Sunday, June 29, 2008

Washington D.C: Gateway to Saudi!

Have been in Washington D.C for 3 days and will be there up until the 3rd of July. While roaming M St, NW and going to many touristic sites, I’m trying to refrain from making foolish generalizations, yet finding it incredibly difficult. My headlines are as follows:

Hubby, baby and I are subject to "random special screening" while flying to D.C. Well, usually only one of us is "chosen randomly", which makes sense! This time it is all three. All our luggage arrives at D.C with a tag that also indicates "random checking". Humph, I wish we had prettier underwear.

An African American barista at Starbucks shoves a drink my way asking, “This yours?” Her tone changes all of a sudden as she addresses someone else, “have a wonderful day mam.” I turn around at once to see the barista flashing a smile at another African American customer. I wonder, is there a white-black tension in D.C?

I give myself a scare while looking in the mirror. Two days of touring have turned me into burnt meat. From the other room hubby chuckles while mentioning that a friend of his on FB says “D.C is Riyad with trees.” I nod to my face.

When asking a security guard about the closest grocery shop, he looks troubled. “Oh mam, it’s too far to walk!”
“How far?” I ask.
He points to a bus stop across the street, “The bus should take you right over there.”
“But how far is it?” I insist.
“Eight blocks!”
I’m ticked, remembering word for word what a lady told me in Portland when I asked her about the closest Sushi. “Very close,” she said. “10, 11 blocks the most.”

When dining in an Italian Restaurant, stuffed with people, served 40% by Arab waiters, a cockroach teases our table. An appetizer arrives half cold. An entrée arrives as two parts: pasta soaked with tomato paste and mushrooms flowing in marsala sauce. They are supposed to be one dish, but I suppose the chef was too lazy to make plain pasta! Oh, the cockroach was done eating breadcrumbs by that time. I couldn’t find him. But I was hoping he isn’t climbing my leg.

Tourists everywhere. Tourists don’t care to make an impression. They don’t care to be polite. It isn’t their goddamn city!

Overcoming travel-constipation. Googling "constipated during " with google suggesting "during travel." Oh, well, not a classic case I guess! You name it, I've done it. Eating light, eating veggies, drinking lots of water, etc. Truth is, constipation isn't really the issue. My exit system gets lazy (no--dead!) when I'm overwhelmed by changes. This is final. Next time I travel, I'll start smart. Pill the night before hopping on that airplane.

Nobody is patting my back in D.C or summarizing their life on the lineup. Thought, with all the complaining, that I meant to say I hate it. Surprisingly, the busy, on the go folks suit my mood! It is sort of what Riyadh would have...

Tomorrow I visit Saudi Cultural Mission for the first time. Hope to finish up all pending business before returning home. Excited. Excited. Excited. Excited. Somebody please knock some sense into me because you never get THAT excited about something without turning into your own antagoniste.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quirking in the Open

I have been tagged by Saudi Jeans & Hning.

My rules:
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers’ blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

My 6 Quirks:
1. I cry over passing matters. When I do, I prefer to be in the hiding. Crying is like a secret to me. If you are not mom, dad or hubby, snooping into such an intimate secret will only endanger our relationship. So, if it’s cloudy, run away with all the love in your heart. * If I’m not crying, that means it is NOT passing and VERY VERY deep. The “uncried over” issues are what grant me my long-term decisions and the strength to achieve them. They are who I am today.
2. More than life itself, I value individuality. Whether you call it, advice, wisdom, judgments, emotional pressuring, preaching, it all means one thing to me: you think me an extension to your established righteous self. Under pretenses of love, you dismiss my mind & soul while turning me into your arm or a leg. Another part of your body. Whatever others may see you as; to me you are a slaughterer and I will protect myself from you accordingly.
3. I always wanted to be an actress and will always wish it. I tried to convince myself I won’t do, that I am stiffening up with the years and it will soon be too late, but it isn’t working. To some extent, I feel that most social encounters are professional acting done where “reality” ought to exist, that’s why I can pose boldly on stage and on camera-feeling that I am acting and honest about it!
4. Milestones such as marriage, child bearing, graduation, birthdays, moving out, etc-I am very strict about going through them with as less people as possible. Sharing an event that changes my life with a lot of people makes it as similar as drinking lots o' booze and fuzzing out the picture. When I cross the bridge I like to observe carefuly where it starts and ends, to explore my own feelings and fears and to connect particularly with the person(s) who are going through it with me.
5. I’m a frequent WC visitor. My tank fills up quickly.
6. I am earthy and sensual. That’s why I can tell you all the stories about how much you mean to me, but if you see me fidgeting around you and maintaining a physical distance, that means you are not in my comfort zone yet.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Women: Blocked on their Periods?

While conversing with a group of international students, a Saudi friend of mine explained why polygamy is allowed in Islam. His points were not the fruits of his own thoughts; they were taken from a list of apologies for polygamy, which were taught to us in religion classes in middle, high school and beyond. One of these points was, “A woman has her period once a month which would prevent a man from having sex for an average of 7 days.”

He was attacked right there and then by the girls and some boys who could not understand why sex should stop from the first drop of blood till the very last. “We could understand that heavy days are no fun, but if they guy and girl don’t mind it on the others, why not?”

A medical student added, “Especially in a monogamous relationship where there’s no fear of transmitting sexual diseases which may be helped by the excess of fluids! Other than that, medically there’s no harm in intercourse and many studies suggest that climaxing during the period eases off the abdominal pain because of the contractions in the area.”

My “unmarried” and bashful friend found himself dragged into a conversation to which he wasn’t rehearsed at all. Student of the sciences as he was, he found himself in a spot where he had to defend why sex is forbidden throughout the monthly period. He told them, he sort of thinks it is gross to involve with a girl during the red days, but hasn’t been in that situation-yet. Googling “sex during period” he was surprised to learn how controversial the subject is.

I was reminded by this story while reading anonymous’s comment dated June 12th. He says, “If the woman has menses, all the men are blocked.” And it struck me how accurate he was to choose “blocked” as a verb without a clear doer. Who’s blocking the woman on her period? The woman, the man or the Godly orders?

Islamically speaking, the blocking is first and foremost religious. That’s how it was taught in religion classes and why after I’d gotten access to all the womanly gossip by being married myself I got to hear newly weds admit in full shame that they “slipped” at some point or another and did it on "those days”. The slipping occurs either because the man was so interested, the girl didn’t mind or both parties felt shy to discuss “which day of the month it was” until it was too late to stop!

Researching the religious basis of the “blocking”, I found it in the
Quranic verse 2-222 meaning translated as, “They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah hath enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness.” Other translations describe menstruation as: illness, hurt, pollution and discomfort.

For the first time, I noticed how the speech is strictly directed to the men, while menstruation is fully womanish and the sex act involves both the man and the woman. So, I reread the Quranic verse above and wondered, does it block the woman on her period, or advise the men against being insensitive to their wives?

While Dad is Walking the Kids

When I first arrived in the States, I watched Latino dads push strollers, buy grocery and walk their plentiful kids with awe. Secretly, I blamed the lazy moms who didn’t do their share.

Somehow I lost the analysis of soft-hearted dads and spoiled moms in my closet of thoughts up until recently. While picking up E. from daycare, I always come across a Latino mom who rushes to pick her kids right at closing time, still in her “please come again” vest and nauseating frying odors. It took me two years to make that calculation: while a Latino dad walks his kids, a Latino mom might be frying someone else’s food and vice versa.

There’s always a combo of sophisticated motives as to why people act one way or the other, let alone why an entire race or a country function the way they do! It often takes us a long time to see the whole picture. Yet, when the whole picture clears up, we would have already moved on to a new and “fascinating” analysis without making the effort to update previous inaccurate ones. Our mindsets are forward-driven and there are hardly justifications strong enough to push backwards.

It’s not to say that realizations are always pleasant! Now, whenever I run into a restaurant for a quick bite I think that an entire family’s life might be switched around while I impatiently await my burger!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Truth is a Slave & Somebody Owns it!

A week ago, AngloGermanicAmerican thought this link would be of interest to me and was he right! It is a post by an “Independent Conservative” with the motto “Saying what needs to be said”.

Besides enabling me to view closely the religious basis on which some anti-homosexuals stand in the United States, the blogger’s dialogue with his commentators reveals yet again how conservatism as a trait stands in a disconnect from religion (or ideologies). Conservatives across the map might quote different religions contexts but remain indistinguishable from one another (in their tendencies).

In the link, Conservative chops off Anglo’s first comment, and explains his action by saying, “it's a very lengthy dissertation of what is already above and starts getting into more details that are unnecessary.” But despite the explanation, Conservative emails the “unnecessary” parts to “chosen” readers. He then moves to questioning Anglo’s “Christian-ness” asking him to provide valid proof, and from thereon the discussion turns to preaching. (There's the tendency to judge, control and silence a suspectable opponent.)

Without relying on a label, it is fairly easy for a Christian to visit a Christian site and recognize the conservatism of it the same way it is easy for a Muslim or a Jew to recognize the different ways their religion is interpreted or used by its followers. However, separating the trait from the faith becomes a challenge in cross-religious/nonreligious encounters. A problem further complicated by ownership of the truth and necessity for implementing it proving to be a core characteristic in the conservative trait.

I was reminded by this whole deal yesterday, as I read about the 9 “Islamists and tribal MPs” of the Kuwaiti Parliament who walked out of the room in a protest against two women ministers who do not cover their hair, claiming that “the two ministers violated a law that requires women to (abide by Islamic regulations while voting or contesting the elections.)”