Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Dust Documentery

written on the steps to my house in dust: "I would rather shovel snow"


I spent a fair amount of time in my youth raking leaves, mowing the lawn, and shoveling snow. Living in the Great Lakes region meant I was familiar with the term "Lake-Effect Snow" which basically means that you can be sitting in 60F sunny weather at noon, only to have a foot of snow dumped on your head that night. As backbreaking as shoveling wet snow can be, at least it doesn't infiltrate every nook and cranny INSIDE your home.

The dust in the above picture didn't stop at my doorway...nor is it stopped by cabinet doors and closed windows. When a dust storm hits, every surface of EVERYTHING in a house must undergo dust removal. Every shelf, every piece of furniture, every dish in your cupboard, and your kids stuffed animals all have a fine layer of reddish dust on them. Normal dusting in this country is a b***h even without the dust storms and daily dust removal is a must during the winter when it’s windy.

The worst experience with the dust in this country came when I was pregnant with EttaMae and went into labor. When I was certain I would be giving birth that day, I decided to clean up my home to keep my mind off of the pain and to make sure that my house was clean to return to after coming home from the hospital. I started cleaning at 9am and didn't stop until after 3pm when I finally had to go to the hospital. I cleaned every bathroom, every floor, every dish, and every bit of laundry. I only stayed in the hospital less than 24 hours and returned home the next day after noon. During the night, a dust storm had hit and coated everything in my apartment with a layer of dust. I returned, physically exhausted from the birthing process to this: all my clean dishes had to be rewashed, the clean clothes on the line were coated with dust as well as the clothes in my cabinet, my sparkling bathrooms turned into muddy messes, and the floors all had footprints through the dust...

...I cried

Wearing either black or white is also a pain when one leaves the house. Anyone who lives in an area where road-salt is used can sympathize with the smudges on your arm or butt as you ever-so-slightly brushed across the side of your car which unbeknownst to you, left your clothes branded for the rest of the day. I've been washing my abaya after each trip out, no matter how brief the excursion. The dust is dangerous for drivers too, as Emiratis are being warned.

Our heads ache, our chests burn, and our eyes are crusty from the dust. But at least it’s not hot yet, right? We should count our blessings, no matter how dusty they are.

And later that day

I went to give EttaMae her bath at night and found this mess...
I wrote "The Bathroom" in the dust.

Keep in mind that this is after only one day.


Anonymous said...


LOL!I can definately relate to your "lake effect snow" comment! Mosh'Allah here in Northern Indiana we have not had much to complain about with the snow accumulation this year.We get about 6 inches one day and the next it's about 40F and it melts! I have just about had enough of the cold though as I have to take my kids out everyday to get to preschool.Anyway,back to your story, I would have to say in comparison,you can keep your sand and dust!Thats one of my biggest "petpeeves" and it would probably drive me to insanity.


My account is not working?!so I had to sign Anonymous?!

Molly said...

Lake-effect... blegch.

I agree that when I went to egypt it was a lot dustier than minnesota, and more dusty than even arizona-- hard to imagine. But I don't think its anywhere near as bad as saudi is because we didn't seem to have too much trouble with dust. We had to constantly clean windows and sewwp floors, but not cabinets or bathrooms so bad.

reason 1,245 why I don't want to to live in saudi.

Anonymous said...

Then I should thank God! We have lots of snow and cold weather and we are just in February! Today, with the windchill, it's about -21c. :D sf

Susan said...

My Great Lakes sister, I grew up in Geauga County in Northeastern Ohio (I think we've taled about this) parents had a huge yard, long drive, and no leaf blowers, no riding mowers, and no snow blowers. Just us "slave labour" (read: the kids). All of that said, there tain't nothin' worse than the sand in every nook and cranny. Man...Egypt was worse than the UAE. Heaven forbid you forget to bring the clothes in before it hits...

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Tina- don't worry, you'll get snow dumped on you in April, just after you've stored all the winter clothes.

Molly- My mom and aunt both lived in Minnesota for years, and have plenty of snowy pics to prove it. One of my sisters lives in Arizona now, moved there from Chicago, she's an OCD cleaning freak but she's not mentioned much about the dust. I think she'd pop a vein if she moved here!

SF- Ahhh, nostalgia. I remember those terms, "windchill", "-21C". I've now replaced them with terms like "50C" and "dry-heat,my ass":-P

Cairogal- I've been promoting slave labor in my house since the maid's gone but unfortunately, even if I lit a fire under MaryJo's butt I couldn't get her to move. From what I understand, the pollution in Egypt causes a nasty film to form on everything, not just sandy dust like here. I'll take sandy over polluted!

Anonymous said...

At least you guys over there have TWO deserts :| we have none at the western province but still dust goes everywhere... EVERYWHERE! My pillow, my tiny tiny make up box, my shoes and my sweet, sweet laptop :(

Anonymous said...

I lived in Hofuf a few years back as an English teacher. The constant sand and dust were the only thing I had a problem with. Your blog brings back many memories. Keep up the good work.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

lalla mona- in the west, you can just jiggle a feather duster over the object to be dusted and voila! its cleaned off. The dust here is unholy!!! It's soooo heavy and doesn't budge by just a little swipe of a cloth or gotta put some serious wiping into it.

gassus- I hope their good memories:-)

Anonymous said...

LOL,you know,we only start appreciating things when we find other *worse* stuff. sf

Anonymous said...

And here we in Canada with our insulated houses would welcome a dust storm rather than the winter we have been having lately - it's something out of a disaster movie, with every day alternating between a snowstorm and a mind-numbing Arctic chill!

Anonymous said...

saudi stepford wife,
Yes my memories are good of Al Hofuf. I do not have a saudi horror story. A few non khaleeji arabs told me some bad things about saudis before I came. But, I am not the type of person before I became Muslim to slander an entire people. I travelled the entire country and got away from the nonsense in the bigger cities.

SAHM4Islam said...

Ya Allah! I actually scared at the prospect of moving now Daisy. Thanks :(. I grew up in a tropical country where you didn't need (or have) AC because the sea breeze was so nice and cool. And the only thing you had to worry about flying into you home is ash from cane burnings, bats(i had that experience upon last visit) and insects since we didn't have window screens. I don't really think that would be an option if and when I move to SA(Inshallah). Even the dust accumulated from my wall unit AC bugs me. Maybe I should prep by moving to Arizona or something lol.

BTW I am so happy to see that you're back. I missed your musings. May Allah continue to bless you and your family.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

haleem- looks like you and sf live in the same neighborhoods! Guess Al Gore might have a point!

anon- ah yes, Al-Hassa is bigger than a village yet lacks the corruption of the big cities.Al-humdulillah you kept an open mind, I heard horror stories from many non-Saudi Arabs too.

layan- Alay barak feek. Arizona should help you prep...unless you move to one of the coastal cities here. Nothing can prepare you for air so thick and tangible with humidity that you can almost feel it part around you as you walk. AWFUL! I suggest you get a job that you can have a long vacation during the summer months!

Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

In Kuwait, whenever there was some tension with Iraq, we would get warnings and instructions about preparing a "safe room" which would supposedly protect us from chemical weapons, etc. You were supposed to pick a room in the interior of the house, without windows, if possible. Then cover any doors, vents or windows with plastic, tape it all with duct tape, etc.

We never bothered with this, but one of my husband's friends did, to make his kids feel secure. The next day, there was a sandstorm, and their "safe room" was covered with dust. So much for that idea! lol

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Ann- Dang, I knew that construction around here was shoddy and that dust unholy, but I need to pass this story on the next time I'm trying to describe the dust around here, LOL!

Unknown said...

I can relate.. the worst thing is that they come REALLY FAST. Couple of weeks back on a friday, a dust storm moved in during the aprox 1 hour of Juma prayers..
n since ur in Hassa/Hofuf area.. there is soo much dust to go around :S

n that I would rather shovel pic was cool

PS:good luck w/ it

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

muneeb- it keeps coming!!! did you see this last one this week? I'm just waiting, dirty house be damned, I'm not cleaning this this last batch of storms is done.

Unknown said...

this friday? last day b4 everything resumed Yeah. we had all these plans to go places n the dust ruined it
but we live in saudi.. it comes in the package