I’ll get to the next installment of look back posts tomorrow, but first this. So many things have happened today that some of it must be talked about.
For starters, I’m writing to you from The Mr’s bed. But it’s not what you think.
The great thing about living 3 blocks apart is that if my daughter needs me I can be there in a jiffy. Take tonight for example. I’d just returned home from a night of eating and people watching with a friend when my phone rang. The Mr. was in a panic. He’d gone to a friend’s house to watch soccer and left our daughter and her cousin in the care of his mother, and not long after he left they both had emotional meltdowns and rather than have him leave his friend time, and since I was finished with my friend time, I grabbed some pajamas and made the journey to his house on foot. The girls were calmed, I showered the 5 minute walk off of me, and climbed into my old bed. No idea where he’s going to sleep tonight. Sorry not sorry.
Before the tween drama, a friend of mine came to hang out. She came because after 7 months in the kingdom she’s had enough of it and somehow miraculously convinced her husband that they and their kids must leave asap. I’m happy for her. And sad for myself. One of the crappy parts about expat life is that people are always leaving. You develop deep and meaningful friendships and then they leave and you’ll probably never see them again and it sucks.
Anyway, we decided to brave the public, because there’s strength in numbers, and have some dinner. We grabbed a taxi and went to a great Italian place on Tahlia street (Google it), stuffed ourselves, walked for a bit, and then grabbed another taxi in the name of frozen yogurt.
Our taxi driver was a Saudi guy, which almost never happens. He was very polite and he didn’t smell. We were ready for a pleasant experience. Until a white SUV rolls up next to us and the two begin to converse in Arabic. Too bad so sad my friend is fluent. The dudes were discussing exactly where we, the women in the back seat, we’re being dropped off at. I panicked, naturally. I was so sure that we were possibly being kidnapped I went to dial 911 on my phone and realized 911 doesn’t exist here. I was so happy when when he dropped us off at our destination and did not kidnap us, I happily gave him a 30% tip.
We arrived at the frozen yogurt place and got our goodies just before prayer time. A large group of Saudi women joined us in the seating area, along with their African maid who was awkwardly juggling shopping bags and a stroller. They all sat down and ate happily while this woman, lest we forget she is indeed a woman and not an object, stood there watching. I was nearly in tears watching it all go down. I offered her a seat and she thanked me, sitting down with her back now facing her employers. I wanted so badly to give her a hug, a kind word, a scoop of ice cream. The shop was closed. A smile was all I could muster.
After frozen yogurt and a horrifying public bathroom incident, we walked around, did some window shopping, and then went outside to grab a taxi home. As we waited I noticed a familiar logo on the side of an approaching white SUV. I nudged my friend, who happens to be blonde and uncovered, that the religious police were coming. Such a silly concept, the policing of religion. It was too late to run, and dammit, we needed to wait for a taxi. As predicted they peered out their windows, miswak in their mouths, and started in on us.
RP: “This is Saudi Arabia, cover your head.”
My friend made a motion for them to move on, they didn’t.
RP: “This is Saudi Arabia, cover.”
Me: “Why? We are just waiting for a taxi.”
RP: “She needs to cover.”
Me: “Just let us wait for our taxi and go home.”
RP: More rambling about Saudi Arabia and covering
RP: “You arabi?”
RP: “Ok fine.” Drives off.
I was proud of myself for a minute. I didn’t run. I spoke clearly and confidently. I wasn’t afraid or intimidated. But I was disappointed that I didn’t say so much more. I wanted to ask them why they didn’t lower their gaze. I wanted to ask them why they were sending their time policing people’s choices in head wear when they could be concerned with the maid who was being made to stand and watch while her employers sat and had dessert. Or why they weren’t concerned with the men cleaning the streets who probably haven’t had a break all day. Or with the mothers letting their children ride roller blades through the mall unsupervised. I wanted to let them know that actions like theirs do no favors for Islam and push those who may be having a hard time with it just a little further away. Maybe next time.
On that note, readers, goodnight.