as it may not be there on my next visit. My daughters are incensed if I return from a trip to Dammam without the obligatory string cheese and Eggo’s.

Later on, back in Al-Hassa, my kitchen cabinet’s stock takes on an eclectic theme. There sits a lonely jar of salsa, waiting for its chance to be united with refried beans and tortillas upon their long-awaited discovery in a Dammam supermarket. Or, there’s the stuffing mix and cranberry sauce that have been yearning for months for my husband to agree to the purchase of a 100 riyal turkey (+$20). It took two months of shopping trips in Al-Hassa and Dammam to gather all the ingredients necessary for a proper pot of chili! We’ve even gone so far as to collect food items on our trips to the States or to request them from people sending care-packages to us. I bought up kosher onion soup mix, cream of tartar, and baby cereal on my last trip and my friend regularly has her mom send her white gravy mix. Another friend in Jubail told me of when her mom had sent her a care package containing various items and Reese’s Cup’s. The package arrived with all the items intact but alas! Only the distinct aroma of the Reese’s Cup’s remained. Apparently, they’d been "confiscated" by Saudi customs agents in a bid to keep this nation’s booty sizes in check. The valiant lads!

Every few weeks, the SSB creates a themed meeting. For example, after sporadically gathering items over the course of several months, we had Mexican day. We wantonly applied great gobs of sour cream to tacos and salaciously dipped our tortilla chips in salsa with a sense of enormous fulfillment. It was almost an X-rated scene. Only people rescued from a long stint on a desert island relish their food more than we do on these days. When November rolls around, we all have strange hankerings for turkey. Since we’re all Muslims, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. That fact doesn’t detract from the fondness we hold for the memories surrounding those holidays in the States, including the tastes and smells of that season’s food.

Possibly, it’s for the best that we don’t have regular access to some of our favorite foods. Given the freedom to regularly indulge in booty food, even our big roomy abayas couldn’t contain our huge booties, a bit too much ‘junk in the trunk’.

(No, that's not my butt in the picture above, in case any smart a**es were gonna ask. Google Image, search- "big butt")

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Prodding the Sleeping Lioness of My Feminist Tendancies

I’ve had two people guess my sun sign just by looking at me as a teenager, completely unprompted, and from complete strangers, two separate incidences. Both were 100% accurate on the first guess. One day a middle-aged lady sitting down to a cup of coffee in a restaurant, looked at me and asked;
“You’re a Leo aren’t you?”
“Good grief!” I was amazed, “how did you know?”
I’d never seen this woman before in my life and to my recollection, hadn’t even said a word to her.
“It’s the way you hold yourself, with a regal self-confidence, a lioness”, she responded.

I was quite pleased with myself for having inspired such an impression. The self-confidence part of it was especially true. I’ve always had confidence in spades. I knew who I was and what I believed and to hell with anyone who didn’t like it.

So, what happened to my lioness self?

Well, she was trapped live by a Saudi hunter who sought to domesticate her. She bred in captivity and gave birth to three cubs. The oldest female cub is starting to hone her nascent inclination to bite at her keeper’s hands. For the most part, my lioness has been content raising her cubs, which is busy work. Occasionally, my lioness is let out to stretch her limbs and chase a gazelle on the Saudi wild game reserve. It’s fenced in so there’s no chance of her escaping to intimidate the world at large. But as everyone knows, a lioness can only feign domestication for so long. Then one day, someone prods her, teases her, or doesn’t show the proper respect due to such a magnificent creature….and she lashes out.

I’ve been in a maternal lull for so long I’ve almost forgotten her. I got a glimpse of my old lioness self when I met one of my high school friends last summer when I was in the States. To her, I was almost unrecognizable. Her impression was akin to, “What the hell happened to you?” Hadn’t I been a rampant feminist when she knew me? I attributed it to mellowing with age, after all, I was just turning a ripe old 30 years old. In the west, people are just getting around to getting married and thinking about kids at that age. I’ve already been married for 10 years. My friend is still single and childless. I still remember the reaction of the doctors and nurses when I was delivering my first child in America, “You’re so young to be married and pregnant (I was 20 at the time)”. Ironically, there was an unwed teen mother and a crack addict whose child was taken from her upon delivering in the same room as me and yet, I was the oddity. I wanted to be married and I wanted children. I supposed I bought into the ‘You can have it all” brand of modern feminist thinking. And yes, I am trying to have it all. I’ve earned advanced degrees while working part time, all while my kids are at school to avoid guilt. Damn, it’s hard having it all. But the thing is, I’ve been so busy having it all I’ve forgotten something; my duty to improving my perceived status in this world for my sake, my daughter’s sake, and the sake of my sisters in the world. It’s time to do my part. It’s time to allow my lioness to awaken and find a place for her to live in my life.

“So, what prompted this rant” enquired another friend after telling her of this post. “It’s always been there”, I informed her. Only recently, it’s taken the form of a stomach ulcer developing as a result from holding it all in. The ulcer is from my lioness, who’s been scratching away at my innards while dreaming of hunting down hapless antelope on the open range and it’s causing me very real physical pain. It’s the little things on a daily basis that keep building up, poking and prodding at my lioness, threatening to wake her. I, and her captor, do our best to lull her back to her dreams. It’s been really difficult keeping a lioness all these years. Her Saudi captor tries to keep her sedate by scratching her in back of her ears every once and awhile and buying her a steak as a treat. Then after his short displays of affection, she purrs a bit and goes back to sleep. There’s been no place for me to keep my lioness these past few years, if she were to escape. So, she’s mainly had to stay in hibernation. She’s usually has an even-keeled personality. She rarely roars, and my oldest daughter knows; the quieter I say something, the faster she’d better do what it is I’m asking. Posing as a male lion, the captor lounges around and expects the lioness to bring him food and take care of the cubs by herself. Occasionally the cubs are allowed to pounce playfully on him but when he’s had enough, that’s it. She’s almost never shows aggression to her captor. She’s learned to value a peaceful den; it’s easier to take cat-naps when it’s quiet. Every once and awhile her captor postures menacingly and roars intimidatingly in an attempt to remind the lioness who’s the boss. Knowing full well in her heart who’s the better of the two, she goes off to find him more food to stuff in his mouth to shut him up. Only last week….he, and just about every other male in the world, prodded my lioness too strongly.

Having internet access is a mixed blessing for me. The more I read, the more restless my lioness became. I read a piece about new “Places’ for women to pray in the Haram so we’ll be “protected’ from men in crowded mixed areas. As I read that piece I remember how I so wanted to go and touch the black stone on the Kaaba but because I’d need to wade through a sea of men, I couldn’t. I read about a non-Saudi woman arrested for driving and her husband told he needs to stop her because it will lead to immorality. I read about not allowing women to vote when the time comes.

Then there’s what I experience every day. I can’t even go for a walk down the street by myself if the mood hits me because single males may interpret it as “flirty” and my captor feels a need to “protect” me from it by prohibiting me from going alone. There’s not real danger here. At least there isn’t for me. My lioness can handle hormonally-charged adolescents with delusions of being ‘playas’ while driving their shiny flirt-mobile cars playing a 50cent track and not reeeeeally understanding it. They’re not dangerous, just annoying and they’ll go away if you don’t give them face (veil pun intended).

Since last week, my lioness has been awake. She’s still a bit drowsy and can still be contained in my house, for now. But, she’s tried to make a break for it a couple of times already. Beware world, my lioness is still stretching and preening now, but she’ll be making her appearance soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Evil Eyes in Al-Hassa

Let’s play a guessing game. Imagine you’re a Hasawi and try to guess what may be the single underlying cause of the following events.
1. Due to mystically sinister reasons, a large zit came into existence between my eyes which is neither coverable by make-up, nor my burga.
2. A predisposition to rashes was not the principal cause of a rash.
3. A car accident is not purely a car accident caused by the insanity and ineptitude of the majority of this country’s male drivers.
What is the causal theme between all of these distressing events? They could have all been caused by (imagine ominous and sinister sounding music here)…

THE EYE! (Dum Dum Duhhhhhhhhhhhhm sounding music here).

On Friday, we went for our usual visit to the Family’s (in-laws) house to eat lunch after Jumaat prayer. One of my daughters has several mosquito bites from leaving her window open in her room. What did my mother-in-law tell me to do for those bites? “Put Vicks”, she said assertively. My husband and I snickered silently behind her back remembering my last blog post. Then, she noticed the ghastly rash that my oldest daughter has creeping up her face. It just started up a few days ago, seemingly out of the blue. Two out of my three children have inherited my ultra-sensitive skin. I have to be so careful whenever using new skin products or perfumes to patch-test them first. Failure to do so has landed me with a face full of hives several times during my life. Upon expertly examining the offending eruptions on her grandchild’s face from several angles my mother-in-law concluded , “someone gave her an eye.” She then proceeded to treat my daughter with some special incense, holding it under her chin and reciting the name of God several times among other incantations and advised her to come over the next day to have the procedure repeated again. In addition, she sagely advised my daughter to always braid her long straight silky hair, as opposed to leaving it open and flowing at school, to avoid someone giving her hair an Eye. If that should happen, she may fall victim to spontaneous hair kinking or something dire of that nature. After all, her cousin H had a flawless complexion all her life up until someone gave her (gasp in terror-filled anticipation here for effect) THE EYE. Someone had the audacity to complement her on her skin and shortly thereafter, she fell victim to the dreaded blight of teens everywhere-the “pizza-face syndrome”. Coincidence? Hasawis think not.

During my tenure in this town, I’ve heard Eyes to be the cause of insanity, divorce, obesity, marrying a second wife, constipation, breast cancer, and car accidents among an infinite number of other things. There is not a single misfortunate event that happens in this city without someone attributing it to an EYE. Not only is this a ubiquitous mindset within the city but apparently, among Saudis we have a reputation for giving Eyes too. Before traveling with my new husband to Al-Hassa, I was advised by other Saudis that Hasawis have “strong Eyes” meaning, they have a proclivity for afflicting people Evil-Eyes. Because of this mindset, I’ve been discouraged from taking my babies with me to visit people, attend functions, or go shopping. Instead, I’ve been offered a chance to go footloose and baby-free by the In-Law Babysitting Service. Although my in-laws are lovely people and genuinely want to help me out, it’s always with the implied understanding that they’re worried someone will think my baby is cute and give their grandchild an Eye. Sometimes I give in because it’s really cool not to haul baby+accoutrements all over the place. Sometimes I insist on taking them with only to pray that the baby doesn’t come down with even a sniffle upon which to blame the Eye and my lack of parental protectiveness.
As Muslims, we believe in an “evil-eye”. It may not be exactly the same as in other cultures but the basic principle is similar: someone wishes ill-will on you while coveting something you have. It is not a hex, nor is it a curse placed upon a person, although that exists too. A person may not even be consciously aware of having afflicted someone with an Eye. However, there appears to be a gap between the Islamic understanding of an “evil-eye”, and the traditional cultural understanding. In different parts of the Muslim world, different groups attempt to ward off Eyes/curses with different methods. Thanks to widely available religious training, much of the shirk and pseudo-Islamic voodoo that occurs in other countries is slowly becoming extinct amongst Saudis with every generation of educated individuals that is produced. Saudis tend to use avoidance as a means to ward off an eye. The idea is: what’s not seen or talked about, can’t be coveted. This has lead to some unnecessary extremes. For example, upon her family’s urging, one girl at my daughter’s primary school covers her hair with a scarf to protect her from an eye while everyone else is uncovered.
I’m sure every group within this country has its own vanishing variety of hocus pocus intended to ward off or rid oneself of the Eye. Some people hang a passage from the Quran from the review mirror of their car or around their neck as an engraved necklace. I’ve seen little blue eyes inlayed in jewelry. A sister residing in Canada wrote me of her native Tunisia and described the wide assortment of amulets, magicians, and soothsayers. There’s one problem with this…they’re ALL wrong. All though the Quran can ward off an Eye, it has to be in your heart, not around your neck.
Now, it had been my intention to provide some pearls of Islamic wisdom but there’s a big problem with this, I’m ignorant. At least as an Islamic scholar I’m ignorant. I know what I’m not supposed to do but I don’t have exact info on what I AM supposed to do to ward off an Eye, just a general idea or two. I know to recite ayat Al-Kursi to protect myself from an Eye and to wash or drink from the water that an Eye-giver has washed in to remove a legitimate Eye. I’m waiting for my friend to get back to me with actual Ahadith from her Imam husband. I’ll update my post after she does. (updated info in comments section)

Meanwhile, don’t be so paranoid my fellow Hassawis. I shalt not covet my neighbor’s Caprice. So don’t blame my Eye when you get in that fender-bender with a Qatari’s Land Cruiser because your view was obstructed by a windshield covered in the chewed-up/spit-out sunflower seed shells you tried to orally project out the window whilst speeding and simultaneously picking your nose. Not everything bad happens because someone has it out for you. Sometimes it’s just the will of God or your own stupidity and one must acknowledge that Sh** happens.
By the way, my husband- a Hasawi to the core- got a kick out of my last post. After reading it he first gave me a playful smack to the back of my head before asking me to send him the link so he could send it to his friends. Truth hurts. And yes, he owned a white Caprice. That should say everything.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You Know You're a Hasawi When...Tips on Spotting a Saudi Hillbilly

People from Al-Hassa (aka Hofuf, Al-Ahsa) are some of the loveliest people you’d ever want to meet. They’re more rural (this is an oasis town with a lot of agriculture), less jaded, and are pleased with some of the simpler things in life. Having said this, there are certain characteristics that make Hasawis distinctive from anyone else in the kingdom and have long made them the butt of jokes. I had originally planned on posting this after my blog got more of a Saudi fan base (because only Saudis could appreciate most of this post) however, I decided this would be a way to give outsiders a glimpse of Hasawi life.
So, in the tradition of the comedian Jeff Foxworthy (you know you’re a redneck when…) here’s how to identify a Saudi hillbilly…

You know you’re a Hasawi when…

  • There’s a pile of chewed-up/spit-out seeds next to you on the ground.
  • you picnic on the side of busy roads
  • you and/or most of your family have takeser (sickle-cell anemia- we have more cases in Al-Hassa then than in the entire rest of the kingdom combined)
  • you go to your uncle’s house to find a bride
  • You drive either a white Chevy Caprice or GMC Suburban (I have a max count of 12 Caprices on one block of road!)
  • You use one hand to steer your Caprice while using the other hand to pick your nose.
  • you’re at the farm a couple days a week hanging out
  • you consider going to Dammam traveling (it’s barely over an hours drive)
  • Your Suburban or white Caprice gets into a fender-bender with a Qatari driving a white Toyota Land Cruiser. (You’d think there’s nothing in Qatar, lately Al-Hassa is full of Qataris. Good for the local economy though.)
  • you can tell the difference between a Mubaraz accent and a Hofuf accent (two main urban parts of Al-Hassa not including the villages)
  • You change your accent to a Najdi accent when dealing with people other than Hasawis in an effort to sound more professional.
  • 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).
  • You visit the camel/sheep market with your kids in the car for a family activity.
  • If you can fit 17 people into a Caprice.
  • Like a fish, you can only live outside of the Al-Hassa fishbowl for short periods of time and have to return often to survive. (Many Hasawis who live/work in other towns like Jubail and Dammam, sometimes come home to Al-Hassa every weekend.)

You know you’re a Hasawia (female Hasawi) when…

  • a wedding invitation is the hottest ticket in town
  • Your hands are 5 shades darker than your face (due to generous applications of powder in an attempt to look “white/beautiful”).
  • You take off your burqa and on the inside is an exact print of your face made of powder and eye shadow.
  • an abaya from the shoulders is for “bad girls”
  • You think Vicks can cure everything from baldness to rheumatism, oh yes- it can help a cough too.
  • You think an a/c causes most illnesses
  • You think drinking cold water or eating ice cream causes most other illnesses.
  • There are at least 2 boxes of Kleenex in every room of your house.
  • your relatives in the village have a worse accent than you
  • If your fart smells different than usual you run to the hospital.
  • Your kids are awake all night jumping around like monkeys and go to sleep immediately after getting home from school at noon.
  • You know who your new neighbor is, what their dirty laundry is, and any and all gossip associated with them before they’ve even moved in.
  • You measure your cloth for the tailor in finger-lengths, hand-lengths, or arm lengths.
  • You expect 5 lanes of traffic to stop dead for you as you casually meander across the middle of the street in the souq, or any other street for that matter.

    And finally, you know you’re a Hasawi if this post pissed you off.

Friday, March 9, 2007

A bit more about who I am and what I belive

I wish I had more guilt-free spare time to blog and gather info from the world at large. Unfortunately I don't. I've discovered a few blogs created by people who have similar interests as me and have done all the hard work of skimming through tons of articles and forums for me. One of these blogs is Saudi Jeans (check out my favorites in the right column). I've enjoyed reading what he has to offer and admire his boldness (not to mention he's from Al-Hassa).

The other day when on Saudi Jeans blog, I left a comment on "
The War of Hearts and Minds" . Seeing as how I have a busy life I wasn't able to go back to the computer for a few days, I was kinda surprised by the war of words found in the comment section. The discussion had gone from commenting about US propaganda in Iraq, to a all out war of words about who hates whom in the world and why.
I commented that if people were to watch Fox News on free view satellite instead of all the video channels which pollute our minds and morals, the US would lose its bid to win our hearts immediately.
Then, someone named Kafir made about my comment:
"If anyone has a question about the motives of Saudi stepford wife, the phrase "music videos designed to pollute our minds and morals" should clear things up. Fox news is also not the Muslim hating organization she paints, either"
hmmmmmmmmmmm...MY MOTIVES??
Let me clear some things up for all of you Mes Amis. I'll start with my background:
Grew up in America, American mother, father a political dissident, and I KNOW AMERICA, LUV politics and American media, and I hold a Saudi passport .

Is that it in a nutshell?

Oh yeah... and I'm not some extremist nutjob looking to make jihad all over the world.

Now, when I was growing up in the States (and by the way you'll notice me use that phrase a lot in my blog) I remember religious groups that ran the spectrum. There was one kid in 4th grade whose parents didn't let him stand for the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at the start of the school day because it contained the phrase "One nation under God", which I think isn't said anymore. His parents were atheists. I remember another girl who wasn't allowed to wear pants to school, only skirts and dresses, because her christian group didn't allow it. Another was taken out of school at 15 to be homeschooled because her parents were worried about the negative and immoral influences at school (whoa buddy were they ever right!). There was a group of kids who gathered around the flagpole every morning holding hands for prayer before school. This was in juxtaposition to burnouts across the street getting their last drags off their cigarettes before the bell rang. The first girl to get pregnant at school was 14, she was pregnant the second time and living with her boyfriend when we graduated.
Where am I leading with this you may be asking? None of these people came from Muslim homes nor were extremists of any kind, but it's different when it comes out of christian mouths. If I were to say to you that I don't allow my children to watch music videos, you may assume it's because I have an extremist husband with a bushy beard standing over me holding a whip telling me not to.
Most of the reasons don't have to do with religion at all, even though I don't listen to music for religious reasons. Here are some of the reasons I don't want my children to watch music videos:

#1 mindless, inane, unproductive use of time and the grey matter that resides between our ears which was graciously bestowed upon us and separates us from the beasts (aka our brains).

#2promotes an unrealistic body/beauty image of women. Wouldn't all of us look great if we had a hairdresser and makeup artist touching us up after every take and if we were only viewed at the best angles through special fuzzy lenses which blurred our cellulite and fine wrinkles? I don't want my daughters to feel less than adequate because they don't look like demi-goddesses nor do I want my boys to grow up thinking this is what a woman should be.

#3 unrealistic view of sexuality- music video vixens pine away, writhe suggestively, wiggle and shake around one man, and are valued for their sex-appeal. They are eye-candy and all barely legal age (these are references to the background dancers in any music video). The female singers are allowed to be older and are usually jaded by a lover or flirting with a potential one. This isn't reality folks. I want my children to learn that they are supposed to be viewed at as sexy by their spouse, who should value them for who they are as a whole person, sexuality included in the complete package.

#4 distorts moral values- the other reasons I mentioned before are enough. Morality, Muslim or just decent family values ( there's not much distinction) is important. Is it enough that we should teach our kids not to steal or to be nice to others. How about, "don't sleep around", or "save yourself for marriage". I don't just mean girls, boys too. There's no double standards in my book. My husband was a Saudi virgin when I married him (and No, he wasn't just bullsh**ing me) and I want my sons to be also. Any gulf Arab man can get laid if he wants, if not by a domestic slut, there are prostitutes in Bahrain or the Emirates. The bottom line is, when deciding what is moral one must ask oneself, "would I want my son/daughter to act like this?" If the answer is no, you know it's probably wrong.

I could go on about this but it's time for me to pray Fajr (pre-dawn prayer for those readers who are not Muslims.) I'll elaborate more about my life through other posts. Next one on Monday God willing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


In light of recent news items involving 'tribe pride', I found a few verses from the Quaran which describe certain characteristics of the tribes living around Medina during the time of the Prophet. The following verses I found particularly ironic. Certain descendants of tribes that were causing problems during the time of the Prophet (PBUH), are causing problems today due to the character flaws described for us:

The Arabs of the desert are the worst in Unbelief and hypocrisy, and most fitted to be in ignorance of the command which Allah hath sent down to His Messenger... Certain of the desert Arabs round about you are hypocrites, as well as (desert Arabs) among the Medina folk: they are obstinate in hypocrisy...(Sura Al-Tawba vs. 97-101)


Apparently some things never change. Even after centuries of Islamic teachings and brotherhood still, some of them hold fast to their flawed belief systems.

"They (the non-tribal) want to enter the Saudi community and infest unto it because no one will marry their daughters and sons because they are immoral and with no origin".


Thanks to Ash for this quote from some a**hole in Jeddah. (Even if the source of the original quote is dubious, doesn't matter- I've heard almost the same exact words with MY ears).

Well, I hate to inform our tribal brothers but we all have roots:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you… (The Quran, Sura Al-Hijurat v. 13)
I included this verse from the Quaran to illustrate what should be happening in a Muslim nation. Muslims, living in peace and brotherhood with each other. Instead, Muslims are divided amongst several countries bickering and quarrelling about borders, politics, and origins. Even within its borders, Saudis are denying each other their "Saudi-ness". How so? Let me elaborate with some dialogue which occurred between a husband and wife:

Wife: (Upon seeing a cute little girl with brown hair and green eyes) Oh, mashallah, isn't she cute? I wonder why she's so white.
Husband: Well, that's because they're not reeeeeeeeeeeeealy Saudi.
Wife: What do you mean?
Husband: If I remember, the dad's last name is of Turkish decent. I'd be that white if I were Turkish too.

Living in Al-Hassa, some of the old Turkish forts like Ibrahim's Castle (shown in my pics) are a constant reminder that this used to be a Turkish controlled area. How long ago was this? Try hundreds and hundreds of years. Despite these people living here for all that time, there are those who would not consider them really Saudi.

This begs to ask the question: who is Saudi then?
"Saudi" when used to describe a person, is a misnomer. Reason being unless your last name is Al-Saud and you're a member of the royal're not reeeeeeeeeeeally a Saudi.
OK then, I've heard people put a different spin on this, they say," I'm not Saudi, I'm Arab". Well, applying that criteria would exclude several million people living for hundreds of years in what is now Saudi Arabia. Hajj has brought steady immigration from countries all over the world since the advent of the pilgrimage. Many of whom decided to settle and have been living there ever since. One only need to look at the population of the Hijaz to see a rainbow of ethnicity's. You have the Levantine Arabs, Gulf Arabs, North Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans, Indian/Pakistanis, Indonesians, Malay, Chinese, Eastern Europeans, etc... You catch my drift. I would venture to say that perhaps the majority of people living in the Hijaz are not of only Arabic decent, but have other ethnicity's added somewhere back in there family trees.
Well, that's the Hijaz, some would say. It's was a part of a different country before WWI. What about Al-Hassa? We've already established that Turkish have been here for centuries. How about former slaves? There are large groups of people from African descent. What about as a result of trade? There are also many people who had married Indian/Egyptian/Syrian/Moroccan brides. We're close to Iran and there's a lot of people from Persian descent.
Then it all boils down to tribes again. If you can trace your roots back to a Saudi Arabian tribe, then are you really a Saudi? If that were the case, Osama bin Laden wouldn't reeeeeeeeeeally be a Saudi. His dad's of Yemeni descent and his mom is Syrian. Woo Hoo! Maybe we should put a positive spin on his "Un-Saudi-ness" so we won't be chastised any more for his misdeeds (LOL).
Speaking of Yemenis, all Gulf Arabs are supposedly descended from Yemen anyway. So what does this mean...NONE of us belong here nor have a right to claim distinction above anyone else. Get over yourselves.