Monday, December 14, 2009


It continues to catch me off guard: how little respect is given to independence and choice in Saudi Arabia. How vulnerable the individuals are to the intrusion of others beyond their immediate family members on how they should dress, behave, and go about their daily life. When subjected to such intrusion, I try to read it as good will. At other times, I take it as opinion. Yet upon its recurence, I had to face myself with two things:

1- That I am irritable to interferrence relating to choice and family, and should be as upfront about it with as a person who is at liberty to voice their criticism or, worse, act upon it.
2- That the practice of interfering is the result of habit rather than an actual opinion, belief, bad intentions or even good will!

As much as there's cement on the houses of Saudi, as little personal walls there are to shield families and individuals from intruders. If we were to claim that the attempt to signal independence begins with children from as early as toddlers, who demand to choose their food and name the bad words, and that the demand for independence climaxes at teenagers who cave in with too much temperament--such a wholesome process cannot be fully realized in Saudi!

It is absolutely difficult for families to bear lending their name and "face" to children who would readily behave in unacceptable ways; ways which would put the family face to face with intruders? How can the flagship of the family be given to a child who is yet to do wrong before doing what is acceptable to the collective society? If the family holding up in the face of the winds does not approve with much of the choices a teenage is experamenting with, how could they defend or stand up to him to begin with?

The growth process for much of the individuals in Saudi, in my opinion, suffers from such consequences. Families cannot bear the intrusion involved with allowing their children to develop their independence. The range of developing independence, exploring choices, realization of right and wrong, shifts, as a result, from teenagehood to adulthood if not to the grave.

Communities in Saudi might still be at the very early stages of development. Not too long ago did families of three and four live under the same roof. Husbands, wives and children shared the same bedroom. A tribe of wives washed away the dishes and cooked shoulder to shoulder. Independence would have convincingly been a threat to the well-being of the community back then. If such a life-style continued up until the previous generation, how long will it take to erect walls for a nuclear-family, let alone..the individual?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Women NOT Allowed

Hope hurts. It grows on you like a forest. When sequences of events lead you to tweeze it out, you find that it has tangled up with your very own reasons for being. As you pull out hope, batches of your rooted emotions come tumbling down..

Hopelessness is safe. Hope is lethal.

Today I went for an audition for a comedy in Riyadh, announced publically via Facebook. It surprsied me that the audition was open, for both men and women. Furthermore, that as I confirmed (twice) and exchanged emails with the co-host, that the organizers seemed ready to handle such a breakthrough.

Streets of Riyadh weren't friendly as I headed towards the location of the audition. Signs promised for "the Ring Road" exit, then called the exit something else. The driver wasn't as helpful as I've hoped. In loops we went, he and I.

At last, I arrived at the location, doors seemed wide open. The security guards let me into the hotel. The receptionist pointed me in the direction of the hall where the audition and casting are held. I walked fast to catch up on my time-slot. While in the hallway, a billman stopped me. "No mam, you are not allowed on this floor. No women allowed."

Details accross the hall since then, don't matter. Apparently, some boys and girls kissed earlier at the entrance of the hotel, causing the management to take strict procedure. Namely: NO WOMEN ALLOWED. Why have the hosts not negotiated better with the hotel management? Why did they not have alternative plans to begin with, knowing how strict Riyadh is in terms of segregation? Why have they not contacted the FEW women who confirmed their attendance, conveying the change in plans, and saving face! Why have the organizers not been more apologetic towards the change in situation, instead of shamelessly admitting how women will have to pay the price on a distrubtive behavior that happened earlier?

As I exited the hotel, into the hot and sandy air of Riyadh it killed me that no one stood witness of this idiocity and disrespect. The date trees, metal cars and cement buildings stood still and uncaring.

I wanted to ask the man who so cooly sent me away, how he would feel if upon arrival in American soil, American Officials sent him back to Saudi Arabia without valid reasons. How would he feel, if they said that in a small and isolated room. If through the galss he could witness floods of immigrant and newcomers embracing the new land so easily. If the only compensation he got is the lame reason that he belonged to a Saudi Arabia.

Would this not hurt, the first, second and the tenth time it happens?!

I assume not. What would hurt, in truth, is hoping that this would stop. That things such as descrimination could so easily change. Today I hoped and this was wrong. It is probably best to believe that descrimination against, race, gender or faith would never change. To live in a remote state, while "others" fix the problem.