Tight for time today so MB will just briefly mention a party he got invited to last night. A meeting of two tribes. Two major families. And they invited MB along. No kidding. 300 Saudi males, plus MB walking amongst them with some HX swagger! Lots of sword swinging, dancing, poetry recitation, and much tribal singing from the Saudis. All very traditional and interesting. And MB stuck in the thick of it all. But no better buchaill (‘boy’ – in Irish Gaelic) to record the occasion. Made a few videos using the video mode on the camera, and took loads of shots. Will give you all the video next week, as will take some time to upload. But giving you a bunch of pics today to give you flavour.
As one of the families had invited the other, there was much giving of gifts and Saudi formalities of thanking and welcome. A local TV Channel that provides such a service was booked to video the entire proceedings and will show it today or tomorrow on the TV station for all to witness again. The food was large plates of boiled mutton & rice, eaten with bare hands. Trying to eat rice and slivers of mutton with fingers is damn difficult. MB felt like a baby who needed a bib, and a mom to clean up the rice & mutton mess that he had left over half the table at the end of the meal. The Egyptian TV camera-man lad that sat next to MB must have won the gold medal at the last Olympics in the Eating With Fingers event. Not one grain of rice hit the table where he ate. A true legend in the world of rice eating a la fingers. Meanwhile up at the top tables the senior members of both families tore boiled camel limb from limb. There is a hierarchy in every country it seems. Some eat mutton, whilst those in God’s greater favour eat camel. Such is life.
MB discovered the Saudis have a hand-held drum like the Irish bodhran, the Saudi drum being made with camel skin whilst the Irish version is made from goat. They play theirs with hand only, whilst the Irish play with hand or small timber stick. Their traditional dances differ from region to region, bit like ‘Set dancing’ in Ireland, which has similar regional differences. Some Set Dancing for the non Irish – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj13osgy2M0 So some things that unite us. Like lots of places, if we dig a little.
No alcohol whatsoever, on account of it’s haram. And no ladies present at all, as they are also haram! Maybe ‘haram/forbidden’ is wrong word to use in the case of the ladies. For social custom & religious reasons, the males & females in Saudi celebrate separately. Even at wedding parties. That’s just how it is. Young Saudi friend told MB last night that he has attended a few weddings in recent years in Jeddah, where man & women have mixed, with the ladies in full black abiyah and face veil mostly. But would be unusual in more conservative Riyadh. So small beams of light coming through some tiny social cracks. Change is inevitable, but will be longer term in this Saudi neck of the woods.
All the Saudis, both families, young & old, most friendly & welcoming to MB in their midst. Met some very interesting characters. A recently retired Saudi Air Force pilot who was pilot of an AWAC surveillance plane. Another retired man who now trades in camels. And another who works in London and flew over for the weekend just to attend.
Very memorable Saudi/Middle East night for MB. Something completely different. Will live long in the memory.
OK Crossers. Take it easy. And have a nice weekend. Salivate over the pics!