Weekend Greetings Crossers
MB heading to Dubai on visa run this weekend and looking forward to a break from the Saudi sands. The Dubai desert is good for the soul. This old Saudi desert can take a break.
Want to wish fellow blogger DH all the best with new life for herself and family in Indonesia, where they just landed few days back. Long way from old Abu Dhabi where they were holed up for last couple of years, and even longer way from HX where they hail from. DH writes an amusing blog called the Reluctant Emigrant. And she is in most ‘reluctant’ mode at the moment! Anyway, wishing her and the gang all the best. If you have not read any of her stuff, her recent post ‘Bye bye Abu Dhabi’ is good starting point – http://thereluctantemigrant.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/bye-bye-abu-dhabi/
As you can all see Crossers, Christmas has come early for MB with his new blog theme. MB got the idea last month when he met up with Kazak HX follower RK, who is always blathering on about his favourite Russian blogger. Ruskie blogger travels around the world writing about whatever city he’s in, and gives readers loads of pics to review. Similar idea to MB I guess, but with much less flair and worldly wisdom. But Ruskie blogger’s pics are much bigger than MB’s, and look damned impressive MB must admit. MB assumes this can only be on account of the larger pic size. It’s hardly on account of better pics, surely, ’cause MB’s pics are awesome and incredible and unparalleled in the history of super awesome pics.
Anyway Crossers, to ensure that RK does not desert the HX blog for some undeserving Ruskie gulag blog, MB has upgraded to a more photo-friendly format, to bring you a newer more super-awesome HX blog that will blow your brain cells every time you see HX reference in your inbox. So be warned Crossers, reading MB’s blog & looking at the super-awesome pics henceforth can only be done on medical advice if you have the faintest sniff of an ailment. It will leave you gasping for air and cause your head to spin. Get the oxygen tank & face mask from your local stockist. You have been warned!
Only downside of course is that now the pics are bigger they will have to be super sharp and in focus. The slightest flaw will now become visible even to your untrained uneducated ignorant eyes. And you will start getting all uppidy with MB, pointing out stuff that MB does not really want you pointing out. So be warned Crossers, you are accepting this new blog theme for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us………
So that’s all to be said on the new format Crossers. Hope you all enjoy.
One of the biggest stories in Saudi Arabia this year past has been the tightening of visa rules to clamp down on all the illegal workers in the country whose papers are all out of date or incorrect or in some other state that makes the worker an illegal. Some estimate give a figure of 9M illegals from a total population of 25 to 30m – nobody is quite sure exactly. And with many young Saudis now demanding jobs, the illegals are bearing the brunt of the new Government ‘Saudisation’ policy. The King, God bless him, gave an extension to the original date, and this extended date expired at end last month. Presently the police are raiding every construction site or residential district where foreigners are know to work or live. They raided the district in Riyadh where many Ethiopians live earlier this week and all hell broke loose. Hundreds of the Africans started rioting. Then the local Saudis intervened on the side of the police, and were assisted by some Pakistanis! When the smoke finally cleared two people were dead – one Saudi & one ‘unknown’ as the news media described him. Over 500 Ethiopians were also arrested. MB would not like to be the lads that will be found guilty of shooting the unfortunate Saudi victim. MB smells some beheadings in the air.
But apart from some minor and major riots, one of the very evident results of the clampdown is that many shops and businesses have now shut down, as illegal workers have fled the country in droves and the Saudis are not filling the gaps. 100,000 Construction licenses have been cancelled in the last 6 months, for example. Loads of chained up doors and steel cages catching the eye on almost every street in Riyadh & other cities, since the King & his horsemen & infantry got serious about the clampdown.
MB was a victim of the process last night when he walked down the street to his usual barber for the ‘Nr 2 all over, shukran’. The lights were out in the shop as MB arrived, and the external steel cage was heavily padlocked. MB walked into the laundry next door & asked the laundry lads what was up with the barber lads. Mafi visas, said the Pakistani laundry lad boss. He made the sign of a plane flying with his hand on account of his almost zero English, to show MB that the the barber lads had fled South (or North or East. but not West MB is sure, as we don’t allow those lads to come to our neck of the woods too easily!) to avoid a long stretch in a Saudi jail.
MB can safely say that the two Bangladeshi (possibly) barber lads, now fled, were the worst barbers since someone clubbed some hair from a long haired hunter back in the stone circle in HX some 5,500 years ago. But MB felt a sadness at their passing. They had been part of MB’s life for the year past and provided a sense of stability, and permanence, and reliability. Absolutely useless as barbers, but at least you always knew they would be open if you decided it was time to visit.
MB never got to know their names. Mainly on account of fact that they spoke incessantly to each other every moment of the waking day. And as result you just never got chance to engage with them. Zero English on their part would of course have also provided a challenge for MB, but it could have been overcome MB is sure.
MB would call in for the monthly or bimonthly chop, maybe tired after the day’s grind, needing a haircut and some relaxing silence. But these two lads never shut their mouths yapping to each other as they attended to the customers. MB had no clue what language they spoke in, or what the spoke of. Most of their conversations were spoken in animated tone and sounded complete rubbish. But maybe MB is being unfair to the barber lads. Or maybe not. They also caused much physical pain to MB, as their electric clippers was old and defective. MB would always ask for a Nr 2 all over, and they would try all blades between 1 & 4 with equal lack of success. Each blade did not somehow fit the machine. MB is thinking, maybe Chinese blades on a Bangla clipper, with result that each pass caused hair to be ‘pulled’ from MB’s head, rather the the more normal ‘cut’. This would continue for a few minutes until all MB’s follicles had got to a short enough length to miss the defective area of the blades. The Banglas would then smile and look at MB in the mirror like they were barber Gods. Unlike the minutes up to that point, as MB shouted an expletive at each pass of the blade, and the Bangla lads would break into a worried sweat, thinking MB would hardly hand over a tip at end of this session. They guessed (correctly) that MB was none too pleased to have blood stained head after a simple haircut.
But MB always gave them a tip. Just for the hell of it. Knowing they worked for peanuts and probably did their best to send home a few shekles each month to family back in Banglaland or wherever.
So MB trudged on home that night, feeling a little nostalgic for his lost Bangla barbers. They are probably by now back in their homeland, working for even smaller peanuts, where nobody gives tips, and where making the weekly crust is an even more difficult trial. Inshallah they got some new blades for the clipper!
OK lads. Included the above pic in reverence and thanks to the two worst barbers on the planet, nay, in the entire universe. Maybe some new lads will open up the shop in the coming weeks. Who knows. Alas the Bangla lads are no more. Long live the Bangla barbers.
The pics last week went down a treat with many. So MB has made another selection from the pic library for you all from the same ‘Two Tribes‘ party night. Similar pics, but ones you have not yet seen. And as really special treat MB is giving you all a link to a video he shot when he was dancing with the Saudi tribesmen – called ‘Dances With Saudis’ – sticking the camera in their faces almost, and trying to keep the camera steady while MB dances to the music at same time. Must give special mention to the second last pic below. The Saudi Bedouin have a tradition of thanking someone for a good deed by putting their nose on top of the nose of the guy they wish to thank. So that’s the explanation! MB loves this video. Hope you like too.
Have a safe weekend Crossers. Take it easy. Relax. Go get a haircut!
Dances With Saudis – Video by MB (from MB’s Dropbox account, hopefully it works but you may have to sign up to Dropbox to view it. But worth the effort MB assures you)