Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to you all lads
Inshallah you are all in good cheer and the festive spirit is upon you. MB is counting down the days til he will be with kith & kin. Home on 20th and not back in the desert until the 5th Jan. Al hamdallah & Allah u Akbar! Might try to do a brief HX while I am at home lads, maybe just a few pics, as time will not permit. Have to look after the family lads. Hope you all understand.
Christmas was always evident in Dubai, as its a very Westernised, but not a sniff of it in Saudi Arabia. Even though JC is one of the Muslim Prophets, his birthday obviously is not a consideration in the overall scheme of things. In a country where preaching another religion apart from the main gig is punishable by beheading, I suppose it should not come as any surprise to MB that there are no angels and such like hanging off Christmas trees in the shops or elsewhere. Nor even Christmas trees on which to hang them. Walked through one of the biggest malls in Riyadh last night and not a sniff of a bit of tinsel. Nada!
In my present Saudi home lads I am surrounded by the native brand of the Muslim religion, from sunrise to sunset. Before sunrise actually, from about 4.30am when the first call to prayer booms out from the speakers of the mosques. And for the sake of it lads, not that I consider myself particularly religious, in the spirit of the season thats in it, and for all that is good in all religions I give you the following from The Kite Runner. A religious first for the HX:

…there is a God, there always has been. I see him here, in the eyes of the people in this [hospital] corridor of desperation.
This is the real house of God, this is where those who have lost God will find Him…
there is a God, there has to be, and now I will pray,
I will pray that He will forgive that I have neglected Him all of these years,
forgive that I have betrayed, lied, and sinned with impunity
only to turn to Him now in my hour of need. I pray that He is as merciful,
benevolent, and gracious as His book says He is.
– Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Black Crow/Raven

Black Crow/raven. He features again below. (Note – Click on any pics in the blog to enlarge)
Reaction to Last Week’s HX
Was only savage lads.
Football referee POB thanked MB & the HX for keeping him alive at present, in spite of a serious dose of diabetes which the Gods recently threw his way. We how have concrete proof lads, if indeed we needed any, that the HX has medicinal properties, in addition to the inspirational ones that the taco eaters in Guadalahara & Acupulco have already discovered. Does anyone know any lads in the US Food & Drug Administration so we can get the HX accredited, allowing us all to bask in the glory, and MB to bath himself in greenbacks? Haha lads, I won’t forget you all should this come to pass. With a postcard at least!
BOB was on lads, and she was none too pleased about the attitudes of my Saudi brothers. Even threatened them with some physicals:
From BOB:
Just read the weekly blog and have to say the pics were outstanding (thanks BOB, sure what can I say!).  I don’t think I would survive living in such a male dominated society.  Seems to be a mismatch between their ideas of female protection and oppression which would not appeal to me.  I would probably have half the male population beaten to a pulp to knock some sense into them.
But the Moustache feature really got BOB going lads, and her moustache of choice was Number 3. I am presently contacting the lucky Indian lad to inform him that he has found favour with an Irish maid. What a Christmas it will be for him in Bombay! She was not swayed by the cool looks & possibility of free jewelry from Nr 2, MBs jewelry trading friend from Yemen, who was, & still is, looking for Wife Nr 2.
From BOB again:
On a lighter note regarding the three pics, I think option 3’s the cutest (don’t care much for jewelry).
And received a humdinger of a response from Aussi Crosser ‘Anon’ lads, to last week’s piece on the Twitter exchange (about Saudi girls working in the fast food joint in Jeddah, turning into hookers during the course of a single shift). I do not agree with the thrust of Anon’s arguments ladies, but he puts his points well. Am sure many female Crossers will want to do a ‘BOB’ on him and beat him to pulp! 
From Anon:

Dear Michael,

I am somewhat concerned about Saudi women working as per your article “Saudi Men & Women – Mixing haram!”

With my limited knowledge of the region (he has much knowledge I assure you lads – do not be fooled), I think it is probable that many would think that women could potentially start work working and it ends in sexual freedom. Simply different cultural upbringing and approaches.

My concern is not about prostitution or even free consensual sex – it is the wider implications on employment and change in society.

With Saudi women not working in the mainstream mixed arena and very few women working at all, the change to society and expectations re women will be dramatic and stressful to all and sundry. Many men will feel that they have lost their mojo as it will be seen by most that they cannot support their family – this is an issue that will cause immense and extreme frictions within families and tribes – a serious issue seldom understood by outsiders.

As a result of women not working, they are used to an ‘easy life’ with the families and the like (very tribal) hence they have drivers, several maids and nannies etc – this is all expected and provided by the male of the family. Consider female ‘freedom’ and potential implications – fewer drivers, maids and nannies as the women want to have freedoms and take responsibility, to drive, to look after kids etc – I suggest that to those who do not know or understand the society that this will not happen for generations.

Herein lies the ultimate Catch-22 – the status quo is actually driven by the women, particularly the elders as they see it as their right to be looked after and pampered by their men. Children are looked after by maids – women are driven about and dropped off and picked up at the front door of every establishment – no woman will ever do grocery shopping nor carry any bags.

I hear much noise about womens rights etc in Saudi and the region – what surprises me is that only the rich and well off families in our society can afford 1-2 drivers, a house maid, a cook and a nanny per 1-2 children, yet this is common place for the vast majority of families in Saudi. I am not sure which society model is correct – but I know many women who envy Saudi luxuries.

Freedoms come with a price and I think we should spend some time understanding the price we have paid for our so called freedoms in the west. I know many western women who live in the region and complain about the so called ‘second class’ status of women – but the vast majority of these same women never want to leave because life is easy and you are pampered to etc.

Simply different cultural upbringing and approaches.

Thanks for Aussi male chauvinist view Anon, we appreciate all points of view in the HX, even yours. Keep ’em coming!
Potato Pickers 
Potato Pickers on Nepalese hillside. Men & women working together (& not a hooker in sight). From recent MB trip to Nepal.
MB has international appeal
Masha allaha lads. It seems that MB has much international appeal. Have wrote up a few reports on tripadviser.com during the year and according the email that MB received few weeks back it seems that readers of my reviews broke down as follows:
  • USA – 35%
  • Rumania – 10%
  • China – 11%
  • Others 44%
Who would have thought lads that:
  • Rumanians & Chines would love MBs reviews
  • Rumanians & Chinese had anything in common at all
And in a big surprise to MB yesterday lads, there were 3 hits on the HX blog in Mexico. One assumes it was a few Mexicanos who were on break from loading heavy bales of narcotic substances from Toyota Hiace trucks into small plane for the short trip into Texas, and were in need of some inspiration. I am almost certain that we have no Crossers currently in Mexico lads, although we can never be sure. So assume the Hispanic types just typed ‘inspiration’ into the google home page and up popped MB & the HX. Its only plausable explanation I can come up with lads, and have feeling in my bones it’s true.
It gladdens the heart lads to know that the HX is bringing the peoples of the world together in a not-for-profit way and that only goodness and light is shining forth from our efforts. I must now alas give some serious thought to how I can turn a buck from all this. The bills have to be paid lads as I’m sure you will all understand. All ideas welcome lads. Please forward to MB in next few days so a little income is generated before the holiday. Thanks in advance lads.
Ajman Fish Market  
Ajman Fish Market, UAE. Where internationally renowned photo shooter (in Rumania, China & Mexico at least!) MB hangs out on occasion.

Crosser GB

Told you few weeks back lads that we have some Crossers down under near the village of Port Fairy on the Southern Ocean. Well, no surprise to many of us, but one of the referred has made the local newspaper. Proud though we are of his Crosser exploits, GB could however have spared us the ‘just off the boat from famine starved Ireland’ look. There will be mortification in certain Crosser quarters:
Nature shot – in honour of ‘Get Back To Nature’ Crosser GB – sorry for plastic basin GB – had no time to photoshop it to timber

Fishermen - Unloading The Fish 
Another mega MB shot from Ajman Fish Market.

Qatari Poet

You just cant be going around preaching about uprisings lads. Especially if the lad in charge is well got in the West:
Photo Competition
MB just entered Photo competition in Dubai lads. The richest Photo competition in the world (Dubai style!). No hope of winning am sure lads as its open to every professional shooter in the world, but its a bit of crack to take part. Not really sure of my selections must admit. But for what it’s worth here are the 4 entries of MB, and I list the category in which each is entered:
The Beauty Of Light (the main theme of the competition this year, and from which the overall winner of the Grand Prize will be selected)
Black raven Of Kathmandu 
Same lad as above colour pic. Was having the breakfast in Nepal last month and noticed this lad in adjacent tree. Is the colour pic above a better choice?
Black & White 
Kathmandu - 1 in 3 
Kathmandu – 1 in 3. Noticed about 1 in 3 residents of kathmandu wear dust masks for protection from the traffic fumes and the pollution. Thought these 3 summed it up.
General (anything goes)
Horse & Rider
Horse & Rider. Yes lads, a blurry pic. But nice blurry I think.
Emirates (UAE culture & geography theme)
Fish market Traders 
Fish Market Traders. Loved this one lots some time ago but not sure now. What do you think lads?
Yankee Dogs
Even the ‘1 Billion hits on Youtube’ South Korean rapper PSY feels the need to apologise to the Yankee dogs lads. Has the man no pride! He recently appeared on Yankee TV:

DH – Reluctant Emigrant

Happy hols to DH & her clutch. Thanks for all the tall tales during the year DH. Many more to come in 2013 inshallah:
Enjoy the hols lads. Stay safe.
Home is where one starts from. 
– T.S. Eliot
Lough Gur
HX lake from the HX homeland. Otherwise known as Lough Gur. Inshallah will shoot a few more like this over the hols. 
Regards to you all lads. To all Syrian Crossers – hopefully 2013 brings a speedy conclusion to your misery. Thinking of you all especially at this time.

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